Property off the agenda, breakthrough by May
The property issue, one of the thorniest items on the agenda together with the search for and sharing of energy resources, as well as Turkey’s EU aspirations, was already discussed at their meeting on Monday, attended by UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, where the two leaders agreed to keep their press statements to a minimum.
At Thursday’s meeting, Anastasiades and Akinci are expected to touch upon the two sides’ disagreements, with a view to eliminating them or at least achieving convergences as the two negotiators, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Odzil Nami, will focus their attention on the property criteria. The property issue will be discussed again during the next meeting on November 18.
Meanwhile, President Anastasiades said he hoped that the UN-led negotiations will bear fruit before the parliamentary elections next May.
Speaking at the Economist conference in Nicosia, Anastasiades said that Cyprus is an example of a successful economic reform. He said that a settlement will serve as a catalyst for economic growth, with great benefits in important fields of the economy, and will constitute “the most important reform for development that we can achieve.”
“I want to believe that Turkey will recognise this prospect and will contribute to efforts for a settlement,” he added.
Speaking at the same conference, Espen Barth Eide said that a solution is “within reach” though hard work is still needed and stressed that all sides need to think about the economics of the settlement and really reap all the opportunities which is not going to happen automatically.
He pointed out that “basically we know what it (the type of settlement) will look like, but you need to prepare for because it could actually happen sooner than you think.”
Replying to a question on the role of outsiders in Cyprus and that if they press too hard it could be counterproductive, Eide said that “we need to be acutely aware of that.” He reiterated that the ongoing Cyprus reunification process is leader-led. It is done in Cyprus, not in some chateau in Switzerland, he pointed out.
“I often hear about the UN bringing to the table bridging ideas,” he said, adding that “I don’t have to because this is very well done.”
Eide said that “over time the solution will pay for itself”. In the long run, he noted, there will be more growth and more money to distribute, adding that “we need to prepare for potential growth.” The UN official stressed the need for the federal state to have a business friendly climate, modern institutions, competitive, strong, flexible, adaptable and ready to foster innovation. A high degree of adaptability is needed, he said.
“I think it is well understood that we do not lose sight of these issues as we look to solve the political aspects,” he added.
At the same time both Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEVE) President Phidias Pilides and Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO) President Fikri Toros reiterated their commitment to helping the reconciliation process and asserted that a solution will not just be for the benefit of businessmen but of Cypriots as a whole.
On his part, Pelides said that a fair, functional and viable solution will generate huge benefits in tourism, shipping, construction, real estate and agriculture, while the importance of Cyprus as an international business centre will increase even further through the improvement of the investment climate and attracting foreign investments, while allowing Cyprus to reach out to presently unexploited markets across the world, including of course the vast Turkish market.
“The alternative will be to the detriment of both communities on the island but also the wider area in the region encompassing Greece and Turkey.”
Toros called on the two leaders to “demonstrate true, courageous leadership” and to solve matters such as the interconnection of the mobile phone networks. We need to make this vision reachable, he said, and expressed his concerns over the “risks and consequences of yet another failed attempt.” Toros also spoke of the need for the timely involvement of the private sector.
He said that so far, the two chambers have produced a number of documentaries, they have launched bicommunal internship progammes and startup projects.
On her part Miriam Sapiro former US trade representative and now of the Brookings Institution spoke of her experience in the settlement process in Bosnia and highlighted the fact that “there is no perfect solution because negotiated settlement involves compromise.” In the event of a solution she said that the economic benefits for Cyprus could be quite significant for both sides.