Thursday, 18 April 2013
Kasoulides on Al Jazeera: natural gas and UN talks in the aftermath of the economic crash
Good interview from Al Jazeera with Cyprus’ foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides on the fallout from the economic crisis that is engulfing the island.
Kasoulides expresses ‘bitterness and disappointment’ at the ECB/IMF/EC rescue for Cyprus, which he condemns as an ‘experiment’ designed to find out if such a remedy can be applied to future banking failures in the Eurozone. He dismisses German allegations that Cyprus was a centre for money laundering and illicit Russian money, and points out that most of the wealth held in Cypriot banks and that will now be confiscated belongs to Cypriot businesses and Cypriot savers. Kasoulides insists that the allegations against the Cypriot economic model were propaganda to prepare the ground for the bail-in experiment, but concedes that Cyprus’ economy was over-reliant on banking and should have diversified. The foreign minister rejects calls for Cyprus to abandon the euro but admits uncertainty as to whether the programme agreed with the troika will work and accepts that it is possible that a further bailout will be required.
Kasoulides insists that those Cypriot bankers and other officials who made, for example, the calamitous decision to invest in Greek bonds are now being investigated and, if suspected of criminality, will face justice. He goes on that Cyprus will continue to promote itself as an international business centre, boost its tourist product and develop its hydrocarbon reserves in the seas south of the island.
The foreign minister rejects Turkey’s calls for an immediate resumption of UN talks on finding a solution to Turkey’s occupation of 37 percent of Cyprus. Kasoulides says negotiations will be resumed only when the Cypriot government has dealt with the immediate economic crisis facing the country, and predicts this will be by the end of this year. He dismisses Turkey’s suggestion that money from hydrocarbon reserves be shared with the occupation regime and says the Turkish Cypriots can only expect to feel the full benefits of any gas bonanza in a united Cyprus. Kasoulides argues that if Turkey was sincere about achieving a Cyprus settlement it would stop putting forwards proposals that rather than facilitating the reunification of Cyprus aim at two separate states on the island. Kasoulides also makes clear that Cyprus will not use a pipeline to Turkey to export its gas – allowing Turkey effective control of Cyprus’ gas exports – and will more likely build an LNG plant for this purpose.