ENERGY: Cyprus calls for a holistic approach in the Eastern Mediterranean

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Despite the US and EU showing commitment to the Eastern Mediterranean region’s energy prospects they lack a holistic strategic approach to the issue, said Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides.

During a discussion at the 15th Economist Summit in Nicosia, he said regional development and the energy sector in the East Med were interconnected.

"A holistic approach is needed, if there’s a genuine interest in the Eastern Mediterranean," Christodoulides said.

In his speech, Christodoulides argued it was in the interest of the United States and the EU to support the cooperation efforts in the East Med.

As he said, the presence of European and American energy giants and their support in the energy prospects and opportunities of the region allows for the conclusion that Brussels and Washington have largely shared energy goals and objectives in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"However, despite the clear commitment and support of the two in the energy perspective in the region, at least so far, there has not been a holistic and strategic approach to the region, which often sends confusing messages or even creates a gap that other international powers are using.”

He said Cyprus “will continue to work systematically to highlight the need for further and more meaningful EU involvement in the region”.

US Ambassador Judith Garber said this was a good time to be an American ambassador to Cyprus, as the two countries were breaking new ground in their relationship such as the Cyprus-US defence and security cooperation.

Defence Minister Savvas Angelides said that Cyprus was playing an important role in the security architecture of the region and in trying to maintain a balance between different and sometimes competing interests.

He added that the implementation of the EU’s global strategy goes through Cyprus, as it aims to achieve stability in its neighbourhood as a recipe for ensuring the protection of EU citizens.

Referring to the trilateral partnerships in the region, he said they played a key role in the decision of energy companies to invest in the Mediterranean region.

He said that he had explained to his colleagues the reasons why the Eastern Mediterranean Sea should be a maritime area of interest, something that would create momentum and satisfy the EU`s capacity to respond immediately and dynamically in times of crisis.