Energy Minister of Cyprus Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said Tuesday that the fact that discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus were piling up and further exploration was planned, was creating confidence that the interest would remain alive, despite the Turkish provocations trying to create conditions of instability in the region.
The Minister was speaking at a panel discussion during the 10th Economic Ideas Forum organised by the Wilfried Martens Centre of European Studies and the Glafkos Clerides Institute, in Nicosia.
Lakkotrypis also said that the Eastern Mediterranean as an alternative source of energy for Europe, was receiving lately a lot of attention because of the new discoveries.
“This is why we feel that we should implement our strategy and keep the interest we have built in the region”, he said, stressing the importance of keeping Cyprus’ interests aligned with the companies in the sector or with the countries from which the companies originate, in order to have support.
“At the same time, we try our best to create stable conditions all around, including Turkey”, he said.
He also mentioned that there were many issues with Turkey that needed to be addressed, such as the questioning of the Republic of Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“If we accept Turkish version of our EEZ we will be left with 30% of what we have today”, he said adding that “we will have all of the discoveries, Aphrodite, Calypso, Glafkos, falling into other countries”. He expressed hope that activities and discoveries in gas sector would act as an incentive to Turkey to sit down to the negotiating table to find a just solution to the Cyprus problem.
Referring to Turkey’s claims that the country advocates the rights of Turkish Cypriots, he wondered if having only 30% of the Cypriot EEZ was best for the Turkish Cypriots.
He also pointed out that Turkey’s provocations were aiming to create destabilization conditions for the companies, so as not to come and invest in Cyprus. The Republic of Cyprus, as he said, had been very careful in order not to engage in this game of destabilization and to proceed with its strategic plans in oil and gas.
Asked about the gas quantities needed for Cyprus to acquire its own land-based natural gas liquefaction terminal, he said that energy plant needed 12-15 tcf to make it competitive.
He also said that Eastern Mediterranean gas should be offered at competitive prices in order to be able to compete with Russian natural gas sold at very cheap prices due to the existing infrastructure and shale gas from the United States.
The Minister also stressed that natural gas was going to function as a bridge fuel in the coming years in order to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources (RES), for which Cyprus system was not yet ready.
Speaking at the same panel discussion, Ambassador of Israel to Cyprus Sammy Revel referred to the tripartite cooperation of Cyprus, Greece, Israel, saying that that cooperation was not aimed against anyone, but countries believed that if they work together, they could contribute to the security, stability and prosperity of the region.
Responding to a question, he said that cooperation on energy issues with Turkey was not on the table at the moment and said that Israel was prioritizing the EastMed gas pipeline to contribute to energy security and diversification of energy sources in Europe.
He also said that Cyprus and Israel could become important partners in both gas and renewable energy issues, as well as on technology issues by exploiting their huge human resources.
“Now is not the time to relax. Now is the time to proceed with further and more radical reforms” President of the ruling party DISY Averof Neofytou told the Forum and noted that “for entrepreneurship to flourish, startups to scale and the economy to grow, there are no magic ingredients. What we need are prudent, growth oriented policies: Less taxes in a stable and consistent tax system. Incentives to attract private investments and to encourage startups to grow across Europe. Regulatory reforms for smart regulation. Mission oriented policies and actions. Stability and predictability in the business environment”.
Above all, he stressed, “as a divided country, for us the most radical reform is reuniting our country”.