Netanyahu visits for pipeline talks
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Cyprus on Tuesday for a short visit to discuss prospects of energy cooperation and a pipeline project with President Nicos Anastasiades. This was his second visit having met with President Christofias in Nicosia three years ago.
Tuesday’s discussions focused on supply security and the diversification of routes, as western European consumers look to the new gasfields in the eastern Mediterranean to reduce their dependence on natural gas from Russia.
With Egypt and Jordan also vying for the newfound gas in Israeli waters, considered as the biggest discoveries of the decade, a three-way consortium involving Israel, Greece and Cyprus may also supply electricity produced from cheap natural gas to European consumers.
Last November, the European Commission already stated its readiness to support the EuroAsia Interconnector, a 1,500km undersea cable from Israel to Crete, via Vasilikos in Cyprus, that will have a two-way capacity of 2,000 megawatts at its initial phase. Developers DEH Quantum Energy had said in the past that there could be a prospect of doubling that capacity to 4,000MW, thus securing energy stability, both in Israel and in western Europe.
Anastasiades was in Israel in June for a number of meetings with President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu, as well as Delek Group executives over development plans for the Aphrodite gasfield in Cyprus waters, held by Delek Group and Noble Energy.
“We feel among friends”, Netanyahu said during the press conference in Nicosia, adding that “we are also close because of our shared values, concerns and visions.”
The two leaders said their talks included the latest developments in Cyprus, the Middle East peace process, energy, defence and security, regional developments such as Syria and the agreement on the Iranian nuclear deal, as well as Anastasiades’ initiative to invite the Israeli and the Palestinian leaders to the EU Council.
Netanyahu said that “we are blessed by God that there is energy under the water and we want to take it out.”
“We think that by cooperating with each other we can take it out more easily and we can market it better”, he said.
President Anastasiades said that this frequency in bilateral visits is indicative of the close relations between Cyprus and Israel, and of the depth of a shared agenda.
During the deliberations, Anastasiades exchanged views on an array of issues.
“In particular, we discussed in concrete terms the way forward in our energy cooperation, as well as regional prospects, such as the potential for the East-med pipeline and the possibility of the Eurasia interconnector”, he said.
Anastasiades briefed Netanyahu on his discussions with President Tusk and the EU High Representative, Mogherini regarding his initiative to invite the Israeli Prime Minister, as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to one of the upcoming European Councils.
The Cypriot President said that he had the opportunity to discuss the trilateral cooperation between Cyprus, Israel and Greece on Monday in a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Tsipras, who expressed his commitment and readiness to further develop the trilateral cooperation.
Netanyahu referred to cooperation in economy and tourism, by saying that they want to increase tourism, investments and economic activities in both ways. “I think
they that this is again something beneficial to both our peoples”, he added.
On the issue of security, Netanyahu said that we are faced with a very unstable world that presents new dangers which come primarily from militant to Islam, either led by radical Shiites headed by Iran or led by radical Sunnis at the moment headed by ISIS.
The Prime Minister of Israel stressed that “we want to achieve peace and peace is depended on security and ultimately if you don`t have the capacity to defend the peace, it will collapse very rapidly in our area”. He added, however, that the peace also depends to willingness of parties to talk to one another.
Netanyahu was accompanied by senior adviser Eli Groner and National Security Council head Yossi Cohen, while the Cypriot team included Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Defense’s Chrstoforos Fokaides and Energy and Tourism Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis.