Enlargement

EU puts costs of Cyprus reunification at 2bn euro

15.04.04 @ 17:26

  1. By Sharon Spiteri

BRUSSELS - Two billion euro over a period of five years will be needed from the international community to implement the UN plan for the reunification of Cyprus, the EU said on Thursday (15 April).

  • Cypriots will decide their island's future in just over a week (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission estimates that 962 to 1,082 million euro will be needed between 2004-2009 for housing needs - such as for Greek Cypriots moving back to the north and relocation assistance for Turkish Cypriots.

On top of this, 759 to 839 million euro will be needed for other areas like infrastructure and job creation.

The international community is "prepared to help Cyprus to carry the costs of reunification", enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen said after the morning session of a preparatory donor's conference, attended by representatives from 34 countries.

The US has already pledged 400 million dollars to help in the island's reconstruction.

However, this financial aid from the international community will only be made available if both Cypriot communities vote "yes" in a referendum to the UN plan to reunite the island on 24 April.

Opinion polls suggest that the majority of Greek Cypriots will vote "no" in the referendum, while the northern Turkish Cypriots are likely to accept the plan.

Mr Verheugen said that the whole international community supports the UN plan and is strongly urging both Cypriot communities not to waste this "unique opportunity".

He warned that if there is no solution to the island's division before the end of this month, "there will be no solution for a very long time", and that if the UN plan is rejected, "the situation will change not for the better".

But the Commissioner said if Greek Cypriots vote "no" in this month's referendum, the European Commission would "guarantee that Turkish Cypriots will not be punished", and it would make proposals to overcome their economic situation.

On Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat said it would be unfair if the Turkish part of the island were to still be isolated if the Greek side rejects the plan.

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