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Dendias: Aim Is Peaceful Resolution of Differences Based on International Law

Αssociated Press

From left to right, Cypriot foreign minister Nicos Chrisodoulides, Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias, Israel foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi and UAE former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash talk to the media during a press conference after a meeting during the ministers of foreign affairs of Cyprus, Greece, Israel and United Arab of Emirates in city of Paphos, Cyprus, Friday, April 16, 2021. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou Pool via AP)

NICOSIA -- What unites the four countries meeting on Cyprus is "a common commitment to basic principles and values,'' Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said at the conclusion of the first quadrilateral meeting of Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the UAE in Paphos on Friday.

These principles include "promoting good neighbourly relations and the peaceful resolution of disputes on the basis of principles of international law, such as the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea," he said in a statement addressed to his three counterparts, noting that "Greece strives to build good neighbourly relations with all the countries in the region, without exception." The partnership of the four is very important for regional stability, he added.

Attending the meeting were Cyprus FM Nikos Christodoulides, Israeli FM Gabi Ashkenazi, UAE's FM Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (via teleconference) and his representative Anwar Gargash, UAE President's Diplomatic Advisor and former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

At the meeting, the four foreign ministers discussed extending cooperation in several areas, starting from the energy sector. "In this context, we underlined the importance of the EastMed Gas Pipeline and renewable energy sources," he noted, and they also discussed how to enhance exchanges on issues such as digital innovation, tourism, climate, defence, the coronavirus pandemic, and preparing for the post-pandemic world.

Dendias stressed that, as he has repeatedly noted, "our cooperation schemes are open to all. Provided that they share our respect for the values and the principles I just highlighted."

Among other issues the four FMs exchanged views on were areas of common concern, such as developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and Yemen. The Greek FM said he briefed his colleagues about his recent visits to Libya, where he said that a fundamental precondition to the elections scheduled there for December is the withdrawal of all foreign forces on the ground in Libya.

This, he said, addressing his colleagues, is "a position all of us fully share and support." While in Libya, he added, "It was also pointed out that any arrangements that are contrary to basic principles of International Law are not valid."

Referring to his visit to Ankara on Thursday and his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, Dendias said, "I reiterated that each side has its own views, clearly manifested during the press conference many of you may have seen. However, I would also like to underline the commitment of the Greek government, led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to seek a positive agenda in our bilateral relations with Turkey, starting with economic and trade relations. The Greek side submitted, during the Ankara meeting, a series of proposals in that regard, and so did the Turkish side." He added that he had extended an invitation to Cavusoglu to visit Athens.