ATHENS – Greece and Cyprus can forget about going ahead with Israel and Egypt on the EastMed gas pipeline, said US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, adding that Turkey should be included in any energy plans in that region.
The US earlier abruptly pulled support for the pipeline after objections from Turkey which has been drilling for oil and gas in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in defiance of soft European Union sanctions.
In an interview with Kathimerini, she disspelled any notion that there would be backing for EastMed – days after Cypriot officials wanted it resurrected – and that it’s unviable.
“We don’t need to wait for 10 years and spend billions of dollars on this stuff. We need to move the gas now. And we need to use gas today as a transition to a greener future. Ten years from now we don’t want a pipeline. Ten years from now we want to be green,” she said, stressing however that “right now we need the gas.”
That came as the EU is still buying energy from Russia, its major supplier, exempting the purchases from sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, the US however barring Russian oil and gas.
“So we’ve got to use LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and we’ve got to use electricity connections that we can do more quickly,” she said, while also calling for the transfer of natural gas via LNG and the participation of Turkey in cooperation with Greece, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus.
She said collaboration between the countries – which would bring Turkish President Recep Tayyip a big win – would make the Eastern Mediterranean a potential energy source for Northern Europe too.
“The whole neighborhood needs energy and this part of the world can also be an energy engine for Northern Europe. And you see how quickly we have to make that transition away from Russia. Because they’re unreliable suppliers and they’re also an immoral partner as we see,” she said.
She also referred to the importance of Alexandroupoli in northern Greece and the military bases used by the US Armed Forces in Greece, both to provide security in the region and for the transfer of military forces to Eastern Europe and Ukraine.
“The fact that we have a completely different, richer, deeper defense relationship with Greece than we had just a few years ago has changed not only what we can and are able to do together, but Greece’s ability to become a security provider throughout Southeastern Europe. Without that relationship we wouldn’t have been able to get more security support to Ukraine, literally within two days of (President Volodomyr) Zelenskyy’s request,” she also said.