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U.S. State Department withdraws support of EastMed natural gas pipeline

With a non-paper the US State Department has ‘ended” the EastMed project, Greek media have been reporting in the last two days. With a length of 1,900 km and a cost of some 6 billion euros, the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline (Eastmed) was planned to transfer natural gas from the Levantine Basin to Greece and from the to Italy and other European regions.

According to Greek media, the US state Department sent the non-paper to the Greek government, with the formal recipient being the Secretary General of International Economic Relations and Extroversion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Giannis Smyrlis. The non-paper was reportedly sent also to The Israeli government, however, not to the embassies of Greece, Cyrpus and Israel in Washington.

Although the non-paper or parts of it have not been published and so far there is not official statement from the government, media report that Washington lists three reasons for not providing diplomatic support to the project.

In a Tweet posted by the Washington correspondent of Greek state broadcaster, it is stated:

“The non-paper for the EastMed Gas Pipeline lists 3 reasons for Washington not providing diplomatic support 1) environmental protection / energy transition / turn to renewables 2) lack of economic and commercial viability 3) creating tensions in the region.”

The US Ambassador to Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt has been reportedly posting on Twitter posts about the issue saying that there has been no change in the State Department regarding the EastMed project.

Nevertheless, U.S. Senator and chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez has asked the State Department for clarifications, ANT1 TV reported from Washington at Sunday noon.

Several Greek media see in the US decision a clear position in favor of Turkey that has vehemently opposed the project.

Some analysts note that the project had problems of financial viability right form the beginning, however, they point out at the geopolitical aspect of the EastMed as “a source of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and a clear US shifting of balance in favor of Turkey.”

The big issue for Greece is, though, that it created a whole narrative around the project cheering that it would turn the country into an energy hub in the area and would increase the geopolitical influence of the country.

In 2013, the construction of the EastMed pipeline was designated under European Commission Regulation 347/2013 as a Project of Common Interest and during the 2015-2018 period the Commission contributed more than €34.5 million (US$38.9 million) to complete technical, economic and environmental studies for the project.

The Energy Triangle of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel signed an intergovernmental agreement for the EastMed gas pipeline in Tel Aviv on 20 March 2019 in the presence of United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a sign of support from Washington for the project. American interest on the pipeline is explained by Washington’s demand that its European partners maintain a diversification policy of their energy imports The pipeline will diversify European gas supplies and lessen dependence on Russian Natural Gas. More on the issue here.

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4 comments

  1. Clearly Hillary Clinton’s disciples who now occupy positions in the State Dept are favoring their usual favorite, Turkey. Don’t forget she promised immediate No Fly Zones over N. Syria if she were elected, which would have given an open hand to Erdogan and his mercenaries

  2. This conflicts with today’s news where the State Department reaffirms its support for the 3+1 partnership, alternative European dependance on energies in light with American interests, while also advocating for clean energies.

    Which story is correct or does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing in Washington?

    • keeptalkinggreece

      if you read these other reports correctly the St Dept does not refer to EastMed but to other projects.

  3. vlassis savahidis

    Washington’s intention not to support the construction of the EastMed gas pipeline undoubtedly looks like a kick in the teeth for the Greek government led by Mitsotakis. But the worst thing is that it is a kick in the teeth for all the citizens of Greece, as well as Cyprus and Israel.
    Such extremely negative situation demonstrates to all of us a number of very unpleasant facts about the country with which we are trying to build mutually beneficial relations. The United States once again made our countries understand the true attitude of America towards all of us in practice. The USA smiled at us broadly, bombarded us with promises and immediately concluded an agreement with us on military cooperation when they needed our military bases. And they don’t need these bases to protect us from Turkish provocations! Nevertheless, a lot of problems immediately arose when we began to need support from the USA in the energy sector. They forgot their promises and just turned their back on us!
    And this is how it happens every time a country tries to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the USA. It’s necessary to understand that Americans want to cooperate only the moment when they are profitable. But when someone needs some actions from them, all the agreements stop working. That suggests that they don’t need mutually beneficial cooperation, they are only able to be consumers! Therefore, we shouldn’t expect that the USA will support us in difficult times for us. They only will promise a lot, they will smile a lot, but they won’t do anything useful for us! It has been like this for many years, and it will be like this for a long time.