Total gas pipeline.
(photo credit: Reuters)
A “peace pipeline” that connects the natural gas resources and infrastructure of Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey is nothing less than “inevitable,” a Turkish parliament opposition party member told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
“My rationale is not based on a drive for profit or access to energy resources; it is based on a moral imperative,” said MP Aykan Erdemir, a member of the party assembly of the Republican People’s Party.
Now that the Israeli government has cemented an export policy, the country must decide where precisely to sell its precious resource. Both Cyprus and Turkey, the latter of which does not recognize the former’s sovereignty over the entire Cypriot island, are courting Israel – Cyprus through liquefied natural gas export options and Turkey through a pipeline to its shores. Such a pipeline, however, would require passage through Cyprus’s internationally recognized waters.
Although acknowledging that his vision is idealistic, Erdemir said he is confident the world will eventually see Israeli and Cypriot natural gas flowing through a single pipeline that crosses through Cyprus and emerges in Turkey.
“Politicians can give you many reasons why this can’t happen, but it takes a statesman to build peace,” he told the Post.
“Most similar projects in world history have been carried forward against improbable odds by visionary statesmen.”
Erdemir, who has represented the city of Bursa in parliament since June 2011, has been a member of the social democrat opposition party in Turkey since December 2010.
Before entering politics, the Harvard University doctoral recipient worked as an associate professor of sociology at Middle East Technical University between 2004 and 2011.
Erdemir spoke with the Post on the sidelines of a conference on “Offshore Energy Discoveries and the Geopolitics of the Eastern Mediterranean,” held at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem’s Truman Institute, in conjunction with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
To facilitate the creation of the pipeline, Erdemir stressed that all of the parties involved “need to tackle aggressively the Cyprus question” – namely, the issue of whether the Republic of Cyprus government presides over the entire island as is currently internationally accepted, or whether the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has a legitimate claim to its occupied territory.
“On all sides we need to be open to compromise, so the peace pipeline could also be an avenue into solving the Cyprus problem, which in turn would facilitate Turkish EU membership,” he said.