Energy incentives may lead to a CyProb solution - Hochstein
Countries in the region must work together if they hope to unlock multibillion dollar gas discoveries in Israel and Cyprus, US diplomat Amos Hochstein told Bloomberg on Sunday.
Large discoveries in recent years off the shores of Cyprus, Egypt and Israel have positioned the eastern Mediterranean as a source of potential energy exports.
For Turkey, which already gets gas from Russia and Azerbaijan, deals with Israel and Cyprus would create diversity of supply.
“Adding eastern Mediterranean gas to the picture really rounds out Turkey as one of the most important energy countries in a broader sense,” Hochstein stated to Bloomberg.
One stumbling block is the fact that a pipeline from Israel to Turkey would need to traverse Cyprus, where Turkish forces have illegally occupied the island’s northern third since their 1974 invasion.
“Conditions are very ripe for an agreement on Cyprus, but there have been moments like this in the past,” added Brenda Shaffer, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Atlantic Council research institute’s Global Energy Center who specialises in oil and gas policies.
Still, she added, “I think Ankara is very serious about a settlement. It fits in with their wider diplomatic shift in the region.”
With Cyprus now attracting large explorers to its own economic waters, the energy incentives may finally lead to a diplomatic resolution of that conflict, outlined Hochstein.
“If we can reach an agreement on the future status of the island, we unlock not only Israel-Turkey, we unlock Cyprus’ future production and destinations,” he said.
“What gives us a reason for optimism is we have smart and committed leaders on all sides of the Cyprus conflict. The energy incentive is very clear for everyone."
Hochstein visited Cyprus in June, saying then that while Turkey “may not respect Cyprus’ EEZ, the US does".