Ankara suggests ‘joint gas exploitation’

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Turkey has proposed “joint exploitation” of Cyprus’ natural resources to abandon the talks framework based on a bizonal, bicommunal federal solution for one of two states.

Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Hakan Fidan has tabled the idea that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots could jointly exploit the divided island’s natural resources, much like an agreement between Israel and Lebanon, despite their ongoing conflict.

This agreement allows each party to harness natural gas deposits within their respective zones independently.

Fidan went as far as to propose the idea of a “joint” committee comprising both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to oversee this envisioned “co-exploitation” proposed by Ankara.

His comments came after meeting his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Tahsin Ertugruloglu, on Wednesday.

Effectively, Ankara strives to introduce topics of sovereign equality for the Turkish Cypriot community, potentially altering the framework from discussions on a bizonal federation under UN auspices to a solution involving two separate states.

“Waiting for a final solution on the island that will pave the way to benefit from the energy resources of the Eastern Mediterranean is not good for the region and the world,” said Fidan after the meeting in Ankara.

Fidan argued there could be an agreement on exploiting natural gas resources without a prior solution to the Cyprus issue.

He mentioned this agreement could be similar to the one between Israel and Lebanon last year.

“Fine, the impasse between us is still very much there.

“But there are some issues that both communities can benefit from…hydrocarbon resources are at the top of that list.

“There are issues like electricity integration, renewable energy, water, irregular migration, mine clearance.”

Turkey’s foreign minister accused the Greek Cypriot side of lacking the will to cooperate on any matters he mentioned while “just waiting for a solution.”

“It is possible to utilise the energy potential to the equal benefit of both sides without waiting for a political solution to the Cyprus issue.

“Other examples in the world have been implemented recently in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“The agreement reached between Israel and Lebanon is an example.

“Why shouldn’t there be a similar agreement in Cyprus?”

Israel-Lebanon deal

In October 2022, Israel and Lebanon reached a historic agreement to demark their maritime zones.

The landmark agreement was signed by the leaders of Israel and Lebanon, thus paving the way for the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons.

The deal allows international companies to explore natural gas in previously contested waters, potentially leading to more energy exports to Europe in the coming years.

Lebanon and Israel do not have diplomatic relations and are technically still at war.

The dispute has delayed exploration work in the eastern Mediterranean and escalated tensions.