The leaders of Greece and Israel agreed on Wednesday to seek tangible ways to strengthen ties between the two countries and to bring Cyprus into their discussions, particularly regarding energy issues.
On the first day of his visit to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held what seem to have been productive talks with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.
The two leaders agreed that intergovernmental discussions between the two countries should continue, with the next meeting possibly being held in Jerusalem in January.
It is also likely that Cyprus will be invited so that trilateral talks can also be held.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was in Israel earlier this month for discussions mostly focused on energy issues.
Tsipras said that the aim of the talks would be to decide on specific steps toward bolstering cooperation “and for these steps to be put into practice, not just to remain an exercise on paper.”
“One of the main issues in our discussions today was the opportunities arising in the fields of energy in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said the Greek premier. “We are examining ways to cooperate in research, drilling and the transportation of gas from Israel to Europe.”
Israel is currently examining ways in which to export its gas and one of the options is to build a pipeline to Cyprus, from where it will then be transported to Greece.
“We’re the two democracies in the Eastern Mediterranean and we are obviously aware that we have a world of opportunities – of technology, of development, of progress – to seize and we can seize it better through cooperation,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
“But equally we also understand that there are great challenges before us, especially very violent religious fundamentalism that seeks to sweep our world.”
Tsipras also expressed concern about the potential spread of jihadism.
The prime minister is due to hold talks on Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and in comments on Wednesday said that Greece is “opposed to every terrorist act but also to violence against civilians.”
Before returning to Greece, Tsipras will also hold talks with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin.