British foreign secretary William Hague said that plans by Cyprus, a former British colony, to develop recently discovered natural gas off its southern coast may help overcome the island’s divisions.
“It should be regarded in that way by all involved and we have supported the rights of Cyprus to develop resources,” Hague told reporters in Nicosia today after meeting Cypriot president Demetris Christofias. “But I hope that by doing so it can somehow be an incentive for the settlement of the problem rather than a disincentive”.
Cyprus, which announced its first gas discovery in December, has been divided between its Greek and Turkish communities since Turkey invaded the northern part of the island in 1974 after a coup aimed at uniting it with Greece. Turkey, the only country that recognizes the breakaway state in the north, opposes hydrocarbon exploration by the Republic of Cyprus run by Greek Cypriots.
There is concern in Europe and the rest of the world over the lack of progress in negotiations to reunify the east Mediterranean island, “It is something that the world wants to see resolved,” said Hague.
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