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The Triangle Greece-Cyprus-Israel

The Triangle Greece-Cyprus-Israel

by

George Koulouris

International Relations Expert

 

Lately, there has been an improvement in relations between Greece-Cyprus and Israel. Common place constitute the exploitation of natural gas and the prevention of Turkey’s regional hegemony. It seems that these countries follow the quote «the enemy of my enemy is my friend», as both have problems with their neighbour country Turkey. This fact constitutes one of the basics factors about the imminent collaboration of those countries. Turkey’s foreign policy, during the last years, based on the strategic depth, has been viewed to become a regional power, something that the triangle doesn’t wish. Israel was for a long time an ally to Turkey, although the recent rupture in their relations, and the civil ebullition which dominate in the Middle East, turned the interest of Israel to look for other allies.

The recent discovery of ores of natural gas, such as in Israel (Tamar, Leviathan, Mari, Noa ) and Cyprus, with the 13 fields of researches, 12 of those fields possess natural gas worth at an estimated of 350 billion Euros. This discovery has brought the two countries closer. Subsequently, except by the threat of Turkey, an important factor for the alliance is the excavation and the exploitation of natural gas.

The two countries intend, apart from self-sufficiency that the ores of natural gas will possibly offer to them, to gain multiple profits on an economic and geopolitical level. Beyond any doubt, Greece will assist in this effort which is placed in an especially strategic point as it constitutes channel of transportation of natural gas to European countries. At the same time, Greece is probable to become a producer of natural gas if the researches will give good result in the sea area south of Crete, as in the area inside the field of Herodotus at the southeast of Crete, between the Greek and Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

This energy triangle appears during a very decisive period of Europe. Such lack of ores of energy in various European Union countries, as they are sensitizing in environmental issues, point out the necessity for an effective cooperation of the neighboring countries. The environmental policy of EU, which targets the diminution of the environmental pollution, approve of natural gas utilization which is more ecological than the oil.

Also, the countries of EU are not famous about their natural gas ores, and basics suppliers for EU are Russia, Norway and Algeria. However, the natural gas ores with the passing of time are getting exhausted in Norway and the EU doesn’t want to depend on Russia, either to avoid Russian supplier cartels, or because Russia confronts problems with neighboring countries such as the Ukraine. As it concerns Algeria, there is a danger which the terrorism. Generally, there is dependence of EU from its suppliers, and as the demand of natural gas is expected to increase in the next years, EU must find more suppliers.

In this future need of EU, nodal role is anticipated to act the energy alliance of Greece-Cyprus-Israel. The excavation and the exploitation of natural gas will enhance especially in these countries. The big ores are going to play an important role in the following years. The point in which these countries are placed is connected as well as with the EU as with Asia. It is of two markets from which it is expected to gain benefits, such as economic and strategic, if they choose to cooperate with them and to sell their natural gas. Most importantly, it is which country will offer political gains and support at the triangle’s countries.

First, the market of Asia is a very big market which, of course, offers economic gains at the producer’s countries in a difficult period, especially for Greece and Cyprus due to the financial crisis. However, the field is fluid in the market of Asia considering the high competition, because many countries are suppliers such as Australia, Malaysia, Russia and Egypt. Except from this, there is a long distance between the East Mediterranean and Asia and for this reason the directly political profits triangle’s countries do not seem to take place. In the difficulty of transportation, the pass from the Strait of Hormuz is preferred, which is checked from Iran, and there are many threats for the prohibition of entrance in European ships. Surely, the United States plays an important role in transportation of natural gas to Asia, because in Europe they have the trade of natural gas under control, and they do not want another player as Asia enters in the trading.

Second, concerning the European market, it offers, in states of triangle, apart from economic profits also political profits. If these countries take advantage of the lack of gas in the next years in Europe, they will be able to enhance their position and their influence into European Union. First, Israel, because of its destabilization that appears in the Middle East and its isolation from the neighbor’s countries, but also due to the breaking relations with Turkey, it will be ideal to turn through Greece and Cyprus over EU. On the ground of search for new alliances, the European Union will appear to be the ideal partner for Israel, because at this moment the EU will have a powerful ally. Additionally, being a supplier for the Europe Union in natural gas, Israel extends its economic relations with the European countries. Apart from Israel, Cyprus will have multiple benefits from a European orientation as well. With the exploitation of natural gas to European Union, Cyprus, except from the economic growth, will improve also its negotiation power into EU. Cyprus is a country with ongoing and continuing problems for many years now, and the augmentation of its power through natural gas will reinforce notably. Cyprus as an EU supplier will be able to exercise pressure due to the solution of the Cypriot problem having better requirements.  

Therefore, this choice has a strategic meaning for Cyprus and for the growth of its power in the next years. At the same time, Cyprus will be an obstacle in the efforts with Turkey to get a share of the natural gas which belongs to Cyprus. In the energy field, Greece is also a participant. On this level, Greece is expected to constitute the connecting link between Israel’s and Cyprus’ natural gas with Europe. Greece, due to its geostrategic point will play significant role in providing natural gas in Europe. In that case, it will construct pipelines which deliver natural gas to EU, and Greece will be station of transit. With the creation of a pipeline which distributes the natural gas from Cyprus and Israel over Europe, Greece will increase its power inside EU and will get important economic profits in a difficult financial situation. The growth of Greece’s strategic role inside EU will assist in arrangement of the problems with Turkey concerning the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Aegean. Furthermore, it will form a barrier about the progress of Turkey’s regional power in the last years.  Consequently, what will strengthen the position of Greece is the creation of a pipeline more than the transportation with LNG or FLNG, because in this way the Greek strategic role will enhance as a transporter of natural gas.

To conclude, it is perceivable that the choice of Europe about the delivery, Cyprus’ and Israel’s natural gas is the most advantageous solution. The states of triangle will have benefits such as in a strategic and an economic level. Of course, as the three countries are in the same neighborhood and are close with Europe, the cost will be less and the share of natural gas will not be exposed in dangers. Finally, this triangle between Greece-Cyprus-Israel it is predicted to act a meaningful role the next years in Europe such an economic as a strategic ground.