Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 20 March agreed to increase regional cooperation, including energy, and to defend against “external malign influences” in the Eastern Mediterranean and the broader Middle East.
In a joint statement, the leaders also welcomed the recent natural gas find in the Eastern Mediterranean and its potential to contribute to energy security and diversification.
Netanyahu reminded that this was the sixth summit meeting between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece. “We began this a few years ago and it’s blossomed into one of the best regional associations in the world. We cooperate in everything, from firefighting now to energy. We are planning to lay down a pipeline called the EastMed pipeline from Israel, through Cyprus, through Greece, to Europe,” Netanyahu said in remarks with Anastasiades, Tsipras, and Pompeo, adding that the project will benefit the countries’ economies greatly, provide stability and prosperity for the region and diversify the energy supplies to Europe.
“The fact that we are joined in this meeting by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo I think is significant. It signifies the fact that the United States supports this regional effort, and it has many, many facets that we’re going to discuss, and I think that it says that this is something for the long haul. Obviously, we would welcome the association not only of the United States but other countries, something that we’re going to discuss as soon as we complete the open part of this meeting,” Netanyahu said.
For his part, Anastasiades also welcomed Pompeo’s presence as “a tangible proof that our three countries constitute reliable partners to the United States, particularly in the fields of energy and security, and an anchor of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
Meanwhile, Tsipras said the cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel has become strategic. “Our trilateral cooperation has become strategic – and particularly in the fields of energy and security,” the Greek premier said, adding that cooperation with the US will “strengthen our efforts and our dialogue, especially on the field of energy but not only – security and economy as well – are challenges that we have ahead, and I think that the region has a lot of challenges but also important opportunities.”
The idea is to create a safe and secure network to transport the energy resources of the region of the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe through Israel, through Cyprus, through Greece, to Europe, Tsipras said. “And I think that the establishment of the EastMed pipeline can help both security dialogue and economic development of the region,” he added.
Finally, Pompeo said that the newly found energy reserves in the East Mediterranean could boost security in the region and attract fresh investments to maximize these resources.
“A week ago I spoke in Houston, Texas, to a big group of energy leaders from all around the world, talking about opportunities and projects just like this, about how energy connects up with our security interests in America and how the opportunities to create energy in places that we hadn’t had it before and transport it and create the infrastructure in places that we’ve not had it before is an enormous benefit. I think this is incredibly timely. Revisionist powers like Iran and Russia and China are all trying to take major footholds in the East and in the West,” he said, stressing that the United States views Israel, Cyprus and Greece as great, key partners in security and prosperity, adding: “As we cooperate on these important energy issues, I know we’ll improve our security and prosperity even more broadly between our four nations.”
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