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18 May, 2022
 
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Washington bows out of East Med gas pipeline

US Embassy in Athens reaffirms commitment to regional relationships after Twitter heats up

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Washington implicitly clarified in a statement on Monday that it did not support an ambitious East Med gas pipeline project, following a Twitter storm sparked by Greek media reports on a non-paper expressing American reservations about the plan.

Last Friday Greek media reported that a US non-paper made clear to Athens and Tel Aviv that Washington would not support an East Med gas pipeline, citing environmental concerns and financial reasons, and saying the project was creating political tensions in the region.

The eastern Mediterranean gas pipeline dubbed EastMed refers to a planned 800-mile underwater pipeline that would bring gas from Israel, Egypt and Cyprus to the EU, directly connecting East Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete while leaving Turkey out of the energy game.

One Twitter user suggested that lack of US support for EastMed would lead to EU states seeking gas exclusively from Russia, with another responding 'no need, there is a short way through Turkey'

In August 2021, US State Secretary Antony Blinken appointed a businessman and former lobbyist as energy security envoy, signaling a new strategic focus in Washington in the aftermath of thorny geopolitics over Nord Stream 2 and unresolved issues relating to the eastern Mediterranean.

The news over the weekend sparked interest on social media, even prompting US Ambassador to Athens Geoffrey Pyatt to respond to a Greek journalist.

“We don’t generally comment on our private diplomatic activities, but this report gets it wrong on our agenda, which is focused on supporting regional interconnections that are economically viable and advance shared climate goals,” Pyatt wrote on Saturday.

But Greek social media users took the ambassador to task over the weekend, questioning Washington’s agenda and suggesting the US had become “completely unreliable.”

The news also came on the same weekend as Nicosia’s outgoing foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides, a staunch supporter of EastMed, said he would resign from his post effective Tuesday and continue to explore a possible presidential bid.

Christodoulides, a former career diplomat who also served as government spokesperson in the current administration, has been largely credited with attempts to gain support from European Union leaders to condemn Turkey but a recent summit was inconclusive.

The presidential hopeful has also been instrumental in forming trilateral ties between countries, predominantly between the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel which also expressed support for the ambitious East Med gas pipeline project.

Washington defends stability agenda and 3+1

But a clarification statement from the Embassy in Athens on Monday went on to say that the United States strongly supported regional efforts that enhance and promote cooperation and regional stability, “including the 3+1 mechanism in which the Republic of Cyprus (ROC), Greece, Israel, + the United States participate.”

“We remain committed to physically interconnecting East Med energy to Europe,” the embassy said.

The statement failed to address the East Med gas pipeline question but pointed out instead that the US was shifting focus to electricity interconnectors that can support both gas and renewable energy sources.

One Twitter user suggested that lack of US support for EastMed would lead to EU states seeking gas exclusively from Russia, with another responding “no need, there is a short way through Turkey.”

TAGS
Cyprus  |  energy  |  East Med  |  gas pipeline  |  Turkey  |  Washington  |  Nicosia  |  Athens  |  Israel  |  Egypt  |  Nikos Christodoulides  |  Geoffrey Pyatt  |  eastern Mediterranean  |  politics

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