US withdraws support from EastMed gas pipeline project

Washington sees it main source of tension in region, says Greek media.

US withdraws support from EastMed gas pipeline project

The US has confirmed that it has decided to withdraw support from the EastMed gas pipeline project, which sought to transport Israeli natural gas to the European market via the Mediterranean Sea and Greece.

The US Embassy in Athens reiterated its commitment to connecting energy in the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe in a statement released on Monday, saying, "We are shifting our focus to electricity interconnectors that can support both gas and renewable energy sources."

Even though the statement said the US will support planned EuroAfrica interconnector from Egypt to Crete and the Greek mainland, and as well as the proposed EuroAsia interconnector to link the Israeli, Greek Cypriot administration, and European electricity grids, the news appears to have caused displeasure in Greece.

The Greek daily Avgi, which is close to the main opposition party SYRIZA, presented the development as a major foreign policy failure by the conservative, nationalist Nea Dimoktraia (ND) government in its Tuesday publication.

The categorical "No" from the US is only because of the EastMed plan's anti-economic and anti-ecological characteristics, as Turkiye has argued, and the tensions it causes in the region, the daily said.

It did not help Greece to be more "submissive and predictable" to Americans, it added.

Daily Rizospastis, the official newspaper of the Greek Communist Party (KKE), also asserted that the US saw the project as the primary source of tension in the region and hence withdrew its support.

The US has used Greece as a bargaining chip against Turkiye, the daily added.

Moreover, the leftist opposition party MeRA25, led by former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis in a statement accused both the incumbent ND and former SYRIZA governments of lying to Greeks on many foreign policy matters, including the EastMed gas pipeline project.

“We have warned for years that the project cannot be done because of financial cost, it should not be done because of the environmental cost,” the statement said.

The party also claimed that the US desire to promote its LNG in European markets would have prevented it from materializing.

It argued that the Greek governments had been deceiving the Greek people for too long, not only about the EastMed project but also about energy policies in general.

EastMed pipeline project

Greece, Israel, and the Greek Cypriot administration inked an agreement in 2020 to build a 1,900-kilometer (approximately 1,200-mile) natural gas pipeline in the Eastern Mediterranean (EastMed) that would connect Israel, the Greek Cypriot administration, Crete, Greece, and ultimately Italy.

Many experts said the estimated natural gas transfer cost would be three times cheaper if the pipeline passes through Turkiye.

Though Ankara and Tel Aviv have expressed willingness to negotiate on such gas transfer via Turkiye, talks have never got off the ground.

Turkiye, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that the excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkiye and the Turkish Cypriots.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region – including maritime disputes – through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations.

Hüseyin Demir

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