Article by Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulidis in the special edition of Phileleftheros: “The next day – How are we going”
Developments in the wider region with the enhanced cooperation of the states on the basis of a positive approach, create the infrastructure, when the political conditions allow, to institutionalize their cooperation, establishing a Regional Organization for Security and Cooperation, without exclusions, without exceptions.
At a time when, due to the pandemic, states are turning their backs on multilateralism, choosing lonely paths, the homonymous countries of the region are creating a common narrative, working together to promote a vision of cooperation, peace, stability and prosperity.
Developments in recent years at the international level, such as the economic crisis, immigration, the rise of xenophobia, terrorism and the effects of climate change, tend to challenge the well-established principles of the international system as they have been. to a large extent, accepted by all international actors, especially after the end of the Cold War. These challenges have led a number of states, among others, to a strong political introversion, the activation of self-defense reflexes and the choice of lonely paths to address them. The global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has unfortunately reinforced this trend, leading even more states to seek national solutions and follow lonely paths.
Although these approaches seem to be adopted by more and more countries, it is a fact that such prescriptions do not seem capable of offering permanent solutions, and their effectiveness is therefore questionable. As an alternative to addressing the multiple international and regional challenges, the majority of countries in the wider Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East region follow a different model that focuses on consolidating a culture of cooperation and multilateralism.
Developments in the region in 2020 confirm the aforementioned finding, as they undoubtedly demonstrate the strong belief of the states in the region in this approach and that, despite the general trend of strengthening isolation at the international level, they choose the path of cooperation. Indicatively, I mention a number of developments in the last year, which prove that despite the international and regional challenges, most of the countries in the region approach the developments differently and adopt different practices of dealing with them:
- The signing on September 22 of the Statute established by the Energy Forum in Cairo, in which Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Italy participate as members. The continuation, strengthening and expansion of the Tripartite Cooperations in the region that on an ad hoc and thematic basis are expanding with other countries. I recall in this regard the meeting in Cairo of the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy and the multilateral meeting, via pandemic in the midst of a pandemic, with the participation of Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, France and the United Arab Emirates. Emirates. The decision taken for the establishment of the Permanent Secretariat of the Tripartite Partnerships in Nicosia and its operation within 2021. The signing of the Transnational Agreement for the EastMed pipeline in Athens between Greece, Cyprus and Israel. The recent agreement of the Republic of Cyprus with the USA for the establishment in Cyprus of a Regional Training Center (CYCLOPS) for the security of land, offshore and ports. The normalization of Israel's relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The start of negotiations between Israel and Lebanon to define their maritime borders, in order to remove obstacles to the exploitation of hydrocarbons in a potentially resource-rich sea area. The multinational aeronautical exercise “MEDUSA 2020”, which is part of the tripartite cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Egypt, with the participation in 2020 of France and the United Arab Emirates.
The above are just a few indicative regional developments that show the philosophy of the states in the wider region and their view towards the most effective way of addressing the current challenges but also better exploiting the existing prospects. At the same time, developments that have already taken place, of a bilateral and multilateral nature, in the immediate future, within 2021, will strengthen the approach in favor of regional cooperation and synergies. A parallel indicative development of particular importance is the fact that in addition to regional cooperation at transnational level, there is also a strengthening of relevant regional cooperation by non-state actors, such as the private sector, universities and others, who use as infrastructure, as basis and as a driving force, the transnational partnerships that are developing.
Undoubtedly, the developments in the wider region with the enhanced cooperation of the states, always on the basis of a positive approach, create the infrastructure, when the political conditions allow, for all the states of the region to institutionalize their cooperation, establishing a Regional Security Agency. and Cooperation, without exclusions, without exceptions, on the basis of a positive approach and with minimum conditions respect for international law, commitment to good neighborly relations and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country.
The establishment of such a Regional Cooperation Forum as a long-term goal and when political developments and data allow it, will not only fill a gap, as the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East is perhaps the only one in the world where there is no such formation, but it can also act as a support in dealing with problems and challenges that threaten and negatively affect all of us, while it will also enhance the prospects for better and more effective use of the opportunities that exist in our region. At the same time, such a development will send a positive message internationally at a time when the importance and added value of partnerships and multilateralism are being challenged, thus offering an alternative to the growing global isolationist trend.
Undoubtedly, at a time when, due to the pandemic, states are turning their backs on multilateralism, choosing lonely paths, the homonymous countries of the region are following a different path, creating a common narrative, with a positive approach, and working together to promote a vision of cooperation, peace, stability and prosperity in the wider region. In this context, they also send a clear message to those countries in the region, which are the minority, choosing the confrontation and diplomacy of the gunners of a bygone era, that such practices can not offer permanent solutions or long-term service to national objectives. At the same time, through the promotion of a positive approach and good neighborly relations on the basis of international law, as minimum prerequisites for their cooperation, the states of the region express their readiness to work with all countries, without any exclusions.