Cyprus-Greece-Israel to sign historic EastMed pipeline accord

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Cyprus, Greece and Israel will sign on Thursday an accord, in Athens, for the construction of an ambitious €7 bln EastMed natural gas pipeline stretching to western Europe.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pave the way for construction of 1,900 kilometre EastMed pipeline.

“It is a historic event to sign a trilateral, then a four-way cooperation, which lays the foundation for cooperation. There should be cooperation rather than rivalry in the East Med, especially with regard to energy issues,” Anastasiades said after meeting Mitostakis on Thursday.

“So, it really is an important historic day…to lay the foundations for even stronger cooperation with the East Med states.”

The pipeline will connect recently discovered gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean basin with European markets through Greece and Italy.

The project is being developed by IGI Poseidon SA, a joint venture of Greece’s state-owned supplier Depa SA and Edison SpA. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is expected to sign the agreement at a later date.

The accord comes as tensions are increasing in the region after Turkey’s controversial agreement that delineates maritime borders with Libya and affirms claims to areas of the Mediterranean the pipeline may cross.

The boundaries delineated in the accord ignore the territorial waters of Greece and Cyprus who have condemned the move along with Israel.

Nicosia and Athens insist that the pipeline project is not going against Turkey but an example of regional cooperation to be followed.

IGI Poseidon in December agreed to fast-track development of the EastMed pipeline and take a final investment decision within two years.

Brussels supports the project because it will help diversify its gas supplies and boost energy security.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo also underlined American backing for the pipeline when he attended a Cyprus-Greece-Israel trilateral summit in Jerusalem in March 2019.

The agreement will be signed by Greece`s Environment and Energy Minister Kostis Hadzidakis, Cyprus` Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis and their Israeli counterpart Yuval Steiniz.

President Anastasiades will hold a separate meeting with Netanyahu later on Thursday.

At 1800 hours local time (1600 GMT) a trilateral meeting between the three leaders will take place, following which the agreement will be signed.

Anastasiades, Mitsotakis and Netanyahu will then hold a press conference.