Due to the recent energy problems between Turkey/ Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus, Turkey has sent seismic exploration ships and warships to the region. Upon this move of Turkey, on October 7th, the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus decided to withdraw from the UN negotiations’ process and a new crisis occurred.
Both the North and the South of the island are facing serious economic troubles at the moment. If we add the water problem in the south of the island on top of these economic troubles, we will see the problems of the island are at a very high point. As the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus (GASC) collapsed because of the economic crisis, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is unable to develop because of the ongoing embargo.
The new energy sources discovered recently around the island is enough to solve the economic problems of both societies in a very short time, so long as the residents of the island start to get along and form a union.
The water problem in Cyprus has been solved for at least the next 50 years thanks to an 80 km pipeline laid by Turkey. By means of this water source, 4,824 hectares of land will be opened for agricultural use. The water that is provided to the island is enough to cover the needs of South Cyprus as well.
Even though a wealthy and bright future is awaiting the island, people on both sides are stricken by poverty right now. For the people of the island to be able to benefit from this energy source, attaining peace in the island is a must.
In the 12th parcel named “Aphrodite” in the South of the island, wealthy natural gas beds have been discovered. Although the GASC claim that this gas belongs to them alone, based on international agreements Turkey demands that the income gained from this gas should be equally distributed to the two societies of the island. Turkey is the country with the longest sea border in the East Mediterranean. For that reason, according to international maritime law, Turkey has the greatest land right in respect of governance in the waters of the region as an “Exclusive Economic Zone.” In this respect, the zone the GASC drills in for natural gas overlaps the zone Turkey has claims on. Upon the GASC’s move for drilling, Turkey sent the seismic research ship Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha along with three warships to the region.
Even if the GASC drills this natural gas, she needs Turkey to transport this gas to Europe. That is because it would be very expensive and time consuming to build a pipeline from South Cyprus to Greece. Furthermore, the GASC does not have the financial resources to build one. Transporting the gas over Turkey on the other hand is economic and practical. As a second alternative, the GASC might liquidize the gas and transport it to Europe, but they do not have the finances to build those facilities either.
If the GASC wants to export this gas and make use of the water that reaches the TRNC, they have to make an agreement with Turkey and the TRNC. The TRNC on the other hand has to be more constructive about the problems on the island. They have to behave constructively in order to justly share the income gained from gas.
It is very wrong for the GASC to demand the entire income of the energy sources claiming to be the sole owner of the island. What Cyprus needs is peace, not new tensions. The necessary environment to build this peace should be ensured by both of the parties.
If we are to repeat this once more we should state that the administrators in Cyprus should give up these petty power struggles and start thinking about their citizens. A social peace that will be attained in Cyprus will not only increase the prosperity of the people of the island but will also reflect on other countries in the North Mediterranean region. Only by working together will the economies of all the participating countries be strengthened and thus they will gain economic leverage against those countries that might cause problems in the region.
Just like it would be impossible to find a solution in Cyprus without Turkey, it is not possible to find a solution without the GASC. That is why a system in which both societies in Cyprus can live in unity and peace should be formed as soon as possible.
The main theme of this unity is obvious: Let neither Greeks nor Turks be minorities in their homelands.