Cairo, September 5, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
A “quartet” of cooperation is being formed by Greece, Cyprus, Egypt & Israel in the gas sector
Sameh Shoukry in Rhodes 8-9 September at the Conference for Stability and Security
In a front page story on Sunday 4 September titled “Sources: Agreement for the demarcation of maritime borders with Greece to be signed withtin weeks”, Al – Shorouk newspaper presents the statements of well-informed sources according to which Cairo and Athens will officially sign an agreement within weeks for the demarcation of a maritime border between the two countries. This opens the way for the strengthening of the quadripartite cooperation between Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and Israel, in order for them to exploit the vast oil and gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean basin.
The comprehensive report, which continues in the inside pages of the paper, mentions:
An Egyptian government official, according to Al-Shorouk information, assured that Cairo intends to sign, shortly and finally, the agreement delimiting the maritime border with Greece, possibly within the next few weeks, after the settlement of certain issues under discussion in the ongoing contacts between the two sides.
Following the recent agreement signed by the Egyptian government with Cyprus for the transportation of natural gas, the demarcation of the border will be the second step in strengthening Egyptian cooperation with the three countries bordering with it in the Mediterranean – Greece, Cyprus and Israel – where there are huge natural gas reserves.
The Egyptian government official, according to Al- Shorouk, who remained anonymous, said that the completion of the demarcation of all borders would open the way for these countries to move at a faster pace to conclude agreements to exploit the wealth of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean region, underlining that “the results will certainly satisfy the four countries interested in cooperation in the region.”
An Egyptian diplomatic source said that in order for the exploration and extraction operations to proceed faster, Cairo abandoned its “rigidity” towards Greek requests for delimitation of maritime borders – a rigidity which are down to Greek-Turkish disagreement on two points, both concerning two islands in the Mediterranean sea.
He stressed that Cairo no longer insists that its relations with Greece remain open until Greek-Turkish differences are resolved. This is not just a result of bad Egypt-Turkey relations but it is also in the economic interests of Egypt whih is in a great economic crisis and is in need to exploit any potential prospects of natural resources. Particularly with regard to energy; because Egypt is plagued by its inability to respond to its growing energy needs.
A regional diplomatic source said that there was clear understanding between Egypt and Israel, following talks held at a high level, in order to avoid any future disputes between Cairo and Tel Aviv, around the deposits discovered between the two countries, which have not yet proceeded with the delimitation of their maritime borders.
A Palestinian source revealed that Cairo is in talks with Tel Aviv for the demarcation of maritime borders between Egypt and Israel, whereas the Palestinian Authority will have a role in these discussions, because Palestine shares maritime borders with Egypt and Israel, i.e. in the waters of the Gaza Strip.
The same source reported that Cairo is working to promote regional cooperation in this area, because it wants to intensify the exploration and exploitation of natural gas. The natural gas the four countries will extract would be transferred to Egypt, where it will be condensed at Egyptian liquefaction facilities. Then, it will be exported to Europe, thus fulfilling the vision of Egypt to become a regional energy center.
According to Egyptian and European sources, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, is expected to visit Cyprus in the next few days.
Egyptian Foreign Minister will be in Rhodes September 8-9 to participate in the Conference for Stability and Security, organized by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and will join seven European and seven Arab countries at Foreign Minister level. On the sidelines of the conference, it is likely that the details of this quadripartite cooperation in the exploration and exploitation of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean which is in the interests of the four countries, will be discussed.