Turkey wary of Greece-Egypt grid agreement

The connection of Greece and Egypt’s electricity grids will test already tense Greek-Turkish relations during the coming months. The cable that will connect the two grids will be laid in the sea area demarcated between Athens and Cairo back in August 2020, which guarantees the international legitimacy of the project. 

The problem from the Turkish point of view is that the cable will pass through areas demarcated between Ankara and the previous Libyan National Unity government, an agreement widely decried.

The extreme rhetorical reactions of the last days on the part of Ankara are indicative of its annoyance; however, what infuriates Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan even more is Cairo’s attitude. From Athens, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi last expressed his desire to export his country’s natural gas to Europe, with Greece as its first point of entry.

Cairo is not interested in Turkey, for reasons beyond political problems. Europe, a market of 600 million now overly dependent on Russian gas, desperately seeks alternative suppliers and is a stable market for Egypt, which also banks on its huge potential as a solar energy provider, a fact mentioned by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. 

Despite Ankara’s efforts to reconnect with Cairo, the el-Sisi government is setting a series of conditions, the most important of which is that Turkey severs its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt also wants Turkey out of Libya, an unacceptable demand for Erdoğan, who has presented his involvement there as a major success for his neo-Ottoman ambitions, as also expressed in the “Blue Homeland” doctrine, which Greece considers a challenge to its sovereignty.

Greece is prepared for the likelihood of Turkey announcing long-term naval exercises south of Crete to delay indefinitely the laying of the cable connecting it with Egypt.

(A version of this article was originally published by the Kathimerini newspaper and is reproduced by permission.)


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