The key focus of Israel, Greece and Cyprus is to develop and build the Eastern Mediterranean underwater gas pipeline, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
“Our prime focus right now is on energy, on developing the eastern Mediterranean pipeline. It’s a great project, could be one of the great underwater projects in the world. And obviously it’s something that we think is important,” said the Israeli PM.
He made the comments before meeting the Foreign Ministers of Cyprus and Greece, Nikos Christodoulides and Nikos Kotzias, in Israel on Thursday.
The three discussed the laying of a joint Israel-Cyprus-Greece East-Med gas pipeline in order to export gas to Europe.
The proposed EastMed Pipeline Project would start about 170 kilometres off Cyprus’ southern coast and stretch for 2,200 kilometres to reach Otranto, Italy, via Crete and the Greek mainland.
The pipeline will have the capacity to carry up to 20 billion cubic metres of gas yearly. Europe’s gas import needs are projected to increase by 100 billion cubic meters (3.5 billion cubic feet) annually by 2030.
In December, 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 meeting in Jerusalem on Thursday underscored that fact and Netanyahu implied that Cyprus should also be allowed to search for gas unimpeded by Turkey while Ankara should respect Greece territorial rights in the Aegean.
"Equally we think it is important that all countries respect the territorial waters, internationally recognised territorial waters, and this is something that is important for all of us,” Netanyahu said.
According to an official statement issued in Nicosia, Netanyahu noted that “between Greece, Israel and Cyprus we have many things we cooperate on, environment, energy, security, emergency services, tourism and others."
Christodoulides said: “This is the second time in six months we are in Israel. It is very important that our cooperation…is recognised by the international community as having an added value for the stability in the region, our cooperation is recognised as a pillar of stability."
President Nicos Anastasiades said on Thursday that Cyprus and Israel would continue working on further enhancing their cooperation.
Addressing the Opening Ceremony of the Jewish Community Centre and the Ground Breaking of the Jewish Holocaust Museum in Larnaca, Anastasiades said that the trilateral cooperation of Cyprus, Greece and Israel is of strategic importance.
“We also consider the trilateral cooperation we have established with Israel and Greece to be of strategic significance.”
In his speech, the President said the Holocaust was not only a hideous crime and a tragedy for the Jewish people; but a failure of humanity as a whole.
“The people of Cyprus embraced the Jewish refugees that passed from the established camps in Cyprus and significantly helped these Holocaust survivors in rebuilding, once again, their lives and return to their Jewish identities,” Anastasiades said.
Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides travels to Cairo on Friday together with his Greek counterpart Kotzias, for consultations with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, to discuss issues of trilateral and regional interest.