Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades is calling on Brussels to help encourage companies to move fast and include the island in plans to supply Europe with natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean.
Anastasiades, who visited Berlin last week, gave an interview to German newspaper Welt where he said Cyprus could deliver much sooner natural gas to the EU “if there was more support from Brussels.”
The Cypriot president said Nicosia could move more quickly if there was something comparable to a deal between Brussels, Tel Aviv, and Cairo, referring to a Memorandum of Understanding signed in the summer between the European Union, Israel, and Egypt.
Anastasiades told Welt he believed Brussels could do more to overcome delays in Cyprus by drawing on the deal with Cairo and Tel Aviv.
“Another or similar mechanism could encourage companies to set up the necessary supply structures more quickly," the president said.
'Another or similar mechanism could encourage companies to set up the necessary supply structures more quickly' Anastasiades said
In June 2022, Cyprus, a member of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, was left out of a cooperation agreement between the EU, Israel, and Egypt that aimed at expediting delivery of regional gas to the bloc amid sanctions against Russia.
Earlier this month Chevron admitted it was walking back on a promise to drill an appraisal well offshore Cyprus before the year was out. The original plan made known through a Bloomberg interview had been criticized by Israel over the summer, as the two countries have yet to resolve a dispute over shared gas deposits.
But Anastasiades also went on to accuse Turkey of being a “major obstacle” to Cyprus becoming a natural gas supplier, saying Ankara was carrying out “aggressive actions” and calling on Germany and the EU to help resolve the Cyprus Problem.
"Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, violates international maritime law, and carries out illegal exploratory drilling off our coast,” Anastasiades said.
Ankara argues Greek Cypriots in the recognized south of the island do not have the right to make decisions about natural resources without Turkish Cypriots in the north also having a say on the matter.
Turkey has also opposed Cypriot plans to build an EastMed pipeline saying it would essentially leave Ankara out of the energy game.
Nicosia switches gears as Europe wants gas quickly
But last month Cypriot Energy Minister Natasa Pilides switched gears at an EMGF meeting held on the island, heeding European calls for short and medium term goals for Cyprus, essentially placing long-term plans for an EastMed pipeline -seen by many experts as undoable- on the backburner.
“Chevron is considering the possibility of transporting natural gas from Aphrodite to Egypt,” Pilides said, adding that “these options can certainly be implemented faster than the East Med pipeline.”
Energy pundits have been talking up two scenarios for Cyprus, essentially either teaming up with Israel or linking Cypriot gas to Egypt for LNG exports to Europe.
With time running out as gas-thirsty Europe faces a cold winter this year and in the near future, it remains to be seen whether Cyprus can resolve technical and political questions quickly enough.
But “delivery could be faster” according to Anastasiades, who called on the bloc to help in order to tap into the island’s resources more quickly.