The Turkish leader of Northern Cyprus has called for serious consideration to be given for a gas pipeline to link Israel, Cyprus and Turkey as a way of helping to bring peace to the divided island of Cyprus.
However, in a carefully measured speech to the World Energy Congress in Istanbul, Mustapha Akinci, the president of the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, also noted the role that regional welfare also involved Greece and that Israel and Cyprus were also talking to Athens about a pipeline to Greece.
The Turkish Cypriot leader focussed on the interconnection between development of gas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and progress in talks to end the 42-year-old partition of Cyprus.
In considering the eastern Mediterranean where Israel is planning to develop the major Leviathan field and Cyprus is hoping to develop the nearby Aphrodite field, Akinci confined his remarks to pipeline development and did not discuss the vexed issue of how Aphrodite, which lies of the Greek Cypriot coast, might be developed.
Regarding an export pipeline Akinci said: “This project is planned through Cyprus, Greece and Israel and this a very long-term project.” He then added: “But there is another alternative: Israel, Cyprus and Turkey.” A line between these countries would be shorter and cheaper, he said.
He acknowledged there were political issues impacting on such a project. “A solution in Cyprus would be helpful in this context,” he said. “New horizons can be opened in the energy sector for the benefit of everybody. This could be a peace project for everybody,” he added.
Speaking on the same platform, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the eastern Mediterranean does constitute a new resource and “according to studies, this gas will be transmitted to other places via Turkey in the most profitable fashion.” He did not elaborate.
Akinci, who only spoke of “Cyprus” without specific mention of either its predominantly Greek southern section or its predominantly Turkish northern part, stressed that since he was first elected 16 months ago, “I have tried to bring the situation in Cyprus to a positive solution.” He added: “In a very short time it is possible for us to reach a solution based on a federation of two sides.”
In this context, Akinci argued, “natural gas production will be important, but also an energy corridor.” He spoke of linking Cyprus and Turkey to western Europe, saying that “welfare will be shared”, creating positive results in a region where Greece, Cyprus and Turkey were all situated. “We are redefining concepts of welfare, peace and solidarity,” he added.