The crisis in the Middle East and the situation in Syria in particular are the focus of an informal meeting of Foreign Ministers of Mediterranean countries, currently underway in Limassol, on the south coast, at the initiative of the Cypriot Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou.

The meeting is attended by the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Malta, Israel and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Bulgaria.

In statements to the press on the sidelines of the meeting, Kyprianou said that there is no formal agenda and participants exchange views and brief each other on various aspects of regional developments, without keeping minutes.

He noted that the objective is to have a clear picture of the situation in the region and not to arrive at any concrete decisions.

“It is useful and necessary to have the views of Israel too, a country located in the middle of the region and inevitably will be affected by any developments,“ he added.

Kyprianou said that it was decided to continue this kind of meeting, describing as very useful the fact that a small group of countries – with the Mediterranean as their common denominator – are able to meet and exchange views.

He also said that all parties to the meeting had expressed their intention to host the next meetings.

Asked if they discussed the agreement between Hamas and Fatah and the decision of Egypt to open its border with the Gaza Strip, Kyprianou said that they had not focused on these issues, adding that Israeli Foreign Minister in statements he made yesterday expressed reservations about the cooperation between Hamas and Fatah “because Hamas has not accepted the Quartet`s conditions“.

“We have not yet seen the details of the agreement. The issue that comes up is whether the government of national unity to be formed in Palestine will accept the Quartet`s conditions. This is Israel`s reservation, “he said.

Replying to questions, the Minister said they did not discuss cooperation in the energy sector, adding that “today we focused on issues of political developments in our region“

He went on to say that they discussed the consequences of immigration because of the situation in the Mediterranean region.

He expressed concern over the possibility of an influx of refugees from Syria and assured that the Foreign Ministry is already considering various plans on how to react in the case of a crisis in Syria

Kyprianou said that the situation in Syria is being handled by the EU, adding that “we have an open dialogue with Syria, we have a special relationship with Syria and I believe that I convey the positions and views of EU in a more convincing and more honest manner“.

Replying to a question, he said that Israel is concerned about the situation in the region and not only the situation in Syria. “The issue of Syria is of Cyprus`s concern too and one of the issues which was the focus of our discussions,“ he added.

Asked whether there is a common policy on how to address the immigration issue, he said that this issue is handled by the responsible EU ministers, noting that there should be peace, stability and economic development in the countries where waves of immigration come from in order to tackle this problem.

“The root of the problem should be addressed and the EU itself will have to implement an immigration policy to address the problem and provide support to the countries which receive these migratory pressures,“ he concluded.

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