The Intergovernmental Energy Agreement for the construction of the EastMed natural gas pipeline was signed today in Athens by the Minister of Environment and Energy Kostis Hatzidakis, the Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry of the Republic of Cyprus George Lakotripis and the Minister of Energy of Israel Yuval Steinitz.
The pipeline will link Eastern Mediterranean natural gas deposits to the European market through Cyprus and Greece. It is a project that upgrades our country’s role in the wider region of Southeast Europe and the Mediterranean and is the crowning point of the new geopolitical partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel. It also puts an end to Cyprus’s energy isolation and ensures that gas is supplied to areas of our country that currently do not have access to the national grid.
Cooperation for EastMed does not turn against any third country but turns energy into a catalyst for regional cooperation and stability for the benefit of all.
The project is also in line with the European Union’s strategic energy goals, as it opens a new gas supply corridor and will contribute to Member States’ energy security through diversification of sources and routes.
At the economic level, our country will benefit from gas production, transportation and distribution, and consumers will also benefit from reduced energy costs. There will also be profits on the environmental policy front, as EastMed will facilitate the transition to a low-carbon, transitional fuel economy.
The original capacity of the pipeline is projected to be 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year, with the potential to double it in the future.
Following the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Anastasiades made statements to the press:
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in his statement stressed:
Congratulations. I am very pleased to welcome today in Athens two good friends – the President of the Republic of Cyprus and the Prime Minister of Israel – with whom we have just signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on the construction of the EastMed gas pipeline. It is the crowning point of the new geopolitical, partnership of Greece, Cyprus and Israel that has been systematically built in recent years, forming a new energy hub in the Eastern Mediterranean. A bridge that will drive the region’s natural gas reserves to Europe – via Greece – and enrich the European Union’s energy mix – known as the Energy Union – with more environmentally friendly gas within from a new crossing.
The Zappeio Agreement on EastMed has an economic, developmental, diplomatic and geostrategic dimension. One of the largest natural gas pipelines in the world will have obvious positive effects for the countries participating in this program. But it is also a contribution to peace and geopolitical stability. Because it demonstrates the real intention of our countries to view energy as a link of peoples’ cooperation, and not as a cause of disagreement and conflict.
Undoubtedly, the new pipeline will enhance the geostrategic goodwill and the regional role of Greece and Cyprus in the Mediterranean, giving also strategic depth to our multilevel cooperation with Israel, and spreading a prosperous arc that crosses the eastern Mediterranean and the European Mediterranean Join. Especially the deepening of cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, in combination with our most traditional relations with Egypt and the moderate Arab world, is a guarantee of security in the wider region. A place that has been threatened in recent years by conflicts, rearrangements and deadlocked revisions.
At the same time, it offers more flexibility and independence to Europe’s energy sources. That is why the European Union has supported Eastmed at all stages of its maturation as a project of common interest. It even subsidized the final study by 50%. And let’s not forget that Europe has decided by 2050 to become climate neutral. For the next 30 years natural gas will be the transition fuel that will allow us to get rid of earlier sources of pollution, such as oil, lignite and coal. I also recall our Homeland’s commitment to replace all lignite units by 2028 at the latest and to stop – to the extent possible – the production of lignite electricity by the end of 2023.
Consequently, access to cheap natural gas is also important for Greece. Overall, the EastMed pipeline comes to help shape a new energy landscape that respects international law and consolidates international legitimacy. And that is why it is strongly supported by the United States of America. And at this point, I would also like to welcome the passage of the US Senate’s Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, even by inter-party consensus. It is a decision that reflects the United States’ interest in security in the region and in supporting Greece as a strategic partner in energy matters.
EastMed, in combination with the construction of the FCRU gasification tank in Alexandroupolis, makes our country a crucial player in the energy supply of Eastern and Central Europe. I will also highlight President Trump’s personal geopolitical importance for this security project in the Eastern Mediterranean when I will have the opportunity to visit him at the White House next Tuesday. Emphasizing also that the co-operation of Greece, Cyprus and Israel is an option with broader horizons that extend well beyond the limits of an energy tripartite regime. And with the support of Italy and the European Union already given.
At this point, I would like to welcome the presence, at today’s signing ceremony, of Ministers who have participated in this effort all previous years. Our policy must be continued. And our common interest must unite all the political forces, especially in matters that have an international dimension and a national dimension.
I want to thank again President Anastasiadis and Prime Minister Netanyahu for our extremely fruitful cooperation. And reiterating that today we have not just signed an advantageous agreement but have also sealed our decision to strategically converge our countries in an area – today more than ever – in need of development and security.
I would like to reiterate, here in Athens, that the EastMed pipeline is not a threat to anyone. And let me point out, once again, that the tripartite forms of cooperation – such as that between Greece, Cyprus and Israel – do not turn to anyone. Regional cooperation is always open to all. However, one basic condition: To respect international law and the rules of good neighborliness. EastMed is not just a pipeline for energy and economic progress, but a pipeline for peace and cooperation between the peoples of the region.
I would like to thank you again, Mr President and Prime Minister, for being in Athens, and I would like to stress that there is complete coordination. And here I see that even in clothes we have coordination. This is a coincidence.
