Vice-president of the European Parliament Ramon Luis Valcarcel on Wednesday asked the European Commission to share its estimates on the cost of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem and any practical changes that could be made in the European Union’s strategy towards the return of occupied properties, in order to make it more effective and of real help for the Cypriots.
The cost of a solution to the Cyprus problem remains one of the big unknowns, as a study by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank seems to stumble on the Turkish Cypriot side’s refusal to allow inspection of the financial state of banks in the north.
Complicating matters further, disagreements remain on the negotiating table between the two Cypriot leaders with regard to the real value of properties to be returned, exchanged, or compensated for, following a solution. The Greek Cypriot side argues that current market values should be used, while the Turkish Cypriot side claims the 1974 values are the appropriate measure.
“Since the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders started meeting under the framework provided by the United Nations, progress towards achieving a comprehensive solution for the Cyprus problem has been made,” Valcarcel noted.
“Both leaders now seem to be optimistic, hoping even to reach an agreement in the upcoming months. However, in order for the solution they are seeking to achieve to be feasible, practical matters such as the financial dimension of the situation that would emerge from a new settlement should be addressed widely.”
In his written question to the commission, entitled ‘State of play in negotiations to resolve the Cyprus problem and the envisaged financial framework’, Valcarcel said it would not just be the whole of the island’s population that would benefit from a satisfactory solution to the Cyprus problem, but “the European Union as a whole”, as it would feel the benefit that would derive from greater territorial security and better relations with Turkey.
“The financial dimension’s main pillars [in a solution] include costs relating to property that would have to be returned, as well as the costs of running the institutions of a federal state,” he said.
“In view of this, can the Commission supply data on said costs, so that steady progress can be made in the negotiations?”
Likewise, he asked, and in order that it may act faster, does the Commission plan any changes to the EU’s strategy on the return of occupied dwellings, given that, as President Jean-Claude Juncker has already indicated this is “one of the keys to the settlement’s success”?
As the intercommunal talks resumed and progressed, following a joint statement in February 2014, the Commission assumed a special role, closely following the negotiation process and discreetly providing technical and political support.
However, in light of poor progress made thus far on the issue of properties, Valcarcel’s question could bring to light the Commission’s intentions with regard to helping tackle the crucial issue through more decisive action.
“If we want the Cyprus talks to succeed – and in the European Union we all do – practical matters such as the financial framework within which a new settlement could develop should start to be addressed widely,” Valcarcel said.
“This is the reason why I have asked the European Commission to supply data on the costs. My aim is that steady progress can be made in the negotiations.”
Valcarcel’s interest in the Cyprus problem, dating back several years, was exemplified in several contacts with Cypriot leaders from his former posts as President of the EU’s Committee of the Regions.
In September 2012, Valcarcel visited Cyprus and met with then President Demetris Christofias.