By Angelos Anastasiou
GREEK CYPRIOT and Turkish Cypriot chambers of commerce, along with those of Greece and Turkey, have pledged their support to the negotiation process and said they are determined to speed it up in any way they can.
In a joint statement following a quadrilateral meeting in Nicosia on Monday, the four chambers also announced the creation of the “Nicosia Financial Forum” to hold frequent meetings to help create a positive climate, implement confidence-building measures and pave the way for economic and business cooperation.
The statement was read in Greek by the Greek Cypriot chamber’s chairman Fidias Pilides and in Turkish by his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Fikri Toros, in the presence of the chairmen of the respective bodies of Greece, Konstantinos Michalos, and Turkey, Rifat Hisarciklioglu.
The chambers expressed their conviction that a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem would provide significant benefits not just to the economy and the prosperity of Cyprus, but of the wider region.
“A viable, fair and functional solution to the Cyprus problem will reinforce stability and security in the area, creating huge opportunities for cooperation and business transactions between Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, as well as European and Middle-East markets,” the statement said.
In expressing their commitment to contributing to the negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem, the chambers declared their readiness to support the political leadership.
“We are before a significant opportunity to solve the Cyprus problem, and the chambers will make every effort to make sure it is not missed,” the statement concluded.
In their brief remarks, Michalos and Hisarciklioglu spoke of “historic times”.
Hisarciklioglu said that for the first time the four chambers met in Nicosia to discuss the Cyprus problem, which is indicative of the hope for a solution. The Turkish Union of Chambers of Commerce, he said, will support the efforts made by the two Cypriot chambers and expressed the wish for a “game-changing dialogue” to start.
On his part, Michalos referred to the joint statement, saying it constituted the essence of the four chambers’ goal, both at the local as well as the European levels, through the participation of the chairmen of the Greece and Turkey chambers at the Union of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The next meeting of the four chambers has been scheduled for September 14, in Istanbul.
By Angelos Anastasiou