EastMed pipeline project will continue despite Turkey's rejections, Greek minister says

Greece's Energy and Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis on Saturday said the pipeline project to connect Greece and Italy to Cypriot and Israeli gas reserves would proceed despite Turkey's objections, Kathimerini reported.

"We are determined to proceed on the basis of international law," Kathimerini quoted Hatzidakis as saying during an interview with Greek SKAI TV.

Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Israel reached an agreement to build the estimated $7 billion pipeline in November, 2018, and the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Italy, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority met in Cairo in January to establish the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum with the aim of expanding cooperation between natural gas producers and consumers in the region. 

The dispute over potentially rich natural gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean has fuelled tension between Turkey and Cyprus. The internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus has accused Turkey of illegally drilling in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone, but Turkey says parts of the area belong to its own continental shelf.

Turkey has attempted to block exploration for hydrocarbons off the coast of Cyprus, saying Turkish Cypriots have a right to a say in the work and a share in any revenue. But the Greek Cypriots have said an agreement over the island, divided since Turkish troops invaded in 1974, must come first.