Q: Egypt is a significant ally for Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean region. What are the key pillars that form this strong diplomatic relationship and how do you see this bilateral partnership developing in the future?
It is no secret that the level of the multifaceted relations between Cyprus and Egypt are at an all-time strategic high. This is the outcome of our mutual commitment and the shared perception that our partnership is indispensable and vital for peace, stability and for the strategic orientation of the East Mediterranean and the broader region.
Our current successes in Cyprus-Egypt relations can be termed as making up a remarkable ‘policy of firsts’, and that is guiding our way forward. Cyprus, Egypt, and Greece established the first trilateral partnership of our region almost a decade ago, which from then on is steadily expanding and assuming a more permanent and broader strategic gravitas. We have indeed witnessed spectacular progress in specific fields such as the one of defence or the diaspora affairs, while we are constantly exploring ways of enhancing the cooperation and producing concrete results in other areas, including the environment and protection of cultural heritage. The upcoming 10th Trilateral Summit is scheduled to take place in Cairo.
In the same historical context, energy discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean produced the first of its kind bilateral agreement between Cyprus and Egypt for a pipeline connecting the Aphrodite offshore plot and Egypt’s liquefication infrastructure. In addition, the natural gas discoveries, and the subsequent realisation that the full potential of the Eastern Mediterranean gas basin could only be unlocked through regional cooperation, led to the establishment of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) in 2019. The EMGF was the first regional organisation of its kind aspiring to transform energy into a drive for peace and regional stability.
Similarly in 2021, our Presidents, accompanied by a large number of ministers, stepped in to provide an annual platform – the well-known G2G – tasked with monitoring and implementing mutually beneficial policy. A number of deliverables have been agreed in various sectors, such as electricity, energy, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, maritime, and education, just to name a few. We aspire to host the second G2G round in Cyprus soon.
The above-mentioned achievements are not disconnected from the broader developments in the region, the European Union and the world. Egypt is a strategic bulwark in the region, a critical partner in very many ways, and as such Cyprus will continue to be a most reliable advocate of EU-Egypt relations and of developing ways to maximise their full potential. I was delighted, hence, to participate in the 9th EU-Egypt Association Council in Luxembourg in June 2022, an important event that confirmed the strategic outline of EU-Egypt relations and their future context.
The recent trilateral MoU between the EU, Egypt and Israel, aiming at facilitating energy diversification and strengthening the EU’s energy security, is but one example proving this argument. The Eastern Mediterranean basin can and will play a significant role in providing an alternative and reliable energy corridor both for transferring natural gas, as well as cleaner energy sources. Egypt, also as a host of COP27, cannot but be central in all options under consideration.
I very much believe that a multiplicity of synergies ranging from food security, to addressing terrorism and migration are crucial in our increasingly complex security environment. Project based networks such as our nexus with Greece and the EMGF are brilliant examples of rules-based regional multilateralism, while reflecting at their core the dependable and reliable geopolitical trajectory entailed in the deeply rooted Cyprus-Egypt strategic partnership.