Progress in maritime borders negotiations between Egypt and Greece

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Yesterday Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met earlier on the same day the Greek foreign minister and discussed boosting bilateral relations in addition to the Libyan file, a statement by Egyptian presidency said.

Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Rady said El-Sisi highlighted the strategic relations with Greece and stressed Egypt’s keenness to enhance cooperation between the two countries at various levels.

The Greek foreign minister expressed his country’s appreciation for its strong ties with Egypt, which represent a model for constructive cooperation between the Mediterranean countries, be it on the bilateral level or within the framework of the tripartite cooperation mechanism between Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus, as well as the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF).

The EMGF’s members include Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. The forum was established in January 2019 to “create a regional gas market, optimize resource development, cut the cost of infrastructure, offer competitive prices, and improve trade ties,” Egypt’s petroleum ministry said at the time.

The Greek minister reiterated his country’s support for the “Cairo Declaration” initiative, which represents a message of peace and stability not only for Libya but for the entire region, Rady said.

The Cairo Declaration was jointly announced from the Egyptian capital on 6 June by El-Sisi, the Libyan National Army (LNA) Commander Khalifa Haftar, and Libya’s Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh to resolve the Libyan crisis and end the armed conflict in the Arab country.

The initiative mandates intra-Libyan resolution as a basis for resolving the country’s conflict under resolutions by the UN and past efforts in Paris, Rome, Abu Dhabi, and most recently in Berlin.

According to Rady, El-Sisi stated that Egyptian efforts in the Libyan file aim to restore the pillars of the state and fill the power vacuum institutionally by the will of the Libyan people because its absence allowed for “the presence of terrorist forces.”Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry received on Thursday his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Cairo. The foreign ministers discussed a host of issues, including the maritime delimitation between the two countries, a statement by the Egyptian foreign minister said.

“The 12th round of technical negotiations between the two countries on delimiting the maritime borders was held,” Egypt’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Hafez said, adding that work has been ongoing between the two sides to reach agreement on the issue in the interests of the two friendly countries.

Shoukry stressed during the meeting the need to maintain the momentum in the relationship between Egypt and Greece during the past years, especially with regard to economic cooperation, Hafez said.

The ministry spokesperson added that Shoukry emphasized the need to urge Greek companies to increase their investments in Egypt to benefit from the promising opportunities in various fields and to boost the value of trade exchange to reflect the level of distinguished political relations.

On 9 June, Greece and Italy signed an agreement on maritime boundaries, establishing an exclusive economic zone between the two countries and resolving longstanding issues over fishing rights in the Ionian Sea.

The recently-signed agreement shed light on a possible Greek-Egyptian agreement and how both countries would gain from signing a subsequent agreement for an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The two ministers also discussed general and regional situations and issues, including the coronavirus pandemic, the Libyan issue, and the Palestinian file, the foreign ministry said.

In addition, Shoukry tackled with his Greek counterpart the latest developments in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) file, pointing to the worsening status the tripartite negotiations have reached due to the “Ethiopian intransigence” despite the seriousness shown by Cairo to reach a “fair and balanced agreement” that takes into account the interests of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.