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Opening remarks by the Cyprus Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Natasa Pilides at the 7th EMGF Ministerial Meeting

Allow me to start by thanking Egypt and, especially, my good friend, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El Molla, for organising and hosting this 7th Ministerial Meeting of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum . Although it has not been possible for me to join you in person, please allow me to reiterate what a great honour it is for Cyprus and me personally, to be presiding over this important Organisation for 2022. I am very happy to see you all virtually and I would like to extend the warmest of welcomes to you all, for today’s session. A rather important session in fact, since according to the agenda we are about to endorse some key outcomes of EMGF activities.

The Forum has a crucial role to play, especially nowadays in light of the geopolitical and energy demand challenges we are facing. It is crucial for the organisation to be a frontrunner not only in correctly analysing the situation and it is potential impact, but in proposing useful and appropriate solutions, so that its footprint is extended from regional to global. Diversifying energy sources and routes in order to achieve a sustainable gas market in the East Mediterranean region, whilst at the same time safeguarding the momentum of our energy transition, must be at the core of our strategy. Certainly, in this complex equation of achieving our zero emissions goal, natural gas can act as a bridge fuel that its environmentally friendlier and a as potential raw material for the production of hydrogen, allowing a more swift and efficient transition to cleaner forms of energy.

Today, the outcomes of the 2nd Phase of the EMGF’s Long Term Strategy will be presented to us for endorsement. The Forum’s operating model and the institutional framework for overseeing effective implementation of its Long Term Strategy, are key to achieving our strategic objectives and accomplishing the EMGF’s mission.

We fully support the EMGF’s efforts and ambition to drive the decarbonisation of East Med gas and we are very pleased to be reviewing today the report of the East Mediterranean Natural Gas Decarbonisation Initiative, prepared by the competent working group. The EMGF, we feel, can be an excellent platform for leveraging regional and multilateral collaboration and for collectively discussing and agreeing on projects and initiatives that can be expedited to contribute to the global energy transition process.

As we have already stated and proved through actions, on numerous occasions, Cyprus is committed to our collective efforts to responsibly and efficiently monetise the Eastern Mediterranean’s offshore gas discoveries, whilst fully respecting the rights of Members over their natural resources, in accordance with international law. In this framework I would like to express our strong support to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will be signed today between the EU, Egypt and Israel, on cooperation related to trade, transport and export of natural gas to the European Union. The MoU makes specific references to the participation of EU Member States – Cyprus, France, Greece and Italy – in the EMGF and, of course, to the role of the EMGF in supporting and accelerating the establishment of an efficient and competitive, regional East Med gas market, including the gas reserves of regional players such as Egypt, Israel and Cyprus.

Specifically, the MoU refers to natural gas originating from Egypt, Israel or any other source in the region, including the East Med’s EU member states. As such, Cyprus stands ready to contribute towards the Union’s efforts to secure gas, to be delivered to European markets by developing our gas resources in a timely and efficient manner.

Cyprus, in an effort to promote the EMGF’s decisive role in the transition towards cleaner energy and sustainable growth, is organising the EMGF Energy Transition Conference, to take place in Nicosia on the 14th of October 2022.

My dear colleagues, fellow Ministers, dear representatives of the Executive Board, dear supporters of the EMGF, we will be very happy to welcome you all in Cyprus in October, with the Conference offering an excellent opportunity to present the progress of the Forum’s Long Term Strategy, as well as to showcase the Decarbonisation Initiatives undertaken in collaboration with the Gas Industry Advisory Committee. In this regard, I would like to thank my colleagues who have already responded positively to the invitation sent to them, and especially Mrs Kadri Simson, for making herself available for an official visit to Cyprus and for agreeing to participate in the EMGF’S Energy Transition Conference, as additional tangible proof of the EU’s support to our organisation.

Once again, on behalf of the Government of Cyprus I wish to express our deep appreciation to the Arab Republic of Egypt and to my good friend Tarek El Molla, for all your efforts in facilitating the work that has already been done by the EMGF. Egypt’s support during Cyprus’ Presidency is fundamental in promoting Cyprus’ initiatives already launched and progressing through the Gas Industry Advisory Committee.

In closing, I also wish to extend our deepest appreciation to the Member countries’ delegations for all the hard work you have been doing, particularly regarding the 2nd Phase of the Long Term Strategy and the East Mediterranean Gas Decarbonisation Initiative that will be presented to the Ministers today.

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