Parliament to ratify East Med Gas Forum statute

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The House Committee on Foreign Affairs has agreed to ratify the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) statute at the plenum on Thursday.

Energy Minister Natasa Pilides told CNA after the parliamentary meeting that the Forum is crucial for the geopolitical role of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean and exploiting of the region’s natural gas resources.

EMGF has seven founding members Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and Palestinian Authority, while the EU, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Russia, have shown “strong interest” to obtain observer status.

France has expressed interest to be a full member.

Pilides said the Forum also promotes technical and commercial cooperation on the issue of natural gas and has established committees in which companies operating in the region participate.

She said, so far, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel have ratified the agreement, while in Greece, Cyprus and Italy the procedures for ratification are underway.

Cyprus is in a hurry to ratify the law, as next month a teleconference of the founding members will take place.

Pilides said that the Forum is open to all countries in the region that may want to become members, as long as they respect the energy rights of member states but also international law and the law of the sea.

She added that Cyprus would also like to see Turkey join if the country was ready to take part under these conditions.

On 28 January, Pilides will hold a teleconference with her counterparts in Greece and Israel to discuss the planning projects of common interest.

Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs George Lillikas called for the bill to be considered urgent and cross-party MPs agreed for the law to be ratified.

He argued it would be beneficial for Lebanon and Syria to also participate in the Forum with Cyprus playing a bridging role to make it happen.