Two members of the US Congress have requested a meeting with Naz Durakoglu, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, to determine the US government’s policy regarding the East Mediterranean gas pipeline, claiming that in cancelling the project the State Department “has unilaterally taken [energy] options off the table.”
Gus M. Bilirakis and Nicole Malliotakis were responding to a letter from Durakoglu, in which she stated that “the United States did not reverse its position as it had not formally or financially supported the East Mediterranean Gas Pipeline thus far.”
In response, Bilirakis and Malliotakis said that it was “simply not true” that the US never backed the project, referring to a number of joint statements made by the Greek and US governments as well as to the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act (EastMed Act).
The politicians also say that officials who “oversaw energy diplomacy during the Trump Administration … expressed US support for the East Mediterranean gas pipeline on multiple occasions.”
“Whether you want to classify the Administration’s position as a clarification or a reversal, it is clearly a position at odds with positions taken during the Trump Administration, at odds with positions taken by members of Congress, and at odds with American law,” Bilirakis and Malliotakis said.
Bilirakis and Malliotakis also challenge what they describe as the “logic behind this reversal of policy”.
“While previous expressions of US support for the East Mediterranean gas pipeline were indeed conditioned on commercial viability and the State Department’s reversal in policy assumes lack of such viability, this is a conclusion that seems to have been reached unilaterally, absent consultations with our allies and partners in the region and before the completion of feasibility studies.”
“The EastMed Act requires multiple reports to be submitted to Congress regarding energy development and infrastructure, and to our knowledge no report has been submitted comprehensively analyzing the commercial viability issue. The State Department appears to have rushed to a conclusion here and in the process skipped several key steps including consulting with US allies and partners and with the United States Congress as required by the EastMed Act.”
Bilirakis and Malliotakis also criticized the State Department intention to lobbies its allies and partners “to follow your reversal of policy.”
“The State Department has unilaterally taken options off the table. The manner in which the issue of the East Mediterranean gas pipeline was handled only helps the malign influences, including Russia, Turkey and Iran, that we identified in the EastMed Act.”
“We are requesting an in-person briefing for ourselves, the other co-authors of the House’s version of the EastMed Act, Representatives Ted Deutch and David Cicilline, and other members interested in this decision by Mr Amos Hochstein and anyone else responsible for the drafting of the non-paper on the East Mediterranean gas pipeline and in determining Administration policy regarding bringing Eastern Mediterranean energy resources to market quickly,” they conclude.