PM Netanyahu: "I think there is an even wider circle of states in the region that seek what we seek in terms of common interests: stability, security, prosperity and peace."
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Following is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement at the trilateral meeting, today (Thursday, 28 January 2016), in Nicosia, between Israel, Greece and Cyprus:
"I have to say that this is, Nikos, an unsurpassed pleasure. Your hospitality, your friendship is deeply appreciated, not only by me, but by everyone in Israel. And the fact that you hosted our dear friend, Alexis, and us, creates an unusual opportunity.
I confess to you that as a historian’s son, I am always averse to using the term ‘historic’, naturally careful. But nevertheless I believe this meeting has historic implications. I said before that, when we were meeting, that the last time that Greeks, Cypriots and Jews sat around the table and talked on a common framework was about 2,000 years ago. So, it’s historic in that sense, but I think it’s historic for another reason.
We’re living through a great turbulent passage in history, in modern times, and we face unprecedented challenges, but also unprecedented opportunities to advance our common goals. When I say our common goals, first I have to say that we have common values. We are three democracies in the Eastern Mediterranean. There are not too many around here. But we share the ideas of pluralism, diversity, choice, debate – democracies. And that forms an immediate bond of friendship.
But I think there is an even wider circle of states in the region that seek what we seek in terms of common interests: stability, security, prosperity and peace. These are momentous goals, and by working together we can advance, we can advance them more effectively than by working separately.
We discussed a number of opportunities for cooperation in very practical ways. The first one is gas. We’ve been blessed, as you said, with natural gas in the sea. We decided to explore this in a very audacious way: to form a trilateral committee between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, to plan the possibility of a pipeline that would take our common resources of gas and export them to Europe via Greece – a pipeline from Israel, Cyprus through Greece to Europe. This is an audacious plan which goes alongside with our other plans vis-à-vis the exploitation of this energy resource.
The second thing that we are embarking on is creating an interconnected underwater cable to connect the electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and later on Greece, to have a common electric grid. This for us is a great change. For you too, and I think it strengthens very much Greece’s energy market as well, energy situation as well. These are two practical things that we are moving. By the way, they are connected because you can also export gas through electricity that empowers the electrical system.
We discussed the advances in water, how we can increase the efficiency of our water management, agriculture, tourism, technology, hi-tech ventures including in the field of cyber, and of course the question of emergency services, which we in Israel have already enjoyed because of the support of Cyprus and Greece in fighting fires. We can do a lot more with our current capabilities and our future capabilities – firefighting, search and rescue and the like. And the endemic problem of security and fighting terrorism. These are all areas – among others – that we are cooperating in. I think we can pledge that our trilateral cooperation will help bring the blessings of progress not only to the citizens of our three democracies, but also perhaps to the wider region by again helping stability, security, prosperity and God help us also, bring peace to you and to us. Thank you."