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24 September, 2023
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Energy Turkey's 'no.1 priority' in Cyprus and EastMed

Tatar in Ankara where Erdogan is expected to clarify Turkey's strategy in Cyprus and the region, with sources putting energy at the centre

Nikos Stelgias

Nikos Stelgias

Since noon on Friday, Turkey has been sending its own messages concerning the future of the Cyprus Problem and developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. First, the Vice President of Turkey, Fuat Oktay, who took part in the ceremony marking the change in the Turkish Cypriot leadership and entered the fenced-off town of Famagusta, and then the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who welcomed Ersin Tatar to the Turkish capital on Monday, both clarified the basic tenets of Turkey’s strategy for Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The new Turkish Cypriot leader will soon meet with the Turkish Presidency. In this crucial meeting, Ankara is expected to clarify the key aspects of the new joint strategy that will be followed with the new Turkish Cypriot leadership in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean. Latest information also points to Tatar’s contacts in Ankara being crucial to the composition of the new Turkish Cypriot leadership.

Natural gas Ankara’s ‘number one priority’

Shortly before Tatar's arrival in Turkey, Oktay got in touch with the new Turkish Cypriot leader and conveyed his government’s positions on the Cyprus Problem. Information obtained by “K” suggests that during the meeting between Oktay and Tatar, the Turkish side clarified its main priority in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean.

As its ‘number one priority’ as regards Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean, our information suggests, is putting Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community on the energy map of the region, as it has developed over recent years.

Sources characteristically emphasised to “K” that "all of Ankara’s new strategies, the diplomatic manoeuvres, the messages and so on, have gas as their starting point". As such, in the future, Turkey aims at bringing together an international conference on energy, in which Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership will participate on the basis of Erdogan’s previous proposal. Until this conference takes place, the Turkish side appears ready to exhaust all room for pressure on the Greek Cypriot side and Athens.

Partition on Varosha’s horizon

Given Ankara’s rhetoric, “K”’s well-informed sources include the Cyprus Problem and Varosha in Oktay’s latest statements. Over the past few days, Oktay, who entered the fenced-off city on Saturday, has been insisting the prospects of a federal solution to the Cyprus Problem are now scrapped.

"Considering that the other side's (Cyprus and Greece) stance on energy is uncompromising and leaves little room for manoeuvre, Ankara raises the bar on the Cyprus issue, intensifies its pressure and appears ready to return to its old rhetoric of division," sources told “K”. In line with this logic, Varosha is perceived by Turkish diplomats as a powerful negotiating chip, which alters the balances in the Cyprus Problem, in view of removing the possibility of a bi-zonal, bicommunal federation, and paving the way for a different framework.

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  Greece  |  Turkish Cypriot  |  Ersin Tatar  |  Varosha  |  eastern Mediterranean  |  energy  |  gas  | 

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