Last December, the leaders of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel met in the Israeli city of Beersheba. During this meeting they resolved to sign an agreement in the near future that would create a new gas pipeline. This pipeline, named the EastMed Pipeline, has the potential to transform the region.
What is the EastMed Pipeline?
This underwater gas pipeline will be responsible for transporting almost 10 billion cubic meters (BCM) of natural gas to the European Union (EU) through Italy and Greece. Once completed, this pipeline will be one of the world’s longest and the deepest underwater gas pipelines.
The EU in particular has a vested interest in supporting this development. The pipeline will help them diversify their natural gas imports. They will no longer have to rely on Russia’s heavily-sanctioned imports. The EastMed Pipeline is expected to fill between 10 and 15% of the European Union’s gas.
The United States also supports the project. They believe that the pipeline will help promote democracy and encourage stability in the region.
The Underlying Alliance
Over the last several years, Cyprus, Greece, and Israel have slowly began to cooperate more and more. The three countries have supported each other through various strategic initiatives, especially against their neighbor, Turkey. Turkey is highly authoritarian and has become increasingly aggressive. The region Eastern Mediterranean region is relatively unstable, but the countries of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel hope to join together to promote positive relationships with each other. This will benefit the three countries not just militarily, but politically. The pipeline will also give their economies a significant boost. This will be especially beneficial for Greece, who is still recovering from their recent economic downturn.
The pipeline project is not without obstacles. The two largest are Turkey and Hezbollah. Although at one point Turkey and Israel were allies, Turkey has a notoriously difficult relationship with Cyprus and Greece. Perhaps at one point Turkey would have been a good choice for the pipeline’s route, but current conflicts make such a strategy impossible.
Hezbollah is one of Israel’s most dangerous enemies. Hezbollah has already threatened to attack Israel’s sea-based gas fields. They are especially dangerous due to their arsenal of missiles. Hezbollah is sure to stand in Israel’s way when it comes to the pipeline.
The EastMed Pipeline is the newest example of the growing relationship between Cyprus, Greece, and Israel. The pipeline will not only benefit the three signing countries, the European Union as well. Although there are obstacles, the project has the potential to improve the area’s stability.