Egypt’s maritime borders committee has asked the Defense Ministry for the coordinates of the country’s sea borders with Israel and Cyprus to discuss legal measures to demarcate common borders with the two countries, sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
The move comes in advance of proposing a tender by the Petroleum Ministry to excavate natural gas in the deep waters near Cyprus and Israel.
A member of the Supreme Committee for the Demarcation of Maritime Borders told Al-Masry Al-Youm that these coordinates help ministers make decisions regarding investments and activities in Egypt’s economic zones.
The member said the ministry has said it will provide the committee with the information so the government can deal with any discoveries of natural resources in its maritime border areas and support Egypt in any negotiations with countries such as Greece, which seeks to excavate natural gas in the Mediterranean.
Petroleum expert Ibrahim Zahran has accused the Foreign Ministry of being reluctant to request the demarcation of maritime borders with other Mediterranean countries, and warned of problems similar to the Nile Basin crisis — conflict over how to share water with other Nile states — which was ignored until the problem occurred.
Zahran called for following the Turkish policy of warning international oil companies not to work in maritime areas where borders have not been demarcated, saying this policy helped Turkey prevent Cyprus and Greece from expanding their excavation projects.
Ramadan Abul Ela, a petroleum engineering professor at Farous University in Alexandria, said the outcome of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Cyprus last week has started to emerge.
The Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot said Israel seeks to form a “western axis” in the Mediterranean area to confront any hostile outcomes of the Arab Spring revolts, Abul Ela said.
Israel wants Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia to join the alliance to face radical Islamist movements in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
Abul Ela suggested that Israel hopes, through discovering natural gas in the Mediterranean, that European countries will rely on it instead of Russian and Arab countries for natural gas exports. This way it could play a political and economic role that would enable it to redraw the political map in the region, he said.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm