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Heritage Study Programs presents:

A Fact-Finding Expedition to Cyprus with Daniel Pipes

October 13 - 21, 2013

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Synopsis of articles re: the strategic Cyprus, Greece, Israel alliance and the Turkish Threat

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Turkey in Cyprus vs. Israel in Gaza :: Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times, July 20, 2010

Turkish rage prompts a question: Is Israel in Gaza really worse than Turkey in Cyprus? A comparison finds this hardly to be so with Turkish atrocities waged against Cypriots. Consider some crucial contrasts

Cyprus on the World Stage :: Daniel Pipes
National Review Online. October 11, 2011

Cyprus, an island near Turkey and Syria of roughly 1.3 million inhabitants, finds itself on the cusp of momentous change. As it belatedly makes its grand debut on the world stage after domestic Greek-Turkish communal issues have consumed its first 51 years of independence, it faces both great opportunity and great danger .Growing Turkish ambitions and possible gas deposits in the trillions – link Cyprus and Israel in self-defense.

Russia's Masterstroke: Bailing Out Cyprus :: Peter Martino
Gatestone Institute, June 25, 2012

Cyprus is a prey Russia has long been eyeing, both as a substitute for Syria, and as a permanent naval base for the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean.

With the economic crisis, Cyprus needs a bailout. Cyprus does not want to accept the strings attached to the European offer. The Cypriotic alternative is Russia. If Russia steps in the strategic situation in the entire Eastern Mediterranean could change. With Communist President DemetrisChristofias of Cyprus there is no doubt that Nicosia will turn to Moscow rather than to Brussels. Could the discovery of oil and gas off the coast of Cyrpus pre-empt Russian ambitions?

Time for Turkey to leave Cyprus in Peace::Washington Times-Ileana Ros Lehtinen
Washington Times, June 15, 2012

Since its invasion of Cyprus in 1974, Turkey has claimed that it was acting as a protector and guarantor of the island’s security. But a closer examination of its actions on Cyprus indicates motivations of a very different character. Long standing occupation amounts to annexation. The desolation of Cypriot properties and cultural sites is a reality in all the areas under Turkish military occupation, Turkey continues to interfere in the domestic affairs of Cyprus, especially the negotiations on reunification also has tried to limit Cyprus‘ sovereign rights to develop its energy resources. Despite the island’s critical energy needs, Turkey declared last year that it had “nullified” the exploration agreement between Cyprus and Israel even though it has no right to do so. Turkey escalated the conflict by sending its own ships to the region and even threatened military action if Cyprus continued in its project with Israel.

Right of Return to Famagusta
Famagusta Gazette, Cyprus, May 4, 2012

The Cypiot Foreign Minister declared the last three years or so, a number of developments have occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean, that have inevitably drawn Cyprus and Israel closer on the economic and political level as well: The first is the discovery of hyrdrocarbons offshore and the enormity of the investment to exploit this. The second is the feeling in Israel that its strategic depth lies to the West. The third is the Arab Spring.

Geopolitcal Implications of a Greek Default on the Greece-Cyprus-Nexus
The Telegraph, September 23, 2011

One under-discussed area of implications of a Greek default is how it could affect Israel. Greek default could impose ruinous losses on Cypriot banks –and there is unlikely to be much political desire in Cyprus, to continue in the euro (and European Union) if and when Greece leaves. What is less widely known is how entangled Israel has recently become with Greece and Cyprus. Following the deaths in the Gaza flotilla debacle of 2010, leading to tensions with Turkey, and the loss of key ally Egypt in the Arab Spring, Israel has shifted its Eastern Mediterranean focus – building new linkages with Greece and especially Cyprus.

Economic ties have accelerated. With the establishment of a Greco-Cypriot-Israeli Exclusive Economic Zone, in which there is drilling for oil and gas. Israel's 2009 discovery of the large Tamar gas reserve (potentially worth $60 billion or more) materially shifted the outlook for its energy trade balance.

