CAIRO, Nov 8 (Aswat Masriya) – The tripartite summit held between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece in Cairo on Saturday would be the start of a new partnership between Egypt and the European Union, with Greece and Cyprus as "ambassadors", said the Greek prime minister.
In a joint press conference following the summit on Saturday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras added that Greece and Cyprus will push for strengthening Egypt's relations with the EU. He called on the union to support Egypt's efforts in "fighting terrorism" and enhancing stability "psychologically and financially".
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades and Samaras as part of a tripartite summit for the leaders of the three countries to discuss cooperation in all areas and combating terrorism.
During the press conference, Sisi said the summit launched "a new level of tripartite cooperation which started over a year ago."
The three leaders discussed the latest developments in the Middle East region, especially the fight against militant groups in the region.
Sisi said the three leaders stressed their keenness on facing "terrorism and extremism firmly" through enhancing cooperation in all fields, including the security field.
Greece's Samaras commended Sisi's "pivotal" role in "fighting terrorism" in the region. He called on the developed world to stop the expansion of the "map of terrorism" worldwide.
"We consider Egypt the cornerstone of stability in the Middle East," Samaras said.
Cypriot President Anastasiades condemned the latest militant attacks Egypt has faced and expressed his country's solidarity with Egypt in its "war on terrorism".
During his meeting with Samaras, Sisi said Egypt is looking forward for its European friends' support for the economy, calling on them to contribute with direct investments in the country, a presidential statement read. He also invited them to take part in Egypt's coming economic conference.
Egypt's Planning Minister Ashraf al-Arabi announced the country will hold a conference, entitled the Egyptian Economic Summit, in February to attract foreign companies, donor and international organisations.
Samaras described the economic conference as a "good opportunity for negotiations, especially in the economic field."
Anastasiades stressed that the summit does not target any specific state. He nevertheless condemned the "Turkish provocations" in the region.
On October 29, the governments of Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus, urged Turkey to quit trying to chart gas deposits in areas of the east Mediterranean claimed by Cyprus, saying the work was illegal.
Anastasiades warned that such Turkish acts "restrict security and stability in the Mediterranean region."
In an interview with state-run news agency MENA on Saturday, Anastasiades pointed out that Egypt and Cyprus have already signed a border demarcation agreement last December during Anastasiades' first visit to Egypt.
The Cypriot president referred to the dispute in the island of Cyprus due to a division between the Turkish Cypriot Community and the Greek Cypriot one. The latter controls the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, which Turkey does not recognise, whereas the former controls the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, an entity only recognised by Turkey.
Anastasiades said that negotiations over the dispute would only succeed if both parties, especially the Turkish party, show "good will" and take "constructive steps" toward the resolution of the conflict.
Samaras thanked Sisi for supporting the "just" Cypriot cause and resorting to international law as his "[moral] compass".
Sisi stressed his respect for the United Nations principles and international law, especially in regards to states' sovereignty.
Turkish relations with Egypt have been strained since the military ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013, following mass protests against his rule.
Egypt expelled the Turkish ambassador to Cairo last November following critical comments from then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prompting a similar response from Turkey. Both countries have downgraded their diplomatic ties since then.
The foreign ministers of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus previously met on October 29 in Nicosia to prepare for a summit between the three countries this month, when they also denounced the actions of Turkey.
(writing by Rana Muhammad Taha)