Turkey left out as EastMed pipeline cooperation deepens - analyst

The deepening cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel in the EastMed pipeline project has gained endorsement from the United States but left Turkey excluded in what could be a major regional energy corridor, analyst George Tzogopoulos has said.

The partnership between the three countries aims to create a pipeline to transport gas from the rich wells found in the eastern Mediterranean near Cyprus and Israel to Greece and onwards to Europe.

While the three countries share similar values that have helped cement their relationship, Washington sees the plan as a useful move to reduce allies’ dependency on Russian energy, and has granted the project its official backing, Tzogopoulos said.

“Discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean are hampered, however, by Turkey’s aggressive policy,” he said. “It is not unusual for Ankara either to organize military exercises in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus or to disrupt drilling operations of foreign companies, such as Italy’s ENI.”

Turkish officials have objected to any drilling by the Greek Republic of Cyprus because they say it would infringe on the rights of the breakaway Turkish republic that governs the northern tip of the island.

The disagreements over the eastern Mediterranean energy resources also reflect Turkey’s desire to gain access to those resources and its drift away from its traditional western allies including the United States, said Tzogopoulos.

“The initial agreement on the potential construction of the EastMed pipeline frustrates Ankara because Turkey will be excluded from the proposed corridor,” he said.

Turkish survey and drill ships began gas exploration operations in areas west of Cyprus this year.