Robin’s Snippets – 20/2/2011

Oil and gas discoveries may not be a blessing after all

“Oil and Gas discoveries in Cyprus’ offshore territory may prove more a curse than a blessing for the island as the exploitation of natural resources is often accompanied by corruption, associate professor Craig Webster, said. ‘A casual look at the countries in the world would suggest that those with easily exploitable natural resources, such as oil, seem to have a problem developing strong democratic institutions,’ Webster, who teaches international relations at the University of Nicosia, told the Sunday Mail” (Sunday Mail)

The Turkish Cypriot government were very vocal in June 2010 that this oil and gas was for all Cypriots. The Turkish government was also fairly belligerent in its approach to the licensing of drilling rights by the RoC. Turkey was going to issue its own drilling sector rights. What happened? Nothing tangible. Was this just another bit of electioneering by the AKP? Similar to Eroğlu’s promises to safeguard the rights of individuals in the mess that is the property market in Cyprus? All that fell remarkably silent after the election. Reminders of Chancellor Kohl’s words, “don’t bother me with what I said yesterday” spring to mind?

That the RoC went ahead with the licensing and companies like Noble, which have subsequently hit pay dirt. Is a sign of what? Increasing corruption in the south? Energy is currently one of eight negotiating chapters in Turkey’s accession to the EU which are currently suspended as a result of Turkey’s refusal to open its air and sea ports to Greek Cypriots. Maybe the TRNC has deliberately kept out of the oil business, not wanting to corrupt its legislative foundation any more than it already is. Is this the start of a sea change in the history of the Island or the beginning of a “going straight” campaign? I don’t think so, more a case of, “why should we bother, let Turkey do it for us.”

This is where there are confirmed deposits of oil and gas that are being exploited at the moment. This undersea structure is the result of continents colliding in the eastern Mediterranean. Maybe the collision is going to be more than just a geological one. The newest revelation in January 2011 that Noble have just confirmed more reserves of over 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the area are going to add new fuel (pardon the pun) to an already precarious situation. I have seen no news about surveys between Northern Cyprus and the Southern Turkish coast. Probably just as well, since any further erosion of the environment here would be a disaster. Oil slicks on the Efes bottles on the beach, a skyline of drilling rigs that would be the real kiss of death to the ailing fledgling TRNC.

Legal problems are not unique to the North

“Cyprus has its legislative framework but the question is how and whether it is applied. It requires willingness and diligence from those who are assigned with the task. There is little doubt that legislation is not applied equally in Cyprus whether North or South, as even Supreme Court rulings do not appear to mean much to the authorities, while there is also a lack of accountability.” (Sunday Mail)

True both North and South of the crossing, the cases of O’Dwyer and K5 are just a few.

“The Supreme Court RoC, ruled, in case number 152/2010, on January 18 2011 that the detention of a certain individual was illegal and that he had to be released.” (Sunday Mail)

The man remains jailed even today. No explanation, no reason, no logic. The grounds for his detention are still a mystery. The law is a net full of holes, effective enough to catch little fish, but wholly inappropriate to catch the sources of real crime. The big fish have teeth to cut through it.

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