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Chambers to promote markets, internships, visits to Greece and Turkey

The project will include common trading places such as flea markets

By Stefanos Evripidou

THE ISLAND’S two chambers of commerce yesterday launched a new project to promote dialogue and cooperation between civil society and business across the divide, paving the way for joint flea markets, internships and visits to Greece and Turkey.

The project aims to get Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot business leaders to lead by example, engaging in dialogue, cooperation and reconciliation to attract EU funding of up to €250,000.

The project will include common trading places, such as flea markets, an exchange of views on the economic benefits of a solution between the Chambers of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, and cross-community internship programmes for young unemployed professionals.

It will also include a public outreach programme with workshops, speaker events, book presentations, meetings with leaders and politicians to exchange information and opinions, as well as with representatives of various professions and NGOs in Cyprus.

Fikri Toros, head of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, said Cyprus had a bright future ahead, but reaching that future could not be left to the politicians alone.

“A peaceful, stable and prosperous future lies ahead of us. We endeavour to deliver in whatever way we can to attain a better future for the generations to come.

“This process is too delicate and demanding to be left to the politicians exclusively. Hence the participation of the business community is imperative,” he said.

Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry head Phidias Pilides noted that the project will help to build confidence and facilitate business cooperation between the two communities.

“I am confident that the project will lead to tangible results and will contribute to our common aim which is the reunification of our country and the prosperity of its people,” he said.

Toros said the next meeting of the two local chambers with the Greek and Turkish chambers will be held in Istanbul on September 14.

Asked about the issue of mobile phone use in Cyprus across the divide – one of the confidence building measures proposed during a meeting of Cypriot business leaders in Malta – Pilides said: “We have made a lot of progress in solving existing technical problems and we are now pushing for the final decisions to be taken.

“Political decisions need to be taken at the end of the day as well,” he added.

Michaela Di Bucci, head of the EU Commission Unit Task Force for the Cypriot Community, welcomed the initiative: “The project, being carried out by the two chambers, in our view will increase dialogue, trust and cooperation between the business communities throughout Cyprus.”

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