The President of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Anastasiadis stated:
Friends Prime Ministers, dear Kyriako, dear Benjamin, ladies and gentlemen,
First, I would like to extend my warm thanks to both the Prime Minister and the Cypriot Delegation to my friend Prime Minister for the warm hospitality, impeccable and warm hospitality, as well as for the excellent organization of this historic event.
I characterized it as a truly historic event today, as the signing of the interstate agreement on the EastMed pipeline confirms in the most tangible way that the cooperation we have developed in recent years is not limited to theoretical and blank declarations. But it has matured to such an extent that we are capable of both practical and persuasive ways of promoting strategic projects of geopolitical value. Projects such as EastMed have a huge collective benefit, both for our countries and for the wider region, and its implementation will make a real contribution to the security of the European Union’s energy supply. The European Union’s decision to finance technical pipeline studies is by no means accidental, while at the same time the entire geostrategic importance of the pipeline is recognized by the United States of America, with the most recent example being the adoption of the EastMed Act.
Friends, Prime Ministers, it would not be an exaggeration to say that trilateral cooperation between our countries has been founded on a form of self-evident geopolitical value based on our historically shared values, with the aim of always achieving peace, stability and security in the flammable region of the East. It is a common belief that our partnerships based on the principles of international law, solidarity, reciprocity, and honest dialogue illustrate the benefits that can be achieved when countries with common concerns, goals and interests unite their forces.
At the same time, as we have repeatedly emphasized, the partnerships we have developed have not turned on – as the Prime Minister has already said, he will repeat, I am sure, and the friend of the Prime Minister of Israel – are not against any third country. The opposite. Any country that wishes to do so is welcome, of course, in adopting the basic principles of international law with full respect for the exercise of sovereign rights and the territorial integrity of independent countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, today’s signing of the transnational agreement on the implementation of the EastMed pipeline is in the common position that the discovery of significant hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean can enhance the partnerships by multiplying their strategic value and contributing to their efforts of peace in the area. A belief shared by most of the countries through the establishment of the Eastern Mediterranean forum by Greece, Israel, Italy, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine which has secured full European support Union as well as the United States of America.
It is extremely important that the countries involved in this forum, despite any transnational or other differences, have realized that the collective action and the creation of regional energy cooperation that will make the Eastern Mediterranean competitive on the global gas market is only to ensure co-operation for peace and stability in the region.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to conclude by welcoming, once again, the signing of today’s agreement on EastMed, an agreement, which I reiterate and emphasize, is not directed against any third country, but reinforces the common pursuit of peace, security and stability in the particularly vulnerable region of the eastern Mediterranean on the basis of full respect for international law and the law of the sea.
At the same time, I have no doubt that a joint decision will be made to move beyond the above project to the electrical interconnection Israel, Cyprus, Greece via a submarine cable known as EuroAsia interconnector, a project which also enjoys the European Union’s support.
Thanking once again my friend Kyriakos for the warm hospitality, I can only wish the peoples of the three countries prosperity, a peaceful course and, of course, excellent cooperation in securing the peace and prosperity of our peoples.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
Dear friends, Nikos and Kyriakos,
Thanks, Kyriako, for the warm welcome and the very nice ceremony. It is a historic day for Israel as Israel thus becomes a very powerful energy country. We are now producing energy. A few days ago, we opened the “Leviathan deposit” and we see that we have a very large quantity there, which of course translates into enormous financial rewards for the good of the people of Israel. So, we’re talking about an extraordinary development. I would also like to talk about the agreements we have signed with our Arab neighbors. This, of course, enhances peace and prosperity in our region. I welcome the cooperation with Cyprus and the Hellenic Republic. This is a very important thing which adds even more to the stability and security of the region. I repeat that we do not go against anyone, but we work for everyone’s values, we work for the good of our people.
We ask and invite, from whatever country it wishes, Italy first, then Egypt, to help. This will further enhance cooperation in the region. And of course, you understand that, in addition to our external relations, which are constantly evolving and beyond any imagination, we have now established cooperation with the other countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. I would like to mention that there is a historical anomaly that our countries have experienced. In Athens and Jerusalem, we have laid the foundations of Western Culture. Greece and Israel, on the one hand, Cyprus in the middle, have created the values that have prevailed in humanity.
But in modern times, there was a lack of connection between our countries. But we have corrected that, because we have now begun these bilateral meetings between us. This is the seventh trilateral meeting. It is historic, however, because what we are doing right now is that we are upgrading our cooperation to an even higher level to supply Europe with energy. And we want to strengthen what is in our common interest.
There is one point in which I would like to disagree with the Prime Minister of Greece. Coordination, that is, what we wear is not accidental. It’s not a coincidence. These are our national colors. We are talking about national colors, we are talking about our strategic interests. So, it is a historic day and I want to thank you very much, my dear friends, and the Ministers and everyone who worked on this day that we will all remember.
Thank you very much.
The signing of the interstate agreement on the EastMed energy pipeline was preceded by a trilateral meeting of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Anastasiadis and the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, in the presence of the three Energy Ministers, Kostis Hatzidakis, George Lakotripis and Yuval Steinitz. The meeting reaffirmed that close cooperation between Greece, Israel and Cyprus is an option with broader horizons that extend beyond the boundaries of an energy tripartite regime.
The signing ceremony was also attended by Italy’s Ambassador to Greece Efisio Luigi Marras, as well as former Energy Ministers George Stathakis and Yiannis Maniatis.