For outside observers, Greece has increased stakes in the Levant. Security, illegal immigration, terrorism, and conflicts, in addition to hydrocarbon resources, are all factors that raise the stakes for Athens in the region. For its part, Athens is also showing signs of increased interest in the region, but has yet to formulate a well-defined approach.
As part of its interest in the wider Eastern Mediterranean, and anticipating a potentially larger role for Greece in the Levant, MESP is expanding its activities to Greece and has conducted a mission to Athens where it held meetings with a number of officials from the public and private sectors.
In this 970-word analysis, reserved for its clients, MESP focuses on three main themes.
- Energy: Despite a certain interest for the Eastern Mediterranean gas potential, we note that the Greeks look to East Med with an enthusiasm that is pragmatically tempered by an exploitation process that is proving to be complex. When it comes to exploration and production, the two main Greek companies, Hellenic Petroleum and Energean, have a solid presence at home but follow a different trend abroad. Both look at the Eastern Mediterranean as a platform and a preferred first-step in their “going-abroad” strategy.
- We then highlight the growing stakes for Greece in the Levant, the risks involved (particularly those arising from the acquisition by a Greek company, Energean, of two gas fields off the northern Israeli coast, one of them -Karish- a few kilometers from the Lebanese borders and the subject of significant anxiety in Lebanon), how they can be mitigated and possibly turned into opportunities.
- Syria: In addition to the refugee crisis and security situation, there is a perceptible interest in post-war reconstruction. Greece can rely on a number of strong points to position itself in post war Syria, and may find it useful to further develop its network in Lebanon, as the country is perceived as a platform for post-war reconstruction in Syria.