Water for peace

Water for peace

"Land for peace” was an expression international diplomacy acquired from the Mideast peace talks. Accordingly, Israel would hand over some of the land it occupied back to the Palestinian people and neighboring Arab countries in exchange for Arabs accepting the existence of the Jewish state behind secure borders.

In that equilibrium Israel was aiming at achieving recognition to its right of existence within security in the region without giving anything of its own but just handing back what it occupied from the Arabs and the Palestinians.

In the run-up to the end of the October trilateral Cyprus summit at the U.N.’s Greentree estate retreat in New York, on Oct. 17 Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu provided a glimpse of an offer in the pipeline to his Greek Cypriot counterpart Demetris Christofias. Eroğlu further elaborated on the idea at the Greentree summit, but the proposal has not so far been officially presented in writing.

The approach, which can be probably summarized as a “water for peace” proposal, aims at answering one of the most difficult aspects of the Cyprus problem: how to finance compensation in the resolution of the property aspect of the Cyprus problem. Discussions during the Annan peace plan process – which was collapsed by Greek Cypriots in 2004 – vividly showed there was not much enthusiasm in the international community to rush to help finance a Cyprus settlement with their donations. Well, if the resolution of the property issue would entail some degree of compensation – which could not be solely financed by a revolutionary redevelopment of Turkish properties left in the south as a scheme suggested earlier – it was absolutely necessary to find some resource-generating ideas.

Turkey is currently in the process of completing a plan that would provide northern Cyprus with sufficient drinking and some irrigation water as of March 2014 through a deep sea pipeline. There are considerations as well to provide the island with electricity from Turkey. For pumping water to the island Turkey would use only about 5 percent of the water source at Anamur, a Mediterranean coastal city.

That is, Turkey may lay down not one but perhaps four or five pipes and provide the island with water sufficient enough to provide not only drinking water to Turkish and Greek Cypriots but offer a resolution for decades to come to the perennial water shortage on the island, enabling both peoples to open vast areas to irrigation. Besides, water from Turkey could help recover the salinated aquifer of the island.

As the proposal has not been presented in writing at the Cyprus talks, and out of loyalty to sources, I would not give any figures, but water supplied to the island could turn Cyprus into a paradise while more than enough funds might be created to resolve the question of how to finance property compensation. Besides, this offer is revolutionary as Turkey has accepted a Turkish Cypriot request to place on the negotiation table a very important resource, proving its strong commitment to a Cyprus resolution.

Would Greek Cypriots, for example, offer use of any natural gas or oil revenues it might generate on or off the island to finance a settlement? On the contrary, unfortunately, there are sufficient initial signs that the Greek Cypriot administration will turn down the Turkish offer.