Greek Energy and Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Cyprus Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz signed on Thursday in Athens the intergovernmental agreement on the construction of the EastMed gas pipeline.
The pipeline will link Eastern Mediterranean natural gas deposits to the European market through Cyprus and Greece. This is a project that upgrades the role of Greece and Cyprus in the wider region of Southeast Europe and the Mediterranean basin and is the crowning point of the new geopolitical partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel. It also puts an end to Cyprus’ energy isolation and ensures that gas is supplied to areas of the country that currently do not have access to the national grid.
Cooperation on EastMed does not turn against any third country, but turns energy into a catalyst for regional cooperation and stability for the benefit of all.
The project is also in line with the European Union’s strategic energy goals, as it opens a new gas supply corridor and will contribute to Member States’ energy security through diversification of sources and routes.
On the economic level, Greece will benefit from gas production, transportation and distribution, while consumers will also benefit from reduced energy costs. There will also be profits on the environmental policy front, as EastMed will facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy, with natural gas the transitional fuel.
The original capacity of the pipeline is projected to be 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year, with the potential to double it in the future.
Following the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades made statements to the press:
The signing of the interstate agreement on the EastMed energy pipeline was preceded by a trilateral meeting of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, in the presence of the three Ministers of Energy, Kostis Hatzidakis, Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Yuval Steinitz. During the meeting, it was reaffirmed that the close cooperation of Greece, Israel and Cyprus is an option with broader horizons that extend well beyond the boundaries of an energy tripartite scheme.
The signing ceremony was also attended by Italy’s Ambassador to Greece Efisio Luigi Marras, as well as former Energy Ministers Giorgos Stathakis and Yiannis Maniatis.
Mitsotakis: Economic, developmental, diplomatic, geostrategic dimension
“I am very happy to welcome two very good friends in Athens today”, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in the joint statements that followed. “It is the crowning of a close relationship” of the three countries. The Zappeion Agreement has an economic, developmental, diplomatic and geostrategic dimension, he said, noting that it is a contribution to peace and geopolitical stability because it demonstrates the States’ real commitment to that end. “It will upgrade the geostrategic value of Greece and Cyprus in the Mediterranean”, he stressed, adding that it will deepen cooperation with Israel. Making an indirect mention to Turkey, without naming it, Mr Mitsotakis said the pipeline would contribute to the stability of the region, far from dead end revisionisms.
“The EastMed pipeline comes to help reshape a new energy landscape”, Mitsotakis said, noting that both the European Union and the US support the creation of the pipeline. At the same time, our country is becoming a crucial player in energy in the Mediterranean. The Greek PM welcomed Italy’s support for the pipeline, saying it expects Italy to become the fourth member of the effort.
Mr Mitsotakis also mentioned the benefits of the pipeline, saying there would be revenue from production, transportation and distribution of gas as well as a reduction in market prices. “We have not only signed an advantageous agreement, but we also sealed our countries’ cooperation”, at a critical time for security. “EastMed is not a threat to anyone. Tripartite schemes are not directed at anyone. Regional cooperation is open to all, provided that they respect international law and the rules of good neighborliness. It is not a pipeline of economic progress but a pipeline of peace and cooperation of the countries of the region”, Mitostakis concluded.
Anastasiades: Historic event – A project of immense geopolitical value
President Nicos Anastasiades stressed that the agreement confirms that the countries’ co-operation has matured to such an extent that the three countries can promote projects of geopolitical value. The pipeline, he said, has enormous geopolitical value for countries and the wider region, while contributing to the EU’s energy security, which is involved in financing the project.
The trilateral co-operation has been based on a form of self-evident political value, based on historically shared values, aimed at definitive peace, stability and security in the flammable region, he said. “The partnerships we have developed do not go against any third country. On the contrary, any country that wishes it is welcome, as long as it adheres to the rules of international law”, he said, referring indirectly but clearly to Turkey.
According to the Cypriot president, the discovery of hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean can boost partnerships and enhance the value of resources, contributing to security in the region.
At the same time, he said that the three countries would proceed to the three countries’ electrical interconnection, a task which also has the EU’s practical support.
Netanyahu: The pipeline offers security in the area
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of a historic day for Israel, noting that the Levathian deposit has been opened and there is a large quantity with excellent development, at a time when Israel has signed agreements with Arab countries as well.
Like his counterparts before him, Benjamin Netanyahu said the pipeline did not threaten anyone and called on any country that wishes it to contribute./ibna