U.S. to join East Med energy summit

The United States will join Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt on July 29 at a summit on East Med energy cooperation, reported Greek daily Kathimerini on Wednesday.

United States Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Frances Fannon will be in Athens for the East Med energy summit on July 29. Fannon will be joined by Ministers of Energy Yiorgos Lakkotrypis (Cyprus), Kostis Hatzidakis (Greece) and Dr. Yuval Steinitz (Israel).

On July 24-25 the East Med Gas Forum will be held in Cairo with delegations from Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Palestine and Italy. 

Lakkotrypis said all seven countries of the East Med project “hope that Turkey becomes part of the solution rather than the problem” and that it is important for Ankara to “accept to start the discussions on demarcation of maritime zones parallel to the process of resolving the Cyprus problem". 

The Cypriot minister said, “We must focus our attention on the problems created by Ankara's provocative attitude that has been intensifying lately.” 

The European Union has deemed Turkey’s drilling for natural gas off the Northern Cypriot coast illegal and imposed sanctions against Turkey on Monday, July 16. On the same day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said he doesn’t think the EU sanctions are to be taken too seriously and added: “In the period that follows, we are going to increase our activities. We already have three ships there, we are sending a fourth one.”

Lakkotrypis also mentioned U.S.-based Exxon Mobil Co. in Bloc 10 and said the cooperation achieved through the East Med initiative is very important. 

On June 26, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee had approved a bill to lift the embargo on Cyprus since 1987 and on the same day, Athens had issued a license for Exxon Mobil to drill off the coast of southwestern Greek island of Crete.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Wednesday, July 17. Later in a tweet Pompeo said, “Greece is a pillar of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans and an important NATO Ally,” and that the U.S. looks forward to working closely to promote prosperity in the region.