In the meeting between the president of Egypt and the prime minister of Greece, views were exchanged on the important and common issues of the region in line with the positions of the two countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Libyan crisis, the East Mediterranean Gas Conference, the situation in North Africa, the Middle East and, the Sahel and Beyond.
El-Sisi has told the Greek prime minister that Egypt is interested in partnership with Greece and Cyprus and that restoring relations with Turkey will not harm Greece and Cyprus, and that Egypt seeks to play a role in ending the conflict between Athens and Ankara and play a middle role in ending the conflict between Athens and Ankara and calming the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
It is expected that the measures related to the re-adjustment of relations in the Eastern Mediterranean region to end the conflicts in that region and reach agreements to exploit the region’s resources as much as possible will be of interest to the four countries.
Although the prime minister of Greece announced his agreement to hold the quadrilateral summit, he demanded more assurances about Turkey’s seriousness in entering the negotiations and changing Turkey’s current approach. The visit of the Greek prime minister at this juncture of time is of great importance due to the many common issues between Egypt and Greece in political and economic dimensions, including the view of their neighboring countries, especially since there is a Greek-Egyptian-Cypriot coalition that is the primary core of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Fields Conference and is currently headquartered in Cairo because the member countries of this conference have 51 percent of the world’s gas resources and the bilateral relations between Egypt and Greece are of great importance due to their numerous connections with each other.
Among the issues that are of great importance for Greece is the issue of Libya and its gas, especially after the agreement to determine the maritime borders between Turkey and Libya, as well as illegal immigration, as Libya is considered a transit route for Greece, and establishing stability in that country is important for Greece.
Greece, Egypt, and Cyprus last year, in their joint meeting within the framework of the actions of the armed forces of Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece, emphasized the support of security and defense cooperation to deal with challenges and threats and support peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean region. For those three countries, implementing a comprehensive and fundamental strategic cooperation based on international law and the principles of good neighborliness with all countries in the region has been introduced as their common goal. Unilateral measures that violate the sovereignty, sovereign rights, and territorial integrity of the countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region have been condemned. The need to respect international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and other related agreements has been emphasized.
In recent years, Greece has attached great importance to the developing relations between the European Union and Egypt and considers Egypt, its strategic partner in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The Greek side considers any understanding with Egypt as a bridge of communication and cooperation between Egypt and Europe and strengthening cooperation in the energy sector in line with the European Union’s strategy to diversify energy sources, and believes that the Eastern Mediterranean, under certain conditions can be an alternative source of energy for the European Union and in the future, Egypt will be able to transfer LNG gas to the European Union through Greece and, under suitable conditions, generate electricity through solar power plants and export it to Europe through Greece.
Turkey usually considers the tripartite meeting between Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt as the “manifestation of the hostile policy of Greece and the Greek Cypriot part against Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.” According to Ankara, the main source of tension in the region is nothing more than the illegal claims of Greece and Greek Cypriots regarding maritime borders and ignoring Turkish Cypriots. According to Ankara, the tripartite meeting of Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus showed that a serious alliance against Turkey had been formed in the Eastern Mediterranean.
It is said that the quadrilateral meeting with the presence of Turkey will be held after the visit of the Egyptian president to Ankara, and the Egyptian and Turkish authorities are now investigating the possibility of organizing this meeting. Of course, while the relations between Cairo and Ankara have improved and the level of relations between the two countries has reached the appointment of an ambassador, el-Sisi’s trip to Ankara to meet with Erdogan, which was planned, has been postponed for the time being. The issue of demarcating the maritime borders between the two countries is expected to be at the top of the plans for the upcoming meeting between Erdogan and el-Sisi. In addition, the Libyan crisis will be one of the focal points of the meeting between the two sides. To avoid damaging its interests with Turkey, Cairo has not yet resolved the border demarcation case with Athens.
There is this possibility that the possible improvement of relations between Turkey and Egypt will cause displeasure to Greece as Greece tries to convince Cairo to support it. But the developments in the region and the whole world lead Turkey and Egypt to improve relations and some joint cooperation. Cairo and Ankara believe that after the suspension of relations, now is the time for unification, and this initiative of Turkey, which recently started with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is now being pursued with Egypt as well.
Solving the challenges Egypt is facing at the domestic level in the economy, energy, and abroad in cases such as Palestine, Sudan, and Libya requires closer relations with Turkey. The tripartite alliance of Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece hopes that improving relations between Egypt and Turkey will also positively affect the general conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Considering Turkey’s opposition to gas drilling in recent years, it is expected that el-Sisi will ask Erdogan to allow the two countries to drill gas in the next phase.