Cyprus and Israel have agreed to intensify their efforts to conclude an agreement on the joint exploitation of natural gas lying in adjacent offshore blocks in the eastern Mediterranean.
During an official visit to Israel on Sunday and Monday, his second in two years, President Nicos Anastasiades and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they will explore how to best utilise their energy resources, while promoting the undersea power cable that can transfer 2,000MW of electricity from Israel to Cyprus and onwards to Greece, before ending up with clients in continental Europe.
The EuroAsia Interconnector, a joint venture between Cyprus-based DEH-Quantum Energy and Israel Electric Corp., will run some 1,500 km from Israel’s Hadera point to Crete.
On-site inspections took place of the cable landfall area near Haifa from where the ambitious multi-billion project will be launched, with Cyprus expected to join the grid and receive electricity from the world’s longest sub-sea cable in 2019.
The project, expected to cost about 4 bln euros by its completion in 2022, will also end the energy isolation of outer-lying Greek islands, while Israel will embark on a new era of energy security, as the Interconnector may also allow the import of electricity in times of crisis.
Energy concerns were the focus of a separate meeting on Monday between Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis and Israel’s Minister of Energy and National Infrastructures. Yuval Steinitz. Netanyahu asked the two ministers to produce concrete results the soonest possible, urging them to begin discussion on the interconnector as well.
With regard to tourism, the Prime Minister said that Israel intends to attract tourists from the Far East, a project on which it can cooperate with Cyprus. He proposed a ferry connection between Cyprus and Israel, noting that if this succeeds more countries could join as well.
On his part, President Anastasiades expressed Cyprus’ interest in attracting tourists who visit Israel from the US.
During their working lunch, Netanyahu thanked President Anastasiades for the role which Cyprus plays within the EU on issues which concern Israel.
A Cyprus-Greece-Israel trilateral meeting will probably take place in October and the date is expected to be finalised at the beginning of August when the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will visit Israel.
President Anastasiades briefed the Israeli PM of his write to European Council President Donald Tusk to invite Netanyahu to address the Council. In this framework, the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas may also be invited to address the Council, diplomatic sources said.
Press reports suggested that Anastasiades conveyed to Netanyahu a message on the Palestinian issue from the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi. Anastasiades is expected to speak with Sisi again soon to convey Netanyahu’s response.
In the afternoon, the President, who was also accompanied by First Lady Andri Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides and other senior officials, laid a wreath at the burial site of Theodor Herzl, on Mount Herzl.