Cypriot gas ‘cheap but not easy’

Cypriot gas ‘cheap but not easy’

Cypriot gas ‘cheap but not easy’

Turkey can build a pipeline to the Cyprus island, says Matthew Bryza, AP photo

Transferring Greek Cypriot gas to Europe via Turkey makes sense economically yet striking a deal remains inconceivable in light of Turkey’s strained relations with Greek Cyprus and Israel, according to a former U.S. diplomat.

It is economically ridiculous to run a pipeline from Cyprus to Greece via the Greek island of Crete, said former U.S. envoy to Baku and director of the International Centre for Defense Studies in Tallinn, Matthew Bryza, while discussing the newly discovered gas fields in the Mediterranean off the coast of Cyprus.

Transferring gas from Greek Cyprus to Turkey is much more economically advantageous, he said. “It’ll be a shame if politics gets in the way,” he said at a roundtable organized by Turkish Policy Quarterly. “But politics will have to lead.” He added that Turkey’s relations with Israel also make it impossible to strike a deal.

Turkey can build a pipeline to Turkish Cyprus and extend it to Greek Cyprus, Bryza said, adding that over time, gas produced in the eastern Mediterranean could be sent to Turkey.

However, to convince Greek Cyprus to put its economic future in the hands of Turkey is to ask too much of Greek Cyprus. A grand bargain, in which Turkey could lift its claim on Cyprus, is necessary, according to Bryza, but the deadlock between Turkey and Israel makes these types of projections difficult to pursue.