Conference on “Power Shifts in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Emerging Strategic Relationship of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus” at the Hudson Institute
The Hudson Institute held a high-level conference on October 22nd, 2013, to examine the major political, economic and security developments underway in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The first panel focused on the trilateral cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Israel, noting that this cooperation is important not only from an economic perspective, but also from a political one, since energy (natural gas) is considered to have become a ‘game changer’ in the region. Moreover, the prospects of extending this trilateral cooperation to include other countries of the region, was also stressed. The role of the US was also touched upon, pointing to the great US interest and support in this new perspective of cooperation, the ultimate goal of which is to turn the eastern Mediterranean into an area of peace, security, democracy and shared prosperity.
The discussion that the second panel had, mainly focused on Turkey’s domestic political and economic situation, noting that the message that is now coming out of Turkey is rather ‘anti-western/anti-Semitic’, as a result of which the said country has become an unreliable ally for the West. Recent examples of Turkey’s ‘anti-western behavior’ were cited. Furthermore, Turkey’s ‘zero-problem policy’ with its neighboring countries appears to have failed altogether.
The third panel was of a more technical nature and included an explanation of how the EEZ of a country is determined by international law. Turkey’s refusal to recognise the Cyprus EEZ and its belligerent policy against the Cyprus government’s intentions to proceed with the exploitation of its natural resources were analyzed, together with the policies of defining Turkish EEZ in the Black Sea, as opposed to the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean. Also discussed, were the plans of the Cyprus Government to construct an LNG terminal, the quantities/quality of natural gas that were discovered in Cyprus’ EEZ, natural gas exports potential, time frames for exploitation, and the cooperation with Israel and Greece in the development of the energy sector.
Participants included H.E. George Chacalli, Ambassador of Cyprus, H.E. Christos Panagopoulos, Ambassador of Greece, Congresswoman Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL), Eli Groner, Minister for Economic Affairs, Israeli Embassy, Charles Ellinas, Chairman of Cyprus' National Hydrocarbon Company, and several other academics in the energy and security field.