Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed the strong alliance between Israel, Cyprus and Greece at the fifth trilateral summit in Beersheba, JNS reported on Thursday.
“We have been meeting regularly since our first summit in 2016,” said Netanyahu. “And as I said, our personal friendships grow stronger as our agreements grow longer and longer and detailed. And these bonds are not merely based on shared interests and geographic proximity; they are based on shared values in a very volatile region, very violent region.”
Netanyahu was joined by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
“We share deep histories and rich culture. We are all vibrant democracies. We all value pluralism, freedom and peace,” the Israeli prime minister continued. “And we are all threatened by forces of terror and religious radicalism. Our alliance is an anchor of stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
Last month, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy reached an agreement on the world’s longest underwater gas pipeline, estimated to cost nearly $7 billion.
After signing a memorandum of understanding late last year, the four countries finalized the details of the deal. It is expected that the deal, which calls for the laying of the pipeline with the capacity of 10 to 20 billion cubic meters of gas and will traverse 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles), will be signed in February of next year.
Praising the entrepreneurial spirit of the alliance, Netanyahu said: “We have a unique partnership, a program, internship program for young entrepreneurs from Greece and Cyprus to intern at Israeli hi-tech companies. And I hope to see many more young and not-so-young entrepreneurs from both of your countries in Israel in the coming years.”
Netanyahu hailed the U.S. for fostering the relationship, addressing U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who was also in attendance.
“Our summit today reflects the U.S. support for our partnership, for our projects and for our values, which the U.S. shares,” said Netanyahu. “Today, we reaffirmed our commitment for the East-Med pipeline, discussed important aspects of the project, and we’re going to sign formally, officially this agreement in a few months.”
Once frosty, Israel’s ties with Greece and Cyprus have markedly improved. In May, Netanyahu met with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, marking the fourth trilateral summit the three have participated in during the past two and a half years.
Israel, Cyprus and Greece now hold frequent joint military and civil protection exercises to bolster stability in the eastern Mediterranean. Israel believes that Iran is seeking to build naval bases in the Mediterranean Sea.
[Photo: Prime Minister of Israel / Facebook ]