President Nicos Anastasiades said that the settlement of the Cyprus problem will be the island’s most important reform, which will offer the greatest growth prospects over the next decades.
“I am confident that we can complete this effort because the prerequisites differentiating the current negotiation from others in the past are there,” Anastasiades told an audience at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry event in Nicosia on Tuesday, according to the transcript of his speech read by finance minister Harris Georgiades.
Anastasiades, who agreed to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in less than a month’s time in Geneva for talks in which also the three guarantor parties, Greece, Turkey and the UK, have been invited, said that “the prospects are limitless and estimations indicate that through a settlement, another dimension in the economic prospects of a European Union member state will be established, which will enjoy stability and safeguard a peaceful coexistence model”.
Cyprus, which emerged last year from a prolonged recession caused by an unprecedented financial crisis and is expected to see its economy grow at a rate close to 3 per cent in 2016 and 2017, “still has a way to go” to reduce unemployment and see the standard of living of its citizens improve, he said.
“We should not risk what we achieved through effort and sacrifice in the past years,” the president said four days after the parliament rejected a bundle of reform bills aiming at overhauling the public service. “Rejecting reforms and positive changes is an act that undermines the citizens’ welfare”.
Attracting foreign investment, he said, is key to further economic recovery, and the government’s focus on addressing what prevented the country from taking advantage of its comparative advantage. “In this context, we feel that the effort has started to pay off through the materialisation of major investment projects in the banking sector, tourism, the attracting of investors to the Limassol port, the impending beginning of works at the casino and the Agia Napa marina”. He added that the government will complete the third oil and gas licencing round soon.