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15 July, 2024
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Ankara's surprising move on Cyprus resources

Turkish Minister's bold proposal

By  Vassilis Nedos

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan has reintroduced a proposal with a clear aim to disrupt the existing framework for resolving the Cyprus problem, echoing Ankara's prior suggestions. Fidan's latest initiative revolves around the concept of "joint exploitation" of Cyprus's natural resources.

To support his case, Fidan pointed to the remarkable agreement regarding the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between Lebanon and Israel, despite their ongoing conflict. This agreement allows each party to independently harness natural gas deposits within their respective zones.

Fidan's proposal aligns closely with the aspirations of the Turkish Cypriots, emphasizing the need for "equality" in this matter. However, Nicosia firmly rejects such discussions, especially the idea of a "joint" committee comprising both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to oversee this envisioned "co-exploitation" proposed by Ankara.

Effectively, Ankara is striving to introduce topics of "sovereign equality" for the Turkish Cypriot community, potentially altering the framework from discussions on a bizonal and bicommunal federation under UN auspices to a broader debate involving two separate states.

The timing of Fidan's proposal, amid the ongoing deadlock in the Cyprus issue, has garnered support from various international stakeholders. While Athens traditionally aligns with Nicosia's stance, London, as one of the guarantor powers for the Republic of Cyprus, is also taking note of Fidan's proposition.

Furthermore, some third parties interpret Fidan's proposal as a step towards building confidence and facilitating discussions between the Cypriot government and the Turkish Cypriot side. This is in line with recent deliberations regarding confidence-building measures (CBMs) and the potential for increased European Union involvement in Cyprus talks, driven by President Nicos Christodoulides' initiative.

Notably, Fidan emphasized the urgency of not waiting for a final political solution on the island to tap into the Eastern Mediterranean's energy resources. He advocates for both sides to equally harness these resources without delay, citing examples like the Israel-Lebanon agreement as a model worth considering for the Eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  Ankara  |  Turkish  |  UN  |  government

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