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ENERGY > Apology, Cyprus hinder Israel’s Turkey gas bid

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

The 2010 Gaza crisis drove a wedge between Turkey and Israel, but tensions over Israel’s energy links with Greek Cyprus could also divide the two

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Courtesy of Marmara Group

Courtesy of Marmara Group

The normalization of Turkish-Israeli relations – which is contingent on the latter apologizing and paying compensation over the deadly 2010 Gaza raid – would not be enough to effect energy cooperation between the two due to Israel’s energy cooperation with Greek Cyprus, according to a Turkish official.

The revelation emerged yesterday during the 16th Eurasian Economic Summit's Energy Search meeting in Istanbul in which Michael Lotem, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s special envoy for energy, attempted to approach Akkan Suver, the head of conference organizer the Marmara Group (MG) Foundation, with a request to discuss possible energy cooperation with Deputy Turkish Energy Minister Murat Mercan.

But according to sources speaking on condition of anonymity, Mercan refused to speak because Turkey had downgraded its diplomatic relations with Israel to a minimum because Israel had killed nine Turks on board the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla, which was trying to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza in 2010.

Mercan, however, later agreed to speak informally at a coffee break following the conference’s “Natural gas as the game changer” session. Replying to Lotem’s questions as to the possibility exporting Mediterranean gas via Turkey, Mercan replied that even if Israel fulfilled Turkish demands for getting relations back on track, namely, providing an open apology for the Mavi Marmara killings, compensating the families of the victims and ending the blockade on Gaza, the problem of Israel’s resource cooperation with Greek Cyprus would still remain.

Turkey could be a natural energy cooperation partner for Israel because potential gas finds off Israel’s shore could find a market in Turkey and Europe. Before the Gaza crisis, Turkey and Israel had been in detailed talks for regional energy cooperation, including constructing pipelines between them through the Mediterranean.

The problems related to Greek Cyprus stem from 2012, when Nicosia declared parts of the Mediterranean as its economic zone for oil and gas exploration and extraction, including territorial waters claimed by the Turkish Cypriot government. The declaration prompted the Turkish government to announce that it would not do business with any country or company that entered into a Greek Cypriot ventures.

Other sources speaking on condition of anonymity, however, said the exchange was not a negative one since it clarified Turkey’s position, indicating which parties companies intent on investing in Israeli projects should not cooperate with while providing guidance to Israeli political parties, which are set to begin coalition talks following Jan. 22 elections.

Mercan used to be the head of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Turkish Parliament for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and was an active member of the Turkish-Israeli Friendship Group in Parliament until he resigned in protest at Israeli operations against Palestinian civilians in Gaza in 2008.

January/25/2013

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READER COMMENTS

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gercek sesi

2/1/2013 6:53:59 PM

@thessalonian your hatred of turkey is crystal clear and hdn shouldnot be providing you a platform here to make your negative comments.Its declining relations with israel happenned before any of israel involvement with greek cyprus.Israel has only become closer to greek cyprus because of the decline of these relations with turkey, it never sought a relation with g cyprus because it never wanted to offend turkey as it always saw & still sees Turkey as the most important nation in the region!

ilker avni

1/25/2013 7:51:25 PM

Once again the Israeli comments turn to insults, when their offers to normalise ties are rebulked by Turkey,they forget Turkey is a Islamic nation,they allso forgot that their killed 9 unarmed Turkish peace activists in open seas.Turkey did not declare war on Israel. Turkey only asked for a apology,which is three years to late.Israel has allready regreted not apologiseing after reliseing they need Turkey more than ever.Turkey will help Palenstinians to seek justice for israeli crimes in the ICC.

Sid Mark

1/25/2013 3:13:46 PM

@anton supertramp.Please,make your mind up.Two communities or Two states? Whatever and whenever suits you.

DORUS LIVIS

1/25/2013 2:42:59 PM

The way I see it, Turkey is the best at making enemies and then it complains because these enemies get along well with each other. But I will tell once again, friends and enemies are not real in politics. The countries which have common interests will make alliances, isn't it obvious? dogan this rhetorics of deceiving EU is getting old and only shows your own animosity. There are many prospects of improving Greco-turkish relationship however, it just needs less touchiness and sentimentalism.

anton supertramp

1/25/2013 2:02:07 PM

@ red tail,turkey has to protect turkısh cypriots due to political and econimical embargo forced on them , are you saying that turkey should sit aside and watch greeks to exploit the gas reserves belongs to both community? i guess you trust greeks more than turks :) for that matter you trust israelis more than turks as well as i dıdınt see you call israelis settlers but to turks in cyprus, you can not see anything if you dont want to see dear red tail, shalom ;)

dogan kemal ileri

1/25/2013 12:34:58 PM

Ever since the Greeks blackmailed, lied and deceived the EU to join the club, they think they are in the ascendency and so superior to the Turks. Wake up and do not keep annoying the Turks because the entire planet will not save any of you from the wrath of the Turk if pushed to the extreme. But both he Greeks and the Israelis are an intransigent lot and they both need a further lesson. Carry on with your enmity and animosity because its waiting for you in the pipeline.

Red Tail

1/25/2013 11:36:27 AM

Can anyone please inform me why TURKEY has anything at all to do with the gas in Cyprus? The Greek Cypriots and the Turk Cypriots are the ones who should benefit from the gas (the Turkish settlers are more in a grey zone I guess). But what does Turkey have to do with it. I can not see that Turkey has more to do with it than any other country.

rich bind

1/25/2013 9:30:06 AM

As previously stated here, Turkey has no intent or interest in normalizing relations with Israel, no matter what. This government sees itself as an "Islamic regional leader" and as such will never accept or even appear to accept the Jewish state. Turkey stands as one with the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates. It is not about an apology, compensation or even lifting of the blockade, it never has been.

ilker avni

1/25/2013 4:24:20 AM

No point in have a product if you cant sell it because you cant get it to market,talk about shooting one self in the foot.Perhaps the penny has droped for Israel.I am suprised at Israels bussiness sense i thought money ruled their heart and soul,A simple apology has not only cost them a long time frend in Turkey but allso transit of their gas into Europe by cosying upto the greeks in Cyprus was another political master class of Netanhayu and Lieberman.My advice to them both is to aim higher.

david ellison

1/25/2013 3:55:40 AM

It should be clear by now that Turkey will opt to place one reason after another not to come to political terms with Israel. The clear policy is to continue to woo the Arab world for economic gain. Why not? All countries place self interest over all else. I suspect that below governmental levels, the economic relationship between the Turkey and Israel will continue to grow. Time for both countries to stop the charades and move on.
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