İrem  UZUN -TDO- The leaders of Greece, Israel and Greek Cypiot met in Athens on Thursday to sign a deal for an undersea pipeline that would carry gas from new offshore deposits in the southeastern Mediterranean to continental Europe - a move that has riled Turkey. The 2,000km EastMed pipeline is intended to provide an alternative gas source for energy-hungry Europe, which is currently largely dependent on supplies from Russia and the Caucasus region.

European governments and Israel last year agreed to proceed with the so-called EastMed project, a $6 to $7 billion pipeline project that is expected initially to carry 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Israeli and Cypriot waters to the Greek island of Crete, on to the Greek mainland and into Europe's gas network via Italy. The energy ministers of Greece, Israel and Greek Cypriot - Kostis Hatzidakis, Yuval Steinitz and Yiorgos Lakkotrypis - signed the final agreement on the pipeline at a ceremony in Athens.

Last month, Turkey there was no need to build a new pipeline because the existing trans- Anatolian pipeline is sufficient. Hami Aksoy, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said any project that ignored the rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots over natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean would fail.

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