Beginning what could prove to be a long financial crisis, Cyprus may yet have to hope it finds lucrative gas reserves off its coast, the New York Times has reported. Since the discovery of the gas two years ago, Cyprus has been laying plans to get the gas to market by circumventing Turkey, which has occupied the northern third of the island for nearly 40 years.
But now, relying on international lenders for a 10 billion euros ($13 billion) rescue loan, the newspaper said that Cypriot officials may have to strengthen relations with Turkey and work together on energy exploration, especially now that is neighbor has moved closer to repairing a breach with Israel, which also wants to work on finding gas in Cypriot waters.
The sudden reversal of fortunes implies that Cypriots may need to brush up on their own relations with Turkey to make its gas wealth a reality. The article pointed out that two are the factors pushing Cyprus to change its foreign policy: the financial crisis and the new detente between Turkey and Israel.
These last developments may push “Greek Cypriots into some kind of resolution of the Cyprus problem,” said the Director of Sapienta Economics, a consulting firm based in Nicosia. Cyprus, with its bailed-out and bombed-out economy, does not have many choices than pipe gas to Turkey, it was said.
Both sides have sparred over ownership of the gas, creating another obstacle to reunification rather than an incentive to cooperate. Yet the closest natural customer is Turkey, which imports most of its oil and gas and is the biggest potential rapidly-growing market, as the Times noted. For Cyprus and Turkey, “gas exploration and export could be the coal and steel commodity that united France and Germany after the war,” it said.