World Bulletin / News Desk
The 200 billion cubic meters of natural gas known to exist off the southern shore of Cyprus, in the Aphrodite gas field, is considered a catalyst for peace and cooperation in the region.
The Cyprus peace talks, which have been stalled since January 2012, resumed after the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Greek Cypriot leaders agreed in February on a joint declaration. The distribution of the gas found in Aphrodite is among the most important topics.
Fields licensed by Greek Cypriots for the search of natural gas, overlap with the fields licensed by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
George Pamboridis, the author of a book titled "Hydrocarbons of the Republic of Cyprus," told The Anadolu Agency that Europe was brought together to regulate the continent's coal and steel resources. Natural resources could also heal the long divisions on the island of Cyprus, he said.
“If oil and gas becomes Cyprus’ steel and coal, and if the island focuses on how the two communities could work together on a common future, the Cyprus problem will be a bad dream of the past,” Pamboridis said.
Pamboridis said Europe is the biggest potential natural gas customer of Cyprus. He said the increased significance of Cyprus can only benefit the peace process on the island because it attracts the attention of those who stand to gain from peace.
“Apart from the two communities on the island, Israel, the U.S., Turkey, even Lebanon, Syria or Egypt could benefit from a possible solution of the Cyprus problem,” Pamboridis said.
He said a pipeline to Turkey would make sense commercially, if the target market was the Turkish energy industry.
“Turkey could benefit a lot from an alternative source of natural gas, especially if this would come at a more competitive price than the Russian gas or, in a few years, the Azeri gas.”
However, Pamboridis said vision and leadership must prevail both in Cyprus and in Turkey to solve the political issues first. He said that common friends, such as the U.S. and the EU could help.
Ayla Gurel on the other hand, a senior research consultant at PRIO Cyprus Centre based in Nicosia, told Anadolu Agency in a phone interview that the energy findings in Cyprus has created a new incompatibility.
“Looking at the big picture, there have also been differences of opinion in Cyprus. The energy resources are becoming ‘fuel’ for these differences,” Gurel said, adding that, “There is a problem of ‘attitude’ among the two communities of the island.”
Noting that the peace talks in the island are being carried out without an intermediary, Gurel said this deficiency seriously affects the process.
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Experts say the energy findings in Cyprus could become a new catalyst for peace and cooperation in the region, altough deep political issues remain on the table.
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