Nicosia, January 21, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Gregoris Savva – CNA
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci expressed their resolve to work for a settlement to the Cyprus problem.
In their first joint discussion during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, both Anastasiades and Akinci called on the international community to contribute in footing the bill of a settlement of Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
“Divided for generations, last year brought fresh hope principally driven by the trust, will and leadership shown by the two gentlemen,” Espen Barth Eide, WeF board member and UN SG special advisor on the Cyprus problem said welcoming the two leaders.
On his part WEF Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said that as the world is falling apart “just where the Middle East meets Europe a ray of hope has inspired as all.”
“Cyprus is one of few international disputes that seem to move in the right direction thanks to the will, trust and leadership” of Anastasiades and Akinci.
Praising the two leaders` courage and dedication in the current UN-backed intensified peace process, Schwab said he is aware that there are still important challenges to be tackled.
But he noted that “several studies have shown that the economy of united Cyprus at peace with itself and with its neighbours would have a growth trajectory significantly higher than the two economies of a divided Cyprus,” adding that many of the world`s important business leaders present in the Forum, “are looking with great interest on what you are doing.”
Anastasiades: Four preconditions for achieving a settlement in 2016
Addressing the event, President Anastasiades said that the intensive negotiations that began in May 2015 have resulted in convergences and common understanding on many issues, noting however that “differences remain on several other substantial and core issues.”
Noting that he does not intent to create unrealistic expectations, Anastasiades stressed he believes “that 2016 could be the year that will end the unacceptable status quo,” under four preconditions.
The two sides continue working with determination, constructive proposals are tabled on outstanding issues taking into account the sensitivities and concerns of both communities, all other stakeholders and interested parties involved, support constructively the efforts to reach a settlement, not only in theory and rhetoric, but through practical and substantial actions and that the process will have the support of the international community at large, particularly as regards substantially contributing to meet the financial aspects of the solution.
Furthermore, Anastasiades said he is “adamant that Europe, and the European project, holds many of the answers to the puzzle that is the solution of the Cyprus Problem,” pointing out that Cyprus is, and will continue to be a member state of the European Union. We must therefore approach all issues on the negotiating table through the prism of the EU.
He pointed out that lasting solution to the Cyprus problem would also have significant ramifications, for Europe and all interested parties while at the same time the discovery of hydrocarbons in the region opens up new possibilities for cooperation and synergies.
“We strongly believe that energy cooperation in the region, without exclusions, can transform the Eastern Mediterranean into a pillar of stability, security and peace, while at the same time it can be a decisive factor to achieving energy security for the EU,” he said, adding “I am convinced that energy must not be allowed to be a source of friction, but rather a catalyst for peace, stability and regional integration. Essentially, it can become a ‘coal and steel’ story for the region.”
Noting that these are decisive times, for Cyprus, for the wider region, for the EU and the international community, Anastasiades concluded assuring “that living in the midst of a region of turmoil, we are committed to continue working with resolve to heal what is an open wound at the heart of Europe, so as for Cyprus to be established as a reference point and symbol for co-existence of the whole region.”
Akinci: We belong to the same generation
On his part, Akinci noted that as both he and Anastasiades “belong to the same generation we work tirelessly to achieve a mutually acceptable solution and we are aware this is the last trial for uniting our island.”
Recalling that a divided Cyprus entered the EU as the Greek Cypriot rejected a comprehensive settlement plan in 2004, Akinci reiterated the “strong determination of T/c to reach a settlement based on a bi-zonal federation with political equality as well as European values and principles we all share.”
Akinci said that a settlement shall not only benefit the two communities but it will also improve the relations between all relevant actors including EU, Turkey, Greece and the future united Cyprus.
He pointed out that the newly found Hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean will act as a source of peace stability and cooperation rather than conflict and tension.
“United Cyprus will be able to serve as a hub for pipelines transferring natural gas to the EU through Cyprus and Turkey which seems the most feasible route,” he said.
Recalling that the fresh water brought by Turkey to the occupied areas of Cyprus could be shared by all inhabitants of the island, Akinci also pointed out that interconnectivity of the electricity connectors between the EU and the Middle East “will become a reality via Cyprus and Turkey which again seems to be the most efficient way.”
“All these can only be possible if T/c and G/c see each other as future partners and concentrate on the goal to create a united Cyprus where peace and prosperity shall prevail and future generation shall not face the same strife and uncertainties of the past,” he went on to say.
The Turkish Cypriot leader also noted that they will continue out hard work to put an end to the 53 year-old problem and pave the way for new economic opportunities that will bring prosperity and security to our turbulent region” and concluded that “to that end strong collectively international support will be need in terms of technical and financial assistance.”