Cyprus Mail

Flurry of foreign officials visiting over next month

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

A FLURRY of activity surrounding the Cyprus issue is expected over the next 30-day period, as a succession of foreign diplomats are due to visit the island.

According to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be coming here on an official visit on November 17.

This will be followed two days later by a visit by UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond.

In December, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected on the island, although the precise dates are yet to be confirmed.

In addition to being the major players on the international scene, the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom are among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the other two being China and France.

In another related development, CNA reports that a meeting will be taking place in Nicosia on November 24, attended by representatives of the companies involved in Cyprus’ Block 12 and Israel’s Ishai offshore licenses.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the Aphrodite gas field, which partly overlap into Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

It’s understood that a dispute over the monetisation of the Aphrodite field has held up the conclusion of a unitisation agreement between the governments of Cyprus and Israel governing the exploitation of cross-border reserves.

Without such an agreement in place, Cyprus cannot develop and monetise the Aphrodite reservoir.

The sticking point is that Israel is seeking to export natural gas from its Leviathan field to Turkey, but this will necessitate running a pipeline through Cypriot waters and would require the consent of the Republic of Cyprus.

Cyprus’ consent is unlikely while the island’s political problem is unresolved.

Reunification talks in Cyprus have intensified, with the leaders of the two communities scheduled to meet six times this month, amid reports that the two sides could hammer out a final deal by spring next year.


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