Israeli Help Suggested In Easing Turkey-Cyprus Tensions

YERUSHALAYIM -

A Turkish energy expert has suggested that Israel could play a pivotal role in alleviating the tension between Turkey and Cyprus over eastern Mediterranean natural gas fields by entering as a “silent broker” in a special commission that would negotiate revenue sharing, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Although Cyprus is a EU member state recognized by the international community, Turkey does not formally recognize it and has continued a military occupation of the northeastern portion of the island since 1983.

Known commonly as “North Cyprus,” this section of the island is recognized only by Turkey as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Greek Cypriots, on the other hand, would like to see a unification of the entire island under the Cypriot government.

Turkey claims that a share of these energy resources belong to North Cyprus.

Israel could help in easing this strain — both over energy issues and perhaps toward a “final settlement” between the two entities — if the country would help negotiate a profit-sharing agreement, Dr. Ahmet Han of Kadir Has University’s international relations faculty told the Post.

Turkey contests Cypriot exploration on its western shores since Turkey considers some of these areas to be located in its own continental shelf and another section to belong to Egypt, Han explained. Any Turkish opposition over Cypriot exploration in its eastern waters issues only from Turkey’s objection to Cyprus claiming sovereign right as a country to claim these resources, he explained.

However, Cypriot Ambassador to Israel Dimitris Hatziargyrou told the Post last week that no such cooperation between Turkey and Cyprus was plausible before diplomatic normalization between the two states begins.