Natural gas-a game changer in the Cyprus conflict?
Opçin, Arzu (2015) Natural gas-a game changer in the Cyprus conflict? [Thesis]
The identity-based antagonism between the Republic of Cyprus (Southern Greek) and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (that is, the Cyprus conflict) has undergone a paradigm shift after a potential game changer entered the scene: the natural gas discovery offshore Cyprus. Concurrently, the nature of the Cyprus conflict appeared to shift from an inter-ethnic strife to a resource-based dispute while the deeply-seated ethnic dimension of the conflict remained beneath the surface. The resource-based framing of the Cyprus conflict within the current geopolitical dynamics, as well as the interdependence of the island’s economic resources, has placed ‘pipeline politics’ in the center of the conflict. Negotiations over the energy supply not only serve as a source of conflict, but they may also constitute a tool for such a conflict’s resolution. Noting that energy supplies could be a medium of political negotiation, the aim of this thesis is to assess whether current natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean can contribute to the resolution of the Cyprus conflict. In doing so, this study focuses on (i) historical analysis of the Cyprus conflict, (ii) the mapping of the Cyprus conflict, (iii) the current market development in the region in terms of natural gas, and, in relation, asks (iv) whether the newly discovered reserves may contribute to enhanced the dialogue between Turks and Greeks in Cyprus or among other parties, including Turkey and Greece. The results of the exploratory research reveal that the amount of natural gas reserves found so far in the Aphrodite field cannot be a game changer due to two main reasons. Firstly, as argued in the thesis, the overall quantity of the natural gas in Aphrodite field is too low to be able to meet any demand in the larger EU market or even in the regional market. Secondly, the estimated monetary value of the reserves is inadequate to counter the intractability, protractedness, and the deep-rootedness of the Cyprus conflict.
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