The signing of a trilateral agreement in Athens on Thursday by the leaders of Greece, Israel and Cyprus, a mere day after the onset of 2020, for the construction of an ambitious underwater natural gas pipeline across one-third of the Mediterranean dominates the political landscape at the beginning of the year, with the Greek side particularly determined to proceed with the project in the face of the latest and highly provocative Turkish attempts to unilaterally draw maritime borders in the wider region.
A signing ceremony will bring caretaker Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Greek capital, along with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, both of who will be met by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for one-on-one talks, followed by trilateral sessions.
The EastMed project, designed to carry natural gas from Israeli and Cypriot offshore deposits in the southeast Mediterranean to Crete, and from there on to the Greek mainland and the rest of continental Europe, is deemed as a particularly challenging engineering task, with financing also a major venture.
In comments on the Israeli prime minister's official Twitter account on Thursday morning, Netanyahu stated that "...we are leaving for a very important summit with the President of Cyprus and the new Greek PM. We established an alliance in the eastern Mediterranean, an alliance of great importance both for the energy future of Israel and its becoming an energy power, and for regional stability... The gas pipeline that we are now going to advance, which Minister (Yuval) Steinitz has been working on for many years, is what will effect a revolution in Israel’s energy picture...We will not only bring about the lowering of gas prices and later of electricity prices but this will also direct hundreds of billions into state coffers to benefit Israel’s citizens including the elderly and children, health and social services."
The Israeli leader was scheduled to arrive at the Maximos Mansion government house in central Athens at roughly 2 p.m. (12.00 GMT), with all three leaders set to meet at around 6 p.m. at the Zappeion Hall, adjacent to Greece's Parliament, where the EastMed signing ceremony will take place.
A joint press conference is scheduled for the late afternoon.
On Thursday, the Financial Times also posted an extensive report on the EastMed project, as well as related Turkish reactions throughout the eastern Mediterranean.
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