|Tuesday, 12 December 2017|
Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 12-05-04
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 Cyprus is the corridor of Israel to the West, FM remarksMinister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, has praised the relations between Cyprus and Israel, noting that strong bonds are long standing ones.
In a speech before the American Jewish Committee Global Forum, in Washington DC, yesterday, she said that the fact that she is the first Foreign Minister of Cyprus to address the AJC Global Forum, "represents a turning point in our relationship with the AJC and perhaps even with the American Jewish community at large".
She expressed the "hope that the peace process in the Middle East will resume soon, leading to peace and creating conditions that will allow the friendly people of Palestine to live in their own state, and the friendly people of Israel in their historic homeland, in conditions of security".
During the past three years, she said, "the relationship between Cyprus and Israel has drawn much media attention and became the subject of discussion at various political, economic and academic fora. Indeed, there has been a flurry of activity with an impressive exchange of high level visits, starting with the visits of President Christofias and President Peres last year and the visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu this year, the latter being the first ever visit of a Prime Minister of the State of Israel to Cyprus since the Independence of Cyprus in 1960".
Marcoullis said that last August, she paid an official visit to Israel, three weeks after her appointment as Foreign Minister and Foreign Minister Lieberman paid recently a reciprocal visit to Cyprus, almost all Ministers of the Cyprus Cabinet and many other senior officials visited Israel during the last two years and over 30 bilateral agreements have been signed.
Marcoullis said that in the 1950s and 1960s, Israeli tourists, but also engineers and agriculture experts contributed to the development of Cypriot industries, stressing that not a year goes by without several dozen Cypriot patients benefiting from the state of the art medical technologies offered in Israeli hospitals.
"Today, there are Cypriot doctors, either completing their internships or honing specialized skills in Israel. Israeli desalination technologies are up and running in Cyprus, while Cypriot fire fighting crews and helicopters were the first on the scene two years ago, when the terrible fires ravaged the Carmel Mountains", she added.
The Cypriot FM said that the past three years or so, a number of developments occurred in our region, the Eastern Mediterranean, that have inevitably drawn Cyprus and Israel closer on the economic and political level as well.
"The first has been the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits offshore. The second has been the feeling in Israel that its strategic depth lies to its west. The third is the Arab Spring", she remarked.
The discovery of hydrocarbon deposits offshore is a major development for all countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, said Marcoullis, adding that politics aside, the enormity of investment required to exploit this offshore treasure, creates an impetus of its own toward greater cooperation.
As such, the Republic of Cyprus has proceeded very carefully in this matter, she explained, adding that the discovery of the hydrocarbons is only the tip of the iceberg "as far as we are concerned. We began in the 1990s by methodically building up agreements with our neighbours in line with international law and especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We concluded agreements, first with Egypt in 2003, then Lebanon in 2007 and Israel in 2010, delineating our Exclusive Economic Zones, which then allowed us to proceed with an initial round of licensing for exploratory offshore drilling".
Referring to the initial exploratory drilling carried out by the American company Noble Energy in one of the blocks of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone last year, Marcoullis said it was done within an agreed framework. "The announced results from this single drilling indicate an estimated gross resource range of 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas, with a gross mean of 7 Tcf", she remarked.
This discovery, she added, "creates new prospects and a new momentum regarding the role of Cyprus in the wider political and energy related environment in the Eastern Mediterranean. We believe this will have a historic impact on Cyprus. Historic in the sense that it is a "game changer" because it makes it potentially possible for Cyprus to undergo improvements that will affect all its citizens, work as a catalyst for the reunification of the island and, most importantly, move from a situation of occupation to one of coexistence and collaboration".
Marcoullis noted that "the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated a mean of 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas in the Levant Basin Province, as well as 1.8 billion barrels of recoverable oil, 223 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas and 6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids in the Nile Delta Basin Province in the Eastern Mediterranean".
The recent Cyprus discoveries, in conjunction with the impressive results of the two drillings in the Israeli Exclusive Economic Zone, Tamar and Leviathan, the Cypriot FM said, "confirm that the Levant Basin and the wider region of the Southeastern Mediterranean constitute a reliable hydrocarbon resource, which could transform the geopolitics of the wider region. For Cyprus, the strategic cooperation with Israel, Greece and other countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, aims at the creation of the necessary infrastructure and the exploitation of hydrocarbons in ways that would be beneficial to peace, progress and prosperity for the entire region. In this respect, we promote with the same vigor our cooperation on all energy related issues with our two other close neighbors, Lebanon and Egypt".
Marcoullis said "we strongly believe that such developments will impact positively both on the European Union, particularly in terms of energy security, but also on the Middle East, with real prospects for increased economic cooperation, stability and development among all the countries of the rich in hydrocarbon Eastern Mediterranean region".
Unfortunately, she added, "not all our neighbours have reacted positively to our efforts to exercise our sovereign rights, as these are acknowledged by international law". She reminded that Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, and continues to occupy a large part of our territory with tens of thousands of heavily armed troops.
However, Marcoullis pointed out that "a reinvigorated Turkey, boosted by economic success, a political model combining selective democratic values and Islam, aggressive and self-righteous rhetoric, which at times echo with revanchist overtones about the revival of an Ottoman past, appears keen on bullying its way into a position of hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East|.
