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Nobel Economics Winner Sachs Tells Cyprus to Harness The Sun

Αssociated Press

The sun sets behind an abandoned military guard post in Lakatamia a suburb of capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA -- American economist Jeffrey Sachs, the Nobel Prize winner, praised Cyprus for its role in the Eastern Mediterranean as the country is trying to prevent Turkey from drilling offshore for energy but urged a turn to solar energy.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Sachs – a professor at Columbia and expert on sustainable development – also said, however that Cyprus should turn to solar power as a sun-drenched country.

“Cyprus plays a role in the effort for sustainable development,” he said. The priority for Cyprus is sustainable development and the fight against climate change. I think the whole Mediterranean region should be able to say ‘no, we will not develop more hydrocarbons, we will focus on the sun,” he said.

“I know that Cyprus has a lot of sunshine, and some of the best sunshine in the world, so this is a great opportunity to develop renewable energy,” he said although Mediterranean countries curiously haven't harnessed the sun's power effectively.

Without mentioning that Cyprus in 2013 allowed the confiscation of 47.5 percent of bank accounts over 100,000 euros ($113,197) as part of a deal to get a 10-billion euro ($11.32 billion) international bailout, he applauded President Nicos Anastasiades, who reneged on campaign promises not to allow it.

Citing Anastasiades' role in promoting the East Mediterranean, he said the Cypriot leader “stated that it is a priority for the region. He has taken the initiative to ensure that the political leaders in the region are aware of the dangers and will join forces. find solutions and that can make a big difference.”

“We are in the middle of a political battle. Just as controlling the pandemic has to do with politics, so does climate change,” Sachs warned, somehow comparing the COVID-19 Coronavirus to the environment.

“Leadership plays a big role,” he continued. “When there is a lack of leadership or there are disastrous leaders like we have in the US right now you end up with a ruined economy, you end up with a huge death toll from a pandemic, you end up with street riots,” he said.

 “The first lesson is that pandemic can be brought under control with good leadership and effective public health systems. Although this is a terrible emergency, it can be overcome.”

Sachs again praises Cyprus: “Fortunately, Cyprus and Greece have done better than other regions in Europe,” he added. “I hope that this will continue.”

“I believe that the pandemic is driving fundamental transformations. We are really moving dramatically towards a digital economy in just weeks, and everyone understands that we are not going to go back to how things used to be,” he said.