Hydrocarbons consists a huge part of the global wealth. The Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Industry (E&P), is upon to reach 4.5% of the global gross domestic product and approximately $6.7 trillion by 2025. Energy is a natural necessity for countries and stability cornerstone for whole regions. The claim of oil and gas caused more than half of the conflicts in the world’s contemporary history. An unequivocal example is the open case of the Middle East experiencing the rise of terrorism as a consequence.
After recent drillings in the basin of southeastern Mediterranean oil and gas has been discovered in substantial amounts. Neighbours such as Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and the rest of the neighbouring countries who geographically touch the basin developed every interest in raising it’s wealth from the depths of the sea. Right in Europe’s doorstep those three countries already have their own political conflicts such as the Cyprus Dispute. In the same time the EU lives with the Russian dependence in natural gas and under the fear of energy cut-off.
How can the hydrocarbons settle out the Cyprus Dispute and why this resolution is so essential for the broader region? Will the natural resources push conflicts similar to the Middle East inside the EU or can they be an alternative supply for Europe’s energy security?
In an era where the EU faces enormous challenges such as terrorism, migration, the effects of the global economic crisis and the reliance in Russian natural gas among others, it seems that in it’s last southeastern frontier a new deal is about to begin.
After chronicles of exhausting negotiations for the reunification of Cyprus between the two communities, the two leaders of the divided island, both the Greek-Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and the Turkish-Cypriot Leader Mustafa Akinci found common ground to cooperate and overcome major obstacles that occurred during the process in the past four decades. In their recent presence in the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos, the two leaders declared that significant progress has been made and settlement might be agreed even before the end of 2016.
It must be highlighted that the Cyprus Dispute is another European problem for two major reasons. Firstly because Cyprus is a member-state of the EU, consequently inextricably linked with the Euro -Turkish affairs. Only when the Dispute is resolved Cyprus will withdraw the VETO for the integration of Turkey in the EU. Secondly because Cyprus seems to be the most efficient way to serve as a hub for pipelines transferring natural gas to the EU through Cyprus and Turkey and thus provide an alternative natural gas supply for the EU, beyond the reliance on Russia. Although the energy exploitation of the Cyprus natural gas belongs equally in both communities, thus only reunited Cyprus will be able to play this role. Hence if Turkey wants to unlock the door to the EU, it must first unlock the door to the Cyprus Dispute.
The southeastern Mediterranean sea divides defacto two worlds. The European zone of stability and the chaos of the Middle East. If we understand that we can also understand that we are experiencing a momentum in this neighbourhood which will determine the future for Cyprus, Europe and the broader area. The settlement of the Cyprus Dispute can be a win-win situation for all interested actors and can be seen as a catalyst for peace, security and regional incorporation in an unstable region.
The ex President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy stated some years ago that ‘’the historic compromise between France and Germany after many wars was based on the idea of sharing carbons. With a masterful move political leaders turned a threat into common opportunity.’’
In conclusion history shows us the bright examples beyond the failed ones. Reminds us that energy can achieve peace and cooperation.
What happened between France and Germany sixty years ago can be reincarnated in Cyprus through reunification. The road of reconciliation, tolerance and coexistence for the whole region, where Christians and Muslims will not be living as enemies anymore, but as partners in prosperity through settlement and sale of oil and gas. In the same time another road can be opened for the European Union, leading to a new energy masterplan for peace.
By Pantelis A. Poetis
Research and Markets – Global Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Market Analysis and Trends, Industry Forecasts to 2025:http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/3634911/global-oil-and-gas-exploration-and-production#pos-11
The Guardian – Oil and Gas reserves around Greece and Turkey more to fight about:https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/10/oil-gas-reserves-cyprus-greece-turkey
The Guardian – Divided Cyprus begins to build bridges:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/31/mustafa-ankinci-advocates-focus-future-for-splintered-cyprus
World Economic Forum – Energy for economic growth:http://reports.weforum.org/energy-for-economic-growth-energy-vision-update-2012/
BBC News – Cyprus aims to heal its great divide:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35522456
BBC News – Cyprus Leaders in joint TV address:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35178163
Politico – Best chance Cyprus has had for peace:http://www.politico.eu/article/cyprus-reunification-peace-nicos-anastasiades-mustafa-akinci/
World Economic Forum: Reuniting Cyprus: https://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2016/sessions/reuniting-cyprus/