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EU should look to East Med for gas, says ex-FM

EU should look to East Med for gas, says ex-FM

The Eastern Mediterranean can provide Europe with 15-16% of its annual imports of natural gas from Russia, according to Cyprus’ former foreign minister, Nikos Christodoulides.

In an interview with Kathimerini, Christodoulides said that the implications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, combined with Europe’s energy dependence on Russia, further highlight the importance of the Eastern Mediterranean. 

“EU gas imports from Russia that will have to be replaced by alternative sources come to a total of 155 billion cubic meters per year,” he said, noting that the quantities available in the Eastern Mediterranean (in the Aphrodite and Glaucos fields in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and in Leviathan in the Israeli EEZ) amount to about 500 bcm.

This means, he explained, that over a 20-year period, the Eastern Mediterranean would be able to contribute 25 bcm per year, “which is about 15-16% of Russian gas imports to the EU.”

“This is not a negligible percentage. Therefore, it is time for the countries of the region, which started their cooperation on the basis of mutual benefits that would initially arise through energy cooperation, to move in this direction,” he insisted. 

In turn, the EU, he said, must invest substantially and with concrete actions to take advantage of this perspective. “It is a long-term choice, but broader developments confirm the need for immediate action,” he said. 

Referring to the Cyprus problem, Christodoulides insisted that despite the difficulties and problems, the effort for a solution must continue. 

“In no case should we stop trying to resume substantive talks on the basis of the agreed framework and taking into account the fact that the Republic of Cyprus is and will continue to be even after a possible solution to the Cyprus problem an EU member state,” he said.