Allow me to start by thanking Egypt for hosting today’s signing ceremony, and by congratulating Minister Tarek El Molla for all his hard work and enthusiasm and, of course, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for his unwavering support to the EMGF and the solid principles upon which it is founded.
Although it has not been possible for all of us to stand side by side in celebrating this momentous event, today’s ceremony is an indication of the strong bonds between our countries as, even though we are physically thousands of miles apart, we all stand together in our commitment to each other and in our collective effort to sustainably develop the Eastern Mediterranean to its full potential.
As Energy Ministers of the Founding Members of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, I believe that we can all be proud of this historic day, one that marks a true milestone in our joined efforts to responsibly and efficiently monetise the Eastern Mediterranean offshore gas discoveries, for our peoples’ benefit and welfare. Today, the Forum is officially established as a regional intergovernmental organization, a mere 20 months after Egypt’s initiative calling for such a development.
In order to get to this point so quickly, our countries have worked together closely and tirelessly, putting aside any political or other differences, capitalising on the synergies and spirit of collaboration and, thus, bringing to life our common vision for the East Med. I think we all agree that this spirit of collaboration is the only way to advance stability, peace and prosperity in our shared region.
For these reasons, the Republic of Cyprus has fully supported the initiative of establishing the EMGF from the very beginning. Committed to developing a sustainable regional gas market, whist minimising the technical, financial and political risks involved, this regional organization will bring together not only countries and their governments, but a range of different stakeholders, from gas producers and investors, to traders and financing entities.
Established on the fundamental principle that it fully respects Members’ rights over their natural resources, in accordance with international law, the EMGF is intended to foster cooperation, through a structured and systematic dialogue on natural gas issues, without being either exclusionary or exclusive. In fact, as expressly stated in the newly agreed statute, any East Mediterranean country can apply for membership and any other country, regional or international organization, can apply to join as an observer, provided that they share the same values and objectives as the EMGF, as well as the willingness to cooperate for the benefit of the whole region.
The technical and financial support already received by the EU and the World Bank, as well as the strong interest expressed by countries such as the US and France, to collaborate with the EMGF, is also concrete evidence of the importance that the Forum already holds for our region.
Once again, on behalf of the Government of Cyprus, I offer my warmest congratulations to Egypt for hosting today’s ceremony, as well as the EMGF itself.
In closing, I also wish to extend a big thank you to the Founding countries’ delegations for your hard work, dedication and flexibility, all of which have made this day possible. May today mark the start of a long, strong and fruitful collaboration.