Energy Developments in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean

The Atlantic Council’s Eurasian Energy Futures Initiative hosted the Cypriot Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry, and Tourism, H.E. Yiorgos Lakkotrypis on March 9 on the energy developments in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The discussion highlighted that Cyprus has the ability to influence the Eastern Mediterranean in a positive way through its energy discoveries. By using energy as a method of cooperation, Cyprus could serve as a regional energy hub that can build trust and cooperation in an otherwise divisive and unpredictable political landscape.

Minister Lakkotrypis started the discussion by addressing the problems that continue to affect the nation, including emerging from the financial crisis and continuing growth and Northern Cyprus, as the recent incursion of Turkish warships into Cyprus’s territory caused a breakdown in reconciliation between both sides in recent months.

Despite these issues, the Minister mentioned that there is great hope for the region. The energy discoveries in the Aphrodite fields will enable Cyprus to be energy self-sufficient and export additional resources to its neighbors. This discovery will also help the nation to cooperate and build better regional ties with Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and others. Cyprus is also striving to push through fundamental reforms, to avoid another financial crisis. Minister Lakkotrypis also recounted how he is working to boost the islands tourism industry, so that these long term reforms can be financed in the short term.

Besides the energy issues and regional cooperation, the specter of Russia was also brought up, considering Cyprus’s recent naval deal with the Kremlin. Minister Lakkotrypis explained that Cyprus will continue to work with Russia, being one of its main suppliers of capital and tourism, but strongly condemns the actions taken by the Kremlin in Ukraine. He hopes, however, that the situation will calm and that greater cooperation can occur between the European Union (EU), Russia, and Cyprus.

Additionally, the Minister hopes that Cyprus might be able to use its new found position and resources to provide an alternate fuel route for the EU. This could facilitate cooperation and reconciliation with Turkey and enable the island to make more money through energy exports.

Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis was welcomed to the stage by Ambassador Richard Morningstar, Founding Director of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. Atlantic Council’s Eurasian Energy Futures Initiative Director, David Koranyi, moderated the discussion.

Related Experts: David Koranyi