Source: Republic of Greece – Foreign Affairs
Thank you very much for the warm welcome and hospitality, dear Sameh, Minister, Mr. Shoukry. This is a historic day. First of all, because today marks the fifth anniversary of the launching of the widening of the Suez Canal. A canal that unites us and for which 800 Greek personnel and 20 Greek pilots worked hard, beside their Egyptian colleagues, and remained at their posts if you remember, in 1956, so that the Canal could remain open and serve humanity. The widening of the Canal is an emblematic project. It symbolizes the effort President Sisi is making to modernize Egypt. As you know, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in ongoing contact and cooperation with Egypt’s President. But, today is a historic day for another reason. A short while ago my colleague and friend Sameh Shoukry and I signed, before you, the agreement on the delimitation of maritime zones between our two countries. An exemplary agreement that is important for the whole Eastern Mediterranean. This agreement has been concluded in the framework of International Law. It respects the provisions of International Law and of the Law of the Sea. It also abides with the rules of good neighbourly relations. It contributes to stability and security in our region. And it resolves a long-pending issue. It is an agreement between two friendly neighbouring countries that respect their history. It is the exact opposite of the illegal, null and void memorandum of understanding between Turkey and Tripoli. Following the signing of today’s agreement, the null and void Turkey-Libya agreement has ended up where it belonged from the very first moment: in the rubbish bin. This agreement between us today reconfirms and enshrines the effect and the right of our islands to a continental shelf and EEZ. And, as of today, Greek-Egyptian relations are entering a new phase of closer contacts. We have laid solid foundations for us to move ahead together, in coordination, in order to address the common challenges in our wider environment. For the benefit of our countries, for the benefit of our peoples, for the benefit of our whole region. In this context, I would like to thank Sameh Shoukry for our close cooperation and his constructive attitude, which enabled us to reach a mutually beneficial and, mainly, fair agreement. Upon instruction of the leaders of our two countries, President Sisi and Prime Minister Mitsotakis, we came together to resolve problems that for decades were seen as insoluble. Today’s signing is a show of determination by both sides. It is an indication of Greece and Egypt’s common reading of everything that is happening in our region. Greece will continue to act with the same resolve, with the goal of delimiting maritime zones with our other neighbouring countries – always in the framework of International Law and the Law of the Sea. At this point, I would like to stress that Greece calls every country in the region – any country that so desires – to follow the example of this agreement we signed today and the corresponding agreement that we signed a few months ago with Italy. International law provides solutions to problems, but it has to be respected in its entirety. You can’t implement it selectively and invoke it when it suits you. Finally, I express the hope that, in the future, our region will see more positive developments like the signing of today’s agreement. Thank you very much. My dear Sameh, thank you very much.