UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide said on Tuesday more work was being done on the financing of a Cyprus solution than ever before, and he urged Cypriots not to look it as a burden but an opportunity.
Eide was speaking after a meeting in the morning with President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace. He said a combination of options was being looked at for funding, including international donors and private-sector investment.
“A lot of people are involved in that and we are looking for a combination of different elements, public donations from donor countries, private sector investments and a series of different instruments that together could create the necessary funding for a settlement. There is more work on that than ever before,” he said.
Eide said the work was going as well as it could, given the complexities.
There were still outstanding issues on property and other parts of the deal which the experts needed to have in order to calculate the full package, he added.
“In Cyprus you talk about the cost of a settlement as if you are going to lose money. In reality all economic studies warmly supported by international economists say that a solution will create more wealth than a non solution over time,” Eide said.
Having a united island at peace with itself and its neighbours would create more jobs and more prosperity “so, the solution will pay for itself”, the UN envoy said.
The only issue was, he added, that an upfront sum of money was needed to make some of the initial investments “and this is money that is coming into the island and not money that is leaving the island”.
“Some of the Cypriot discussion, on both sides quite equally, sound like it costs as if you are spending money on nothing,” Eide said. “But in reality, you are spending money in order to create even more money and that’s why I emphasise the private sector dimension because the world today is full of private sector money with nowhere [for it] to go. If Cyprus comes together it can be attractive for these investors and there will be more prosperity, more jobs and opportunity and hopefully people will come back, those who left the country and come home.”
Eide said this was something both sides agreed on and was not something being negotiated on. There was an agreement on tax harmonisation, and on how to develop a fiscal federal system that works in order to have an effective economy that delivers the opportunity for growth that settlement will provide, Eide said.
Referring to the recent meetings of the chief negotiators in Brussels, Eide called them “historic” in the sense that they took place at the highest levels including with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
He said they, and he, have been assured of the full commitment of the European Union and the European Commission for the work that is going on in Cyprus, not only as a political statement but on several technical issues, preparations for the full implementation of acquis in the northern part of Cyprus.
“We need the full support of the EU, which works together with me, with the UN, with the IMF and the World Bank on a number of technical issues that are now of high importance,” Eide added. He said this was important so that “some of this technical work is behind us rather than ahead of us”.
Asked to comment on the recent furore over the notion of the ‘evolution of the Republic’ vs the ‘virgin birth’, Eide referred to the Joint Declaration of the two leaders on February 11, 2014, which is the basis for all discussions “so, I have been a little bit surprised that this has been an issue again, I don’t see this is something that will be very difficult at the end of the day,” he said.
As to presenting information to the public, Eide said it was up to the leaders. If the agreed that they should talk more jointly about what they have achieved so far, he would support their judgment because they know their respective communities best.
“I am in favour of transparency and openness whenever you can, so the more the merrier. On the other hand I also need to reiterate that in negotiations there are a lot of complex interdependence issues which make sense only in the broad context,” Eide said.
“The leaders may feel that they are not ready to share the full context and hence something that individually may seem either very good or very bad is only possible to discuss when you have the full context”. This would be a conversation the leaders would be having, he added.
The leaders are due to meet on Saturday after Monday’s meeting was postponed due to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci coming down with the flu.