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Gassy Issues in Cyprus #CyprusGas

Gassy Issues in Cyprus <a class="hashtagger" href="">#CyprusGas</a>

The Eastern Mediterranean might be rich in regards to natural gas and oil, however, aside from Israel’s Leviathan gas field, no economically viable or commercially feasible resource has been found so far.

Hopes had been high from certain plots, headed by the Greek Cypriot Aphrodite, yet so far, problems have surmounted all potentials pointing at one fundamental reality: In the absence of a political settlement on Cyprus, petrochemical riches can only produce additional headache.

Going into detail, talking about Plot 6, Plot 3 and Turkey’s own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and how it overlapped with that of the unilaterally declared Greek Cypriot EEZ might add some flesh to the discussion. Yet, at the very root of the problem lies a fundamental and far bigger issue than the overlapping EEZs of Turkey and the Greek Cypriots. Tomorrow, there might be a similar crisis between Turkey and Greece over how the EEZ of each country should be defined. Expecting international law to surrender to the rule of the powerful might be possible, but such a situation cannot be sustainable, particularly if not only the Greek Cypriots but Turkey also starts to confront the precious allies over Eastern Mediterranean resources.

Relations between Ankara and the EU have been in de facto deep freeze for some time. Aside from the Syrian refugees and some pressing urgent needs, contact between Ankara and the EU has become rather symbolic. Fundamental norms and values that make the EU or Western civilization have been on the death bed in Turkey for a long time. Freedom of the press, freedom of expression, compatibility with international norms in justice, accountability and such have unfortunately become no further than a fairy tale in this country.

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For example, if Deutche Welle’s reporter Deniz Yücel had been a spy as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the prosecutor had alleged, then how had it been that two days after Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım heralded the possibility, the reporter who had been charged with espionage and who had faced up to 18 years in prison, had not only been released but had been allowed to travel to Germany onboard a special plane? Had there been a trade? Had there been an exchange of spies? Had Turkey, for example, convinced Germany to release the Turkish spies there?

Turkish military vessels blocking ENI from approaching Plot 3 has caused fresh tension. Turkey claims the plot is partly within its own EEZ. This situation will have some serious repercussions. European Council President Donald Tusk’s warning that Turkey should “avoid threats or actions against any EU member” and instead “must commit to good neighborly relations, peaceful dispute settlement and respect for territorial sovereignty” might indeed herald an approaching storm.

What will Turkey do, for example, when ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum start exploration activities in Greek Cypriot Plot 10, which is not a disputed area by Turkey but still opposed by Ankara on grounds that it violates the rights of Turkish Cypriots? Would Turkey use its navy to stop ExxonMobil, of which Rex Tillerson had been CEO and board chairman of before he had become the United States Secretary of State?

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About The Author

Yusuf Kanli

Born in Cyprus in 1959, Yusuf Kanlı is a graduate of the English Language and Literature Department of the Faculty of Letters of the Ankara University. He started journalism with the Turkish Daily News in 1978. Until he briefly left the paper in 1985 (for military service in Northern Cyprus) he served as diplomatic correspondent, assistant foreign news editor and assistant editor. During this period he was as well one of the two co-authors of an annual reference book on Turkey, “Turkey Almanac”. After completing his military service he returned the Daily News as assistant editor. In 1989 he became executive editor and also started writing daily opinion articles. He continued to be one of the co-authors of the “Turkey Almanac” annual reference book. In February 1993, over differences with the publisher on editorial policy, he quit the paper and joined the Anatolia News Agency (AA) as deputy foreign news chief. He stayed with the Anatolia News Agency until September 1995. In this period, he covered the Armenia-Azerbaijan war over Nogorno-Karabagh, covered developments in the post-independence Central Asian republics. Because of his refusal as the duty editor to run a manipulated news story demanded by the then lady prime minister of the country, he was fired from the AA, a development that Kanlı considers as his “medal of honor” in the profession. On his return to the Daily News for a third time in October 1995, he first became an editor at large but soon assumed the responsibility of electronic publishing and established Turkey’s first daily updated English language news web site, the TDN Online on May 19, 1996 (now In January 1997, he became executive editor of the Daily News for a second time and stayed in that post until he was appointed as editor-in-chief in June 2004. In February 2007, he quit all executive duties and became a contract columnist of the newspaper. He has been also writing weekly articles in Turkish for a variety of newspapers and news portals in Northern Cyprus. He is a former chairperson and the honorary chairperson of Diplomacy Correspondents Association (DMD) of Turkey, an active member of Association of Foreign Policy Council, a member of the executive board and vice chairperson of the Association of Journalists and coordinator of the Press for Freedom project, which has been monitoring and reporting on press and freedom of expression issues in Turkey since 2013. He has been a member of several associations and foundations, mostly established by Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey or abroad. He is married to Dr. Aydan Kanlı and has one daughter, Cansu. He has Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Cypriot triple nationality.

More in Cyprus, CyprusGas, Deniz Yücel, Eastern Mediterranean, Eni, Exclusive economic zone, Freedom of speech, Greek Cypriots, Leviathan gas field, Natural gas, Oil
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