« The area of the Eastern Mediterranean needs a stable Cyprus and without a solution Cyprus risks seeing the crisis entering its doors.
In this regard, energy is an opportunity of make or break in both Cyprus and the wider area. »
The Cyprus problem is being discussed for decades now. The absence of an agreed settlement, indicates that, in general, urgency was never an issue, as each side was aiming at maximum results, rather than at a comprise.
In the meantime, a whole generation of Cypriots is no longer alive to witness the restoration of their human rights, while those still alive have already seen a large part of their lives spent in violation of their human rights.
So all politicians must be very careful before they insist on nationalistic policies which effectively prolong the non-solution of the problem and hence the continuation of the violation of the human rights of the Cypriots.
In the meantime the environment in our neighbourhood is changing in a way that increases risk. New factors are now entering the picture of stability in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean and the overall picture has become much more complex. New threats have appeared in the region and in response to these threats, old adversaries have started to cooperate in order to be able to face these new threats. The functioning of Democracy is also suffering in the region, since many parties try to take action in its name, yet effectively abolish it.
In the absence of a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem, the environment in the neighbourhood is such that Cyprus can easily become entangled in the overall instability, given also the important role that energy is playing in the politics of the region. Alternatively if Cyprus is peacefully reunified and relations with all its neighbours are normalised, it can then significantly contribute to the resolution of differences between other parties, or at least serve as a pillar of stability.
Energy has a significant role to play in the making of peace or the breaking and continuation of war in the region. And since Cyprus has now officially entered the energy map of the Eastern Mediterranean, then developments with reference to Cyprus will be instrumental in the making of peace or the breaking and continuation of war in our neighbourhood.
Natural Gas was discovered in Cyprus in December 2011. Three full years have gone by since then, and the gas remains under the sea bed while the Cyprus government is making since then repeated attempts to import foreign natural gas rather than use own resources. In the meantime, Cyprus continues to import mazout for the production of electricity, hence keeping energy costs high, at a time when the economy is in recession.
The attainment of an agreed solution which will be reunifying Cyprus on the basis of the commonly agreed framework of a bizonal bicommunal federation would allow the utilisation of own natural gas for domestic consumption all over Cyprus, leading to a reduction of energy production costs and hence to an increase in the competitiveness of the Cyprus economy. It would also allow the export of natural gas to neighbouring countries and to the European Union, so that valuable external revenues would be flowing into our cash deprived economy. In this regard, one cannot overlook that neighbouring Turkey is a big consumer of energy and can potentially fetch the Cyprus economy billions in terms of purchased energy supplies.
In addition investment in infrastructure, that would accompany the implementation of the solution will give a tremendous boost to both investment and growth.
Turkey also needs to look at the new realities, which are that Europe needs the Middle East as an alternative source of supply of energy. Turkey can indeed serve as a transit country of natural gas to the EU. It has however become obvious that other solutions –though much more costly- also exist, such as a pipeline via Greece.
It is therefore after Turkey’s own interests to enhance its position as the potential transit country of natural gas from the Middle East to Europe by solving all those problems which prevent Turkey from assuming this role; and the main such problem Turkey has to solve in this direction, is the Cyprus problem; on the basis of the commonly agreed solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
In my capacity as the leader of the hosting Party today, the United Democrats, I humbly suggest that the first pipeline to be built should be neither to Turkey nor to Greece. It should be from Block 12 to the shores of Cyprus! From where Cyprus natural gas can be distributed to the electricity production companies on both sides of the Green Line, so that all Cypriots can start as of now enjoying low electricity prices and a competitive economy. It will be a show of goodwill on the part of everybody involved and especially towards the Cypriots, both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.
This is a very late but not too late time for the reunification of Cyprus and for the lifting of the Cypriots out of economic and even social misery. It is also a very right time for the solution of regional problems which in some ways even threaten world peace.
This is not the time for inward nationalistic policies. It is time, for able and open minded politicians, not bound to populist rhetoric, to make a historic move. To the extent that such politicians exist, History is calling upon them at this very time.
Praxoula Antoniadou Kyriacou
President United Democrats