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“The Emerging Strategic Co-operation Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece”: Energy and Security

GAPP Prince Alwaleed Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR), School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) at the American University in Cairo (AUC) collaborated with the Institute for International Relations, Panteion University(Greece), and the Center for Energy Policy at the University of Nicosia (Cyprus) to host an international workshop. 

The workshop, “The Emerging Strategic Co-operation between Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece,” was held on September 25, 2017, in Cairo. In light of the 2016 tripartite summit between Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus, the workshop addressed avenues for cooperation and modalities for turning innovation and research into partnership and synergies. The event featured panelists from all three countries, including distinguished politicians, diplomats, and academics, and focused on cooperation in the fields of renewable energy and security.

In her introductory remarks, Magda Shahin, Director of CASAR, encouraged participants to develop tangible joint projects and joint research between the three participating universities. While there are challenges to such transnational cooperation, she spoke with excitement of the potential for collaboration in regards to renewable energy, hydrocarbon monetization, and Eastern Mediterranean security. 

The workshop began with introductory remarks by the founding Dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, Ambassador Nabil Fahmy, and President of the Democratic Party of Cyprus, Nicholas Papadopoulos. Dean Fahmy explained that the first tripartite summit in 2014 came after a decade of prioritizing Eastern Mediterranean relations, both in terms of security and energy policy. It is in the national security and economic interests of all three countries to increase collaboration. Dean Fahmy noted that workshops such as this allow for discussion and innovation without the constraints of politics. Minister Papadopoulous spoke of the common challenges facing the Eastern Mediterranean countries. However, Minister Papadopoulous is confident in the growth of this tripartite relationship because of its mutual benefits and the commitment of the governments and civil society. 

Both Dean Fahmy and Minister Papadopoulous stressed their belief that academic cooperation and joint research would support the governments’ efforts to foster collaboration between Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece. They expressed their hope that this first workshop will serve as a launching point for future efforts by regional academics to capitalize on this developing tripartite relationship. 

With its high-level panelists and active participation, the workshop concluded with important recommendations in the areas of energy, new and renewable and security to promote each country’s national development. These recommendations need to be further pursued and operationalized. The following ideas took the lead in the discourse: 
•    Minister Papadopoulous’s proposal that Cyprus begin exporting natural gas to Egypt, which would connect Damietta and Cyprus.
•    Amr Serag Eldin, Professor in the Department of Petroleum and Energy Engineering, AUC, suggestion to connect the power grids between the two countries.
•    Ahmed El-Banbi, Chair of the Department of Petroleum and Energy Engineering, AUC, proposal to foster study abroad and exchange experiences among students at the three universities to create youth networks and study petroleum engineering from different perspectives. He particularly focused on the potential of sending European students to AUC’s Department of Petroleum and Energy Engineering.
•    Minister Kyprianou, former foreign minister of Cyprus and Professor Haggag Professor in the Public Policy and Administration Department, AUC, suggested joint security research and common studies to analyze the similarities between homegrown terrorism in Europe and the North-South divide.
•    Panelists proposed creating a joint research team from the three participating universities which could reconnect at the next trilateral summit for further discussion.

The participants there were hosted for a dinner by Nabil Fahmy, Dean of School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, which was also attended by a number of the dignitariesincluding experts and academia from Egypt, Cyprus and Greece, H.E. Eng. Ibrahim Mehleb, Former Prime Minister of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Amr Moussa, Former Secretary General of the Arab League, from Cyprus H.E. Nicholas Papadopoulos, M.P., President of the Democratic Party and Presidential Candidate and H.E. Amb. Charis Moritsis, Ambassador of Cyprus to Egypt.

Discussions on the dinner and during the workshop were an excellent opportunity to reflect on the future of cooperation between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece in the fields of Security and Petroleum bringing together practitioners and scholars.