Cyprus, Egypt, Greece pledge closer cooperation on migration
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus, Egypt and Greece are to step up efforts to tackle illegal migration across the eastern Mediterranean and hone their anti-terrorism tactics.
At a meeting Tuesday in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia, the leaders of the three countries also sought to get the European Union more actively engaged in efforts to get a grip on migration, much of which stems from war-torn Syria and Libya.
“The problem isn’t confined to countries in the region, but is expanding and is threatening the European Union’s cohesion,” Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said at talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Greece has borne the brunt of the influx of migrants from Syria over the past few years, but Cyprus has seen a spike in arrivals in recent months. Egypt, too, has had to contend with developments in Libya and collaboration between the three countries could help stem the flow.
As well as discussing issues related to migration, the three leaders have agreed to hold joint drills to deal with potential acts of terror.
“The International community must expand and intensify its actions through a strengthened, swift and credible exchange of information as well as the disruption of sources of financing and arming of terror groups,” said Tsipras.
El-Sissi said Egypt, Cyprus and Greece are “conscientious” in their efforts to restore stability in the volatile region and to deal with emerging crises in neighboring countries.
The three leaders also agreed to broaden “strategic cooperation” on energy, including how to transport newly found gas in the region to Europe and linking the electricity grids of Europe and North Africa via an undersea cable.
The 2,000 megawatt cable, known as the EuroAfrica Interconnector, will stretch nearly 1,000 miles from Greece to Egypt through Cyprus.
Interconnector CEO Nasos Ktorides said the Egyptian president has given his full backing to the project so that it can be completed in 36 months.
Anastasiades repeated that Egypt is a strategic partner for the European Union and that Cyprus and Greece would work to strengthen EU-Egypt relations.
The three leaders also announced joint projects to boost job creation in waste management, renewable energy and tourism.
This was the fifth tripartite meeting between the three leaders since November, 2014. Tsipras, who will host the next meeting in 2018, said talks could expand to include other neighboring countries as both Cyprus and Greece have initiated similar contacts with countries including Lebanon and Israel.
“This is an example of cooperation we want to showcase to neighboring countries,” Tsipras said.