Gas cooperation in Cyprus not enough for reconciliation

Reconciliation not expected in potential cooperation between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots for sharing Cyprus' natural gas resources, say experts

Gas cooperation in Cyprus not enough for reconciliation

World Bulletin/News Desk

Economic cooperation between the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots for Cyprus' natural gas resources is not expected to spill over into political reconciliation, experts say.  

The island of Cyprus was divided into northern Turkish and southern Greek territories, when a Greek-Cypriot coup in 1974 to join the island to Greece was responded to by a Turkish peace mission. 

While Cyprus' Aphrodite gas field is estimated to have 200 billion cubic meters of natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration data, the dispute on sharing the resources between the two sides continues on top of political differences. 

"You can have cooperation on energy even when political problems continue to persist," said James J. Coyle, chair of the Eurasia Committee and Pacific Council on International Policy at the U.S.-based Chapman University. 

"I think you can cooperate on energy easily because it benefits everybody," he said, adding that this doesn’t necessarily mean it will lead to political cooperation. 

Coyle stressed that Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus voted in favor of reunification of the island a decade ago, but it was Greek Cypriots who opposed it. 

Cypriots went to the polls in 2004 to decide on the UN's Annan Plan which proposed restructuring the island - effectively a federation of two states which aimed to unify the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.

A referendum in April 2004 was supported by 65 percent of Turkish Cypriots. However, only 24 percent of Greek Cypriots backed the plan, leaving the division unresolved.

"I am told by people that the political difficulties of Cyprus are even more intractable than the Israel-Palestine issue," said Simon Henderson, the director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute. 

"Turkey would challenge the southern Cypriot ownership of the Aphrodite field and any gas field," he added. 

State officials from TRNC, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, have already repeated their firm stand on many occasions that the resources of the island of Cyprus belong to both communities and that the Turkish Cypriots will not give up their rights on those resources. 

Fazil Can Korkut, ambassador of TRNC to Turkey, stated earlier in an event in Ankara that they have equal and sovereign rights to the island's natural resources and will not change their policies. 

Meanwhile Hakan Dincyurek, the minister of environment and natural resources of the TRNC, said in a summit last week in Istanbul that they will not take a step back from their position, emphasizing that they are not the side that suspended the talks. 

The Greek Cypriot administration put peace talks on hold in early October after Turkey sent a ship to monitor an oil-and-gas exploration mission off the coast of Cyprus.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Kasım 2014, 13:38

Muhammed Öylek