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Progress achieved in reunification talks

Greek and Turkish Cypriots made progress on the powers of the central government and the constituent states, President Nicos Anastasiades, said on Friday, and there was sufficient common ground for an agreement on that issue.

Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Friday kicked off the intensified phase of reunifications talks, which provides for two meetings a week.

“We dealt with the powers of the central government and the constituent states,” he said afterwards. “There has been progress and there is good ground for an agreement.”

In their next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, the two leaders will discuss the state’s capacity to sign international treaties and the issue of cooperation agreements between the central state and the constituent states.

The president also commented on the fracas over using natural gas to fund the solution.

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides was heavily criticized by hardline parties on Wednesday, after he suggested that part of the proceeds from the sale of Cyprus’ natural gas could be used to fund the solution. They said Turkey, which invaded the island in 1974 and still occupies 37 per cent of its territory, should foot the bill.

“Let us not jump the gun,” the president said. “There will be an international campaign to get financial assistance in the event of a solution, to tackle the cost of compensation, the cost of resettlement.”

The cost of a solution has not been calculated yet. World Bank and International Monetary Fund experts were working to that end.

If there was a need to borrow money, Anastasiades added, then using a small part of the natural gas proceeds was a possibility so that the people were not burdened with taxes.

“A small part can help tackle the problems we’ll have to tackle with those who opt for compensation as a remedy,” the president said. “It does not mean we will sell natural wealth to pay the obligations of other people. It is clear that Turkey must contribute; we will seek international assistance, not through a donors’ conference but through bilateral contacts.”

Anastasiades said the Republic has already decided how the proceeds from the sale of natural gas would be distributed by creating a fund.

“Consequently, there is no need to make unnecessary noise over matters that will be determined if and when there is a solution,” he said.

On Monday, the cabinet approved a bill to establish the National Investment Fund to administer future revenue from the sales of hydrocarbons and help reduce public debt.

The framework provides for the management of future natural gas proceeds on behalf of “future generations” either via “gradual reduction of public debt,” which rose to 108.9 per cent of economic output last year, or by identifying “safe and credible” investment opportunities abroad, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said.

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