Cypriot Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Giorgos Lakkotrypis, addressing the German Marshall Fund think tank in Washington, said Cyprus` vision was to become an energy centre in the Eastern Mediterranean, contributing to the geopolitical stability and economic growth in the region.

He also said Cyprus, as the easternmost point of the EU, could act as a link between Europe and Asia.

Lakkotrypis, who is holding meetings in Washington on energy issues, referred to explorations for hydrocarbons in Cyprus` exclusive economic zone, and pointed out that the flame was lit on Wednesday on the platform in block 12.

He said Cyprus` strategy was based on the viable exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits, the installation of a gas liquefaction station that will serve neighbouring countries, the attraction of foreign direct investments with Cyprus being a base for companies providing relevant services to neighbouring countries and the transformation of the economy into a knowledge-based economy concerning natural gas issues, and the establishment of Cyprus as a regional liquefied fuel centre.

Replying to questions, Lakkotrypis said the hydrocarbons have been excluded from Cyprus` bailout agreement with the Troika of international lenders, at the request of the government, in order to protect the predicted revenue, to secure stability and to attract foreign investments, noting that this income was not expected to pull Cyprus out of the recession, since it was not expected before 2020.

Lakkotrypis said the government was determined to follow the economic programme set out by the Troika and make the necessary reforms.

Asked about the hydrocarbons in relation with the Cyprus problem, Lakkotrypis said the two were not linked, noting that Cyprus could not be held hostage of its political issue and not promote its strategic interests.

He said benefits from the exploitation of the natural gas belonged to both communities in Cyprus and that the Cyprus problem should be solved in order for everyone to benefit, with great prospects for all concerned, including Turkey.

Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.

Drilling for natural gas is being carried out by Houston-based “Noble Energy”, off Cyprus’ south-eastern coast.

Leave a Reply