The Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Cyprus Policy Centre (CPC) and Business and Economics Faculty, Department of Political Science and International Relations organized a discussion panel titled “Quo Vadis Cyprus Conflict and the Eastern Mediterranean” The said panel took place on Wednesday, the 9th of October 2019. Nicosia University academic staff member Prof. Dr. Hubert Faustmann and EMU Political Science and International Relations Chair / CPC Director Prof. Dr. Ahmet Sözen attended the panel as speakers. The panel was moderated by EMU Business and Economics Faculty Vice Dean / Political Science and International Relations academic staff member Asst. Prof. Dr. Umut Bozkurt. During the opening speech, Asst. Prof. Dr. Bozkurt thanked everyone in attendance for their participation and stated that they are going to examine the Cyprus problem and issues in the Mediterranean via different paradigms.
“There is Desire for a Solution but No Belief”
Prof. Dr. Sözen started his talk by touching upon how Cyprus intersects with many regions geopolitically before providing a general evaluation of the events which led to today. Drawing attention to public opinion on both sides island, Prof. Dr. Sözen stated that there is desire for a solution but no belief. Prof. Dr. Sözen then stated that the disconnect between politicians running the peace negotiations and other segments of society and a lack of trust is decreasing the possibility of a solution. Prof. Dr. Sözen underlined that it is not easy to plan a solution that will make both sides and the guarantors happy, to get this plan accepted at a referendum and to implement such a plan. Indicating that after the discovery of hydrocarbon in the Middle East actors such as America, Russia, Israel, Egypt and Lebanon have become included in the Cyprus problem Prof. Dr. Sözen stated that it is very difficult to predict the future because of rising tensions in the region.
“No Natural Gas in Cyprus Before a Solution”
After Prof. Dr. Sözen’, Prof. Dr. Faustmann, the invited speaker of the panel, started his speech by explaining the historical development of the Cyprus problem and stating that the control of the island by England in 1878 resulted with the Greek Cypriots' desire to self-govern. Prof. Dr. Faustmann added that the Cyprus problem is not related to religion, and that neither community is in favor of living under the direction of the other party. Among the problems experienced in the solution of the problem are the Greek Cypriots' inability to absorb the political power of the Turkish Cypriots with a 50% of power and a population rate of 18%, their belief that Turkey’s would use its guarantorship for intervention any time they wish and, last but not least, their EU membership. Prof. Dr. Faustmann also pointed out that whilst the international community justifies the gas extraction by Greek Cypriots, it does not approve the exclusion of the Turkish Cypriots from the proceeds.
Prof. Dr. Faustmann added that on the other hand, the Greek Cypriots did not include the Turks in the decision-making authority and only stated that they would gather the Turk’s share in a fund and hand it to them after a possible solution. Prof. Dr. Faustmann concluded his speech by stating that there would be no solution for the natural gas issue without a solution to the Cyprus conflict.