New factors are now on the track to move Cyprus forward as the 40th anniversary of the division of the island. Unlike his predecessors, President Nicos Anastasiades wants a deal with Dervis Eroglu, his Turkish-Cypriot counterpart. According to a “road-map” put forward by the two men when they met on the UN’s “green line” on February 11th, the two communities would unite under a confederation but run their affairs as “constituent states”
The benefits of reconciliation are being counted and the success is blessed by two recent events: The arrival during 2014 of pipelined water to the north from mainland Turkey with a capacity to meet the needs of the entire island and the discovery of significant natural gas reserves in the territorial waters of the south.
There is more push from powerful outside forces and events as well. The Republic of Cyprus which has agreed to a financial rescue package proposed of the EU, the ECB and the IMF that has the capability of transforming the fragile economic situation of the south into an foundation for a more robust economic framework attractive to the entire Mediterranean. Cyprus GDP shrank by 6% in 2013 and unemployment is at a record 17%. Reunification should speed recovery and promote faster growth.
On the northern end of things the Turco-Cypriots, as clear candidates to become EU citizens, could push the Turkey pre-accession talks to a much needed higher level. Turkey’s strained relations with Israel could benefit from growing momentum for a Cyprus peace deal. The cheapest fastest way to get the discovered gas to markets is through a pipeline to Turkey.
The road-map is already known in the capital of Nicosia as the “Obama plan” and is the successor to the Anan plan which flopped following Cyprus joining the EU in 2004. It was the 4th or 5th plan to fail since the 1974 partition of the historic island by invading Turkish troops responding to a plan to join Greece.
Still Limassol Mayor Andreas Christou as the island’s leading Carnavalesco is an optimist and that as optimism is contagious all the talk of reconciliation with lead to a great Carnival spirit this season as his port City gets ready to host the XXXIV FECC Carnival Cities Convention May 10-18th.