Tsipras, Sisi, Anastasiades meet to discuss new gas deposits in eastern Mediterranean
NICOSIA - The Associated Press
"These gas discoveries can contribute to the European continent’s search for alternative energy sources, taking advantage of the position of Egypt and Cyprus," Al-Sisi said after talks with his Greek Cypriot counterpart.
Greek Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said his country will promote closer relations between Egypt and the European Union, calling Egypt an "absolutely necessary strategic partner" for the 28-member bloc on issues like energy, migration and combatting extremism.
"Our vision is that the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the wider region becomes a catalyst for wider cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean, contributing to regional peace, stability and prosperity," Anastasiades said.
The Egyptian president also said he and Anastasiades agreed on ways of countering the threat of extremism in the region, noting a 2015 military cooperation agreement between the two countries.
Egypt and Greek Cyprus have in the last three years aimed at forging closer ties as part of a relationship built largely on energy cooperation.
Egyptian and Greek Cypriot officials are set to begin talks next month on a potential pipeline that could bring gas from a Cypriot offshore field to Egypt for possible domestic use or export.
Two years ago, Italian energy company Eni discovered in Egyptian waters the biggest gas field ever found in the Mediterranean. Eni, along with France’s Total and ExxonMobil are also searching for more hydrocarbons in adjacent Cypriot waters.
The Egyptian president’s visit to Greek Cyprus comes a day ahead of a three-way meeting that will include Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The talks on Nov. 21 will also aim to boost energy cooperation between the three countries, Al-Sisi said.
Greek Cyprus, Greece and Israel have also held a number of three-way talks aimed at enhancing energy and security ties.
Turkey started its seismic energy exploration in eastern Mediterranean in April in line with the government’s “National Energy and Mining Policy,” state-run Anadolu Agency has then reported.
“Some fields that Greek Cyprus opens to so-called international [natural gas search] tenders intersect with our country’s eastern Mediterranean continental shelf,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had said in response to a parliamentary question by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Mevlüt Dudu on Sept. 21.
“We express on every occasion that we will by no means turn a blind eye on Greek Cypriot activities in these fields on the contrary to the legitimate rights of the Turkish Cypriots and will give the necessary response in cooperation with the Turkish Cypriot government,” said the minister.
Cyprus was divided into a Turkish Cypriot state in the north and a Greek Cypriot administration in the south after an Enosis-inspired 1974 military coup was followed by violence against the island’s Turks, and Turkey’s intervention as a guarantor power.
The status of the island remains unresolved in spite of a series of discussions that resumed in May 2015.