Cyprus' Minister of Energy, Natasa Pilides, said that the singing of a memorandum of understanding between Cyprus, Greece and Israel for EuroAsia Interconnector, an electricity interconnection project, was an important step for lifting the energy isolation of Cyprus.
Speaking to CNA, the Minister said that it is very important that the Energy Minister of Israle Yuval Steinitz will be in Cyprus on Monday to sign the memorandum, as this shows the commitment of the Israeli Government to the project. The same applies to Greece, as she said, since the memorandum will be signed by the Minister of Energy of the country Kostas Skrekas, who will attend via a video-conference.
"The memorandum of cooperation is an important step to move this project much faster and to put an end to the energy isolation of Cyprus," said Pilides.
She added that Cyprus is the last EU member state that is isolated in terms of energy and with this project, it achieves not only the energy interconnection with other countries - something that will increase and strengthen the energy security of Cyprus - but will also help the country to develop more renewable energy sources.
At the same time, she noted that a lot of work is being done, in order to apply by April for funding from the Connecting Europe Facility fund. She added that on the part of Cyprus, the licensing process has been completed and therefore after the securing of EU funding, the construction of the project could start. The project is expected to be complete by 2025.
On Tuesday, the Minister of Energy will travel to Cairo for the first official ministerial meeting of the founding members of the regional intergovernmental organization "East Mediterranean Gas Forum" (EMGF), where various issues will be discussed, such as procedures for how this international organization will work and other important issues, concerning the admission of new members.
Pilides said that it is an important meeting and it is also important that Cyprus is among the founding members of this organization and should give its consent for the admission of new members. She also said that it is very important that both the US and the EU are interested in participating as observers, thus supporting financially and politically the project.
She added that the meeting, will also discuss a request from France for its participation as a full member of the organization.
Invited to comment on reports regarding the change of route of the EastMed gas pipeline, Pilides said that Cyprus has not been approached on the issue and therefore no discussions were held.
However, Pilides said that such a development would greatly change the original plan submitted to the EU, which has raised funding, allowing a number of studies that have already been carried out or are still ongoing.
She also said that one thing that should be taken into account is that the European Commission does not intend to continue funding gas projects beyond 2020-21, so projects that have not already been submitted may not be eligible.