Israel sees ‘Med-Streams’ in service of regional diplomacy
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
“We should start thinking at least about a set of pipelines that will enable us to create another political environment,” Israeli Energy Envoy Michael Lotem has said. REUTERS photoTransferring Israeli gas through Turkey to the international market is profitable for both Turkey and Israel and cooperation in the energy field could pave the way for resolving regional problems, a senior diplomat from the Jewish state said, as he apparently referred to probable normalization of bilateral relations between Turkey and Israel with the help of such cooperation at a bilateral level.
“We should start thinking at least about a set of Med-Streams, a set of pipelines and LNG that will enable us to exploit not only oil and gas, but also to create another political environment,” Ambassador Michael Lotem, special envoy for energy of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said yesterday, referring to prospects of building of a pipeline from Israel to Turkey.
“Can we use energy; can we use gas, beyond the commercial value of it, in the service of politics, in the service of diplomacy?” Lotem asked in a speech delivered at the second and last day of the 12th Turkish International Oil & Gas Conference (TUROGE).
“I say that we should… and if we are talking about [it], especially for Turkey, for Europe,” the Israeli ambassador said, citing the BTC project, which he describes “a valued example of how an energy project can initiate geopolitics.”
Lotem was among the speakers in a session on the East Mediterranean as part of a panel titled “Potential Sources of Alternative Supplies – Regional Developments.”
Israel-Greek Cyprus ties
Elaborating on different options to transport Israeli gas to international markets, Lotem cited Greek Cyprus as “the nearest EU-friend country of Israel.”
There was a lot of talk about taking Israeli gas to an LNG facility in Greek Cyprus, the diplomat said.
“But we have to remember what the Tamah community strongly recommended, that the Israeli export facility be in Israel,” he added.
“We have strong natural interests in the present,” he said, noting voices from Turkey that have said the country is a natural market for Israeli gas.
The Israeli diplomat also cited other voices within Israel, those asking if the Jewish state should “take risks that would subject them to pipeline-politics.”
“I strongly believe that Turkey has proven a very positive record of not connecting these issues,” Lotem said, adding that the BTC pipeline is running smoothly without interruption.
Although Israel showed its hand for energy cooperation with Turkey, Ankara has fallen behind intentionally to avoid any interpretation of connecting the issue of the apology Israel offered for the Mavi Marmara victims and the oil-gas bonanza in the region.
Energy Minister Taner Yıldız in earlier remarks repeatedly said that discussing energy deals before the restoration of ties between Turkey and Israel had been finalized would be impossible.