Full support for Cyprus’ and Greece’s stance on regional energy issues and for the expansion of security and environmental co-operation is the outcome of the 1st Energy Ministerial Meeting, held in Athens on Wednesday, and participated by Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the United States.
Greek Environment and Energy Minister Costis Hatzidakis welcomed Cypriot Energy, Commerce and Industry Minister George Lakkotripis, Israeli Energy and Water Resources Minister Yuval Steinitz and the US Deputy Foreign Minister for energy sources Francis Fannon.
Hatzidakis clarified that this “is not a meeting aimed against any specific country but is in favor of International Law and standing treaties, and is aimed at stability and co-operation in the region.”
“We support Cyprus’ right to exploit its energy resources,” said Israeli Energy Minister Steinitz, noted that gas exports from Israel to Egypt will start in a few weeks and indicated that “energy can create tensions-as in the case of Cyprus-but can also boost cooperation.”
Cypriot Energy Minister Lakkotripis briefed his counterparts on Turkish violations in Cypriot national waters and also noted the three countries’ solidarity to Cyprus.
“We will continue,” he said, “to work with neighboring countries for stability and prosperity in the region,” and stressed that hydrocarbon exploration brings most regional countries “closer together.”
US Deputy Foreign Minister for energy sources Francis Fannon also noted that energy could pave the way to political stability and economic growth.
He also reiterated Greece’s role as an energy bridge to the European Union, with infrastructure projects such as the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) and the Liquefied Natural Gas Station in Revithousa, which they all contribute, he said, to energy security and diversification of supply sources.
The energy ministers also decided to step up co-operation beyond energy on environmental issues, and also addressed cyber-attacks and other security threats.
Steinitz spoke of a combination of forces to deal with exigent problems and crises, and said that “we must be ready for anything,” while Hatzidakis said a technical working group on all such issues would soon be set up, and which would report to ministers regularly.
Concerning the EastMed pipeline, scheduled to carry gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe via Greece, it was agreed to work with Italy to move the project forward as soon as possible.
Referring to the pipeline, Lakkotripis said it is “a common desire” of all three countries and the US to create a gas corridor in the Eastern Mediterranean towards Europe, as the region “is ideal as an alternative source of gas supply” to Europe, he concluded.