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FACTDROP: Turkey sees three alternatives for Cyprus, all involving gas


Turkey sees three alternatives for Cyprus, all involving gas

Πηγή: Cyprus Mail
March 29 2013

TURKISH Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has proposed three alternatives to end the stalemate in Cyprus, all involving the exploitation of natural gas around the island.

According to Turkish channel NTV, the Turkish minister said he has proposed three alternative endings for the Cyprus problem.

Either the two communities form a united Cyprus state and jointly exploit the natural resources around the island, or, in parallel to ongoing peace negotiations, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots form a joint committee to exploit and market natural gas.

The third option is a two-state solution on the island.

According to NTV, the minister said all three proposals were formulated within the framework of how to make use of the natural resources in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Turkey has strongly objected to Cyprus’ early development of its energy sector in its EEZ through the awarding of exploratory licences to French, Italian, South Korean and American energy companies.

The Turkish government argues the natural resources belong to both communities on the island and, as a non-signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, even claims parts of Cyprus’ EEZ for itself.

As Cypriot leaders recently scrambled to find €5.8 billion to unlock a €10 billion troika bailout, the idea of borrowing money in lieu of future gas revenues triggered an immediate response from Turkey.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement saying: “It is not acceptable that the Greek Cypriot side uses the economic crisis it is facing as an opportunity to create new fait accompli.”

It added that the “only way to exploit the natural resources of the island” is “the clear consent of the Turkish Cypriot side regarding the sharing of these natural resources”.

Having seen their economy pummeled in the last two weeks, with talk of recession and a massive drop in GDP in the coming months and years, many Greek Cypriots are now resting their hopes on the plentiful natural gas reserves believed to be sitting in Cyprus’ EEZ.

Some commentators have argued now that Cyprus is under the economic gun, and in desperate need of proceeding rapidly with gas exploration, international efforts should focus on nudging or perhaps even pushing the Cypriots towards a solution to the island’s division.

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