Water and gas conference

Water and gas conference

The Ankara-based Journalists’ Association and the Near East University hosted at the Nicosia campus of the largest university of northern Cyprus a conference on “Cyprus from the perspective of water and strategic resources.” Obviously, it was a conference on water pipelines from Turkey and off-shore natural gas riches. Taking rostrum at the conference were very important experts headed by professors Sertaç Başeren, Hüseyin Gökçekuş to Turkish Foreign Ministry’s Multilateral Economic Affairs Director General Mithat Rende and Ergun Olgun, the last undersecretary of late President Rauf Denktaş.

Greek Cypriots started authentication drilling at their so-called Aphrodite site. In less than a month or so results of the authentication drill will be completed. Soon laying down of the suspended pipelines will start. So far official sources reaffirm that by March 7 next year water from Anatolia will start flowing in northern Cyprus; watering fertile fields besides providing precious drinking water. My information is that horse trading a la Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pulled down the completion target by two full years but the contract of the consortium remains “problematic.” The foreign partner of the consortium allegedly has been insisting on the need to remain loyal to the completion of the project this fall. Why? Because of the simple fact that laying down the suspended pipelines in winter months would be a suicidal mission, spring must be considered instead. In any case, March, September or October this landmark project which will have very important implications not only on the Cypriot life quality but that of peoples living in the entire water-scarce geography of this area.

Greek Cypriots might still consider getting Anatolian water as some sort of an engaging in a dependency relationship with Turkey. They might be right in having some worries because water will change the entire accustomed perceptions. Still, not only Turkish Cypriots but Greek Cypriots as well will soon realize that one pipeline was not enough and will start demanding the second, third, fourth, fifth or the sixth pipeline be constructed. The reservoirs and system constructed, as well as the resource of the stream, enable Turkey to construct and operate up to six pipelines. With sufficient water this island will not be converted into a really green Cyprus but will as well turn into a land of peace and tranquility from the one of perennial tension and confrontation. Seeing the still under construction huge dam site and works on the connection pipelines, I could not stop tears pouring down from my eyes. With some water this island could turn into a piece from heaven.

Similarly, if Greek Cypriots abandon their greed for a while and agree to the establishment of an ad hoc bi-communal committee and to sharing the natural gas riches off the island with their Turkish Cypriot partners and to finance a resolution to the 50-year-old Cyprus conflict with gas money, natural gas found off the island could turn into a very important tool for peace.

Could we see such developments in Cyprus? Or would Greek Cypriots continue their “cunning” overtures regarding Varosha – a former sprawling touristic resort suburb of Famagusta deserted since the 1974 Turkish intervention? As we are heading to the 50th anniversary of the start of the 1963-1974 Greek Cypriot onslaught on Turkish Cypriots, I sincerely hope the momentum could be captured and the island could be geared towards a resolution. Yet, while Turkish Cypriots were celebrating the anniversary of the 1974 Turkish intervention as liberation holiday in total denial of the atrocities Greek Cypriots committed from 1963 to 1974, Greek Cypriots politicians and the archbishop were touring military garrisons in southern areas, talking of revenging the Turkish landing… Before talking about peace perhaps there is need to lecture some in responsibility, frankness and merits of apology.

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