Intense diplomacy as Egypt to hold Cyprus, Greece and France summit

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Regional diplomacy is intensifying to counteract Turkish energy moves with Egypt hosting a four-country summit also involving Greece, Cyprus and France next month.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias announced the convening of a quadripartite summit between Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and France, which is expected to be held on 4 or 5 January, in Cairo.

The summit will take place days after Greece, Cyprus and Israel sign the interstate agreement on building the €7 bln EastMed gas pipeline in Athens on 2 January.

Dendias said the EastMed pipeline represents an alternative energy route, which will ensure Europe’s energy self-sufficiency. He also underlined that Italy will soon accede to the agreement.

As regards Turkey’s stance towards this project, the Greek Foreign said the ambitious EastMed pipeline is not a reaction to Turkish actions in the region, despite “Turkey’s inclination to interpret all actions that way – an inclination which stems from its inner insecurity”, as he said.

Diplomatic activity will also see France’s deeper involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean region, with Paris’ participation in the trilateral 3+1 meeting of foreign ministers in Cairo at the beginning of the new year.

France will be the +1 as the US was in the trilateral meetings between Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

French President Emmanuel Macron, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades have a common stance in promoting a more active European Union foreign policy and common defence in the region.

At present, there is no wider European framework that Athens can call on, which is why France appears willing to cooperate with Greece.

It remains to be seen when and how Italy will engage in the project for transporting natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Western Europe.

Key to regional diplomacy are the upcoming meetings between Mitsotakis with US President Donald Trump in Washington and that of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Turkey and the Tripoli-based government in Libya signing a maritime and security accord has prompted alliances in the region to swiftly gather for a common position and cooperation.