Tuesday

17th Oct 2017

Cyprus should reunite, Rehn says

  • Cyprus has been divided since 1974 (Photo: khowaga1)

Bailed-out Cyprus should reunite in order to boost its struggling economy, EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said on Wednesday (8 May).

"It is worth recalling that the reunification of the island would give a major boost to the economic and social development of Cyprus," the commissioner told MEPs during a hearing on the shaping and effects of the island's recently-agreed €10 billion bailout.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Recalling his previous life as commissioner for enlargement where he "worked hard to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus," Rehn said: "I regret that there has been no decisive progress."

He added it was "high time to revitalise the process."

He is the most senior EU official to publicly make the connection between the crisis and reunification.

It follows a statement last month by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, head of the Greens in the European Parliament, scolding Cyprus' creditors for not insisting that Cyprus reunites.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the island in response to a coup by those supporting union with Greece.

Ankara still maintains over 30,000 troops in the northern part. Meanwhile, the Cyprus question is key to Turkey's stalled EU membership bid.

"Turkish investors will only invest in Cyprus when there's a reunification," said Cohn-Bendit.

"The business model must come through reunification. A reunification within the European Union," he added.

Michael Moller, a former UN special representative for Cyprus, writing recently in the New York Times pointed out that a clutch of reasons mean that the time is ripe for "imaginative solutions."

These include Cyprus' own dire economic outlook (its economy is predicted to contract by a huge 13 percent over the next two years), Greece's friendlier relations with Turkey, and Turkey's growing economic and political influence in the region.

But the issue remains highly sensitive to Greek Cypriots, who in 2004, contrary to Turkish-Cypriots, rejected a UN plan for reunification they considered unjust.

Cyprus then joined the European Union creating an anomaly where only the southern part enjoys the benefits of EU membership.

Fiona Mullen, an analyst with Nicosia-based Sapienta Economics, said Greek-Cypriots are wary of being forced into reunification.

"The dominant discourse in mainstream media is: 'we don't want to be blackmailed into accepting a solution that we find to be unacceptable',” she said.

“Any solution would have to show a very clear path out of the economic crisis,” she noted

She added that the large gas fields off Cyprus may have changed the parameters of the discussion, with Turkey also hungry for energy sources.

“If people can see it as a win-win situation, it would be a positive start to try and relaunch (reunification) negotiations, which have been moribund for over a year now,” Mullen said.

At the moment, Greek Cypriots do not do any trade with Turkey, the biggest market in the region.

Estimates in 2008 by Mullen and her colleagues found that if the Cyprus problem was resolved - and trade opened up between all of Cyprus and Turkey - it could initially be worth about €5,500 per Cypriot family each year.

Catalonia to declare independence in a few days

Spain's king, Felipe VI, said Catalonia's leaders were breaking up the country's unity as hundreds of thousands of Catalans rallied against police violence at Sunday's referendum.

EU Commission's credibility eroding, says Catalonia

A former commission official who now represents the Catalan government says some European commissioners do not agree with the EU commission's official statement on Catalonia's bid for independence from Spain.

Austrian voters reject liberal pro-EU status quo

Counting continues, but after his victory in Sunday's election, conservative leader Sebastian Kurz is likely to form a coalition with the far-right and could become one of the most vocal critics of EU policies among the bloc's leaders.

Brexit 'deadlock' prevents move to trade negotiations

EU negotiator Barnier also said after the latest round of Brexit talks that with political will, progress can be achieved in the next two months - in time for the December EU summit to give the green light.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  3. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  4. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  5. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  6. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  7. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  8. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  10. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  11. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  12. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State

Latest News

  1. Malta shocked after car bomb kills crusading journalist
  2. Spanish and Catalan leaders continue stand-off
  3. May pleads for more as EU makes Brexit gesture
  4. EU united in backing Iran deal, after Trump criticisms
  5. 'Think of the patients!' cry warring EMA-host cities
  6. In Iceland: Europe woos Arctic allies
  7. Austrian voters reject liberal pro-EU status quo
  8. Turkey urges EU not to break off ties