East Mediterranean Gas Forum officially turns into an Egypt-based organisation
Six states signed a charter for an Egypt-based energy forum on Tuesday, giving formal status to a group that seeks to promote natural gas exports from the eastern Mediterranean and that Israel hopes will strengthen ties with Arab neighbours.
The charter was signed by Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum, Mining, and Mineral Resources Tarek al-Molla and Cypriot, Greek, Israeli, Italian, Jordanian, and Palestinian counterparts in the headquarters of Egypt’s Petrojet company.
The signing ceremony was also attended by the ambassadors of the member states.
The forum was launched in January 2019, and is aimed for reinforcing cooperation among member states.
The Palestinian Authority is also part of the forum, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
France has applied to join, with the United States and European Union requesting observer status.
The EMGF will set “a shared vision and systematic and regulated dialogue over natural gas policies… to maximise the region’s resources.” according to a statement.
“The EMGF fully respects the rights of its members in their natural resources under international law, and supports efforts to invest their reserves and their use of current and future infrastructure for gas through effective cooperation with gas industry parties,” it said.
The statement said that EMGF is open for membership submissions by any state in the Eastern Mediterranean, and any other state or regional or international organisation as an observer.
It said it valued support provided by international parties and organisations including the European Union (EU) and World Bank (WB).
In a separate statement, Egypt’s Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla said that turning the forum into an international governmental organisation in the region gives momentum to establishing a body that aims to bolster cooperation and dialogue over natural gas.
He affirmed the importance of member countries’ role in finalising the charter in a record time of only 20 months, and establishing the forum’s bodies despite the unstable global circumstances.
“EMGF countries have succeeded in making history and contribute together to pushing peace,” he said.
The signing of the charter comes amid tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region over Ankara’s hunt for gas in the region in violation of the territorial waters of Greece and Cyprus, two close allies of Egypt.