LARNACA, Cyprus – Stepping up co-operation in a number of areas, Cyprus, Greece and Egypt said they will work together to combat terrorism and human trafficking as part of a greater scheme to improve security in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The meeting agreed that exchanging information was “exceptionally important” as the countries seek to combat terrorism in the region, said Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides, the news agency Agence France Press reported.
Fokaides said cooperation between the countries has brought results already in economic ventures, energy and tourism to health and agriculture.
“We are investing the best possible cooperation to tackle in the best possible way new threats, such as terrorist violence and the illicit trafficking of migrants and weapons and to create security conditions for maritime and energy,” Fokaides said, the Cyprus Mail reported.
He added that the Eastern Mediterranean has always been a major crossroads for navigation but today it can also become a catalyst for the development and economic progress of the peoples of the region, through cooperation to exploit the energy wealth of the region, ‘which at the same time, is of paramount importance as an alternative source of energy for Europe’.
The Egyptian minister said that the meeting had confirmed the ‘deep and common military relations of the three countries that have been established for several decades as a result of the continuous efforts of the leaders of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt’.
“Threats of terrorism and extremism have increased and turned into a global phenomenon that no country can avoid, especially considering the return of terrorists to their homelands after their defeat in Syria and Iraq,” Egyptian Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi said after a meeting of the ministers.
“Current conditions constitute strategic challenges and threats…and multiply our national and historical responsibilities as friendly and neighboring countries in the Eastern Mediterranean to work together,” he said.
Among the targets they want to protect are the Suez Canal and oil and gas exploration by international companies off Cyprus, where Turkey had sent a research vessel and warship and demanded a share of any finds.
Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi salutes as he arrives the first of their three-way talks with with his Greek counterpart Panos Kammenos, and the Cyprus’ counterpart Christoforos Fokaides, at the “Zenon” Search and Rescue Coordination Center next to Cyprus’ Larnaca international airport, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. The defense ministers of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece have agreed to step up cooperation in combatting drug, weapons and people trafficking in the east Mediterranean and to share information on countering the threat of terrorism. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Cyprus’ Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides, left, welcomes his Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi the first of their three-way talks at the “Zenon” Search and Rescue Coordination Center next to Cyprus’ Larnaca international airport, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. The defense ministers of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece have agreed to step up cooperation in combatting drug, weapons and people trafficking in the east Mediterranean and to share information on countering the threat of terrorism. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)