While everyone is getting excited about the big-name bidders in the third Cyprus offshore gas licensing round, it is worth remembering the excitement that first greeted the discovery by Noble Energy in late 2011 of the Aphrodite field in offshore Block 12.
I have spent the best part of the last 13 years trying to do my bit for a federal solution of the Cyprus problem, so writing this article feels like committing a cardinal sin.
But for the many and multiplying reasons I have written about elsewhere, time has almost run out for solving the Cyprus problem any time this decade.
Turkish Cypriots took to the streets last week to protest against the establishment of a Youth and Sports Coordination Office, which it seems will be run by officials from Turkey.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article showing how it should be possible to keep the property compensation bill below €5bn with a mix of reinstatement, territorial adjustment and a form of incentivised exchange. One issue that could upset this €5bn figure is if legally unsound and politically charged methods are used to calculate compensation values.
Clouds have been gathering since April over the prospects of a solution of the Cyprus problem. There was the collapse of the Turkish Cypriot coalition and the subsequent shift in a hardline direction in April; another hardline shift in the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) parliamentary elections in May, as well as the removal of Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, with unknown consequences for the future.
One of the most abiding characteristics of the Cyprus problem is number inflation. Someone cites a number, often a wrong…
Last week an insider on the negotiations was quoted in this newspaper as saying that Turkish Cypriot debt amounted to €16bn—equivalent to about 530% of Turkish Cypriot GDP. This was the second time I had heard the same figure in the past few weeks.
A few years ago, I was frequently asked if I thought natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean could be a catalyst for a solution of the Cyprus problem. At the time I was sceptical. However, a number of developments have taken place since that have led me to alter my opinion.
In an interview with the Financial Times this week, the finance minister, Harris Georgiades, referring to the Turkish Cypriot banking sector, said “It’s a bit of a wild-west situation. Nobody knows enough about ownership, capitalisation and supervision in the Turkish Cypriot banking system.” Taken at face value, this suggests that there is no information at all on the Turkish Cypriot banks. However, with a little bit of digging and a lot of Google Translate, it is possible to glean some facts about the banks in northern Cyprus.
When thinking about the economic opportunities that will come with a solution of the island’s longstanding division, the obvious sectors that come to mind are tourism and construction. But there is another sector that, if the opportunity is seized, stands to gain a great deal and that is higher education.