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Egypt-Cyprus ties keep East Med stability

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That Cyprus-Egypt relations are at their highest level is an evaluation that represents an indisputable reality.

We should go back in time to trace the relations of Cyprus with the Egypt of the Pharaohs.

In his second Book of the Histories, the Greek historian Herodotus mentions that Pharaoh Amasis was the first man to seize Cyprus and compel the island to pay tribute.

However, another story contained in the correspondence of Pharaoh Akhenaten with the Cypriot King of Alasia tells us that the tribute paid was a gesture of gratitude to the Egyptians for the defeat of Hyksos, which allowed the Cypriots to continue their commercial activities in the region.

After the independence of Cyprus in 1960, the strong friendship of Archbishop Makarios with President Nasser created the climate which has nourished since the sincere friendship and understanding between our two peoples.

The two countries have developed a network of cooperation within this framework in various fields.

Primarily comes the field of energy which has functioned as a catalyst of this cooperation.

The newly discovered gas fields in the Cypriot EEZ have recently acquired major importance, given the consequences of the war in Ukraine, which Europe had to face.

Therefore, Cypriot energy potential must be linked to that of Egypt before being re-exported to Europe.

In this respect, it augers well that an agreement has been signed between Cyprus and Egypt to connect Aphrodite, the biggest Cyprus gas field, with Egyptian liquefaction plants.

Moreover, the signing of the Memorandum between Cyprus, Egypt, and Greece for an electricity connection project, holds the enormous potential of connecting the electricity grids not only of the three signatories but also of both continents together, thus diversifying their energy mix and enhancing Europe’s energy independence.

Extremely useful is also the fact that in 2019 Egypt partnered with regional countries (Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Jordan, and Palestine) the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), with headquarters in Cairo.

This Forum brings together governments, the private sector, and financial institutions to discuss forming a competitive regional gas market.

Urgent problems caused by climate change and the need to take measures to confront them gave another opportunity for cooperation between Cyprus and Egypt to elevate their national priorities to the regional and international level.

During COP27, the Presidents of Cyprus and Egypt co-chaired the summit to present the Nicosia-led Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East climate change initiative.

Only through cooperation can the implementation of the recommendations of this Initiative Regional Action Plan be realised.

To complete the picture, mention should be made of defence through the participation in common military exercises, the exchange of high-level military visits and the signing of agreements.

There is a high potential for economic cooperation based on a wide range of possibilities in commerce and investment.

In general, within the wider framework of the Eastern Mediterranean, the role of Egypt is of paramount importance because of the recent challenges and developments in the region.

On the one hand, we have Egypt heavily involved in securing regional peace and security by maintaining the principles of international law.

The best examples are the trilateral cooperation agreement of Cyprus, Greece, and Egypt and the two other agreements signed between Greece and Egypt.

Turkey

The first, the Maritime Treaty creating an exclusive economic zone for oil and gas drilling rights in the Mediterranean sea, was signed in Cairo on August 6, 2020, as a response to illegal Libya (GNA) – Turkey maritime deal.

The second is the most recent and concerns search and rescue, as a move to increase bilateral cooperation.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, in a statement to Al Arabiya, on October 30, confirmed that dialogues between Egypt and Turkey to normalise their ties have stopped, as Turkish practices in conflict-torn Libya remain unchanged.

We have Turkey with her Neo-Ottoman aspirations, menacing Greece, occupying Cyprus, striking Syria and Iraq, exploiting the illegal Libya (GNA) Turkey Maritime deal, and promoting Russia’s interests in the region.

This is despite Turkey being a NATO member and not applying sanctions against Russia and her allies.

In a hypocritic gambit, after negatively criticising the leaders of Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE for nine years, President Erdogan decided to make a diplomatic U-Turn to normalise relations with the governments of those countries.

Whatever happened, Cyprus-Egypt relations are flourishing and will continue to strengthen.

Now that Turkey is taking daily provocative steps against Cyprus, more than ever, our divided island needs partners with principled commitments.

Cairo’s stance and policies of rejection of the occupation, insistence on peaceful negotiated solutions, and a clear refusal to the imposition of fait accomplis that disregard international law and Security Council Resolutions are hallmarks of a partner that shares Cyprus’ vision of a viable solution, unifying the country.

Given the above, the conclusion is easily reached that Cyprus stands a lot to gain from investing in its strategic partnership with Egypt.

Such a partnership will certainly contribute value to the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean to benefit the region, Europe, and the world.

By Dr. Andrestinos. N. Papadopoulos, Ambassador a.h.