Time is not on our side: EUMed 9 leaders discuss climate crisis

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ATHENS – The EUMed 9 summit kicked off in Athens today (September 17), focusing on stability in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as efforts to tackle climate change and migratory flows in the region.

“The eastern Mediterranean is going to be hit hard by the climate change we now call the climate crisis. So, time is not on our side ”, Constantine filis, research director at the Institute of International Relations, told New Europe by telephone on September 17. “We have to work hard and we have to realize that if we don’t do it effectively, what we are seeing now is going to become a phenomenon that is going to happen more and more often,” he added.

Greece is one of the pioneers of such initiatives. “Greece, in theory but also in practice, appears to be launching or promoting initiatives that serve the objective of a shift towards greener forms of energy and a green economy,” Filis said. “This means that the desire for hydrocarbons is not as great as in previous years, including Greece and maybe, only maybe it can serve as a catalyst for not necessarily positive developments but for the better. less to avoid escalating inter-state crises for the oil security shake. On the other hand, of course, countries don’t have a lot of time to waste. They don’t have the luxury of delaying them. If they do not make up their minds and if the projects do not start to materialize, in five years, it will be late, ”he added.

Charles Ellinas, senior fellow, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council, told New Europe on September 17 that Eastern Mediterranean countries have enormous potential for green energy, and solar energy in particular. “But only Greece has so far made far-reaching commitments. Others take limited and hesitant steps. Having said that, the new Israeli government appears to be more determined to pursue a deeper environmental agenda, having announced an 85% decarbonization plan by 2050, ”he said.

Ellinas noted that despite the fact that in Cyprus the cost of emission allowances now hurts, and will do so even more when the European Union’s Fit-for-55 package is adopted, it only does small steps to increase renewable energies. He is pinning his hopes on the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which now appears to be delayed, he said.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades can inform the meeting of initiatives taken to combat climate change, involving the use of experts to define new policies, but it is now urgent to go further in observing the example of Europe and to implement ambitious goals, said Ellinas.

“However, once the EU fully adopts its new climate change package, the Eastern Mediterranean countries will follow suit. The current rise in gas and electricity prices is likely to force change. But also, the EU must pay attention to the legitimate problems that the countries of the region have with the impact of the energy transition on their economies, their populations and the cost of energy and seek pragmatic solutions ”, he added. -he declares.

According to Ellinas, this year’s abnormal flooding and wildfires are also expected to be discussed at the summit, including measures taken to address the issue, including EU aid.

Regarding the Cyprus issue, Anastasiades plans to brief other participants on recent developments regarding the Cyprus issue, Ellinas said. “But nothing has really happened since July, when Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots announced the opening of Varosha and reconfirmed their positions for a two-state solution in Cyprus,” he said.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen could reconfirm at the meeting the EU’s strong support for a unified Cyprus and that the EU will not agree to a two-state solution, Ellinas argued.

In a glimmer of light, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will see the two Cypriot leaders in New York at the UN General Assembly, but no date or agenda has been announced. “There is no expectation of progress,” Ellinas said.

Regarding energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, not much is happening other than the intention of US Major ExxonMobil to return to Cyprus at the end of the year to drill an appraisal well. to Glaucus in Block 10. “However, President Anastasiades could brief the meeting on the success of the summit. with Egypt the first week of September where, among other issues, the two sides agreed to study the export of Aphrodite gas by pipeline to Egypt. Even though it is an intergovernmental agreement, both sides have agreed to move it forward, ”Ellinas said.

He noted that Greece and Cyprus could brief the meeting on Turkey’s latest aggressive statements. “At the latest this week, in response to Greece’s plans to conduct maritime surveys in an area between Crete and Kasos, Turkey warned Greece that parts of this area belonged to the Turkish continental shelf, such as declared to the UN in March 2020, referring Greece again to the Turkey-Libya maritime memorandum, ”Ellinas said.

In July, the Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu threatened to return to studies and offshore drilling in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) if there was no equitable distribution of income, Ellinas said. And earlier this month, Turkey’s foreign minister warned that if ExxonMobil returns to drill in Cyprus’s EEZ, Turkey will do the same. “Obviously, for Turkey, rapprochement does not mean abandoning its unsustainable demands,” Ellinas said.

Regarding migration flows in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Filis said the consequences of recent developments in Afghanistan are mainly related to migration. “Indeed, we fear that human flows, in particular from Afghanistan, will multiply in the months to come. This is not the case at the moment, “he said. But, he argued,” It is likely if we see hundreds of thousands of Afghans, more than the 300,000 in 500,000 already in Turkey, so if we see new flows of Afghans on Turkish soil, (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan will ship them to Greece. He does not have the time and the political luxury to sit down and negotiate with the Europeans in whom he does not trust anyway. In this case, we face a very serious challenge not only as Greece but as the European Union as a whole ”.

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