The strengthened ties between Greece, Cyprus, Israel with the active support and participation of the USA (trilateral+1) are underlined by the first-ever Energy Ministerial Conference to take place in Athens on Wednesday.
Minister of Environment and Energy, Kostis Hatzidakis will receive his counterparts from Cyprus Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Israel Yuval Steinitz, and Francis Fannon, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources at the U.S Department of State who will represent the US.
The meeting represents a significant development in the energy moves in the Eastern Mediterranean region, as it solidifies the Trilateral+1 ties and common interests in the area, especially in the face of rising Turkish aggression in the Cypriot EZZ. Only yesterday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu presented a map showing the country’s continental shelf reaching the limits of Crete, effectively encroaching on Greek waters and covering Katelorizo.
Among other issues to be discussed at the meeting will be the agreement on the EastMed gas pipeline. Speaking on the conference, Kostis Hatzidakis stressed that “we will deal with the issues of energy co-operation and talk about the EastMed pipeline, which will start from Israel, pass through Cyprus, come here and end up in Italy.”
Meanwhile, the Governments of Greece and the United States held the first Strategic Dialogue Energy Working Group in Athens on August 6, 2019, at the Foreign Ministry in Athens. Greek Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostantinos Fragkogiannis and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources (ENR) Francis R. Fannon, along with interagency representatives from both countries, reaffirmed the Greek and United States commitment to further deepening our strong bilateral cooperation in the energy sector. The Energy Working Group builds on increasing engagement following the inaugural Greece-U.S. Strategic Dialogue in December 2018.
The Greek and U.S. delegations emphasised the importance of energy diversification efforts in Europe to promote regional energy security. They applauded Greece’s role as a pillar of stability and as a regional hub for gas supplies. They discussed potential U.S. private sector investment in the Greek energy sector, opportunities in the oil market, and expanding cooperation in the renewables sector. To this end, both sides committed to creating a level and transparent playing field to further encourage investment in Greece.
Assistant Secretary Fannon congratulated Greece for near completion of its section of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, the continued work on the Interconnector Greece Bulgaria, and plans to improve interconnection with North Macedonia. Greek and U.S. delegations reaffirmed their support for the diversification of export options for Eastern Mediterranean energy resources that are commercially viable and enhance regional energy security, which could include new infrastructures, such as the East Med pipeline and enhanced natural gas capacity, such as the FSRU at Alexandroupolis. They also discussed the role U.S. LNG can play in meeting energy diversification goals in Greece and the wider region.
During the discussion about U.S. investment in the Greek energy sector, both sides welcomed exploration permit by ExxonMobil in partnership with Total and Hellenic Petroleum as well as potential opportunities for U.S. investment in the renewable energy sector.
The Greek and United States delegations committed to continued cooperation in all of the areas discussed in the Strategic Dialogue Energy Working Group ahead of the second Greece-U.S. Strategic Dialogue this fall in Greece.