Nicosia.- By Emilia Christofi/CAN
European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker has pledged to return to Cyprus after reunification and urged everyone to forget the past and support the leaders.
Addressing a special session of the House of Representatives, President Juncker said the two leaders are on the right track as he has ascertained from his meetings on Thursday with President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
He said he believes the two leaders can solve the Cyprus problem, although it will not be easy. It will be very difficult and compromises and concessions will be needed to reach a settlement to allow Cyprus to reach its full potential in the EU, he noted.
He also said that Cyprus will not walk alone after reunification, adding that the EU will be at Cyprus` side. The benefits of a solution, he said, will be huge.
The Commission President said that Cyprus has been going through an economic adjustment programme and paid tribute to efforts and the commitment of the government to implement the programme, noting that the results are visible.
Addressing the members of the House of Representatives, he urged them to support the two leaders and “put aside all kinds of political egos and help the future, you are elected members of the Cyprus democracy”.
“Today you are at a critical moment for Cyprus history. After years of negotiations with positive, and maybe negative talks, after years of too long discussions, the conditions for a settlement” are present, he remarked.
He confirmed the commitment of the leaders for a political dialogue to help and contribute to efforts to reunite the island.
“For the EU and the whole of the international community this is a moment of great hope”, he said.
Juncker reminded that not everyone was supportive of Cyprus becoming a member of the EU in 2004 but he has always backed the accession process.
“Today you have a great chance to solve Cyprus problem. The leaders of both communities are
fully engaged in talks”, said Juncker adding “I salute their courage and determination..I am not saying this process will be an easy one. It will be very difficult. Concessions and compromises will be needed… and the past should not stand in the way of the talks, should not stand in the way for progress”.
Juncker said the word “compromise should not have negative connotation. In EU is key word for our everyday business”. I am convinced that both sides will come out as winners”, he added.
He said reaching a solution will “truly be an historic achievement” and called on politicians “not to leave it to the next generations. They will not do it. By (achieving a solution) you will send a message of hope to conflicts throughout the world and in this complicated region you are in.”
Referring to Turkey`s role, he said its constructive cooperation is essential in reaching a lasting settlement.
I will continue talking with Prime Minister (Tayip) Erdogan and at the same time, he said, “we have to remind Turkey of its obligations to fully implement the Ankara Agreement” to open its sea and airports to Cyprus, an EU member state.
He underlined that the Cyprus talks are a Cyprus process and the UN is doing its utmost to
help and the EU wants to support the process. Juncker referred to the reappointment of Pieter van Nuffel as the European Commission President`s Personal Representative for the Cyprus talks to work together with the UN.
Juncker said the Commission does not want to enter a competition with the UN “but to be present and be more visible and be supportive to the efforts. Next time I come here, will be after a reunification, and I hope I am here next year”, he added, to the applause of the dignitaries present at the session.
Cyprus won`t be left alone after reunification, said Juncker. “The EU is and I believe and hope is a union of everlasting solidarity, adding “you will not walk alone…the EU we will be on your side”.
Juncker referred to the economic crisis in Cyprus, noting it has been going through economic adjustment programme in the past two years. “I want to pay tribute to these efforts, the commitment of your political leaders to implement the programme”, noting the results are visible.
The financial sector, he said, is stabilizing, “confidence is growing and the economy is doing better. Clearly challenges remain, but opportunities also are here”.
Juncker said the first decision taken by the Eurogroup in 2013 was wrong and “when I am saying I am admiring Cypriots”, he means he admires all members of the society and does not ignore the high price that Cypriots were asked to pay during the 2013 haircut.
Referring to his proposals for investments, Juncker said he really hoped that Cyprus will be able to benefit from this initiative so that investments will take place. My plan, he added, is “to give a new push to investments and job creation”.
Addressing Juncker, House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou welcomed the Commission President’s announcement yesterday for a more active engagement of the European Union in the process of solving the Cyprus issue, through the appointment of his personal representative, to ensure the compatibility of the solution with European values and principles.
“The Cyprus issue, as a problem of invasion, occupation and violation of international law, is of course an international issue and should remain within the UN framework. It is, however, at the same time, a European problem, particularly so, following the accession of Cyprus to the EU. Therefore, the auxiliary involvement of the EU is indispensable, in order for the solution to be consistent with the grid of rules of law in force and as applied within the EU”, Omirou said.
He also said Cyprus does not object to the European perspective of its neighbouring country Turkey, on the understanding that Turkey will fully respect the acquis communautaire and European principles and values, fulfilling its obligations towards the Union and each and every member state. “It is the stance of Turkey that shall determine the course of accession negotiations and the opening of new negotiating chapters”, he remarked.
The Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said it was important for Cyprus to have a strong European presence during its efforts to reach a solution and referred to the visit of European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker to Cyprus 16-17 July.
Juncker`s visit to Cyprus, Anastasiades said, constitutes a strong message of support towards the efforts to reach a solution that would allow Cyprus to function effectively within the European family by fully respecting the acquis communautaire, the human rights and the European principles and values.
Referring to the economic situation on the island, he recalled that only recently Cyprus had experienced an unprecedented economic crisis and said that the path towards recovery is well on track.
Noting that Cyprus has not yet overcome the consequences of the economic crisis, he said that `we have created those necessary conditions that would allow us to restructure our state and base our future on more productive institutions”.
“We can now focus on the institutional reforms that we need and which are our greatest priorities”, he went on to say.
President Anastasiades said that the government is making efforts to build an effective, modern and strong state, noting that only by doing so Cyprus will be able to negotiate without foreign dependencies, economic or others.
“Only then the sacrifice of the people we honor today will have real meaning”, he concluded.