A public discussion titled “Security and Stability in the Eastern Mediterranean: Challenges and Prospects” was organised by the office of the European Commission in Cyprus and OPEK (Association for Social Reform), ‘Famagusta Gazette’ reports.
Topics covered were the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, the discovery of hydrocarbon reserves in Cyprus’ EEZ and how it affected the Cyprus solution, the relations with countries in the region and the island’s upgraded role in the Eastern Mediterranean at the event which was held in Nicosia on Wednesday.
Addressing the event were the Ambassadors of US John Koening and Israel Micheal Harari and the Head of the EC in Cyprus George Markopouliotis. Also in attendance were academics, former President of South Cyprus George Vasiliou, former Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Markoullis, representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and representatives of Turkish Cypriot municipalities.
In his speech, the Head of the EC Representation George Markopouliotis emphasised his belief that 10 years after the accession, most Cypriots understand that being part of the European family has helped the country to become a European symbol of stability in this volatile region.
However, he said, Cyprus can further upgrade its role in eastern Mediterranean. “As many Europeans overcame the divisions that kept them apart for many decades, now it is time for all Cypriots to do exactly that. To put an end to the unacceptable situation that exists and to reunite their country”, he noted.
Markopouliotis stressed the benefits that a solution to the Cyprus problem could bring; that the reunification of Cyprus would bring major investments to many areas (building sector, tourism etc) adding that estimates say that settlement would lead to an approximate doubling of the GDP of the whole island by 2035.
He said that he believed, a reunited Cyprus would mean better lives for all Cypriots and a settlement of the Cyprus issue would lead to the country becoming an anchor of stability in the region.
“A reunited Cyprus could serve as a shining example to the other countries in the area. It would show that nothing is impossible, once the will to compromise and cooperate is in place”, he noted.
US Ambassador John Koening said that his country has a strong and abiding interest on security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, adding that for the US strategic partnership with EU is vital for security issues and Cyprus’ membership is also very important.