The offshore drilling by Cyprus in its Exclusive Economic Zone, acknowledged by the international community, including the United States, as being within the sovereign rights of Cyprus, brought about the fierce reaction of Turkey, said Marcoullis. Since September of last year it has threatened to use force, has carried out air and naval military exercises south of Cyprus and has violated our sovereign rights with actions contrary to international law, and specifically the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"I do not want to belabour the point, and it is by no means my intent to turn this opportunity to address you into "Turkey bashing." However, what I do wish to point out by mentioning Turkey's behaviour toward Cyprus is that it has not gone unnoticed by our neighbours. And while they recognize, as we do, the significance of Turkey, there is skepticism about Turkey's true intentions, and whether Turkey is a stabilizing factor in the region. Similarly, she added, "they are not convinced that Turkey's model can fill the vacuum which the uprisings in many Arab states against the rule of oppressive dictatorships have created".
On this point, she added, Cyprus and Israel have the same perception. "So, when I mention the fact that Israel looks westward for its strategic depth, I by no means wish to imply, as some media have, that there are efforts underway to cobble together a defensive alliance between Cyprus and Israel. What has actually happened is that in Israel there is a growing sense that the only sure corridor toward friendly states lies to the west, in other words through Cyprus to the rest of Europe, and therefore the corridor must be kept open. I think that it is fair to say that there are also others who read the geopolitical map in very similar ways at this time. One of them, I believe, is the United States".
Similarly, said Marcoullis, neither Israel nor Cyprus is alone in this, "there are concerns about the direction the Arab Spring may be taking. Obviously, the political uprisings occurred in different settings, where different variables are at play. Cyprus, like our partners in the European Union, is watching developments closely, and we are lending assistance and support, where possible, to help ensure the non-violent transition toward more representative governments and the creation of societies where democracy and the rule of law become the norm rather than the exception".
Marcoullis also referred to the assumption by the Republic of Cyprus of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July, noting that this is a new experience and the task of the Cypriot Presidency, is to form a common denominator for the 27 member states on issues that are highly contentious and very difficult to resolve during the best of times.
Concluding, she said, "we are confident that we will be prepared to meet the challenges and contribute toward a Presidency whose outcomes will have a positive effect on the Union".
 Cypriot Parliament calls on Turkey to return FamagustaThe House of Representatives, during its plenary session, unanimously approved on Thursday a resolution calling on Turkey to return the fenced-off city of Famagusta to its legal inhabitants pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions.
The resolution, approved after a discussion titled ``the need for the intensification of the efforts, actions and initiatives for the return of the city of Famagusta to is legal inhabitants according to the UN Security Council resolutions 550 (1984) and 789 (1992) and the 1979 High Level Agreement,`` urging the EU, the international community and especially the UN to intensify their efforts towards Turkey on the issue of Famagusta.
The Parliament expresses its support to the Cypriot government`s proposal for the transferring of the city to the UN and the return of legal inhabitants to the city as well as the opening of the city`s port for Turkish Cypriot trade under EU administration without violating the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and the legitimacy of EU regulations.
Famagusta essentially remains a ghost-city as it has been fenced-off after its capture by the Turkish forces in the second phase of the 1974 Turkish invasion to Cyprus, which resulted to the occupation of 37 per cent of the island`s territory. UNSC resolution 550 considers ``attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the United Nations.``
 Austria fully supports Cyprus' policy for a solutionAustria fully supports Cyprus' policy for the solution of the Cyprus problem, Austrian Minister of Defence Nobert Darabos has said. According to an official press release issued Friday, Darabos was speaking during a meeting he had with Cypriot Minister of Defence Demetris Eliades, who is currently in Austria on an official visit.
During the meeting, Eliades and Darabos discussed recent developments in the ongoing UN led negotiations, which aim to reunite the island, divided when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third in 1974. The Austrian Minister expressed his country`s full support to the Cyprus government's policy to find a solution.
They further confirmed their mutual positions as regards the EU Common Security and Defence Policy and their intention to cooperate during the Cyprus EU Council rotating presidency, due to begin on July 1. Darabos expressed his country's readiness to support Cyprus in order to ensure a successful presidency.
 Eastern Med could play a role in energy corridors, Minister saysThe Eastern Mediterranean, following the discovery of natural gas deposits in the region could play a role in the changing energy corridors both for the European Union and China, Cypriot Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis has said.
In a speech during the discussion on security of energy supply, in the framework of the EU-China High Level Summit on Energy, Sylikiotis stressed the significance of the recent discovery of natural gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean including the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone, noting that ``these new developments create new prospects for the role the Eastern Mediterranean could play in the change of the energy corridors both for the EU and China.
He underlined that significant efforts should be made towards modernising and extending Europe`s energy infrastructure so it could be assured that no EU member-state would remain isolated from the natural gas and energy networks.
The completion of a functional and a totally interconnected internal market in the field of electricity and natural gas with fair and competitive prices is the key for the achievement of our targets for energy and climate, the Cypriot Minister stressed.
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