|Energy heads (L to R) of Cyprus, Italy, Israel, Greece & the EU|
The deal signed on Monday between Greece, Israel, Cyprus and Italy in Tel Aviv for the creation of the Eastern Mediterranean (EastMed) gas pipeline, is, according to sources, a reaction to the competing Nord Stream II pipeline connecting Germany and Russia.
EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, who was present at the signing, denigrated Nord Stream II, saying it “adds nothing to the [EU’s] security of supply.”
The deal also reflects Athens’s intention to play a more active geopolitical role in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. This is in evidence with Greece’s participation in the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) – which will transport natural gas from Greece via Albania and the Adriatic Sea to Italy and further to Western Europe – and with the plans for the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB Pipeline), whose construction is set to begin in 2018.
Moreover, senior government officials have embarked on a campaign to establish contacts with major players in the world energy game, including the US.
To this end of further Greek geopolitical involvement in the wider region, the National Council of Foreign Policy will be convened next Wednesday by Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis and will focus mainly on energy.
Even though the energy policy of US President Donald Trump’s administration has yet to be clarified, sources say that, in their recent meetings with the visiting Greek foreign minister, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser HR McMaster were reportedly in agreement over the value that the 2,200 km EastMed pipeline – which will link Cypriot and Israeli offshore gas fields to Greece and Italy – will have for the energy security and autonomy of Europe.