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Politics

UN Envoy Says Trade Could Drive Cyprus Unity Hopes Again

NICOSIA – Nobody has come close to bringing Cyprus together again, more than 48 years after it was split by two unlawful Turkish invasions, but the United Nations Special Envoy for the island, Colin Stewart, thinks business might be the key.’

He said trade between the legitimate Greek-Cypriot government that’s a member of the European Union and the Turkish-Cypriots who occupy the northern third, could be the driving force, reported The Cyprus Mail.

At the Economist Conference in Nicosia, Stewart said, “This is the surest way to restore confidence in a solution. Although the voices of protectionism are the loudest, there is direct mutual benefit from increased trade.”

He added: “More economic activity between the two sides of the island makes good business sense and would have a positive impact on the lives of Cypriots on both sides of the island. Any gradual improvement would pave the way towards a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem.”

“The dire economic situation in the north undermines the prospects for a settlement,” Stewart said, Turkish-Cypriots in dire straits, depending on Turkey – with record inflation – for its support.

He said that the Turkish-Cypriot need for economic help means less interdependence between the two sides and that if it continues that the idea of a mutually acceptable answer isn’t in the cards.

Nothing brings people together faster and stronger than economic interest, he said, adding that this “is the surest way to restore confidence in a solution.”

“Integrating the island in practice paves the way for a political solution,” he said. “As the European Union’s experiment has shown, economic interdependence increases the likelihood of lasting peace by increasing the value of trade over the alternative to conflict,” he added.

But Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, a hardliner who does what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tells him, said he doesn’t want reunification, only the UN’s and world’s acceptance of the occupied territory.

Stewart said statistics show that Greek-Cypriot spending is propping up the Turkish-Cypriot side as there is movement between the sides through checkpoints and some Turkish-Cypriots work on the Greek-Cypriot side.

“Whether it’s disposable diapers or luxury goods, filling up their car’s gas tank, or buying furniture, whatever the reason, the trends show that people are interested in what the other side has to offer,” he added.

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