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Anastasiades: too early to talk about amounts involved in cost of Cyprus solution (Updated after 5th para)

President Nicos Anastasiades at the Maronite church in Nicosia on Sunday

President Nicos Anastasiades said on Sunday it was too early to talk about how much a solution would cost without having structured the various elements involved in a settlement that would need financing.

Anastasiades was speaking to reporters after attending a Maronite church service in Nicosia to mark the feast day of St Maron and following a spate of articles in the Greek Cypriot press on Sunday focusing on the cost of a solution.

“The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are conducting a detailed and documented studies on the subject of the economic aspects of the solution,” Anastasiades said.

He said the creation of a fund to finance a the various aspects, from property compensation to the setting up of federal structures, was a prerequisite for a settlement.
“If we do not have specifically structured elements I do not think it is possible to speak of the amounts,” he added.

“Without doubt – and it is one of those issues that I have raised with the UN Secretary General – the creation of a fund is a necessary component of the solution so that during the presentation of the settlement we can have the answers not only to the property compensation but also what will be required for the viability of the state so that people will know what is in front of them.”

In an interview with Politis published on Sunday, Anastasiades said the funding issue was one of the topics he put forward to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during their recent meeting in Davos.

“It requires planning,” he said. “First and foremost it is necessary to have exact knowledge of the cost of compensation, which depends on the territorial adjustments.”

He said the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank and other international organisations were ready to contribute to the fund, either through investments or other projects.

Anastasiades said that even if a solution was agreed today, the technical aspects would mean it was not ready to be presented to the people because any gaps could lead to the collapse of a settlement.

According to an article in Phileleftheros on Sunday, their sources say that during the recent meeting with Ban, the UNSG reportedly told both leaders there should be no expectation of significant contributions from abroad to the solution, while some possible donors and investors wanted to wait to see what the solution would look like or how it would progress.

Phileleftheros said that while the Greek Cypriot side is suggesting the cost would be minimised if more land and property was returned, as compensation is expected to comprise the biggest portion.

Also the compensation could either be calculated at 1974 prices or today’s prices, which would be another factor as to the total bill. The paper said the Turkish Cypriot side was looking to gas revenues as a way to pay for the settlement, according to their sources.

In an interview with Simerini published on Sunday, DISY leader Averof Neophytou said that any settlement that did not ensure, in advance, budgetary discipline and sustainability would see a repeat of the troika saga that the island has spent the last three years trying to move away from.

At the same time, he said, anyone who thinks that someone is going to hand over 25-30 billion for a Cyprus solution was kidding themselves. He later clarified that he was not saying this would be the cost of property compensation just that it was the figure many people were bandying about.

“Nobody is going to be willing to tax their citizens to solve the problem of someone else in another country,” he said. The size of the total cost could  however be solved, he added, if more territory and property was returned in a settlement.

“If tomorrow the Anastasiades government said it would increase VAT by 2% because 100 million euros in aid must to to the Syrian crisis, would people accept this? We have to be rational,” he added.

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