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28 May, 2024
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Are dairy products the new focus for Israel-Cyprus relations?

Exploring new avenues for Cyprus, Greece, and Israel cooperation

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

If someone hadn't followed the Israeli Prime Minister's past statements about EastMed and the LNG terminal in Cyprus and didn't know that energy was the main topic in the previous eight meetings, they might have thought that the leaders of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel had more pressing matters during the 9th trilateral meeting in Nicosia. Energy, which used to be a significant focus of cooperation between the three countries, was just one item on the agenda.

Even President Nicos Christodoulides, in his statements, briefly mentioned energy, stating that "natural gas and renewable energy sources are crucial for regional cooperation." However, the Israeli Prime Minister drew attention when he talked about dairy products like yogurt and haloumi, which are evidently beloved by Israelis. The days when discussions were dominated by hydrocarbons and natural gas pipelines are gone, as is the excessive excitement in Nicosia whenever there was progress in the EEZ or at the political level. There was not even a mention of the EastMed pipeline, which was once a top priority for Cyprus, Greece, and Israel cooperation.

However, the Israeli Prime Minister emphasized something important that Cyprus and Greece should take seriously to avoid the Jewish state turning to plan B, which is Turkey. In simpler terms, he urged them to stop talking and start taking action on natural gas exports within six months. Greece hasn't even begun drilling, and Cyprus has stalled at the Aphrodite field. Even if they acted quickly, they couldn't make up for lost time in six months, especially with the ongoing contract review by the company managing the deposit.

Energy has lost its significance as a political tool for domestic consumption, unlike in Egypt, where the Zor deposit was discovered five years after Aphrodite and is already being commercially exploited. Benjamin Netanyahu's government is even considering energy cooperation with Turkey. On a lighter note, Israel and Cyprus could focus on dairy products like Greek yogurt and Cypriot halloumi, which don't require complicated export procedures.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  dairy  |  halloumi  |  energy  |  Israel  |  Greece

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