Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades believes that Cyprus has a good chance at reunification because of natural gas but stressed in an interview with Kathimerini that he will walk away from the negotiating table if Turkish vessels violate Nicosia’s exclusive economic zone.
Anastasiades identified the transfer of national gas from Israel and the discovery of hydrocarbons off Cyprus as the key factor driving a new round of peace talks on the island.
“Hydrocarbons are a decisive factor,” he said. “Turkey has needs, Israel has needs and Cyprus has needs. By solving the Cyprus issue we open up wide horizons.”
The Cypriot leader indicated that natural gas had also prompted the USA to take a more active role in promoting a settlement between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots.
“The USA’s interest after the discovery of hydrocarbons in the southeastern Mediterranean creates a new dynamic, especially if the quantities are such that they replace existing monopolies and the political dependencies they create,” said Anastasiades.
The resumption of reunification talks was triggered by the agreement of a joint communique with Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu earlier this month but Anastasiades said he would quit the negotiations if Turkey does not respect Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.
“We have made it clear that if violations continue, our response will be to leave the talks,” he said.
Anastasiades spoke to Kathimerini before the executive committee of junior coalition partner DIKO voted for the party to leave the government. The results of the vote were made known early on Saturday after DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos accused Anastasiades of already making major concessions to the Turkish-Cypriots.
“There are so many important concessions, that the Turkish side has achieved most of its aspirations even before negotiations have actually started,” DIKO’s executive committee said in a statement.
The party has four ministers in the 11-member cabinet, including the Energy and Defense portfolios.