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Katerina Sakellaropoulou: Greece And Cyprus Have Single, Firm Diplomatic Front

Christodoulides: Turkey Chooses Further Escalation In The Case Of Cyprus

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OPINION

What If…

What If…

In 2013, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCCI) and the Turkish Cypriot Chamber, produced a short film entitled What If…, presenting the economic benefits of a viable solution of the Cyprus problem for both communities.

The business community has always been ahead of our politicians, cooperating on various policy areas that benefit both sides. With the resumption of negotiations and the positive climate created, the film presents an excellent opportunity for all Cypriots to consider the most important factor of our times – the economic factor – as part of the equation for a solution. 

I fully acknowledge the tremendous efforts made by the Government and the Greek Cypriots to exit the financial crisis and put our economy back on track. However, I strongly believe that the reunification of the country will speed up economic prospects and lead to the re-engineering of the Cyprus economy as a whole. The development of economic, commercial, trading and tourism activities between the two communities, the exploitation of the large Turkish market by both communities and the new opportunities created for the Cyprus economy via new markets will facilitate efforts to accelerate economic growth.

Furthermore, a solution will strengthen our shipping industry by allowing the Cypriot fleet access to Turkish ports. It will lead to further financial support from European Structural and Cohesion Funds and the European Investment Bank for the implementation of large development projects, especially in the north, which will lead to the creation of new jobs, thus increasing employment and the competitiveness of the economy. The reconstruction of the closed part of Famagusta and its port will also enhance growth opportunities. Most importantly, a viable solution will create conditions of security and peace in the Eastern Mediterranean, further boosting the confidence of foreign investors in our economy.

In my view, there are two preconditions for both communities to exploit the economic benefits of reunification. Firstly, the economic aspect of the solution must comply fully with the principle of freedom of movement of labour, capital, goods and services, and with policies that lead to the safeguarding of fiscal consolidation, sustainability of the public debt and the viable management of public finances. Also, stricter supervisory policies must be promoted in the banking sector. If these principles are adhered to, a significant number of controversial economic issues, which previously existed between the two communities, will become redundant. 

The second precondition has to do with the management of our natural gas and the upgrading of Cyprus’ geopolitical role in the region. We should exploit the discovery of natural gas in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, by pointing out that, in the energy sphere, our national interests fully coincide with those of the key players in the region, including Turkey. Our natural gas, if managed in a prudent manner, can be a catalyst for creating conditions of peace and stability in the area and can be used as a tool for the solution which, in turn, will enable a reunified Cyprus to exploit its natural wealth to the benefit of both communities. 

I have no doubt that a window of opportunity has been opened, which neither community has the luxury to miss. The economic prospects created through a solution will help speed up our exit from the financial crisis and the re-engineering of the economy. Any adjustment problems that may arise will quickly be overcome if both sides show the necessary willingness to make the solution work. At the end of the day, it is up to the Cypriot people to make the right choice for the benefit of our country. 

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