After years of negotiation, an agreement has been reached on the construction of a submarine pipeline from Israel to Europe. Turkey is dissatisfied with the agreement, because the pipeline would go through Turkish territory.
Turkey has recently started drilling for gas in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Cyprus. That country claims a Turkish violation of the Cypriot economic waters, but Ankara says that it concerns waters from the so-called Turkish republic in Cyprus. In addition, Turkey says it has signed a new 'sea treaty' with Libya last month, and that the Israeli-European pipeline would be contrary to that.
This threatens to create a new international conflict over European energy supply, as in the past with the American protests against the Russian Nord Stream-2 pipeline from Russia via the Baltic Sea to Western Europe. A similar situation now threatens to arise in the Mediterranean if Turkey is to oppose new gas supplies to EU countries.
Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement last week on the 1900-kilometer gas pipeline, 1300 of which are below the Mediterranean Sea. It is intended that Israeli gas be transported via Cyprus and Crete to the Greek mainland, and ultimately also to Italy.
Billions are involved in the deal. The agreement is considered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a historic step for his country. With the pipeline, Europe becomes less dependent on Russian gas. The pipeline must be ready in five years and provide 10 percent of the gas demand in the European Union.
This is natural gas from the Israeli gas field Leviathan, which lies in the east of the Mediterranean Sea. Before construction starts, the European Commission still needs to consider competition issues.
With the pipeline the EU can become less dependent on natural gas from Russia. In particular, the Central and Eastern European member states have so far been tied to Russian gas, which runs via large pipes from Siberia to Europe. Previously, Moscow Central and Eastern European countries were troubled by gas because it had a payment conflict with neighboring Ukraine for gas supplies. Just last week, Kiev and Moscow signed new contracts for this.