Environmental activists gathered outside the EU Commission in Brussels on Wednesday warning that in addition to financial and geopolitical arguments against the construction of an EastMed natural gas pipeline, sabotage similar to NordStream last year was also a possible risk.
A Greenpeace report published on March 1 argued that the construction of an EastMed gas pipeline not only would accelerate a climate crisis but it could also run the risk of sparking conflict.
The report titled “Timebomb – the geopolitical and climate risk of the EastMed pipeline” indicates that “existing geopolitical conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean region could worsen if the plan to construct the EastMed pipeline is implemented.”
'As demonstrated by the attack on the Nord Stream gas pipeline in 2022, the physical infrastructure of the EastMed pipeline may become a direct military target'
EastMed is a proposed subsea pipeline designed to supply gas to Europe from the east Mediterranean via Israel, Greece and Cyprus, excluding Turkey.
The project lost momentum in January 2022 after Washington withdrew its support in a non-paper leaked to the press, along with further arguments in favor of alternative fast energy solutions and regional cooperation.
But the feasibility of the €6 billion project has remained under review with a commercial viability study funded by the European Commission.
Protesters, who stood in front of the EU Commission building on Wednesday, held banners that warned gas was a geopolitical and climate ticking time bomb.
Greenpeace says an EastMed pipeline project “constitutes a highly explosive security issue for the region” as it “increases the danger of a military confrontation between Turkey and Greece on the demarcation of their respective maritime borders.”
It also points to the unresolved Cyprus Problem, a conflict between Greek Cypriots and Turkish, raising concerns over marine access and revenue sharing on the divided island.
The report lists a number of environmental findings and argues that construction of the EastMed pipeline would move the European Union away from its emission reduction targets.
Greenpeace worries EastMed would be “NordStreamed”
But a new argument included in the report touched on sabotage fears, with direct reference to the last year attack on NordStream, a brand new gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea running from Russia to Germany.
“As demonstrated by the attack on the Nord Stream gas pipeline in 2022, the physical infrastructure of the EastMed pipeline may become a direct military target, both in the tense regional context and on the global scale, considering the escalating confrontation between Russia and the USA, NATO and the EU,” the report said.
American journalist Seymour Hersh has recently claimed that Americans were behind last year’s attack on NordStream in an article titled “How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline.”
It has not yet been established who was behind the explosion of the Nord Stream pipelines, but US officials last month rejected the accusation as “utterly false.”
Russia has called for a UN-backed investigation in what Moscow views as a terrorist attack and an act of war.
But last week western countries and other UN Security Council members refused a wider probe, pointing to already ongoing separate investigations by Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.
Greenpeace fears that in regional terms EastMed could attract attention from non-state armed groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, while on a global scale, “considering the escalating confrontation between Russia and the USA and NATO, there is a growing danger that the EastMed infrastructure could become a potential target and collateral damage in this geopolitical power struggle.”
Late last year Nicosia heeded calls for short and medium term goals for Cyprus’ energy agenda, essentially placing long-term plans for an EastMed pipeline -seen by many experts as undoable- on the backburner.