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Adding fuel to the conflict : how gas reserves complicate the Cyprus question

In this research I assess the impact of the recently discovered gas reserves south off Cyprus on the escalation of the Cyprus conflict.

Vasileios Karakasis
15 oktober 2020
Leids Repositorium

I examine the ideational dynamics underpinning the conflict-inducing role of natural resources. Theoretically motivated by the discursive shift in conflict studies, I prioritise the collectively shared meanings of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot opinion-leaders on the gas reserves and how these justify their conflictual strategies.

To uncover these discourses, I apply Q-methodology, a research design tailor-made to ‘measure’ human subjectivity. I distinguish five distinct discourses. With respect to the Greek-Cypriot side, I identify (a) ‘gas boosting our geopolitical standing’, which highlights the sovereignty attributes of the natural resources, (b) ‘pipe-dreams and imported nationalisms’, which acknowledges the opportunistic motives behind the ‘geopolitical overtones’ of the Greek-Cypriot side and (c) ‘resentment matters’, which emphasizes the Greek-Cypriot grievances. As regards the Turkish-Cypriot side, I came across two different discourses: (e) ‘gas stimulating political equality’, where Turkish-Cypriots stress their grievances over their lack of international status and the opportunities that arise from the gas reserves discovery to reverse their international isolation and (f) ‘micro-politics’, which highlights the political opportunism of particular policymakers who capitalize on the tensions in order to serve their political careers in the face of domestic turbulence.

These discourses provide a holistic framework regarding the discursive factors underpinning the conflict-inducing role of natural resources within the protracted Cyprus conflict.

Supervisor: Steunenberg B.

Co-Supervisor: Voorhoeve J.J.C.

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