NICOSIA - An agreement to end Cyprus’ 40-year division could act as a catalyst to improve relations between Turkey and Israel, President Anastasiades said yesterday.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Anastasiades said reunification could act as a linchpin to regional energy cooperation that could heal strained relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv.
"A Cyprus settlement, reached as quickly as possible, will assist not only in Israeli (gas export) planning, but also contribute greatly to restoring relations with Turkey," Anastasiades said.
Anastasiades said a deal would help Turkey plug its energy needs by allowing the country access to a steady supply of Cypriot and Israeli natural gas. Cyprus and Israel have both found potentially big gas deposits over the past few years, which they are looking to develop in partnership.
Cyprus is also planning to build a liquefied natural gas processing plant which Israel would use to export its gas — a much cheaper alternative to building a pipeline direct to Turkey.
Anastasiades confirmed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may visit Cyprus in the spring to explore avenues for closer cooperation.
Anastasiades said a deal would eliminate a key political impediment against exporting to Turkey.
"This would be very significant for Turkey and at the same time significant for Israel and it could be another way Cyprus contributes to peace in the region," he said.