“The solution of the Cyprus problem is a win win for both of us, “ Mr. Giorgos Vassiliou, past President of The Republic of Cyprus, proclaimed standing alongside his counterpart Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, past President of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.
The two highly respected leaders called on their community members imploring both groups to understand the urgency of taking action in response to the latest round of negotiations on the Cyprus problem. An island divided since 1974, members from the Turkish Cypriot community, from the northern part of Cyprus, and members of the Greek Cypriot community from the southern part of Cyprus gathered last night in the Buffer Zone at The Home for Cooperation. The panel discussion led by Mr. Vassiliou and Mr. Talat drew a crowd so large that it poured out of The Home for Cooperation onto the streets of the UN administered Buffer Zone. The Republic of Cyprus faces the worst economic crisis in its history and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus sits in complete isolation from an ever-growing interdependent globalized international community.
The two leaders voiced their frustrations over past failures. Despite such failures, they remain fervent to arrive at a solution. Mr. Vassiliou stressed the extreme importance of the new negotiations, “If we don’t solve it in the next six to eight months, we will never solve it. We need to work now.” Mr. Talat added to the gravity of the new negotiations saying, “The negotiations must be planned carefully, failure would be a disaster.”
Mr. Talat stressed the need for both communities to seek to understand one another and the challenges faced by the other, and to work together, finding a solution by focusing on the benefits. For a solution to be reached, both communities must be informed of and clearly understand and believe in the advantages of a united Cyprus. Benefits include regaining the confidence and trust of the international community, drawing foreign investment, and creating the opportunity for Cyprus to become a regional hub as an exporter-specifically building a pipeline through Turkey that would allow the export of gas out of the region to Europe. Such necessary economic opportunities could present themselves as a united Cyprus, it is up to the Cypriot community to decide: will these possible benefits draw them together?
According to Mr. Vassiliou and Mr. Talat they must be drawn together, as Mr. Vassiliou concluded, “Without a solution we cannot be optimistic about our future. We must move forward together decisively and with determination, despite the years lost we can still succeed.”