SYRIZA welcomes EastMed agreement, calls on the gov’t to request explicit US support

Main opposition SYRIZA welcomed the signing of the trilateral agreement of Greece, Cyprus and Israel on the construction of the EastMed natural gas pipeline on Friday, saying that it will help upgrade Greece’s role as an energy hub in the region and support its geopolitical role.

In a statement, it also warned that challenges still exist and must be dealt with, especially ahead of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ meeting with US President Donald Trump next week.

The EastMed pipeline signing on Thurday is a culmination of long-term efforts starting in 2015, SYRIZA said, particularly noting three events in the last two years: the 5th Greece, Cyprus and Israel Conference in Be’er Sheva (Dec. 2018), where three prime ministers agreed to sign off on EastMed and the United States underlined its support; the EU approval for the project (Feb. 2019); and the first meeting of the three countries plus the US (3+1), when US State Secretary Mike Pompeo noted the project’s strategic importance and America’s support for it (March 2019).

SYRIZA also urged the government to focus on four issues during the premier’s visit to the United States:

– The US president must explicitly express his support for the EastMed pipeline in the framework of 3+1, especially conveying this during the joint press conference.

– The government must seek Italy’s active participation in the project, without which the project will flounder. The recent letter by Italy’s energy minister supporting the project in the framework of the EU’s Projects of Common Interest (PCI) “is clearly not enough,” the party said.

– The government must request the extension of European sanctions against individuals and entities that act illegally within the region included in the illegal Turkish-Libyan agreement on maritime zones. “It should be noted that Turkish officials have openly stated that one of the aims of the illegal agreement is to obstruct the construction of the pipeline, therefore it (the agreement) extends to areas the pipeline is expected to cross. The obstruction of a project supported by the EU must obviously lead to European measures and sanctions,” SYRIZA stressed.

– It must be made certain that the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA) will not face any issues in implementing the project, following a recent law that turns over the entirety of the public shares in natural gas networks to a private individual (DEPA Infrastructure) and maintains a majority stake for the public in DEPA Athens without guaranteeing revenues for the funding of these international projects, it said.

“The multi-year efforts that have been carried out result in today’s positive outcome, but the challenges are still there and must be faced effectively by the government,” it concluded.