The solution to the Cyprus problem will be the biggest step or the most significant reform to the country`s economic growth for the coming decades, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday, addressing the 12th Cyprus Summit entitled “Europe in peril, Cyprus in play” organised in Nicosia, by The Economist.
In his speech, the President referred to the negotiations to take place next week in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland, under the UN-aegis which will focus on the issue of territory but also on other outstanding matters interdependently.
He expressed his hope that all parties will travel to Switzerland having the determination and good will to seize the moment and with the assistance of the UN to achieve results on the territorial aspect of the Cyprus issue that will allow the Cypriot people to reach a solution within 2016. He said that if progress is achieved, the country will have prospects in the future.
The President said that the solution will turn Cyprus into a country of stability and security in one of the most volatile regions in the world and it will also strengthen EU-Turkey relations.
He pointed out that “we want a solution that will leave no winners or losers but one that will take into account the sensitivities and concerns of both communities, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots.”
President Anastasiades added that Cyprus is a small country and cannot afford to be divided. Division, Turkey’s occupation and the problems the country faces will worsen as years go by and as time passes by, he warned.
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, have been engaged in UN peace talks with the aim to reunite the island, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, under a federal roof.
The two leaders decided last week to continue their intensive negotiations in Mont Pelerin. The talks according to a press statement by the UN will concentrate on the chapter of territory as well as all other outstanding issues interdependently.
The leaders expressed their hope that their meeting in Switzerland will pave the way for the last phase of the talks, in line with their shared commitment to do their utmost in order to reach a settlement within 2016.
Referring to the economic situation in Cyprus and the recovery following the adjustment program, the President said that attracting foreign investments remains a priority.
The President said that the government has introduced decisive and effective structural changes and Cyprus has already managed to significantly improve its position as a competitive destination.
He referred to the implementation of a series of other measures that will create a friendly business environment including the modernization of the tax framework.
He said that since 2015, the Cypriot economy recorded a positive growth rate of GDP amounting to 1.6%, the highest in the past seven years. President Anastasiades said that for 2016, growth is expected to be 2.7% – 3%, and it is estimated to be one of the highest growth rates in Europe.
He underlined that this development is expected to strengthen the efforts to tackle unemployment, one of the most serious problems the country is still faced with.
Regarding the banking sector, the President said that the challenge is to deal with the non-performing loans.
He said that the government has provided the comprehensive legal framework for the restructuring process in order to address the high number of NPLs.
President Anastasiades also referred to the reforms in the labour market, the pension reforms, the changes in the welfare system etc.
In his speech the President said that Cyprus is ready to assist and to work with its partners to build a new, more powerful Europe.
He said that there is a need to make Europe more functional and send the message that the EU remains committed to its founding objectives and principles. Referring to the refugee and migration crises, the President said that “we need to address the problem quickly and effectively, with solidarity and close cooperation.”/IBNA
Source: Cyprus News Agency