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SEPTEMBER 2020

Greece, Cyprus and Israel Sign Agreement to Build East Med Gas Pipeline, Turkey Left Out

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Greece, Cyprus and Israel Sign Agreement to Build East Med Gas Pipeline, Turkey Left Out

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On January 2nd, Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement to build a pipeline through the Eastern Mediterranean that could potentially supply Europe with up to 4% of its annual gas needs.

“Today we did not simply sign a beneficial agreement. We sealed our resolve for a strategic connection between our countries in a region that now more than ever needs growth and security,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

The agreement means that the governments of the three countries have the political will for the project. It all depends on the construction consortium, led by the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA) and Italy’s Edison, to find the $6.7bn the pipeline is estimated to cost.

The pipeline, dubbed East Med, would have a length of 1,900 km from Israeli and Cypriot gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean to Italy via Greece.

It would initially carry 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year but could expand to twice that with the latest compression technology.

“This is a historic day for Israel,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Just days ago we started pumping [the] Leviathan [gas field].

“We have huge quantities there. This means a lot of money will come into the economy. That is good for peace because we have agreements with our Arab neighbours.”

Greece is expected to face opposition from Turkey, which recently claimed a section of the Mediterranean through which the pipeline must pass as its own maritime jurisdiction. Greece also claimed the area in a 2011 law.

“We do not have anything to gain from tensions but you know there are certain limits,” Greek energy minister Kostis Hatzidakis said.

“Everybody has to understand that this year is 2020, we are in Europe, we want all the countries of the broader region to cooperate, but of course this has a prerequisite which is international law and a spirit of goodwill. Mitsotakis hastened to quell Turkish reactions. East Med doesn’t threaten anyone. Trilateral fora like ours are not directed against anyone.

Regional cooperation is open to all – under one condition – that they respect international law.”

At the same meeting to sign the gas pipeline agreement, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades issued a joint statement on Ankara’s plan to deploy troops to Libya, and the approval it received from Turkish Parliament.

“This decision constitutes a gross violation of the UNSC resolution…imposing an arms embargo in Libya and seriously undermines the international community’s efforts to find a peaceful, political solution to the Libyan conflict,” the statement said.

The three countries also called on Turkey to refrain from sending troops to Libya, which would violate Libyan national sovereignty and independence.

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