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In the Eastern Mediterranean, which is characterised more by conflict than cooperation, persistent conscious effort is needed to minimise the effects of narrow-minded populism or politicisation of issues. Such attitudes are particularly unhelpful when it comes to realising the potential of the region’s hydrocarbons through solutions that are optimal both commercially and in public interest terms. This is a job that requires calm, serious planning by cognisant, and responsible policy makers. Another condition that could be crucial in ensuring the best outcomes is the existence of an informed public debate on the topic – a debate that is based on facts, developments and expert analyses relating to the energy situation at various levels.

This report is aimed at helping to enhance a better public understanding of the issues relevant to the energy sector, specifically in the aforementioned context. It is an edited volume of eight pieces submitted by experts based on their talks at a conference the PRIO Cyprus Centre—Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung—Atlantic Council conference entitled ‘Global Energy Debates and the East Mediterranean’ which was held in Cyprus in November 2015 (https://www.prio.org/Events/Event/?x=8378).

In the first article of the volume, Rafael Jimenez-Aybar describes the backdrop to the Paris Conference and explains its importance as well as discussing how this is set to shape the energy sector in the months and years to come. Next, Gareth M. Winrow looks at Europe’s present and future energy landscape and concludes that in spite of the strong drive to reduce fossil fuel use for environmental reasons, gas will remain an important component of the energy mix within the EU for the foreseeable future. In her article about Russia’s energy policy vis-à-vis the EU, Zuzanna Nowak predicts that, although Russia-EU gas trade relationship will endure, in the longer-term Russia will need Europe more than Europe will need Russia. Ana Stanič looks at issues of EU energy law which have divided Russia and the EU and stresses that the way these matters are handled will have an important bearing on the nature of their relations for many decades to come. David Ramin Jalilvand discusses the return of Iranian energy from the cold in the wake of the ‘nuclear deal’ and argues that due to serious unresolved issues things are not likely to pick up quickly. Charles Ellinas discusses the commercial challenges facing Cyprus’ and Israel’s gas export plans and explains why their best option is to cooperate in exporting their gas to Turkey by pipeline. Adel Abdel Ghafar looks at the implications of the Zohr discovery for Egypt and the reasons why the Egyptian authorities must ensure that the proceeds from this asset are not squandered but invested wisely in key areas. Finally, Elai Rettig analyses the obstacles to Israeli natural gas development, because of which the Leviathan field remains. Rettig also discusses the impact of Zohr and the role of Russia, Iran and Turkey in the future outlook for Israel’s gas developments.