Will Balance of Power in Eastern Mediterranean Change if Israeli Gas Reaches Europe Through Turkey?

© AP Photo / Ariel SchalitIsrael's offshore Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020.
Israel's offshore Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.01.2022
After Washington's refusal to support the EastMed Pipeline project, the idea of delivering gas to Europe via Turkey was put back on the agenda.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier stated that such projects could not be implemented in the region "without the participation of Turkey", stressing that negotiations with the Israeli leadership on the matter were underway.
In the interview with Sputnik Turkish experts have commented on the possibility of cooperation between Turkey and Israel on natural gas deliveries through Turkey to Europe and its possible impact on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Retired Rear Admiral of the Turkish Navy Cem Gurdeniz and Volkan Aslanoglu, a Turkish energy specialist believe that gas delivery through Turkish territory is the right step.
According to Gurdeniz, the EastMed Pipeline is a political project:

"The US refusal to support the EastMed project was not a surprise. Italy was the first to abandon the project. As is known, the cost-benefit analysis of the project has shown that it was not viable. The thing is that the EastMed pipeline is a political project that has nothing to do with commercial benefit. It was an anti-Turkish initiative designed to force Ankara to make concessions within the framework of its 'Blue Homeland' concept (the doctrine shaping Turkish maritime policy in the Black, Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean seas)".

"The most convenient route for transporting Israeli gas to foreign markets is known to pass through Turkey. Today, the parties are returning to this issue. It must be ensured that Israel will respect the maritime jurisdiction of Turkey. It is not to be expected that Turkey will make any concessions on this issue without achieving a balance of interests with Israel", he said.
Volkan Aslanoglu, in turn, recalled that Turkey was initially considered to be the ideal route for transporting gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe, but this was hindered by growing tensions in the region, and then the EastMed project entered the agenda.

"The implementation of EastMed seemed difficult due to its very high cost. Moreover, to date, natural gas prices have increased significantly compared to the initial phase of the project. Even when gas prices were not so high, EastMed seemed an unrealistic project, but now it has become impossible. Israel is the most powerful producer in the region. The South Cypriot administration is forced to follow Tel Aviv in this matter. If an agreement between Israel and Turkey is reached, the latter has every chance of leaving South Cyprus behind. Therefore, this could be a very successful strategy for Turkey in terms of becoming an energy hub", Volkan Aslanoglu said.

Speaking about the benefits for Ankara, the expert stressed: "There may be a situation in which the price of gas will be set in Turkey. Thus, it will become possible for the country to determine energy policy, with all the financial benefits", he concluded.
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