ATHENS – To the dismay of Turkey, which is drilling for oil and gas off Libya and plans to do the same off Cyprus, the leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Israel on Jan. 2 were set to sign the so-called EastMed pipeline deal to transport gas from the East Mediterranean.
Turkey signed a deal with Libya dividing the seas between them and claiming some of the same waters and tension has risen to near-conflict levels although the EastMed deal for now is only on paper and a political move, with investors being sought.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hailed the plan to sign an agreement as he welcomed Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Athens, where they were to be joined by Israel’s caretaker Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, who’s seeking immunity from corruption charges against him.
“We welcome the President of the Republic of Cyprus, especially on such an important day when Greece, Cyprus and Israel will sign the agreement on the East Med pipeline, a very important energy project that is the culmination of a trilateral cooperation in energy and more,” Mitsotakis said as he welcomed Anastasiades.
LIVE | Τελετή διακρατικής συμφωνίας για την κατασκευή του αγωγού μεταφοράς φυσικού αερίου EastMed.
Posted by Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, January 2, 2020
Responding to Mitsotakis, the Cypriot President described the event as “historic,” adding that it “lays the groundwork for the actual pursuit … of cooperation and not rivalry in the Middle East, especially with regard to energy issues or anything that might connect the states of the region,” said Kathimerini.
He said talks with Greece and Israel lay the foundations “for further, and even stronger cooperation” with countries of the Middle East although the pipeline is still in early stages and as the three countries moved to cut off Turkey’s aggressions.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) January 2, 2020
The pipeline will run across the Mediterranean from Israel’s Levantine Basin offshore gas reserves to Crete and the Greek mainland, and then on to Italy too.
Netanyahu tweeted that, “The gas pipeline that we are now going to advance …,We will not only bring about the lowering of gas prices and later of electricity prices but this will also direct hundreds of billions into state coffers to benefit Israel’s citizens including the elderly and children, health and social services.”