Greece, Israel, Cyprus eye gas exports in future
Associated Press, March 28, 2012

VOULIAGMENI, Greece (AP). Energy Ministers from Greece, Israel and Cyprus promised Wednesday to increase cooperation to exploit natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean, but warned that large-scale exports could take a decade.

Greece, whose economy has been ravaged by a financial crisis, hopes to eventually start its own gas production and act as a transit point for supplies from Israel and Cyprus.

In 2007, Greece and Turkey inaugurated a pipeline that provided the EU with its first natural gas from the Caspian region, bypassing Russia and the Middle East. The proposed South Stream project, which would transport Russian natural gas to Europe under the Black Sea.

Cooperation with Cyprus and Israel would help lighten the region's dependence on Russia.

"The geopolitical conversation has changed: Israel's Energy Minister Uzi Landau said its discovery of offshore natural gas has major implications for it's long term security, given ongoing bloody revolts in the Middle East.

"At the moment two major natural gas fields have been identified ... both of them will suffice for Israel's needs for 50-60, some say 70, years," Landau said.

"In the Middle East, that is now caught in a tremendous earthquake, stretching from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf and beyond, the axis of Greece, Cyprus and Israel will provide an anchor of stability — and stability is highly important."

Lawrence Solomon: Turkey, Greece, Israel and Cyprus stake claims
defencegreece.com, October 5, 2011

The Middle East has moved north, with the Mediterranean emerging as home to some of the world’s richest deposits of energy. And as in the Middle East, rights to resources will be settled less by law than by force, or by the threat of force.

Much of the conflict involves the island nation of Cyprus, situated in the eastern Mediterranean close to Turkey to the north, Israel to the south, and Greece, its cultural cousin, farther to the west. The 200-kilometre stretch of sea between Cyprus and Israel — believed to hold hundreds of billions of dollars worth of hydrocarbons — is now a checkerboard of prospective drilling sites that have begun to be exploited by Israeli, Cypriot and American oil and gas companies.

These companies and their three governments have no intractable conflicts with each other — in fact, they’re developing their resources in close co-operation. Neither does Greece, which stands to become a major European hub for these energy finds, and longs to develop resources of its own in Greek waters to the west of Cyprus. According to a study for Economist Conferences, a business unit of The Economist, Greece could eradicate its debt by exploiting its Mediterranean hydrocarbons.

The spoiler in the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli plans to exploit the Mediterranean is Turkey, which in the 1970s invaded and seized the northern part of Cyprus, which since the 1980s has threatened Greece, and which in recent years has become belligerent towards Israel.

Turkey disputes Cyprus’s rights to develop what’s known as its Exclusive Economic Zone — a designation under the United Nations Law of the Sea that grants offshore rights to signatories of up to 200 nautical miles. Turkey claims that the residents of what is now Northern Cyprus — officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a state no country but Turkey recognizes — are entitled to a share of the spoils of the waters off the south part of the island.

Lawerence Solomon: Israel’s gas diplomacy
Financial Post, February 24, 2012

Israel: ‘Gas is our strategic interest for new partnerships’

How do you survive when you’re surrounded by enemies, as is Israel? You win allies among the nations that surround your ­enemies.

This increasingly successful Israeli approach — dubbed the periphery strategy — exploits an arsenal of Israeli assets that its new-found allies need: Israel’s military, its counterterrorism skills, its technology, and especially of late, its surprising wealth of hydrocarbons.

Now Israel’s periphery strategy is back big time, thanks largely to hydrocarbon diplomacy. Cyprus, is discovering immense amounts of gas in the sea bed adjacent to Israel’s. The two are now developing their gas jointly, with plans to export it to Europe or Asia or both. Greece, which may have more oil and gas in its extensive Mediterranean waters than either, is now talking of joining Cyprus and Israel in joint ventures.

The sea change in the attitude of Greece and Cyprus is breathtaking. Until recently, these two ethnically Greek nations were frigidly cold toward Israel, partly because they believed their economic interests lay in the more populous Arab world, partly because they feared for the safety of the 250,000-member Greek community in Egypt if they were to establish good relations with Israel.

