Cyprus, Greece and Israel can provide a key energy corridor to Europe through a planned electricity cable connecting their power grids and a potential natural gas pipeline, diplomats from the three nations said on Friday.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos, his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias and the Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met in Nicosia as part of a series of high-level trilateral meetings aimed at deepening a partnership founded on the discovery of substantial offshore natural gas deposits.
“Unlocking the full potential of our region will be a game changer,” Kombos told a news conference. “We strive to promote a reliable and sustainable energy corridor from the Eastern Mediterranean basin to Europe.”
Work hasn’t started on either the cable — which will be partly funded by the European Union — or the gas pipeline, which has been under discussion for years but is still at the feasibility study stage.
The Cypriot foreign minister has underscored that the projects have gained added weight and urgency in light of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the “need for energy diversification and increased interconnectivity.”
Kombos said a 2,000-megawatt undersea electricity cable known as the EurAsia Interconnector and the proposed EastMed gas pipeline “remain two significant strategic options on our energy agenda.”
Eastern Mediterranean an “alternative energy corridor”
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the EU’s engagement in a regional forum created to promote cooperation on energy generation “showed that the eastern Mediterranean plays an important role as an alternative energy corridor.”
“We talked about the East Med pipeline, as you would expect us to do, and also the strategic importance of the Eurasian interconnector between Greece, Cyprus, Israel,” Dendias said, extending an invitation to Turkey — Greece’s neighbor and longtime regional rival — to join in as long as it heeds international law.
Mtg b/w FM @NikosDendias & 🇮🇱FM @elicoh1 in #Nicosia. Agenda
🔹deepening strategic🇬🇷🇮🇱coop in many areas, incl. energy, investments,economy, defense& within int'l organisations
🔹Patriarchate issues-protection of Christian places of worship in the Holy Land
🔹Int'l®ional dvpts pic.twitter.com/MimL05yB34
— Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών (@GreeceMFA) March 31, 2023
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said his country attaches “special importance” to renewable energy.
Funding for about a third of the EurAsia Interconnector’s 1.6 billion euro ($1.74 billion) price tag will come from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility, which bankrolls infrastructure projects.
EastMed pipeline unites Greece, Israel and Cyprus
Feasibility studies on the proposed 1,900-kilometer (1,300-mile), $6 billion EastMed pipeline are still ongoing.
In the latest twist in the EastMed saga, the US has seemingly abandoned the pipeline that would have brought gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe via Cyprus and Greece, and many Representatives are not happy.
In 2022, Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) sent a stern letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken vociferously objecting to the Administration’s recent reversal of support for the EastMed Pipeline.
In a strongly-worded rebuke of the administration’s withdrawal of support for the joint Israel/Cyprus/Greece project, which would have brought oil to Greece from a pipeline under the Mediterranean, the two Greek-American representatives charged the US with undermining the project.
By effectively nixing the EastMed deal, they said, the Biden Administration is undercutting three of the country’s strongest allies in the region as well as the European Union’s hopes for energy independence and economic prosperity.
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