Ne­tanyahu vis­its for pipeline talks

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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