Natural gas key to Cyprus talks, says Anastasiades

27 December 2016
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The discovery of natural gas is a significant incentive to get Ankara’s backing for a resolution to the Cyprus issue, says the country’s President Nicos Anastasiades, who believes that the prospect of using some of the fuel lying beneath the seabed off the island’s shores to cover a large part of Turkey’s energy needs and transform the country into a regional energy hub could convince Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to make the concessions needed for a reunification deal to be achieved.

In this context, the recent success of ExxonMobil, Total and ENI in securing licenses for gas exploration in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus is a powerful message that could strengthen Nicosia’s bargaining power.

In an extensive interview with Kathimerini from the Presidential Palace in Nicosia ahead of a multilateral summit on Cyprus in Geneva on January 12, Anastasiades talks about the need for Turkey to withdraw its troops from the island’s occupied north and says that he is willing to agree to a transitional period while this is achieved. He also stresses that Athens and Nicosia are on the same page as regards the issue of guarantees.

The Cyprus president appears determined to achieve a resolution despite warnings that certain facets of such a deal that he is willing to negotiate could be rejected by Greek Cypriots in the ensuing referendum, potentially jeopardizing a deal and his own political future.

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