Turkish Cypriot president: East-Med pipeline not a route to peace

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

Following the 4th trilateral meeting of Israeli, Greek and Greek Cypriot Prime Ministers in Nicosia to discuss a natural gas pipeline from Eastern Mediterranean to Crete-Greece-Italy, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus President Mustafa Akıncı highlighted that the pipeline project does not offer a route to peace.

In a written statement, President Akıncı said that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who came together with Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades as the host, agreed on moving the "East-Med" project, which aims to carry East Mediterranean natural gas to Europe through Southern Cyprus, Crete, Greece and Italy, one step ahead.

Pointing out that South Cyprus, Greece and Israel will sign an agreement for the project route in 2018, Akıncı stressed that the European Union (EU) provided financing support for this project.

President Akıncı said in terms of energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, it is not possible to contribute to the peace and stability in the region by excluding the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey. "To manage this on the basis of mutual benefits and transfer it to Europe via Turkey, as the shortest, cheapest and fastest route to be established in the region, is the most logical [option]. This is way that suits economic reason and contributes to peace and stability as well as the solution in Cyprus," Akıncı noted.

"A new one is about to be added to the grave mistake of taking only Southern Cyprus to the EU 14 years ago," Akıncı warned, underlining that the Greek Cypriot side, which moved further away from solution following the EU membership, will never have enough motivation, which is already too little, for the solution provided that they own the natural riches alone and manage to transfer them to Europe by excluding the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said in a statement after the tripartite meeting Tuesday they are determined to push ahead with plans for a pipeline that would supply east Mediterranean gas to Europe as the continent seeks to diversify its supplies.

The long-term project has an estimated cost of 5.8 billion euros and is not expected to get off the ground for a number of years, with the pipeline not due to be operational before 2025.

The project is considered to ignore the sovereign rights of the Turkish Cypriots living in the north of the Cyprus island and therefore Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials have called for the inclusion of all parties and fair share of resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup took place after decades of violence against the island's Turkish community and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power. It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K. that collapsed in 2017

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