SEMİH İDİZ > Turkey should wait as Greek Cypriots decide future

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Listening to Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Al Jazeera over the weekend one got a sense of the disappointment and bitterness Greek Cypriots feel towards the EU less than ten years before they became members in the Union.

One also got a sense of the deep suspicion with which they approach current calls from Turkey to restart the negotiations for a Cyprus settlement. Kasoulides suggested Ankara has ulterior motives in coming out like this at a time when they in the south “are on their knees,” as he put it.

Arguing that the EU was using Cyprus as an experiment through its bailout plan, Kasoulides also admitted that it was not even certain this experiment would work. He nevertheless brushed aside calls for Greek Cyprus to abandon the Euro, saying the result of this would be much worse for them.

This means Greek Cypriots will have to strictly abide by EU regulations from now on, no matter how much of a straightjacket this represents for them. If you ask them, of course, they will argue that Cyprus always did this anyway, but they have to convince other members of the EU, and not just the Germany that they hate so much today, on this point.

On the other hand, while there is deep suspicion of Turkey’s motives, it was interesting to note that Kasoulides did not close the door to an early resumption of the Cyprus talks. He said their priority was to focus on the economic bailout program and then turn to the Cyprus negotiations. He nevertheless said this did not mean their economic crisis had to be overcome first before the talks could resume, and predicted they would start before the year is out.

Asked why they did not consider cooperation with Turkey over the natural gas reserves off the coast of Cyprus in a way that benefits both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Kasoulides admitted that Turkish Cypriots had a share of the wealth to flow from this source. He nevertheless refused any formula where the “illegal entity” in the north would have direct access to these reserves.

Kasoulides also spoke out against a pipeline over Turkey, indication this would leave the tap in Ankara’s hand which could use it against Cyprus in the future. He indicated that the companies involved in the extraction of the gas would finance the LNG facilities in Southern Cyprus that would make a pipeline over Turkey unnecessary since the liquefied gas can be carried by ship.

Kasoulides could now however say anything specific when asked if these companies had agreed to this, merely suggesting that their agreements with Cyprus committed them to a time table for brining in revenues from these gas reserves, the implication being that it was up to these companies to work out how this is done.

What one gleaned from Kasoulides remarks was a lot of uncertainty, bitterness and certain notions that many in Europe are also terming as “pipedreams.” In addition to this the continuing suspicion towards Turkey is now mixed with anger towards the EU, while remarks emanating from Russia, a country Greek Cypriots relied on in the past, cannot be inspiring much confidence either.

Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, was for example quoted by Hurriyet Daily News yesterday saying Russia will not put its relations with Turkey at risk by getting involved in oil and gas drilling off the coast of Cyprus. Such remarks have implications which companies involved in drilling off the coast of Cyprus have to consider also.

Given this picture of anger and confusion in southern Cyprus, the Turkish side should wait and see how Greek Cypriots chart their future, now that their past hopes have been shattered. Whether this future involves Turkey or not in a positive sense, it should be clear to them at this stage that the EU was perhaps the wrong instrument to rely on for browbeating Ankara into a specific position on Cyprus. How this realization will be factored into their plans for their future remains to be seen.


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Notice on comments

Ken Alden

4/23/2013 5:33:56 PM

@Pavel Bury, you put fore a lot of theories but it's obvious you don't understandf Turkish mind or thinking! If Turkey wanted to put itself at call & beconing of another country for energy, it certainly could get much, much better pickings from AZeris or Russia. It also can explore the N. Cyprus coast and live with the displeasures of other nations, as does Armenia &Karabgh or Israel & annexation of Golan and E-Jerusalem or GazaBlokades. As for Exploration and drilling, There is Brazil & Norway!

Pawel Bury

4/23/2013 4:32:10 PM

@Ken Alden, Turkey does not want to make a separate state in Cyprus. In addition she doesn't want north Cyprus to join Republic of Turkey. None of these two options are in favor of her interests because one way or the other she won't be able to get her hands to Cypriot gas, since it's located into South Cyprus's EEZ. So, the only option for Turkey is a federation with equal number of senators for north and south, which of course if out of the question since GCs are 75-80% of the population.

Pawel Bury

4/23/2013 3:19:39 PM

It's the other way round. GCs (not Greeks) have to wait. Turkey (not TCs) would accept ANY term for Cyprus, including to take troops and settlers off the island IF RoC puts them in the hydrocarbons game. You don't have to be a genius to understand that the only thing that Turkey cares for is the Cypriot gas. They could easily forget about the old GC-TC dispute if they get RoC's promise for a pipe through Turkey. Unfortunately this won't happen, not because of GCs but because of Noble energy.

Ken Alden

4/23/2013 3:17:54 PM

Greeks of Cyprus are back on the track of old Classical Greek City States mentality that lead to decay & downfal of the Hellenistic Culture. In the present day World, no one wants to dance the old Ohora Tunes or the old Greek Cypriot Music of "My Way or Highway" Eventually, the only choice remaining, will be Joining mainland Greece, leaving North to jion Turkey and do it own N/G explorations, slowly but surely they are painting themselfs into a corner, as EU won't bend or Turkey wait forever!

Vargen Vargen

4/23/2013 11:30:47 AM

After reading the article, I still do not understand what exactly TC and Turkey will gain by waiting. What exactly is the logic of waiting?


4/23/2013 11:23:21 AM

After causing so much misery in Cyprus for innocent Turkish Cypriots is the world supposed to feel sorry for these Greek Cypriots who have had it so good at the expense of Turkish Cypriots. TWO STATE CYPRUS.


4/23/2013 11:18:27 AM

For years right back to our great gran parents Greek Cypriots have discriminated us and undermined us for being Turkish in Cyprus. There isn't one Turkish Cypriot who hasn't experienced discrimination by a Greek Cypriot. WE ARE ALL TURKISH CYPRIOTS, WE ARE ALL TURKISH.

Chris Green

4/23/2013 12:20:28 AM

Excellent article: Wonder what the Greek lot will have to say in the morning! :-)
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