Cyprus, Greece, Israel to sign pipeline deal on Jan. 2

An aerial view shows the newly arrived foundation platform of Leviathan natural gas field, in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Haifa, Israel January 31, 2019. (File: AFP)
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Updated 22 December 2019

Cyprus, Greece, Israel to sign pipeline deal on Jan. 2

  • The move comes amid tensions with Turkey over its own activities in the area
  • The 2,000-kilometer (1,200-mile) pipeline will be able to transfer between nine and 12 billion cubic meters a yea

ATHENS: The Greek government said Sunday it will sign an agreement for a huge pipeline project with Cyprus and Israel next month that is designed to ship gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.
The move comes amid tensions with Turkey over its own activities in the area and a contentious maritime deal with Libya expanding Ankara’s claims over a large gas-rich area of the sea.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s office said the agreement for the EastMed pipeline would be signed in Athens on January 2 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
The 2,000-kilometer (1,200-mile) pipeline will be able to transfer between nine and 12 billion cubic meters a year from offshore gas reserves between Israel and Cyprus to Greece, and then on to Italy and other southeastern European countries.
The discovery of hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked a scramble for the energy riches and a dispute between Cyprus and Turkey, which occupies the north of the Mediterranean island.
Turkey already faces European Union sanctions over ships searching for oil and gas off Cyprus, whose government in Nicosia is not recognized by Ankara.
The EastMed project is expected to make Cyprus, Greece and Israel key links in Europe’s energy supply chain and aims to stymie Turkey’s effort to extend its control to the eastern Mediterranean.
“It is really important that the countries showed they can react quickly against Turkey’s provocative stance,” Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said.
Greece responded angrily to the Turkey-Libya deal, expelling the Libyan ambassador and urging the UN to condemn it.
Part of the deal sets a maritime boundary between the two countries, which Greece says fails to take into account the island of Crete.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month he envisaged joint energy exploration activities with Libya in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey already has ships searching for oil and gas off Cyprus, and says the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus — recognized only by Ankara — has the right to explore around the entire island.
“Greece and countries supporting it were for a long time making preparations to ensure Turkey could not take any steps in the sea.
“As you know, they were making similar efforts with Mediterranean neighbor Arab countries and Israel. We don’t wish to provoke a quarrel, we don’t wish to infringe someone’s rights, legitimacy,” Erdogan said on Sunday.
He stressed though that Turkey “no longer had the luxury” to be silent, or coy on the issue.
“The EastMed pipeline agreement will go forward despite what Erdogan says,” Greek Energy and Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis had said earlier on Sunday.


India says it will ‘peacefully resolve’ border stand-off with China

Updated 47 min 28 sec ago

India says it will ‘peacefully resolve’ border stand-off with China

  • Development follows US President’s mediation in the dispute
  • Stand-off began in the first week of May when a scuffle broke out near Pangong Tso Lake

NEW DELHI: After weeks of a border stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, New Delhi on Thursday announced it would resolve the matter diplomatically.

“India is engaged with China to peacefully resolve the matter. At the same time we remain firm in our resolve to ensuring India’s sovereignty and national security,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The development follows US President Donald Trump’s mediation in the dispute. In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Trump said, “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute.”

The stand-off began when a scuffle broke out near Pangong Tso Lake in the first week of May. According to Indian reports, Chinese troops set up dozens of tents on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

A few days later, a Chinese patrol was stopped by Indian guards near the Nathula Pass in the Indian state of Sikkim. A troop build-up in the Ladakh and Sikkim areas followed the incidents. Reports suggested that 10,000 Chinese soldiers were sent to the border.

While New Delhi was still blaming China last week for “hindering” Indian patrols at the border, its Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that “the two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels.”

Foreign policy experts say that in the absence of any concrete information it is difficult to comment on whether any resolution is actually taking place.

“The whole region of Ladakh is undefined, there is no agreed LAC, in some areas they respect each other’s position, and in some areas they don’t, which is the crux of the problem,” Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli, of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told Arab News.

“Geopolitical interests of both countries are at the center of the conflict,” Kondapalli said, “For India Ladakh is linked to its sovereignty. India has so many ongoing projects in that area. For China its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes not far away from the region and connect to the Gwadar port in Pakistan. Besides, once American troops leave Afghanistan and a new regime takes over Kabul this might have its implications in the region.”

Manoj Kewalramani, of the Bangalore-based think tank The Takshashila Institution, said that from a geopolitical perspective both sides need stability at this time and the current situation on the border is not helping either of them.

“Beijing is facing challenges on many fronts, an economic slowdown, tensions with the US, international anger amid the pandemic, protests in Hong Kong, etc.,” he said. “Likewise, New Delhi’s interests lie in managing the COVID-19 outbreak at home and focusing on reviving the economy.”