The topical theme of the Cypriot EU presidency and the reunification of Cyprus as well as the prominent speakers Praxoula Kyriacou and Mehmet Cakici gathered a full house at the Liberal Breakfast on Wednesday 11 July. ELDR President Sir Graham Watson MEP opened the conference, hosted by ELDR and the Friedrich Naumann foundation for Liberty, and hoped the presidency could bring answers to the challenges the island faces. He quoted from the trilogy “the Day After”- reports by three ladies (1), including Kyriacou, on what reunification of Cyprus could bring in economic and social terms.
“Following reunification, each Cypriot family would benefit €12000 per year, the GDP would increase 3% yearly during the following five years which would result in 33000 new jobs, not to mention the savings in military expenditure. The EU presidency of Cyprus is a moment for all the citizens of Cyprus and it should be used towards the reunification of the island,” said Praxoula Kyriacou (Leader of Cypriot ELDR member United Democrats). She underlined that the status quo is not an option and the time to act has come. Kyriacou: “The opportunities that are given should be seized, unlike the outcome in earlier negotiations. Leadership is needed and a strong political will and sense of compromise are required from both sides.”
The first steps to normalize the relations between Cyprus and Turkey, also stated in an article by Watson and Kyriacou (2), are to return the city of Varosha to its original inhabitants, to open the port of Famagusta and the airport of Ercan.
The second speaker, Mehmet Cakici (President of the Social Democratic Party of Northern Cyprus), stated that although Cyprus is a small country, the problems are big and of interest to many countries. He expressed concern for not having their own passports and also for possible problems that can lead from the discoveries of gas and petrol in the south. In the referendum of 2004 there were mixed opinions, which lead to no solutions and frozen negotiations. Cakici: “the Cyprus problem is a problem for the European Union as a whole. The economic situation would benefit from a united Cyprus. There has already been agreement on several issues, such as a single citizenship. Cakici stressed that it is vital the negotiations continue immediately for the reunification, towards a bizonal, bicommunal federal state.
A lively question and answer session followed the speeches. UK Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies asked what destroyed the previous talks. “It was lack of courage, leadership and cooperation,” said Kyriacou and Cakici. They declared that if they were the island’s presidents, the reunification of Cyprus would already be a reality.
(1) In The Day After - reports the three economists - Praxoula Antoniadou Kyriacou, Özlem Oğuz Çilsal and Fiona Mullen – explain how the reunification of Cyprus would yield huge economic benefits to all the Cypriots as well as to Greece and Turkey.
The Day After – I Commercial opportunities following a solution to the Cyprus problem
The Day After – II Reconstructing a reunited Cyprus
The Day After – III The Cyprus peace dividend for Turkey and Greece
(2) Today’s Zaman 29 June, 2012, A United Cyprus by end of its presidency? By Sir Graham Watson and Praxoula Kyriacou
ELDR resolution on the Reunification of the Island of Cyprus, May 2012 http://aldeparty.eu/sites/alde/files/170-PolicyCentre/2012_Reunification_of_the_Island_of_Cyprus.pdf