“The Turkish side has a point when it says cooperating on gas exploration and production could help bring the sides of the long-running conflict closer together; they’d be business partners in a lucrative venture. It also makes sense that Cyprus’ Turkish community should share in the energy wealth discovered near the island in 2011,” ‘Bloomberg’ columnist Leonid Bershidsky has said.
In his column, Bershidsky writes that EU sanctions on Turkey for running its own hydrocarbon drilling operations offshore Cyprus is a mistake. The settlement of the Cyprus problem is necessary for defusing tensions over energy resources in the region and for ensuring energy security for the EU in the long term. Waiting for Turkish President Erdoğan to change his mind over drilling rights was not helpful.
He added that a deal between the EU and Turkey over Syrian refugees could serve as a model for future relations. He also said that in the case of Cyprus, the problem had existed long before Erdoğan was in power, previous peace talks for reunification having failed.
Noting that although was understandable that the EU would support its member states, Bershidsky wrote that “The EU should use its collective negotiating prowess to push both sides toward a deal,” otherwise President Erdoğan will just continue to move ahead in the energy game and establish a foothold in the gas fields.
This week, the EU announced punitive measures against Turkey which include freezing 146 million euros of pre-accession assistance for Turkey for next year, the suspension of negotiations for an aviation agreement, and a review of lending to Turkey from the European Investment Bank, worth 386 million euros last year, as well as ending any high-level meetings with Turkish officials within joint bodies set up under Turkey’s association agreement and customs union with the EU.