The Gas Rush in the Eastern Mediterannean and Strategic Alliances in the Region

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Date : 12/2/2020

Speaker Name: Nikos Tsafos

In our final event of fall semester, the Fares Center was pleased to welcome Mr. Nikos Tsafos of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Mr. Tsafos, the deputy director of the Energy Security and Climate Change Program at CSIS, offered his insights on the rush for gas 

in the Mediterranean, and the alliances that will be formed throughout the region as a result.

Mr. Tsafos began his seminar by stating that the major producer of the Mediterranean was once Egypt. Indeed, with the 2015 discovery of the Zohr gas field, Egypt was primed to become an exporter once again. However, the majority of undeveloped gas in the region now exists in Cyprus, placing the country in an interesting geo-political position. While one may assume that gas developments in Cyprus would be negatively affected by Turkey’s refusal to recognize the country, Mr. Tsafos noted that the two nations used energy as an excuse to gather and have substantive discussions. Energy has provided numerous countries of the region the same excuse to resolve past issues, as relations have improved between Cyprus and Israel, and Greece and Israel, since the recent discoveries of gas reserves.

In this way, Mr. Tsafos argued, “energy follows politics, not the other way around”. He further explained that greek nationalism has been trumped by economics, paving the way for advancement of Greek-Israeli relations. Mr. Tsafos ended his talk with the notion that the countries of the Meditteranean must continue to learn to depend on one another; especially as the United States is only a “cheerleader”, and not an actor, in the international energy arena.

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