The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus presented its proposals to the United Nations for cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus on hydrocarbons, electricity, renewable energy and water. However, the initiative is based on a two-state solution instead of a federal concept on which the two sides have negotiated on for decades.
President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Ersin Tatar received Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and Americas in the UN Department of Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča. After the meeting, the head of the entity recognized only by Turkey said he presented the diplomat with four proposals “in accordance with the win-win principle” for both sides.
Tatar stressed the need for cooperation with the government of the Republic of Cyprus and said his initiative would contribute to the creation of an environment of reconciliation, as well as peace and stability in the region. The proposed deal concerns hydrocarbons, electricity, renewable energy and water. Turkey said it supports it.
However, the Turkish Cypriot side based the initiative on a two-state solution instead of a federal concept on which it has negotiated on with the Greek Cypriot government in Nicosia. Turkey occupied the northern part of the island in 1974 and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded in 1983.
Tatar said his government wouldn’t take part in any formal negotiation process based on a bizonal and bicommunal federation until its equal international status is acknowledged.
The politically isolated Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is struggling to obtain enough electricity
The Turkish Cypriot side is now urging for joint management of natural resources with the Republic of Cyprus under the auspices of the UN. The electricity systems are already interconnected, which means they can supply each other with power if needed, Tatar stressed.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is also working on a power interconnection line with Turkey, he added. Such cooperation will also create an important opportunity for the island’s transition to green energy, in Tatar’s view. The Turkish Cypriot leader highlighted the potential of solar power.
Tatar proposed the formation of a joint committee for the rational use and development of freshwater sources of water on both sides. He suggested the deliveries of water from “motherland Turkey” should be included in the deal.
Greek Cypriot government wants to turn buffer zone into giant string of solar parks
Kathimerini.com wrote in April, citing unnamed officials, that decision makers in Nicosia were planning to develop renewable energy plants in the UN Buffer Zone in Cyprus. Namely, a study was about to be conducted to determine appropriate sites in a part of the 178-kilometer stretch of land and identify government property in and around the so-called Green Zone.
Kasoulides: No cooperation on gas before progress on the overall Cyprus issue
At the time, the news outlet reported that the cabinet was pushing for the implementation of the project with a claim that it would benefit both Greeks and Turks. On the other hand, the article highlighted an interpretation on the top level that photovoltaic parks would help prevent illegal crossings from the north to the Republic of Cyprus.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides said last week, just before Tatar’s initiative was announced, that one of the options is to sign an agreement through the UN “to fill most of the dead zone with photovoltaics.” The output can be used to supply the Turkish Cypriot area, he stressed and noted the north is struggling to obtain enough electricity.
As for hydrocarbons, Kasoulides said there can be cooperation in the natural gas sector only if there is progress in solving the overall Cyprus problem. “Turkey would certainly be interested in natural gas passing through Cyprus and going to Turkey as it is also the cheapest way if it passes through the land area,” he stated.
Disputes over submarine cables, gas fields
Turkey is looking for gas in the Mediterranean Sea in waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus. Conversely, Cyprus is pushing for offshore hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation on its behalf, while the government in Ankara is threatening to stop the activities.
The Republic of Cyprus is developing the EuroAsia Interconnector project with Israel and Greece. They are planning to lay a submarine power line that would reach Crete, which already has an undersea line to the Greek mainland. Turkey is arguing that it would pass through its continental shelf and that any works require its permission.
Turkey was left out when the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum was established
Egypt, Cyprus and Greece formed the Cairo-based Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) in 2019 with Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Egypt and Israel signed a gas export deal last month with the European Union within the same framework.
Both Cyprus and Greece have separate projects with Egypt for submarine power cables, intended for exporting electricity from Africa to Europe.
Island needs leaders of both communities to promote joint endeavors
After several years of disputes regarding the wars in Syria and Libya and various other matters, Turkey has started to mend relations with Israel and Egypt.
Tensions are currently heightened between Greece and Greek Cypriots on the one side and Turkey and the breakaway state under its control on the other. Any unilateral initiative that one side is advertising as beneficial for both communities can be interpreted across the fence as a provocation. However, there are some bright examples of cooperation, like the Nicosia sewerage project.