The foreign ministers of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, Greece, Nikos Dendias, and Israel, Yair Lapid, affirmed their countries’ close ties, based on shared values on Friday in Jerusalem.
The Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias remarked that the wider region is seeing “extremely worrying developments” lately, namely religious fanaticism and spoke of an “arc of fundamentalism” spreading from North Africa to Afghanistan.
He contrasted those developments to the shared values also enunciated by his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid: promotion of peaceful coexistence, moderation, prosperity, international law.
Dendias noted that the recently triumphant Taliban consider Turkey a friendly country and that Hamas, the Gaza-based Islamic movement that denies Israel’s right to exist, congratulated the Taliban with their victory.
Dendias also pointed at “countries in the neighbourhood…that try to revive old empires…old understandings,” not naming, but obviously meaning Turkey.
The Foreign Minister thanked Israel for its help with the wildfires that hit Greece earlier this month.
Dendias said he will also meet with Israel’s President, Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar. About this latter meeting, he said the two will discuss cooperation to address climate change, connection of the two countries’ grids, natural gas and renewable energy.
Following is Dendias’ full statement, published by Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“It is such a great pleasure to be back in Jerusalem today.
Last time I was here, in May, there were rockets being fired against Israel.
I was the first European Minister to fly here to condemn those attacks and underline Israel’s right to defend itself.
Together, in a calmer environment, we discussed with you and with Nikos, ways of enhancing our cooperation, starting with civil protection.
And I must take this opportunity, on behalf of the government of Prime Minister Mitsotakis, to thank you deeply, both you and Nikos, for your help during the wildfires in Greece.
For the solidarity and the concrete support, you gave us.
And I have to say that this is something that has created a very positive element, our cooperation, to address climate change and the results of climate change. I will meet with the Israeli Minister of Energy, Karine Elharrar, afterwards to speak about energy cooperation, interconnectivity, renewables, gas. We can really create a lot of things, beneficial for us, our three countries, for the region and also for Europe.
Our objective today was also to find new ways to institutionalise our participation of strategic partners of our trilateral scheme. You mentioned them, thank you.
Luckily, they are many. And we believe that other countries eventually will share the same principles with us and the same values with us.
And that brings me to the other major issue we addressed today, the extremely worrying developments in the wider region.
You, Yair, have termed a phrase: “Circle of Life”. Countries that promote peaceful coexistence, moderation, prosperity, International Law.
But unfortunately, we also see a vicious circle contrary to this circle of life. Religious fanaticism, terrorism, an “arc of fundamentalism” spanning from North Africa to the eastern Mediterranean and going as far as Central Asia and Afghanistan.
The Taliban consider Turkey an ally; they made a clear statement that Turkey is a friendly country. And Hamas, very close here, congratulated the Taliban.
There are countries in our neighbourhood that, contrary to what we believe is even in the interest of their own societies, try to revive old empires and, even worse, old understandings. Literally buried in the sand of the past.
And they’re using many tools. Military incursions in other countries, meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, asymmetrical warfare, proxy warfare. And, of course, sometimes they instrumentalise migration, which is totally unacceptable.
Our common effort is that those efforts should never succeed. Our meeting today consists also in an effort to enhance a strong bilateral relation between Greece and Israel. I am particularly happy that I will be received by President Herzog and Prime Minister Bennett later on, as we are facing difficult times ahead and it would be very interesting to hear their views.
It is clear for us that the best way to address the problems of today is being together with friends. Building bridges of stability and prosperity for all. Open to all the willing countries in Europe, in the Middle East, in the Gulf and even beyond.
Thank you, dear Yair, for your kindness and hospitality.
Thank you, dear Nikos, for the climate in our discussion.”
(A version of this article was originally published by the Kathimerini newspaper and is reproduced by permission.)