Water of life

Water of life

Intense work is continuing. The March 7 deadline was missed by a bit, but what’s a few months? Laying down the 80-km suspended pipeline is expected to be completed before July 20 so that the anniversary of the 1974 Turkish intervention that saved Turkish Cypriots from annihilation on the island will be provided with “water of life.”

Natural gas resources off the island might help finance a resolution to the Cyprus problem if ever the two peoples of the island manage to strike a bitter power-sharing compromise. Irrespective of how much it is, the gas find in the Aphrodite field has already started posing added complications to the Cyprus problem, rather than helping a resolution. What will happen if more potential is discovered in nearby Area Nine? Greek Cypriots will most probably become far less enthusiastic about sharing the prospective wealth with Turkish Cypriots. It is that gassy potential of the island, however, that energized the latest U.S.-pushed resolution initiative. So far, except for a seven-point joint statement, a leaders’ summit and two meetings of the negotiators, contacts between the two sides have been limited. Negotiators from the two sides coming together at a table in Brussels for a workshop on the economic benefits of a resolution and exchanging jokes was a heartening development, but the process has apparently started inching toward a deadlock.

For example, could it be conducive with the “professed pro-settlement resolve” of Greek Cypriots to offer Turkish Cypriots 18 percent of the land in the first substantive talks on outstanding issues? Yes, after years of persuasion by Greek Cypriot administrations to emigrate abroad, Turkish Cypriots might have constituted 18 or so percent of the island’s population at one point in history. That might have been the case between 1963 and 1974. Now, many Turkish Cypriots have returned to the island and many new citizens were added to the population through marriages with mainland Turks, births, or emigrations to the island from Turkey. Besides, have Turkish Cypriots ever had only 18 percent of the land of the island? According to Turkish Cypriot statistics, Turkish Cypriots owned over 30 percent of the territory of Cyprus when the British left in 1960. Why? Because Turkish Cypriots were mostly farmers at the time.

Irrespective of whether today Turkish Cypriots constitute around 30 percent of the population of the entire island with a population of around 265,000, while Greek Cypriots have a population of around 690,000, where is the logic in offering Turks only 18 percent of the land? That, of course, was a provocation with which the Greek Cypriot side hoped Turks would walk out of the meeting. Gas and land are important issues, of course, but for a decent life on Cyprus, everyone is dependent on water.

Dams were constructed on the Anatolian shore, as well as near Kyrenia. A water distribution pipeline network is not yet complete, but in the beginning, water will flow from the old pipes. The suspended pipeline will start carrying water to Cyprus in July and within months, northern Cyprus will be connected to the Turkish electricity grid. Not only will the drinking water problem be solved, northern Cyprus will be provided with cheaper electricity and some water for irrigation.

Unlike Greek Cypriots who have been attempting to own the land alone, gas resources and all the other riches of the island, Turkish Cypriots have been offering Greek Cypriots the chance to jointly use water from Anatolia as water of life for peace on the island…
Does this attitude not deserve some applause?