The Times of Israel — The leaders of Cyprus, Israel, and Greece on Tuesday agreed to push ahead with an envisioned pipeline that will supply east Mediterranean gas to Europe as the continent seeks to diversify its energy supply.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the East Med pipeline a “very serious endeavour” that’s important for Europe, which is looking for new sources of energy.
Netanyahu also hailed the growing ties between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece as building “an alliance for good” through joint trade, tourism, and health endeavours.
“We are building a great alliance, an alliance for good among our three democracies,” Netanyahu said. He called it “almost inconceivable that our countries did not have this warm, intimate, and direct contact” in past years.
After the meeting Tuesday, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said the three countries aimed to sign an agreement within this year to nudge the pipeline project forward.
Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the project “emblematic” of the cooperation between the three countries.
The proposed EastMed Pipeline Project would start about 170 kilometres (105 miles) off Cyprus’s southern coast and stretch for 2,200 kilometres (1,350 miles) to reach Otranto, Italy, via Crete and the Greek mainland.
In December, Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said a study on the EastMed Pipeline Project showed that the link is feasible, even though it presents technical challenges due to the depths involved. He told The Associated Press the estimated € 6.2 billion pipeline could take 6-7 years to build and that the countries involved “are serious about it.”
The leaders on Tuesday also reaffirmed their backing for planned undersea electricity and fibre optic cables that will link the three countries.
Work on the EuroAsia Interconnector project — a 1,520-kilometer (945-mile) undersea electric cable with a 2,000-megawatt capacity– is expected to begin in 2018 pending approval from regulators.
Israel’s ties with Greece and Cyprus have markedly improved in recent years, coinciding with a spat between Israel and regional rival Turkey.
The three countries now hold frequent joint military and civil protection exercises, including a planned joint air force drill that will include Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, and other European countries as part of efforts to bolster stability in the eastern Mediterranean.