PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Joint Statement with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis
by Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this afternoon, at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, at the joint statement with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis: "Since the founding of this Eastern Mediterranean partnership between our three democracies, our relations have flourished bilaterally and trilaterally in ways that people found hard to imagine. I found it hard to imagine that it wasn't the case, when we have three very—in some ways, very similar countries. Hundreds of thousands, by now millions, of Israelis have come here, both as entrepreneurs, as investors, as technologists, as tourists, as diplomats. That is very natural. The reason it's natural is that we feel very comfortable with the culture. I saw that last night when we were having dinner, the three of us, in here, in Limassol, on the seaside, and Israelis walked by and they said hello. And you could see the Cypriot counterparts do the same. It's a very comfortable, informal Mediterranean democratic culture that we have that has historic roots and modern manifestations. This people-to-people base is now obviously going, takes on a different capacity in three main areas that we discussed. They all have to do with energy. The first one is gas. The second one is electricity. The third one is fire. On gas, we're discussing the possibilities that we'll have to decide soon, about how Israel exports its gas. And the same decisions have to be made by Cyprus. And we're looking at the possibility of cooperating on this. Those decisions will be made I think in the next three to six months. Probably closer to three months. The second thing, on the electricity connector. Both Israel and Cyprus are islands. Crete, part of Greece, is an island. There is an electricity connector that is being organized right now from mainland Greece to Crete to Cyprus. We would like to have it connected obviously to Israel, and possibly to the east of Israel, so that we can use, we can optimize the use of electricity. We discussed now the mechanism of how to advance this. The third thing is fire. The world is getting hotter, not only because the warmth of our relationship. That's the good side, but because the climate getting more punitive, with the eruption of fires that are, truly endanger our countries. We have communicated, we've cooperated on firefighting planes. We're talking about going well beyond that into AI systems for early detection, and other things that we're developing separately. We're going to do it better together in a variety of ways that we agreed upon as well. On terror, we've had instances now of cooperation between Israel and Cyprus, and Israel and Greece, where our security forces cooperated to stop terror, Iranian-backed terror. I have to say that I think there's something else that could develop, and we discuss it at great length. There is now the possibility that we might have the expansion of the Abraham Accords to normalization with Saudi Arabia. All three countries view that as a great possibility, but they also see that this could lead to a connection between India, the Arabian Peninsula, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, and Europe. There is a natural, geographic connection, but it could be also something that would lead to many, many rewards for our peoples and for our countries. I think we all see eye-to-eye on that. I have to say that it's a pleasure to have, to receive your hospitality and to see my old friend, Kyriakos, here, and you as well, Nikos. We have a wonderful friendship and we look forward to seeing you, as we say, next year in Jerusalem." Prime Minister Netanyahu added: "We like your food. We like your dairy products. We like your yogurt. So as I told the leaders, and I'm telling you right now, we are going to soon open our dairy products market, which is long overdue. I think Israelis are going to be a lot happier, and your producers are going to be a lot happier. So be prepared for that. We can enjoy the benefits of each other's economies in the most direct sense. We intend to open the dairy market very soon to Greek and Cypriot—and other—imports. May the best yogurt win. You have a pretty good chance at winning."