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Our View: Anastasiades working alone to keep settlement flag flying

A day rarely goes by without President Anastasiades making a speech about the ongoing peace process and the prospects of a settlement. This could be described as overkill which would cause people to stop listening to reports about his speeches. Communications experts would tell him to cut down on his public speeches about the Cyprus issue and ration them to keep public attention.

Then again, if the president stopped his pro-settlement speeches who would be supporting the peace process and talking up the deal? The fact is that he is almost alone in regularly talking up the settlement. The only other leading politician taking a pro-solution line and highlighting the dangers of a collapse of the process is Disy chief Averof Neophytou. Akel leader Andros Kyprianou may also be pro-solution but his is a cautious discourse littered with qualifications and conditions.

In short, Anastasiades has to keep the settlement flag flying despite the daily outpourings of negativity and alarmism by the leaders and officials of the five small parties opposed to a deal. He is the only one publicly fighting the unrelenting, daily efforts of the rejectionist parties to turn public opinion against a solution with a mix of misinformation, scare tactics and abject negativity. Admittedly people may be as tired of listening to the sterile diatribes by Diko, Edek and the rest of the rejectionists as they are of hearing the president talking up the settlement.

Speaking at The Economist conference on Tuesday, Anastasiades said that the biggest reform for economic development would be a settlement which would turn Cyprus into model of stability in the region. Rejectionist parties questioned this statement and had a point in asking how a solution would lead to economic development. If he is going to use this argument, the president should start being specific, giving practical examples of how economic growth would be boosted by a re-united country that was co-operating with all its neighbours.

For instance, we would be able to sell our natural gas, oil companies would have no reservations about drilling in our EEZ, tourist arrivals would increase, a stable, re-united country would be much more attractive for investment, there would be a construction boom as Famagusta would have to be re-built and there would be countless new business opportunities. The president should start giving specific examples of the big economic prospects of the settlement in his speeches as this is of much greater interest to the people than whether they would be allowed to vote in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state.
He has an opportunity to list the long-term economic benefits of a solution in his televised news conference on Friday. The economy of re-united Cyprus should be made a key feature of his speeches because this matters to many people.

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