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16 April 2014, Wednesday
 
 
Today's Zaman
 
 
 
 

Medvedev says gas deal with Greek Cyprus no easy fix

RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER DMITRY MEDVEDEV (PHOTO: AP)
21 March 2013, Thursday /FARUK AKKAN, FUAT SEFEROV, MOSCOW
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has cast doubt on media reports that Russia may offer a loan to crisis-hit Greek Cyprus in return for gas exploration rights, saying there are questions regarding commercial viability and Turkish objections to Greek Cypriot attempts to explore hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

Medvedev was speaking as Greek Cyprus Finance Minister Michael Sarris meets Russian officials in Moscow to discuss a deal on resolving the Greek Cypriot debt crisis. Sarris arrived in Moscow on Tuesday after the Greek Cypriot parliament threw out a proposal to tax bank deposits in return for a 10 billion euro bailout from the European Union.

Media reports have claimed that state gas giant Gazprom had offered a loan in return for natural gas exploration rights off the Greek Cypriot coast. Gazprom's spokesman, Sergei Kupriyanov, denied that the gas company had made such an offer, according to a New York Times report. However, the company's media office did not exclude the possibility that its banking subsidiary, Gazprombank, was in talks with the Cypriot government about extending aid, the report said.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Sarris confirmed that the issue of natural gas was on the table but did not elaborate on what the discussions were about. "There are a lot of teams now working on a number of issues. Banks and natural gas are the opportunities (on which) we can base some cooperation and some support from Russia," Sarris said.

Greek Cypriot plans to extract hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean have infuriated Turkey, which insists that Greek Cyprus does not have the right to conduct explorations before reaching a settlement in reunification talks with the Turkish Cypriots and that the mineral wealth belonged to both communities.

Greek Cyprus has recently discovered significant offshore gas deposits, and major international energy companies have shown an interest in tapping those resources.

Commenting on the issue, Medvedev indicated that such a deal would prove to be difficult, citing uncertainties on pricing and disputes with Turkey. “This is a difficult issue to negotiate,” he said.

Media reports also said that Russia has proposed loans to Greek Cyprus in return for a naval base, although Russian officials have refused to confirm such claims. Citing a report by Greek Cypriot state television, Turkish daily Hürriyet said the Russian side has requested the right to use Paphos Airport on the island's southeast and the Mari Naval Base on the southern coast.

The Greek Cypriot parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a proposed levy on bank deposits as a condition for a European bailout. Russian depositors hold about 30 percent of the 68 billion euros ($88 billion) in deposits in Greek Cypriot banks.

The European proposal has angered Russia, which sees it as aimed at extracting money needed to rescue Greek Cyprus from Russian depositors. Medvedev had earlier said the European Union had behaved "like a bull in a china shop,” likening the proposal to Soviet-era expropriations.

 
 
COMMENTS
What did he say instead, Mark?
zynell
Bad reporting Zaman, Medvedev said nothing of the sorts.
Mark
Turkey has become the prisoner of the West and has little room to maneuver, Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is costing Turkey dearly, every time he tries to go his way they blackmail him with the Armenian Genocide issue, the sooner he gets rid of this problem the better for both nations, otherw...
Raffi
It all makes little difference. Greek Cyprus, like Greece, is fundamentally corrupt. Pour money into a corrupt country and it just gets worse. This is what huge EU subsidies over decades has done. An oil and gas bonanza will just make it worse
Nick
Any prospective natural gas deal will be determined on it's economic merits, but Turkey's objection to Cypriot exploitation of their energy reserves couldn't matter less. If the Turks think they have a legal objection all they have to do is take it to the World Court-but they wont', because all they...
Christoph
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