How to deescalate the Cypriot gas dispute?

In the gas disputethe leader of the Cypriot Turks Mustafa Akıncı proposed setting up a joint committee to monitor the drilling and to divide the profits between both groups on the divided island. Previously the EU had imposed sanctions against Ankara because of Turkish drilling. Nicosia should think long and hard about the proposal, commentators say.

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Alitheia (CY) /

A proposal that leads out of the impasse

Cyprus's government shouldn't reject the proposal of the politician from the north of the island, Alitheia demands:

“Akıncı made a proposal for the co-management of hydrocarbons in the Republic of Cyprus's Exclusive Economic Zone. The details of the proposal are important, but more important for us is who is proposing it. ... Akıncı's proposal could be a proposal that comes from us Greek Cypriots to refute the Turkish arguments, to facilitate a solution to the Cyprus problem and to get us out of the impasse we are trapped in. The government, which has yet to adopt a position on the proposal, should have a good think about this.”

Kıbrıs Postası (CY) /

Turkish Cypriots are not the EU's plaything

The EU is completely ignoring the interests of Turkish Cypriots, complains Kıbrıs Postası:

“The EU is focusing on the gas and wants to be a player on this issue. Meanwhile it has forgotten the little people in the north who fought for it, took to the streets for it and founded parties in its name. You are in [the EU], but at the same time you're not. You exist yet you don't exist. We represent you but you may not represent yourselves. You can buy from us but you can't sell things to us. You have rights yet at the same time you have no rights. You are Europeans but you're not really Europeans. The country belongs to us and we set the standards. These words pretty much sum up the EU's stance towards the Turkish Cypriots.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Redouble the pressure

The sanctions are warranted but EU member states must also put pressure on their partners in Cyprus, the Süddeutsche Zeitung believes:

“Ankara argues, not without good reason, that the inhabitants of Northern Cyprus have rights to part of the gas reserves, and that the reunification of the island has also failed so far because of the South. The EU members should try to use their solidarity with Nicosia in the gas dispute as leverage to move closer to ending the division of the island. The benefits for all parties would be far greater than the estimated revenues from selling the natural gas.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Yet another mistake by the EU

The EU is once again sticking its neck out too far, comments Hürriyet Daily News:

“For many in Turkey, this latest move by Brussels is another example of the double-standards the EU has long been imposing when it's about Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. ... Imposing sanctions on Turkey on an issue that the EU has no jurisdiction on at all is yet another mistake by the EU. Or, maybe, it's not a mistake but a decision, as Paulo Coelho has rightly put it: 'A mistake repeated more than once is a decision'.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

Nicosia must not put up with this

Phileleftheros argues that Nicosia should not wait for the EU to respond:

“We are being attacked by the Turkish occupation forces and we must react. And there must be ways to react that incur costs for the occupation forces. De facto we must turn to the EU. The EU can play a very important role with its decisions. We will see whether it actually wants to do so. ... At the same time we see opportunities in other areas as well. We know that further measures have been prepared, and that they will be applied depending on how the situation develops. It is clear to us that we must react; otherwise we will lose the game once and for all. That should be clear to everyone.”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

Anastasiades must return to the negotiating table

Cyprus Mail rails that the government of Cyprus has lost control of the situation:

“Anastasiades had believed, rather naively, that he could ... proceed with the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Cypriot EEZ on his own, excluding the Turkish Cypriots, by giving exploration licences to oil firms of powerful countries that Turkey would avoid confronting. He did not factor in the possibility that Turkey, using the interests of the Turkish Cypriots as a persuasive pretext, would undertake its own drilling in the Cypriot EEZ. ... Now he has lost control of the situation and there is a risk of Turkey pursuing further escalation, there is only one way out for him - a speedy return to negotiations [to resolve the Cyprus conflict].”