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Netanyahu heads to Athens to sign agreement to export gas to Europe through Mediterranean

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (C), Greek Cypriot administration leader Nicos Anastasiades (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) pose for a photo prior to the signing of the EastMed agreement in Athens, Greece, 02 January 2020. [Yiannis Liakos - Anadolu Agency]
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (C), Greek Cypriot administration leader Nicos Anastasiades (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) pose for a photo prior to the signing of the EastMed agreement in Athens, Greece, 02 January 2020. [Yiannis Liakos - Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed on Thursday to Athens to sign an agreement with the leaders of Greece and Roman Cyprus to extend a marine pipeline, allowing Tel Aviv to export natural gas to the European continent through the Mediterranean.

This tripartite summit comes after Netanyahu held in December a series of talks with his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, and agreed with them to hold a meeting for the signing of the EastMed gas pipeline project that extends from the occupied Palestinian territories to Europe through Cyprus and Greece.

“We are leaving the country to participate in a very important summit to be held with the President of Cyprus and the new Greek Prime Minister,” said Netanyahu right before leaving Tel Aviv, according to the statement issued by his office.

He added: “We have formed an alliance in the eastern Mediterranean, which is of great importance for the future of Israel’s energy sector… and also for the stability of the region.”

Netanyahu also stated that “the gas pipeline that we will be working on extending now, and which Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz has worked on establishing for many years, will be revolutionary in the Israeli energy sector.”

The Israeli radio station reported on Wednesday that this project, called “East Med” pipeline, will transport natural gas starting from 2025.

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According to Israeli media, the agreement will constitute a symbolic yet essential step, aimed at strengthening the position of Greece and Roman Cyprus against Turkey.

On 27 November, the Turkish President signed two memoranda of understanding with the Libyan Prime Minister, Fayez al-Sarraj; the first relating to security and military cooperation, and the second to delineating maritime jurisdiction areas, intending to protect the rights of the two countries deriving from international law.

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Fatih Dönmez, said that licensing procedures (for exploration) related to the maritime jurisdiction areas specified per the recent agreement with Libya would begin in the upcoming months.

Dönmez stressed Turkey’s adherence to its rights and the rights of its Turkish Cypriot brothers in the Eastern Mediterranean.

He also pointed out that the exploration activities are continuing with determination in the region and without any delay.

Dönmez added that the licensing procedures regarding the regions, within the framework of the marine memorandum of understanding concluded with Libya, will quickly start in the upcoming months.

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