Gas pipeline deal between Israel, Greece and Cyprus leaves Turkey angry

On Thursday, the leaders of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus came together to sign a trilateral pipeline agreement, connecting Israel’s offshore gas reserves with Europe. But the €6bn East Mediterranean gas pipeline project made Turkey angry as it bypasses the country.

The political heads of these three countries, including Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel’s temporary prime minister), Kyriakos Mitsotakis, (Greece’s prime minister), and Nicos Anastasiades, Cyprus’s president, arrived in Athens on 2 January to seal the deal. Natural gas is the most valuable resource in today’s time, helped the three come close to capture 10 percent of Europe’s natural gas supply market.

Besides, Israel, Greece and Cyprus also share a decade-long economic and security cooperation bond. The deal is going to strengthen their relationship further. It is a historic moment especially for Israel as the hydrocarbon exploration turns the country from an energy importer to an energy exporter. The gas pumping process being initiated at two of its largest offshore gas fields, Leviathan and Tamar, is said to double the country’s natural gas supply. Besides, the deal would provide a stable market to Israel and strengthen its ties with the EU.

Ankara sees it as a deliberate attempt on part of Israel to exclude it from the Mediterranean region’s natural gas boom. Turkey, enraged over this diplomatic isolation, gave a threatening call to all three to bloc the pipeline project. In a build-up to that Turkey also signed a maritime agreement and a defense pact with Libya. Ankara has a history of locking horns with Cyprus, objecting to its drilling in international waters, which Cyrus claimed to be part of its part.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he would spoil their “game to imprison Turkey within its land boundaries”.

“Turkey will not permit any activity that is against its own interests in the region. Any plan that disregards Turkey has absolutely no chance of success,” Fuat Oktay, Turkey’s vice-president, told the state-run Anadolu news agency on Wednesday. “Turkey is a nation that will not bow its head to threats or sanctions.”

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