image Photo: Flash90

Israel, Greece & Cyprus hold Trilateral Summit

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog hosted Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Jerusalem.

By Erin Viner

The event marks the 8th trilateral summit between the nations and the first meeting of leaders hosted by the Israeli Premier, during which he also conducted separate bilateral talks with each of the leaders.

After welcoming “President of Cyprus – my friend Nicos, Prime Minister of Greece – my friend Kyriakos,” Prime Minister Bennett noted that all 3 of the neighboring states “are some of the world’s oldest cultures, with deep histories and rich heritages, rooted in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” serving “as a strong foundation for our shared values—values of peace, of prosperity, and pursuit of freedom” and “vibrant democracies.”

Topping the agenda were various opportunities and challenges in the Middle East.

“We come together with one vision: to embrace the future and the opportunity that it holds for our people, our countries and our region. At the same time, we also recognize the threats in our complex region that are causes of joint concern: the concern for our climate, concern for the health and livelihoods of our people and the concern of our security in the face of terror,” Bennett told his regional counterparts according to a statement TV7 obtained from the Prime Minister’s Media Advisor.

While stressing Israel’s resilience in “pushing back on the bad forces of this region, day and night,” Bennett said, “We won’t stop for one second. This happens almost daily. In the face of destructive forces, we will continue to act, we will be persistent and we will not tire.”

Jerusalem is simultaneously “strengthening our relationships with our friends, on all levels. And, indeed, together we’re stronger, and our meeting today is a testimony of that,” he said, including the advancement of “our East-Med energy connection and taking the cooperation to new heights.

The 3 nations are also collaborating in the fight against the coronavirus and climate change, while expanding in the security, economy, technology, tourism and emergency services sectors.

“When one country has a forest fire, why can’t the other countries come in and help? Just last month, I had the privilege of meeting with the commanders of your air forces, very impressive people,” observed Prime Minister Bennett, adding, “They came to Israel to strengthen international military cooperation and to promote regional stability.”

The Premier concluded his remarks by underscoring, “That’s what we’re seeking: peace and stability. Our countries are cooperating in air. With our energy projects, our countries are cooperating at sea. Today, I think we can also say that we’re cooperating on the ground.

This trilateral alliance between Israel, Cyprus and Greece is good for our people, good for our countries and good for the region. It has power to do good. Nicos, Kyriakos, you are not just allies, fili, you are true friends, symahi. I thank you for your unshakable friendship.”

During later talks joined by Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, Prime Minister Bennett thanked Cypriot President Anastasiades for his “initiative and leadership” that has furthered bolstered ties between the 2 nations.

“In a time when destructive forces are trying to become more destructive, it’s all the more important that we, the positive forces, work together in securing the prosperity, defense, economy of the eastern Mediterranean,” underscored Bennett.

Following the meeting, Israeli Innovation, Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen and Cypriot Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy Kyriakos Kokkinos signed a cooperation agreement regarding the scientific research and the technology for advancing scientific excellence between Jerusalem and Nicosia. The agreement strengthens bilateral scientific and technological cooperation while providing a new framework for advancing ideas and research between the two governments.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog also held diplomatic working meetings with his Cypriot counterpart and the Greek Premier. Discussion focused on growing opportunities to expand relations with the wider region and strategies to advance ties with an emphasis on tourism, encouraging mutual investment and combatting the climate crisis.

President Herzog thanked Prime Minister Mitsotakis for Greece’s staunch position on antisemitism and adoption of the IHRA working definition, and the two leaders discussed ways to advance Holocaust commemoration in Greece. He also presented the Greek leader with a framed photograph of the 1992 meeting between their late fathers, Israel’s Sixth President Chaim Herzog and Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, respectively; during the latter’s visit to Israel after the establishment of full diplomatic relations.

During talks with Cypriot President Anastasiades, Herzog stressed the “importance of the trilateral Israeli-Cypriot-Greek relationship and his desire to deepen cooperation on diplomatic, security, energy, and economic matters,” per a statement issued by his International Media Advisor.

“The trilateral summit is an example of how nations should work for the benefit of the region,” said President Herzog, underscoring how Israel’s recent normalization agreements with Arab states offer an opportunity to expand this model of cooperation to the wider region, including economic benefits for both countries within the framework of new regional relationships.

The 2 leaders also discussed global and regional strategic affairs and their respective initiatives to contend with the climate crisis and its implications for the Mediterranean basin, as well as opportunities to expand Israeli-Cypriot ties at the level of the European Union.