Greek, Israeli, Greek Cypriot leaders hold three-way talks in Jerusalem

The leaders of Greece, Israel, and the Greek Cypriot administration met on Tuesday in Jerusalem for trilateral talks on their relations, Anadolu News Agency reports.

In a joint press conference following the meeting, Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, underlined the common threats in the region, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and terrorism, and praised the expanding relations among the three sides.

“We are strengthening our relationships with our friends on all levels. Together, we are stronger. Our meeting today is a testimony of that,” he said.

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Bennett noted, particularly, that they aspired to improve cooperation in the energy sector.

Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, also voiced satisfaction with the level of cooperation between Greece and Israel, citing a recent deal on establishing and operating a flight training school for the Greek Air Force by Israel as an example of improving bilateral relations.

Asserting that the Greek economy showed strong growth in 2021, Mitsotakis said the country expected more Israeli investments and tourists in the future.

Blaming tensions on Turkey

Citing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Mitsotakis laid the blame on Turkey, a sentiment shared by Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, who also took part in the meeting.

Anastasiades accused Ankara of flouting international law, while Mitsotakis argued for Turkey’s status as a guarantor for Cyprus must end for there to be a resolution on the island.

Turkey has outstanding issues with both Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration over maritime limits and rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

While seeking to defend its fair share of maritime territory in the region, Ankara has decried recent provocative Greek moves such as violating treaties and pacts by issuing navigational alerts, militarising islands in the Aegean Sea and illegally encroaching Turkey’s continental shelf.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

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Ankara has, however, repeatedly stressed that it is in favour of resolving all outstanding problems in the region – including maritime disputes – through international law, good neighbourly relations, dialogue and negotiations.

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks, starting in the early 1960s, forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.

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