Israel, Greece and Cyprus recently met and signed a Memorandum of Understanding on water and energy issues, strengthening relations between the countries.
Israeli Minister of Energy and Water Resources Silvan Shalom, Cypriot Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis and Greek Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Yannis Maniatis attended the meetings held in the Cypriot city of Nicosia.
According to Cypriot Today, the ministers convened to “discuss issues concerning tripartite and regional cooperation in the energy sector, including protection of the environment from offshore hydrocarbon activities and connecting the electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece through submarine power cables.” The Memorandum of Understanding establishes future avenues of cooperation between the three nations concerning these issues.
The three ministers also expressed support for the private sector’s EuroAsia Interconnector project, which will link Greece, Cyprus and Israel by 2016 through an underwater electricity cable that will transfer energy with a total capacity of 2,000 MW. The project consists of three junctions, connecting Israel to Cyprus, Cyprus to the Greek island of Crete, and Crete to the Greek mainland in the southern Peloponnese area, and from there on to Europe.
Israeli Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom commented, “The fact that we are here shows that we do not only work well on (issues concerning) water, but it’s also about geopolitics, strategy and political issues between the three countries. I believe we can do more.” Shalom added, “We believe that it is necessary these days – even though Cyprus is not facing the same threats that Israel is facing from terrorists – that many countries invest in safeguarding water from attacks of terrorism. Israel would love to help Cyprus through its knowledge and experience, as it does with many other countries around the world.”
Greek Energy Minister Yannis Maniatis stated, “Without doubt, developments in the energy sector and especially the exploitation of hydrocarbons, as well as a… high-voltage submarine cable linking Asia and Europe is an important factor for stability in the eastern Mediterranean.” He heralded the Memorandum of Understanding as a “significant moment” for the three countries. “This project … could potentially allow for the export of electricity generated in the eastern Mediterranean to the EU energy market through the trans-European electricity networks,” the communiqué said.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said energy cooperation between Israel and Cyprus, given their common interests in the exploration and exploitation of significant natural resources, could “become the driving force for an enhanced partnership between our two countries. This is all the more pertinent if one takes into account that Cyprus is perhaps Israel’s most stable partner in the region. In addition, our proximity to the Suez Canal is an important factor favoring the creation of a regional energy hub in Cyprus for the transportation of natural gas from Eastern Mediterranean countries, not only to Europe, but also to the Far East.”
Cypriot Environmental Minister Nicos Kouyialis also lauded Israel as “one of the world pioneers in the development of new water treatment technologies, such as desalination and waste water treatment and reuse in agriculture,” reflecting Israeli companies’ role in the construction of three of Cyprus’s four permanent desalination plants.
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel