James Stavridis: Failed Turkey coup, gas discovery could ease Cyprus deal


TAGS: Interview, Cyprus, Diplomacy, Defense

The failed coup in Turkey and the discovery of natural gas resources off Cyprus could be a catalyst for a peace deal on the divided island, says James Stavridis, former NATO supreme commander and dean at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

In an interview with Kathimerini on Sunday, Stavridis, who spoke at a recent event in Athens on the invitation of the Foreign Ministry, says that the coup attempt by a Turkish military faction on July 15 hardened the position of the country’s strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan on everything perceived as a threat to the establishment: the Kurds, the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), the movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, and the army itself.

However, Stavridis says, it has made Erdogan keener to reach a settlement on Cyprus. “A reasonable analysis would be that Erdogan thinks that he has to deal with much bigger problems than Cyprus, and he wants to find a solution,” he said.

Stavridis, who has been floated as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton, said that the exploitation of gas resources found off the island’s coast was another positive factor.

“A Cyprus that has resources is a Cyprus more likely to reach an agreement because the people who would give up their properties will receive compensation,” he said.

Stavridis believes that the same factors could lead to a de-escalation of tensions in the Aegean Sea. In the wake of the failed coup, he says, the army will find it harder to act on its own initiative.

“It will have to cooperate with Erdogan. And I believe Erdogan has more important issues to deal with than the Aegean,” he said.