Addressing an audience of investors and professionals at this year’s Economist’s ‘Cyprus Investment Summit’ at the London Stock Exchange on Friday, Papanastasiou responded to a question on Turkey, noting that “we want to provide solutions that are attractive to Turkey so that the political problem is solved, (so that) the energy is used as means towards a resolution of the political problem.”

“The new government is not blocking the routes towards using the energy as a tool that will provide fertile ground in order for the two parties to sit together and get a resolution to the wider political problem,” he added.

He noted that there is a wealth sitting just outside of Cyprus – “it is being developed; certainly we recognise it belongs to the two communities, and that wealth can be developed via the infrastructure to have a way towards a wider resolution of the Cyprus political problem.”

Much of the discussion during the Minister’s panel, which included ExxonMobil’s Vice-President John Ardill, referred to the necessary infrastructure that would allow the commercial exploitation of the gas.

The Minister presented the situation as far as the hydrocarbons exploration activity is concerned, with the active participation of a number of multinational oil and gas companies.

He noted that due to the current lack of infrastructure to exploit the natural gas, right now Cyprus cannot be considered an energy hub, but it can nevertheless become a provider of energy to Europe.

He also mentioned that the government has received a feasibility study on the options to develop natural gas pipelines.

Papanastasiou then discussed the prospect of upgrading the island’s electric power grid, as well as its possible interconnection with the grid of Greece and therefore the rest of Europe. He also briefly discussed the potential for further exploiting the solar power, which could be incorporated in a smart grid.

On his part, Ardill presented a few technical details on the work that ExxonMobil performs in Cyprus’s EEZ and affirmed his company’s “big plans” and “commitment” to Cyprus, adding that achieving economic growth and prosperity is a bet shared with the Cypriot government.

A number of speakers during the conference touched on a wide range of issues pertaining to the attractive economic and investment environment that Cyprus offers.

The conference began with a recorded message by the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides, who described his “vision” for a Cyprus that “attracts investment and foster entrepreneurship.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.