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The key to solving the Cyprus issue is water and gas

26 March 2013 / 20:03:59  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The problems in the relations between Turkey and Greece can be resolved after the settlement of the Cyprus issue according to Turkey's Ambassador to Athens Kerim Uras. In his speech entitled "The Turkish-Greek relations and the foreign policy of Turkey," he specified among them the status of the Aegean Sea, the minorities, the military and political issues. The Ambassador did not say anything about them because the bilateral discussions have been strictly confidential. He did however complain about the fact that there were often leaks in Greece. "Perhaps it is a matter of mentality," was his comment.

"The key to their solution is the Cyprus issue and it can be solved through water and gas."

"The key to their solution is the Cyprus issue and it can be solved through water and gas." The Ambassador said that the Turkish Cypriots did not want unification of the island in an unauthorized manner. "This will create problems in terms of language, religion and habits." He stressed that Turkey was ready to settle one of the most important outstanding issues connected with the ownership in the northern part of the island.

"80% of the properties belong to Greek Cypriots and we recognize that fact. To solve it, exchanges of properties of Turkish Cypriots in the south should follow as well as redemption of the property of the current residents."

Kerim Uras stated that the exchange could be made against the access to water, the supply of which would begin in the northern part of Cyprus in May 2014. "We will not give water. We will sell it even though at one-third of its original price. We are ready to supply the Turkish Cypriots, who have the same problem with water supply," added the Ambassador.

According to him, the energy sources found in the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus belong to a future federation of the island. "In this sense, we could not agree with the decision of the politicians from the southern part of the island to provide the deposits as collateral to obtain a loan unless we are talking about the establishment of two separate states rather than about unification, which would change things completely."

But if the two sides fail to reach an agreement, then the otherwise life-giving water could aggravate the problem. "It will cause an increase in the property prices and agricultural products, workers will be needed who will go from Turkey to the northern part of Cyprus. These people will settle there, raise their families and then, it will be extremely difficult to drive them to say goodbye to their property," said the Turkish Ambassador. He added that his country was still behind the solution of one country, one constitution, and two communities in Cyprus.

"I do not know the extent to which the Europeans are ready to accept Turkey in terms of its population and religion. Do not forget that currently, the European Union is a Christian club. What I know is that it cannot continue to exist for long without Turkey."

Solving the political issue of the country will "unlock" the possibility of Turkey becoming a member of the European Union. "About 3-4 million Turks live and work in Western Europe. We are there in fact but we are not at the negotiating table." The Ambassador said that his country was changing and even the number of Turks who were returning was higher than the number of people seeking jobs in Western Europe. "I do not know the extent to which the Europeans are ready to accept Turkey in terms of its population and religion. Do not forget that currently, the European Union is a Christian club. What I know is that it cannot continue to exist for long without Turkey." The Vice-President of the Athens Institute for Education and Research, which had organized the event, commented on these words.

George Poulos said that Greece supported Turkey’s accession to the European Union. "But you should know that actually, Europe does not want Turkey. Germany, France, Finland and other countries are strongly opposed not only because of the religion, which is a major issue, but also because the union centre will shift from Western Europe to the Mediterranean region." The Turkish Ambassador did not deny that view thus supporting it in practice.

He said that last week, three events completely changed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean region: the suspension of hostilities by the Kurdish organization PKK, the Israeli apology to Turkey for the attack on the "Mavi Marmara" ship and of course, the developments in Cyprus. "The importance of the region is growing due to the deposits of natural gas. Israel is seeking ways to export it and a pipeline crossing Turkey is a much more cost-effective solution than building a pipeline across Greece or constructing a gas-liquefying terminal. My feeling is that Israel will prefer a pipeline that will cost 15 billion dollars."

In connection with the truce announced by Abdullah Ocalan, Kerim Uras said that this would help improve the relations between Turkey and Iraq. "Both we and the Kurds will have to adapt to the changing conditions. I hope that everyone in the region will act with composure, especially bearing in mind that we are planning to build a pipeline in the region. The situation is still fragile. The accession of Turkey to the European Union will certainly be a good answer to all countries," said the Turkish Ambassador in conclusion.

Tags: PoliticsCyprus issueTurkish-Greek relationsIsraelEuropean UnionAmbassadorKerim Uras
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