PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades will on Sunday pay an official visit to Israel, where he will be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the government announced on Wednesday.
Accompanying the president will be foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides and energy and trade minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis. The president and his delegation return to Cyprus on the evening of Monday, July 25.
The top three issues on the agenda are bilateral relations (energy and security), the latest developments in the Cyprus peace talks, and regional issues.
The two nations have yet to sign a unitisation agreement on the joint exploitation of cross-border gas reserves, with negotiations having dragged on for years.
The Aphrodite gas field discovered in Cyprus’ Block 12 is believed to extend in part into Israeli waters. That means Israel would need to be included in the development of the reservoir.
In June 2015, during a visit by Anastasiades to Jerusalem, Cyprus and Israel launched a ‘strategic dialogue’ on energy, its chief aim being to put pen to paper for a unitisation deal.
At the time, Anastasiades and Netanyahu instructed their respective energy ministers to intensify and conclude negotiations on a unitisation agreement. The ministers were also told to begin immediate consultations on linking the power grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece.
Anastasiades’ new visit to Israel comes in the wake of the normalisation of relations between Tel Aviv and Ankara. The rapprochement deal was signed late last month.
Reports subsequent to the deal suggested that a mooted Israel-to-Turkey gas pipeline was back on the cards. The pipeline would need to pass through Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.