Despite talks to resolve the decades-long conflict in Cyprus ending without an agreement, the head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) remains optimistic Cypriot leaders on both sides will strike a deal this summer.
EBRD chief Suma Chakrabarti told the Global Markets Forum on Tuesday he believed President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci would be able to secure a deal to put to their respective communities in a referendum later this year.
He added the bank was prepared to continue its investment in the whole country.
“The EBRD mandate now allows us to operate in Cyprus to the end of 2020 and should the referendum be positive then we will certainly aim to increase our investment, particularly in the north, to help economic development on the island,” Chakrabarti said.
Extending the lender’s investment beyond 2020 to cover the north in case of a solution was something for the shareholders to decide.
“The north is much more underdeveloped than the south and will require years of investment to catch up,” he said. “So we’ll have to see if Cyprus makes the case for an extension of mandate and how the shareholders will react.”
Cyprus will host the 26th Annual General Meeting of the Board of Governors of the EBRD and a Business Forum titled “Targeting Green and Inclusive Growth: Meeting Regional and Global Challenges”, from May 9 to 11, the first time the island will host the meeting.
It is expected that around 2,000 people will participate, including ministers of finance, governors of central banks and other high-level officials, entrepreneurs and foreign investors, as well as representatives from civil society organisations. The event is expected to attract the interest of a high number of local and international media.
The EBRD has been operating in Cyprus on a temporary basis since May 2014 with the purpose of financing sustainable development projects, and to date it has invested around €200m.
The whole event presents a great opportunity for promoting Cyprus as a business and tourist centre, as well as enhancing Cyprus’ important regional role in addressing problems/challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean, the finance ministry said on Monday.