Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority are scheduled to sign on Tuesday morning the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) Charter via teleconference, Cyprus' energy ministry announced in a press release on Monday.
The ceremony officially establishes the international forum of which Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority are members, the statement said.
“The EMGF constitutes a very important initiative by Egypt, as it makes the most of the excellent relations and cooperation between Eastern Mediterranean countries, in order to find ways to develop in the best possible way the region’s natural wealth, and primarily natural gas,” the statement added.
Egypt's petroleum minister Tarek El-Molla is set to sign the agreement.
The EMGF was originally established between Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus in October 2018. It was later declared an international body with more countries joining it from the East Mediterranean.
The forum's aim is to have "an international organisation that respects the rights of members with respect to their natural resources from natural gas and oil in accordance with the principles of international law, and supports their efforts to benefit from their reserves and use of infrastructure," according to the EMGF declaration in January 2019.
In the last meeting held prior to the coronavirus crisis in January, France presented an official request to join the EMGF, and the US expressed interest to join as "a permanent observer."
The signing of the chart comes as the East Mediterranean region is witnessing tensions between Greece and Turkey over gas exploration in the area as well as the two maritime demarcation agreements between Greece and Egypt, and Turkey and Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA).
Mediterranean countries neighbouring Turkey were incensed by a maritime deal signed between Turkey and the Tripoli-based GNA in November 2019, under which Ankara claimed vast areas of the Mediterranean Sea.
Tensions rose in the past weeks over Turkish decisions to hold military drills and as gas exploration missions in the East Mediterranean area.
Israel, Greece, and Cyprus reached an agreement to set up a pipeline in the East Mediterranean to ship gas to Europe, a project that Turkey has opposed.
The teleconference ceremony will see the first virtual meeting between Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials after peace talks had faltered between the two sides months ago.