Itongadol.- Israel, Cyprus and Greece decided at their first ever tripartite meeting to set up a steering committee to look into laying a gas pipeline from Israel to Cyprus, and then to Greece for further export to Europe.
The decision was announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, standing next to Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Each leader delivered a statement noting the historic nature of the meeting, and highlighting the possibilities this emerging alliance has for the region. They did not answer any questions from the press.
While both Anastasiades and Tsipras stressed, without mentioning Turkey by name, that this cooperation was not “against anyone else,” Netanyahu did not make a reference at all to Turkey, either directly or indirectly.
National Infrastructure, Water and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who was part of the Israeli delegation, told reporters on the plane en route to Nicosia that Israel wanted to have the ability to export the gas both through Greece and Turkey. Laying the pipeline to Turkey is considerably cheaper than through Cyprus and Greece.
Anastasiades, as host of the summit, spoke first, and said this cooperation was based on an appreciation that “it is imperative to work collectively through coordination.” He said that the three leaders signed a joint declaration, which he termed a “historic document” that deals with cooperation in the energy, tourism, research, water-management, anti-terrorism and immigration spheres. He said that a trilateral steering committee will monitor the agreement.
Netanyahu, who said that as the son of a historian he was averse to using the term “historic,” said that the term did however fit the meeting. “I believe this meeting has historic implications,” he said. “The Last time Greeks, Cypriots and Jews sat around a table and talked about a common framework was 2,000 years ago.”
In addition to the gas pipeline, Netanyahu also spoke of a plan to lay an underwater cable to connect the electric grids of all three countries. “You can export gas through electricity,” he said.
Tsipras said that cooperation with Israel and Cyprus was a “strategic choice” for Athens.