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East Med Gas Feasible Only Through Turkey, Erdogan Says

EastMed gas pipeline Turkey
Erdogan cites the US’ change of heart about the EastMed pipeline, saying that Israeli gas headed to Europe can only be transported through Turkey. Credit: Turkish Presidency

The EastMed pipeline project, which aimed to bring natural gas from Israel directly to Europe cannot become a reality without Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

“This is not a project that can be materialized. They (the U.S.) made all the analyses of this, they saw that there is nothing positive about this business,” Erdogan told journalists onboard a plane during his return from Albania, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.

The U.S. withdrew from the project because it would have been very costly, he added.

Erdogan was referring to the U-turn by the U.S., which has apparently given up on the project.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement in early January 2020 to construct the EastMed pipeline, to be completed by 2025, with an estimated cost of $7 billion.

EastMed pipeline Turkey
astMed Pipeline project map: Credit: Randam/Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

The project had been hailed by the European Union, as the pipeline would limit Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

The U.S. had been supportive of the project from the very beginning. Frank Fannon, then-Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) was present at a meeting in Athens in August 2019 when the project was agreed on.

However, it appears there is a change of line now, with the U.S. expressing reservations about the pipeline, proposing more green-friendly alternatives.

EastMed pipeline cannot be done without Turkey

“This business cannot be done without Turkey. Because if it will be transferred to Europe from here, it will only happen through Turkey,” Erdogan stated.

Turkey is eager to resume talks for bringing Israeli gas to Europe, he said.

The president recalled that Israel had earlier proposed to work on the project with Turkey in discussions with former Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.

“The work was going somewhere. Maybe then we could conclude it up with Israel. So, is there no hope of finalizing now? The terms can be discussed. Because the interest analysis of this business is very important,” the Turkish president said.

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