There is interest in expanding the forms of tripartite cooperation, said to KYPE the newly appointed by the Council of Ministers Secretary General of the Permanent Secretariat for Tripartite Cooperation Mechanisms with countries in the region, Alexandros Zenon, pointing out, at the same time, that strong cooperation and diplomatic capabilities of Cyprus.
In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, on the occasion of the opening of the Permanent Secretariat in Nicosia, Mr. Zenon said that its role and responsibilities will be to monitor how the decisions taken at the tripartite meetings are implemented, either at the level of Heads of State and Government or at the level of Ministers.
He noted that the Permanent Secretariat will facilitate the implementation of decisions, will make suggestions on the substance of the various actions, will find sources of funding for various actions decided, will make suggestions for ad hoc participation in Tripartite and other countries for which, he said, has been of interest.
Asked about the possibilities that exist in relation to the expansion of trilateral cooperation, with the participation of other countries, and if steps are taken in this direction, Mr. Zenon said that the United Arab Emirates and the United Arab Emirates have been expressing interest for some time. Bahrain to make tripartite mechanisms with these countries as well.
He added that in the past there has been interest from a specific side for a Tripartite to become a Quartet. He did not proceed for various reasons, not for reasons due to Cyprus or Greece, he said.
He reminded that there is already the 3 + 1 scheme (Cyprus, Greece, Israel with the USA), which is for specific issues, and said that there is also interest from France for a 3 + 1 scheme in the Tripartite with Egypt.
Depending on the field of activity and the topics, it is not excluded that there may be interest from other countries, either in the region or beyond our immediate geographical area. But it will be ad hoc collaborations on specific issues, he added.
This, he noted, is something that the Secretariat, based on the mandates it has, can investigate and suggest to the Ministers or the Heads of Government, ie the participation in ad hoc basis on the basis of another state.
“It is a supranational institution, in the sense that it receives instructions and is accountable to the leaders of each of the the tripartite collaborations. “It therefore has a quasi-international character, transnational, regional,” he said.
He said that the Secretariat will be based in Nicosia, will be staffed for at least three years, as provided by the decision of the Council of Ministers, by Cypriot staff, and then will study, in consultation with the other partners of the Tripartite, the way of rotation. of the General Secretary.
Also, Mr. Zenon mentioned that three scientific collaborators have already been hired, through a public competition, who have been working for a long time and preparing various documents, notes, and now the process of creating the necessary infrastructure.
He pointed out that there will be a process of secondment from the public service staff of two clerks and a messenger and then they will see if there will be a need for more staff.
At the same time, he noted, there are committees & # 8211; liaison of the General Secretariat with the participating countries, in which each participating country is represented either by its Ambassador here or by another senior official of that embassy.
And at least three tripartite partnerships have been defined, those with Egypt, Jordan and Israel as their representatives, and there is also a representative of the Republic of Cyprus, who is a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a representative of Greece who will have this mission. He added.
He also said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in the process of completing the lease contracts for the Secretariat offices.
Operating Pillars /p>
Asked what the pillars of the Permanent Secretariat are and how it will support the taking of political or other decisions by the participating states, Mr. Zenon said that “based on the decision of the Council of Ministers, which was the result and product of consultations between the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and the Governments of the other participating countries, ie it is something that has been co-decided and for which everyone agrees, the role of the Secretariat will be supportive of the tripartite mechanisms in will be hosted by the host country “.
Mr. Zenon noted that the Secretariat will assist where requested, to add that in essence the role of the Secretariat and its responsibilities will be to monitor how the decisions taken at the meetings are implemented, either the meetings of the leaders – heads of state or governments – or the ministerial meetings.
The ambition is to evolve into a kind of structure or core of regional co-operation, he said.
As he mentioned, the need to create the Secretariat also arose from the fact that there had to be an institution. “We have the experience, we saw the weaknesses, we saw the possibilities, and based on this experience the Secretariat was created to be able to systematize, institutionalize this cooperation and to motivate the national coordinators in each country but also to submit suggestions to the Ministers. “and the heads of state and government,” he said.
” the prior consent of the hierarchy, officials, etc. In other words, a preparation should be made so that when it is presented at the meeting, either Ministerial or Summit, it is mature and ready for a decision “, he pointed out.
Areas of cooperation /p>
Asked to say what are the main areas of cooperation in these Tripartites, and if there are new areas in which cooperation can be promoted, Mr. Zenon reminded that the first Tripartite started in 2013 with Egypt.
