World Bulletin / News Desk
As Turkey attempts to accelerate its EU membership process in 2015 by opening the energy chapter up for negotiations, the chapter remains blocked by Greek Cypriots.
Kicking off the new year with a series of visits to several EU capitals, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insistently mentioned that the government will focus on the EU membership process throughout the year. During his speech at Davos Economic Forum on Jan. 23, Davutoglu said that opening the energy chapter would benefit the EU more than Turkey, considering the EU's supply security and diversification-focused energy policy.
Turkey is already harmonizing its energy policies with the EU’s as if the chapter is already open as Turkey is following the EU's recommendations and conducting the work, Aylin Caglayan Ozcan, head of sectoral policies department at Turkey’s EU Ministry told The Anadolu Agency.
"The energy chapter is blocked by the Greek Cypriots. At this stage, we should solve this problem first. When this is solved and if the Commission brings no opening criteria, the chapter can be opened," she added.
Spokesperson for the Commission Juri Laas, when asked about the renewed efforts between the EU and Turkey to open the negotiations for the chapter with the Greek Cypriot administration's blockade, said, "There has been an increased number of contacts and some positive statements lately. However, as you know, there needs to be unanimity within the EU to open new chapters."
"Cyprus has made itself pretty clear that Turkey will not get any cooperation on the subject of the EU chapters until it shows respect on the Eastern Mediterranean gas issue in turn," Gary Lakes, director of the Energy Program at the European Rim Policy and Investment Council in Larnaca in the Greek Cypriot-administered southern Cyprus said.
The conflict between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots on the island is ongoing over the ownership of the hydrocarbon reserves in the exclusive economic zones off the shore of the island.
Greek Cypriot efforts to sell hydrocarbons and boost exploration and production activities have upset Turkey, which has said it will not accept such attempts unless a peace agreement is reached on the divided island.
Since 2005 Turkey has been in negotiations on 13 of these policy areas and back in November 2013, following three years of deadlock, negotiations began on chapter 22 covering regional policies after Germany lifted its block following a positive progress report in October 2013.