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1st Trilateral Political Consultations between Secretaries General of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Cyprus and Lebanon, Athens, May 11, 2016. Joint Statement

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

1st Trilateral Political Consultations between Secretaries General of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Cyprus and Lebanon, Athens, May 11, 2016

Following the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Cyprus, Lebanon and Greece in Brussels, on the 15th of February 2016, the 1st Trilateral Political Consultations at the level of the Secretary General of the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs were hosted in Athens on the 11th of May, 2016, by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece,  Ambassador Dimitrios Paraskevopoulos,  and attended by the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Alexandros N. Zenon, from Cyprus and the Alternate Secretary General and Head of the Political Department, Ambassador Charbel Wehbi, from Lebanon.

Secretary General, Ambassador Dimitrios Paraskevopoulos and Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Alexandros N. Zenon, briefed their Lebanese colleague on the Trilateral cooperation initiatives that Greece and Cyprus have jointly undertaken with Egypt and Jordan, respectively. Following this briefing, the Parties focused on the prospects of a Trilateral cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Lebanon in a wide range of fields:

  • Counter - terrorism Cooperation/Security. Exchange of information
  • Refugee / Migration issues. Exchange of information
  • Military Cooperation
  • Lebanon – E.U. Relations  /Southern Neighborhood/Union for the Mediterranean
  • Energy
  • Economic Cooperation

-Maritime Transport

  • Cooperation on environmental issues (forest firefighting, water resources etc)
  • Cooperation on cultural issues

They also discussed ways to strengthen the coordination between the three parties and their cooperation in multilateral fora and exchanged views on regional and international issues, especially on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and the wider region.  The discussions reflected the common will of the three countries to establish solid and continuous coordination and cooperation in all fields.

They stressed that regional dialogue can serve the common goals of strengthening the relationship between Europe and the Middle East, and further promote solidarity and mutual understanding, emphasizing the stabilizing role of the three countries in the region. 

They also stressed the importance and advantages of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation for the countries of the region. In this respect, they examined ways to take full advantage of the institutional framework of E.U.- Lebanon relations, where applicable, including the tools and means provided by the revised European Neighbourhood Policy.

In the same context, and on the occasion of the 21st Anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration, they welcomed an enhanced role that the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) can play to this end, as reflected in the Joint Communication of the European Commission on the Review of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) of 18th November 2015.

The Parties condemned all terrorist activities, expressed concern for the proliferation of terrorism, not only on a regional but also on a global level and underlined the necessity of regional and international cooperation in confronting this threat.  To this end, they underlined the importance of exchange of information on a regular basis, among countries of the region. They also stressed the need to address the root causes of the region’s conflicts, in order to counter sectarianism, extremism and radicalism, which create a fertile ground for terrorist groups. 

The Alternate Secretary General and Head of the Political Department Ambassador Charbel Wehbi stressed the urgent need of support to the unity, sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Lebanon and agreed with the parties on the activation of international support for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) through additional and expedited assistance in areas where it is most critically needed, including counterterrorism and border protection.

The three Parties expressed continuing concern about the negative impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon’s stability, and the immediate threat to its security in terms of the spread of terrorist organizations, as well as the alarming consequences of the mass influx of Syrian displaced into Lebanon.

Regarding migration in the broader region of Eastern Mediterranean, they stressed the need for a holistic approach in identifying solutions to this complex and multifacetedissue, putting emphasis on the critical importance of (a) effectively combating the illegal networks of migrant smuggling, where the role and responsibility of the countries of the region are determining, (b) the active solidarity and cooperation of Europe in order that this challenge of primarily humanitarian character and of unprecedented magnitude for the region be adequately addressed. They also underlined the crucial role of Greece with regard to the reception and accommodation of the refugees, which was appreciated worldwide all the more for the humane way that the refugees are being treated.

The urgent need for ending the turmoil of violence that has engulfed many regions in the Middle East was reiterated by the Parties. They stressed in particular the need for a political solution in Syria, safeguarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country andestablishing credible inclusive governance, providing for the security and the protection of the rights of all its citizens, regardless of ethnicity or religious denomination.

The Parties also stressed the continuing need for support by the international community of the national reconciliation process in Iraq and its national unity and integrity, calling upon all parties in the region to fully respect its sovereignty.
The Parties highlighted that safeguarding the security of Lebanon should be a core issue in EU’s policy and the International Community’s approach concerning security in the region.

They agreed on the need for the E.U. to exploremeans to continue supporting Lebanonpolitically and economically in order to increase its resilience with regard to the burdens and challenges related to the high numbers of refugees it is hosting on its territory. Lebanon has been affected by a grave humanitarian situation with the presence of over 1.7 million Syrian refugees. To this end, they stressed the importance of reaching an agreement on the  EU-Lebanon Partnership Priorities for the period 2016-2020 within the framework of the ENP Review, and of the respective Compact Agreement, which will usher in a new page in EU-Lebanon relations.

Following a briefing by Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Zenon, on the negotiating process under the United Nations auspices, aiming at a lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, in accordance with International Law, including the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and with the High Level Agreements, and safeguarding the principles upon which the European Union is founded, the Parties reiterated their support to this process.
The Parties, aware of the wealth of the Eastern Mediterranean in hydrocarbons, which can be a catalyst for regional peace, stability and cooperation, recognized the need to promote energy dialogue and collaboration among the three countries based on international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, for the common good. They stressed the need to respect the sovereignty of states over their territorial sea and their sovereign rights, inter alia, the right to enter into bilateral agreements and to explore and exploit natural resources in their Exclusive Economic Zones, in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

They underlined their willingness to join efforts for the protection of antiquities and for the preservation and development of historical and archaeological sites, with the view to safeguard the historical memory of their peoples and the common heritage of mankind, as well as their readiness to cooperate, inter alia, for the protection of underwater cultural heritage.

The Parties agreed to further promote Trilateral consultations and to expand their dialogue at all levels with the aim of promoting common interests and contributing to regional peace, stability, security and prosperity.

It is expected that the next Trilateral meeting will take place at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, at a time and place to be decided through diplomatic channels.

Trilateral meetings at the level of Secretary General will also take place annually, as well as when necessary.