“The geopolitical environment of that period was the so-called Arab Spring and the phenomenon of the Islamic State and of course the energy. “The idea was that because these problems were common to the countries of the region, there could be a mechanism, which later became more than one, of regional co-operation, so that all the participating states could benefit,” he said. He said that this was an initiative of Ioannis Kasoulidis, who was then Minister of Foreign Affairs, which was embraced by Evangelos Venizelos, who was then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, and thus began the first Tripartite with Egypt immediately after his change. regime in Egypt, when Sisi became President and Morsi, who belonged to the Islamic Brotherhood, left.
The idea was first of all to help Egypt get out of that situation and help it financially, politically and otherwise how to face the challenges of that period when terrorism was the economy, and Egypt was then in a relative diplomatic isolation. “Then we went to Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine,” he said.Of course, he said, there was also energy “which is a sector that we share with both Israel and Egypt.” He noted that because no country alone can exploit and have economic benefits from the deposits, the effort was to have a comprehensive approach, through this cooperation.
So in at least two of the Tripartites there is also the common denominator of energy. From there on, each Tripartite has its own characteristics, its own pace of implementation and its own themes, noted Mr. Zenon.
He said that with Israel the Tripartite concerns issues of security, defense, fight against terrorism and asymmetric threats, search and rescue, energy, tourism. He noted that Israel is a popular tourist destination for Americans and Russian and Ukrainian pilgrims before the Ukraine crisis. “One idea we had studied is how Cyprus can be included in tourist packages from these countries to Israel. The same is true with Greece and the Americans. This year most tourists in Greece are Americans. So how could they be included in trips to Cyprus “, he noted.
Mr. Zenon stated that something similar applies to Jordan in terms of tourism. There is also co-operation with Israel on the environment, dispersal, start-ups, meteorology, he added.
He said that in the Tripartite with Jordan there is cooperation in the fight against terrorism and asymmetric threats, tourism, protection of cultural heritage, agriculture, in matters of health.
In the Tripartite with Egypt there is cooperation in matters agriculture, tourism, cultural heritage, he added.
That is, he said, there are many common issues but each Tripartite has its own, which come mainly from the special interest of the participating countries, due to the peculiarities that each country has.
“For the time being, we are moving forward with the sectors that have started. “One of the responsibilities of the Secretariat is to see through consultations and contacts in the various capitals and with the contact points here in Nicosia and if we can identify new areas of cooperation”, said Mr. Zenon.
Asked about the importance of the Permanent Secretariat in terms of Energy issues in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Mr. Zenon said that energy is a very big issue which evades the responsibilities of the Secretariat.
He said, however, that after the Ukraine crisis, the issue of Europe's partial or complete independence from Russia's energy sources returns, and that is where the issue of EastMed and other pipelines can certainly proceed through the tripartite mechanisms. p>
“My view is that this is mainly a matter for companies. “Because no country alone has the potential, economic and technical, to extract and exploit the deposits,” he said.
So politically I think the issue needs to be raised again, that is, the situation is positive. From contacts that I had in my personal capacity in Athens, there is interest from companies. “It was that American non paper which I do not know how valid it is now, but it is certainly an area in which the Governments, at least of Israel, Egypt, Cyprus and Greece should see it,” he said.
< p>He expressed the view that the situation is conducive to the resumption of this issue “because time passes and has an expiration date because we go to green energy. At least that was the plan of the EU before Ukraine emerged. “Anyway, at some point Ukraine will end and we will return to the previous plan,” he noted.
National issue & # 8211; Turkey
Asked how the establishment of the Permanent Secretariat and the further support of the tripartite cooperation can help Cyprus in achieving and promoting its well-meaning interests in the region, but also within the EU and beyond, given the goal of resolving our national issue. , but also the need to address Turkey's actions both on the ground and in the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Zenon said that the tripartite cooperation mechanisms do not have any military character, they are not directed against anyone.
“These are mechanisms created for peace, cooperation, prosperity and progress in the region. “No one is excluded from the beginning, not even Turkey, meaning of course that, like the other participating countries, they accept the basic principles of international law, the equal participation of the states, the recognition of the participating states”, he pointed out.
“There is no reason to exclude Turkey, given that it meets these conditions, which is also a large country in the region and influences developments,” he added.
Mr. Zenon said that the trilateral cooperation indirectly strengthens and has strengthened the political and diplomatic capabilities of Cyprus.
“The participating countries have had and still have problems with Turkey. “The fact that these countries have problems with Turkey may be an additional reason why Turkey, accepting the principles on which the Tripartites operate, should be able to solve its problems through them as well as through other procedures,” he said./p>
“We want a democratic Turkey, with good neighborly relations, which acts and governs in accordance with international law and in our case, in particular, the Law of the Sea. “With such a mutated Turkey, I do not think anyone would have any objection to cooperating in the region,” he concluded.