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Politics

Cyprus’ Ex-Foreign Chief Says EastMed Not Dead, Wants Revival

NICOSIA – With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine showing European Union over-dependency on Russian gas, the stalled East Med project could bring the bloc as much as 16 percent of its needs, said Cyprus’ former foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides.

EU sanctions on Russia excluded buying energy because Russia is the source of some 40 percent of the supplies, but those came after the United States pulled its backing for East Med, under pressure from Turkey, drilling unlawfully off Cyprus.

In an interview with Kathimerini, Christodoulides said that, “EU gas imports from Russia that will have to be replaced by alternative sources come to a total of 155 billion cubic meters (BCM) per year.”

He said the quantities available in the Eastern Mediterranean (in the Aphrodite and Glaucos fields in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone and in Leviathan in the Israeli EEZ) amount to about 500, three times more.

This means, he explained, that over a 20-year period, the Eastern Mediterranean would be able to contribute 25 BCM per year, adding that, ‘This is not a negligible percentage … it is time for the countries of the region, which started their cooperation on the basis of mutual benefits that would initially arise through energy cooperation, to move in this direction.”

But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the magazine Kriter that any Eastern Mediterranean energy project that does not include Turkey and the breakaway state in Turkish-occupied Cyprus won’t work at all.

“I am, of course, not talking about ill-intentioned partnerships that exclude Turkey and the TRNC,” he said in reference to the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state that is recognized only by Turkey.

“Such attempts are doomed to fail, as the EastMed (pipeline project) showed,” Cavusoglu said, adding that “unilateral actions have fueled tensions so far.”

“We are determined about safeguarding the rights and the interests of our country and of the TRNC,” he said, the name no other country in the world recognizes, almost 48 years after Turkish invasions seized the northern third of the island.

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