A few years back, energy discoveries and prospects were considered a ‘game changer’, not just elevating Cyprus’ role in regional issues but also helping resolve the island’s division.
The lack of progress in the latter has negatively impacted the former, with Turkey pushing hard to have a say in sharing the wealth from offshore natural gas discoveries.
Since then, nobody has paid serious attention to this country, our northern neighbour playing on both sides of the fence, sometimes even pitting allies against each other, much to the frustration of European leaders, a sentiment that has grown recently.
This year’s developments, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the repercussions this has had on the world energy market, particularly the European energy needs, have propelled Cyprus, once again, to the forefront of the debate to fast-track infrastructure projects.
These include speeding up exploration, export and regasification of the resources within the Cyprus exclusive economic zone, negotiating cross-border and revenue-sharing agreements with neighbouring countries, even between age-old rivals Israel and Lebanon, and of course, pushing for faster delivery of the EuroAsia Interconnector.
As discussed during this week’s 10th Cyprus Energy Symposium, the electricity cable project, the longest and deepest of its kind in the world, will rely on zero-carbon energy converted to electricity in the Middle East and exported to continental European consumers.
This will be at a fraction of the cost of supplying natural gas or other fuels to European power stations, ensuring supply security and fully complying with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s ‘green deal’.
At the same time, those running for the presidential throne next February have all discovered what a crucial role energy could play in developing and strengthening the island’s economy, acting as a catalyst to resolve the political problem and rebuilding Cyprus’ reputation as a reliable partner.
Wealth begets stability, in turn, security.
You don’t need to invest billions to build an enormous military arsenal to defend your natural resources.
But Cyprus needs to make itself indispensable to its European partners and beyond.
That is the only way to go, regardless of ambitions to join (or be allowed into) military alliances, where often the national interests of others trump Cyprus’ interests. Instead, we should learn to play by the rules, which we often don’t and think we can get away with it.
The time has come for Cyprus to regain its long-lost reputation and become a small, yet key, player on the bigger game board.
Hopefully, all the promises of energy and security blurted by presidential candidates will become the number one priority after election day.
This will determine our future prospects if we have any.