Turkish Cypriot President Akinci calls for negotiation in eastern Mediterranean

World Faizah Kamal 21-Jan-2020
President Northern Cyprus Mustafa Akıncı
ID 117307715 © Steve Allen | Dreamstime.com

The President of Northern Cyprus, Mustafa Akıncı, said on January 21 that diplomatic methods should be used extensively in a bid to counter growing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Akıncı’s remarks came at the International Science Diplomacy Forum held in the country’s capital city of Lefkoşa where he commented on the discovery of natural gas in the region and diplomatic ties with neighbours.

He said the region was at crossroads with regard to the natural gas issue and Greek Cyprus had two alternatives, either to maintain diplomacy of tension or to move towards cooperation in the light of the scientific developments.

Referring to the agreement that Greek Cyprus, Israel and Greece reached on the EastMed project in early January, Akıncı said that the project was not based on any concrete scientific reality and that diplomatic efforts in the region should be initiated in a bid to resolve dispute.

Many academics from Turkish Cyprus and their international counterparts were present at the forum.

The 2,000-kilometre (1,200-mile) pipeline will be able to transfer between nine and 12 billion cubic metres of gas per year from offshore gas reserves between Israel and Greek Cyprus to Greece, and then on to Italy and other southeastern European countries.

Turkey argues that the Greek Cypriot government should not have started gas explorations before reaching a settlement in reunification talks with Turkish Cyprus, and that the mineral wealth belonged to both communities.

It is estimated that the transfer cost of the natural gas would be three times cheaper if the pipeline passes through Turkey.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, Turkish Cyprus was founded.

The decades since then have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the U.K., ended in 2017 in Switzerland.