THE PRESIDENTS of the two chambers of commerce Fikri Toros and Phidias Pilides, who were both guests on a show on Bayrak station, spoke about the big economic benefits that a settlement of the Cyprus problem would bring. Both were certain that a settlement would spark economic growth and bring prosperity to the island.
Pilides said that a deal would benefit all sectors of the economy and all the investments that the political situation prevented would be made. He predicted that Cyprus could become one of the most important investment centres and forecasted a 70 per cent growth in per capita income in the space of 20 years. Toros spoke of countless benefits for both sides, pointing out that the island could not compete as long as there was political instability.
Businessmen on both sides have been regularly talking about the economic benefits a settlement would bring in an effort to give a boost to the peace efforts. The two chambers have been working together in a united front for many years and long before the latest peace initiative commenced. But despite their co-operation and good intentions they had not been able put the trust they had built into practice. There were no joint business ventures while business co-operation between the two sides has been minimal, because of political pressure.
This is why the chambers should be applauding the two shipyard operators who have teamed up in a client and revenue sharing joint venture, from which both stand to gain. One operates the shipyard in Limassol port and the other in Famagusta port and now, thanks to a Hong Kong-based company that brokered the deal, they will not be competing for business but working together, as one of the biggest players in the Eastern Mediterranean, to maximise revenue and profits.
The family of the Greek Cypriot businessman may have owned the Famagusta shipyard, but rather than become involved in an interminable legal battle over ownership he agreed to something much more constructive and profitable – co-operate and create a win-win situation. And the deal was done by individuals without any interference or help from governments or any official agencies. In fact if governments had become involved we doubt the deal would have ever been finalised.
The heads of the two shipyards, Tomis Tziortzis and Hasan Izkan showed everyone the big benefits and prospects of co-operation between businesses from the two sides and what could be achieved when people put aside possible differences and focus on working together for mutual benefit. Two men have set a shining example which, we hope many will follow in the near future.