Today the Greek calculus has changed. Not only did Greek trade with Arab states fail to blossom, the Greek presence in Egypt has all but vanished. Egypt’s Greek-owned industries were nationalized; Egypt’s Greeks were persecuted for their Christian faith. The official remaining count for Egyptian Greeks, once the most affluent and influential minority in Egypt, is but 3,000.

In contrast, Greeks now have common cause with Israel in exploiting their hydrocarbon riches and in defending them.

US Warns Turkey Against Agression Towards Cyprus
Cyprus Expat

The United States supports the right of the Republic of Cyprus to explore for energy, a senior US official said on Monday, after the conclusion of talks held between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in New York.

According to reliable sources, Clinton told her Turkish counterpart during the meeting that the US is against any form of threat or action of war on the matter.

The US official said that Cyprus has the right to proceed with drilling in its Exclusive Economic Zone, stressing that he does not believe that this interferes with the ongoing UN led Cyprus talks, aiming to resolve the Cyprus problem.

Omirous: Turkish aggression towards Cyprus’ sovereign rights should be denounced
Famagusta Gazette, Cyprus May 14, 2012

House President Yiannakis Omirou has said that Turkish aggression towards Cyprus’ sovereign rights in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), should quickly and efficiently be denounced with political and diplomatic efforts and representations to the Security Council of the UN. 

“Turkish provocations in terms of challenging the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus within its EEZ have reached their peak with the publication in the Official Gazette of the Turkish Government that maritime plots of Cyprus belong to Turkey, in complete and flagrant violation of the Marine Law, as enshrined in the UN Convention of 1982.”

Omirou added that the discovery of significant gas reserves in Cyprus’ EEZ is a development with many significant dimensions:

'' This fact apart from its big economic importance, creates big opportunities for an active geopolitical upgrading of Cyprus’s strategic position and its role in the field of energy. '' Cyprus, for the first time in its history can take advantage of its significant and competitive geographical position, that this will strengthen the struggle of people of Cyprus for freedom and justice. 

Israeli-Greek defense pact invoked versus Turkish naval and air movements
defencegreece.com, September 15, 2011

Israel and Greece have invoked the mutual defense pact they signed secretly only 12 days ago in the light of heavy Turkish sea and air movements in the eastern Mediterranean. DEBKAfile’s sources report that this was decided in a long nocturnal phone conversation Wednesday night Sept. 14 between the Israeli and Greek prime ministers, Binyamin Netanyahu and George Papandreou, and at Israel’s expanded cabinet of eight, which was called into session over the Turkish threat to its off-shore oil and gas rigs.

The Greek Prime Minister added to the information recorded so far on Turkish fleet movements in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. He was particularly concerned by the observation flights suddenly increased in the past 48 hours over the Greek island of Kastelorizo in the southeast Mediterranean just two kilometers from the Turkish coast. Those flights are escorted by Turkish combat jets.

Athens fears a Turkish attack on the island. Up until now, Israel could only respond to a Turkish threat from its own borders. With a presence at Greek military bases, Israel will be able to operate from the rear of Turkish forces in the event of an attack by those forces in the Mediterranean.

Turkey Warns Cyprus Against Offshore Gas Drilling
Huff Post World, October 29, 2012

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey warned Cyprus against proceeding with offshore oil and gas drilling activities, saying Thursday it would finalize an agreement with Turkish Cypriots to mark out undersea borders to facilitate future oil and gas exploration.

The undersea boundary has been among the most contentious issues in Greek-Turkish relations, with each country trying to mark out where on the continental shelf it can exploit seabed oil and mineral deposits in the Aegean Sea.

A move by Turkey to declare such a border would aggravate relations with Greece and Cyprus, which is divided into an EU-member Greek south and a breakaway Turkish north.

The announcement by Turkey's Foreign Ministry came a day after Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias announced that U.S. firm Noble Energy will soon begin exploratory drilling to confirm deposits beneath the sea bed off Cyprus' southern coast despite Turkey's attempts to prevent such a move.