Ukraine War Will Transform European, Mideast Energy Markets, Israel's Lapid Says in Greece Meeting

Touting thaw in Turkey ties during a trilateral meeting with foreign ministers from Greece and Cyprus, Lapid says opportunities exist to 'strengthen regional stability'

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Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, on Tuesday.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, on Tuesday.Credit: Asi Efrati/Government Press Office

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told his Greek counterpart on Tuesday that Russia's invasion of Ukraine will "change the structure of the European and Middle Eastern energy market," adding that it offers "opportunities which we must examine together."

Lapid was in Athens to speak with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and take part in a trilateral meeting with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts.

In a statement alongside Greece's Nikos Dendias and Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Lapid addressed the opportunities afforded by Western efforts to reduce their dependency on Russian gas, which has become contentious after Russian forces were accused of committing war crimes against Ukrainian civilians. "There are risks here, but there are also opportunities," he said.

Touching on Israel's rapprochement with Turkey, Lapid said, "There is also a great opportunity to deepen the ties between us and strengthen regional stability."

The three countries are also looking at ways to cooperate in the field of regional security, he said, adding that this cooperation is "critical for the safety of our citizens, and to fight terrorism in the region."

Lapid also condemned killings in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, saying: "The images and testimony from Ukraine are horrific. Russian forces committed war crimes against a defenseless civilian population. I strongly condemn these war crimes."

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Athens on Tuesday.Credit: Asi Efrati/Government Press Office

Lapid also spoke with Greece’s Dendias on Sunday, tweeting afterwards that “Greece is an important partner of Israel, and we’ll continue to act to strengthen the relationship between our countries and peoples.”

Last July, the Israeli government approved the 6 billion Euro EastMed project which would have created a new gas pipeline from Israel and Cyprus to Europe in order to lower dependency on Russian fuel.

The project gained traction after Turkey, the largest gas consumer in the region, decided to not purchase gas from its rival Cyprus and Israel. However, the United States decided in January to rescind its support for the pipeline for economic and environmental reasons.

Speaking with Hebrew daily Maariv, Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said that she believed that “Israel is facing an opportunity to become a major player in the global energy economy” and that she had “instructed the ministry to examine the possibility of exporting natural gas to Europe following a request I received from the European Union.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, on Tuesday.Credit: Asi Efrati/Government Press Office

Lapid’s visit comes less than a week after Turkey's foreign minister announced that he planned on visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories with the country's energy minister in mid-May, following talks on energy cooperation between the countries.

Prior to their recent rapprochement, Israel had avoided upgrading its ties with Turkey out of fear that it would damage the strategic alliance achieved in recent years with Greece and Cyprus. Historic tension between Cyrus, Greece and Turkey has grown in recent years due to the struggle over natural gas resources off the coast of Cyprus.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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