Wednesday, December 04, 2019 18:30 to 20:00
Geopolitics in the Eastern Mediterranean: Energy Security and Regional Cooperation
H.E. Georgios Lakkotrypis
Minister for Energy, Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Cyprus
The AJC Transatlantic Institute and the Hanns Seidel Foundation hosted Cypriot Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis for a keynote address on the burgeoning energy cooperation between Cyprus, Greece, and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean and its potential to bolster EU energy security. Attended by over 100 guests including dozens of ambassadors, MEPs, and business leaders, the ensuing expert panel discussion featured also AJC CEO David Harris and Israeli energy consultant Gina Cohen and was moderated by Roland Freudenstein, Policy Director at Wilfried Martens Center for European Studies.
In his speech, Georgios Lakkotrypis described the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline initiative as a project with “both opportunities and challenges. Opportunities not only for countries that have traditionally not been talking to each other, or have had an animosity to come together to find common solutions, common prospects for their people, for their energy security, for their prosperity.”
The energy minister also outlined the project's challenges, including the destructive role Turkey is playing by illegally drilling in Cyprus's Exclusive Economic Zone. The trilateral partners can only overcome the challenges by working closely together: "The core pillar of Israel, Cyprus and Greece are committed to resolving them, in a fashion which is appropriate to democracies, liberal democracies and rule of law."
David Harris, AJC CEO, highlighted during the panel AJC's key role in strengthening the trilateral partnership between Cyprus, Greece, and Israel: “We saw the common values, we also saw the commonalities of the friendship in the U.S. between hellenic, Americans and Jews. And we set out together, trying to begin to reorient the process which was on auto-pilot, emphasising both common values, anchor democracies in the Eastern Mediterranean, and common interests.” David Harris also urged the countries to forge even deeper strategic ties that would benefit regional security: “These countries can contribute to this growing geopolitical zone of peace, prosperity and interdependence, which at the end of the story, is the name of the game: positive, cooperative, interdependence of nations which allows cooperation to replace conflicts.”
Gina Cohen warned that major energy players like Russia can threaten the blossoming partnership between Cyprus, Greece, and Israel: “[Russia] has cheap gas and they can always undermine the price. They can undercut the price of Cypriot and Israeli gas. And that is up to the Europeans to decide: do they want cheaper gas, or do they want security of supply and less dependence on Russian gas?”
For the video and transcript of the speech, please click here.