In mid-2020, Turkey and Greece put their Mediterranean fleets on high alert, dramatically raising tensions in their long-running dispute over air, water, rock and now seabed gas deposits as well. Talks have been frustrating but remain the best way to contain the risk of conflict.
Greek Cypriot negotiator resigned over lack of progress in diplomatic process, while Republic of Cyprus boosted ties with Israel. Greek Cypriot chief negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis 17 April resigned, citing lack of progress on negotiations for resolution to Cyprus question; govt intends to appoint Menelaos Menelaou, foreign ministry official with long experience regarding Cyprus negotiations, after new president elected in Feb 2023. Israeli, Greek and Greek Cypriot FMs 5 April met in Greek capital Athens and vowed to boost energy ties and cooperation in other areas; specifically, they agreed to make progress on Euro-Asia interconnector project – world’s longest and deepest underwater power cable through Mediterranean (due to be completed in 2024). International news outlets 11 April reported that Republic of Cyprus, Israel and Greece were exploring option of building liquefied natural gas terminal in Republic of Cyprus.
To avoid another failed effort at federal reunification in the new round of Cyprus negotiations, all sides should break old taboos and discuss all possible options, including independence for Turkish Cypriots within the European Union.
Though newly discovered gas reserves off Cyprus are currently driving the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities further apart, they could offer both newfound wealth if, together with Turkey, they would start a new dialogue.
To capitalise on twelve years of normalisation, and at a time when both could benefit from a foreign policy success, Greece and Turkey should settle their expensive, outdated and stressful stand-off over Aegean Sea maritime zones and related issues.
With stalemate looming in the UN-sponsored Cyprus reunification negotiations, parties to the dispute need to take dramatic, unilateral steps to break the decades-long distrust that is suffocating them.
Stability in the Eastern Mediterranean will remain hostage to full settlement of the Cyprus dispute, but the property issue – one of its most intractable knots – can be solved now if Greek and Turkish Cypriots compromise on new proposals currently before them.
Originally published in Transatlantic Academy
Originally published in The Majalla
Originally published in IP Journal