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Greece, Israel & Cyprus ink EastMed gas pipeline deal amid Turkish outcry

Greece, Israel & Cyprus ink EastMed gas pipeline deal amid Turkish outcry
Cyprus, Greece and Israel have signed a deal to construct a natural gas pipeline between the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe, drawing Turkey’s ire as it pursues a foothold in the energy-rich region.

The agreement, signed on Thursday, kicks off plans for a 1,900km (1,180 mile) pipeline expected to carry some 10 billion cubic meters of gas into Europe yearly, set to be completed by 2025, after the parties to the deal agree on a final investment plan.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry wasted little time in protesting against the agreement, issuing a harsh statement predicting doom for the $7 billion venture soon after the signing ceremony in Athens.

“Any project which aims to ignore Turkey with the longest coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean and aims to ignore Turkish Cypriots who have equal rights over the natural resources of the Cyprus island will not be successful,” the ministry said, slamming the deal as “a new example of futile steps in the region that try to exclude our country.”

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Energy resources in the Mediterranean have become a major bone of contention between neighbors in the region, with Turkey claiming rights to explore for gas in contested waters around Cyprus, particularly where large reserves were recently discovered. Decades-old tensions between Greek and Turkish Cypriots also continue to complicate development projects around the island nation, where Ankara is the sole country to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

In November, Turkey announced a new agreement with Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord – currently vying for control of the country with other armed groups – granting access to a special economic zone in the Mediterranean. Previous agreements between Greece, Israel and Cyprus have sought to bar Turkey from gas exploration in the zone, but Ankara has signaled that it will move ahead with its plans for the region regardless.

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Despite Turkey’s disapproval, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has insisted the EastMed pipeline deal is not intended to antagonize any country, arguing it “supports a common aim for peace, security and stability in the particularly vulnerable region of the Eastern Mediterranean.”

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