Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasides on Thursday agreed to speed up plans for an ambitious Mediterranean undersea natural gas pipeline project and to seek to boost trilateral cooperation and stability in the region.
Addressing a joint press conference after talks in Thessaloniki, Tsipras laid out Greece’s ambitions.
“The discovery of significant reserves of natural gas in Cyprus and Israel, Greece’s strategy to become an energy hub in the region, and the possible existence of new reserves in the exclusive economic zones of Cyprus, Israel but also Greece offer extremely interesting prospects for this cooperation,” Tsipras said.
He added that the cooperation would also contribute to stability in the broader region.
Netanyahu, for his part, expressed high hopes for the planned pipeline which, Israel hopes, will export much of its newly discovered gas reserves to Europe.
“It’s something we’re very excited about,” he said. “Of course the idea of the East Med pipeline would be a revolution. We’ve had preliminary studies of it. It seems promising and we’re going to look further.” He noted that the three countries had much in common. “We are all democracies, real democracies,” he said.
“And when you look at our region... that’s not a common commodity.”
Anastasiades described the Thessaloniki Declaration, the joint declaration signed by the three leaders, as “one more step toward the dream of creating a safe and stable Eastern Mediterranean, a region of growth, interaction and synergies.”
While in Thessaloniki, Netanyahu visited Jewish sites with Tsipras, including the grounds of a planned Holocaust museum.