The ongoing efforts at rapprochement between Israel and Turkey could be positive for Cyprus, according to President Nicos Anastasiades.
“Any improvement in Israel-Turkey relations, provided they do not affect relations between Cyprus and Israel – and this is the explicit position of my friend the Israeli Prime Minister – on the contrary enhances the interest in a solution of the Cyprus problem,” he told the Cyprus Weekly.
Noting that any pipelines will either pass over Cyprus or through its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), he said: “In either case, the consent of the Cyprus Republic is required. Therefore, the normalisation of relations with Israel enhances Turkey’s incentive to solve the Cyprus problem.”
In a wider-ranging interview covering the Cyprus problem, privatisation and his relations with public officials, he said: “It is true that there have been conflicts with independent officials at times. But it is not a question of their worth nor is it indicative of our overall cooperation”.
He noted that he had bolstered the office of the Auditor-general, Odysseas Michaelides, with 30 people.
“I repeat, on my part, I want the Auditor General to be uncompromising wherever he detects any squandering of public funds, abuse of power and corruption. But what I do ask is that nothing is made public while a case is being investigated.”
Anastasiades said there were ongoing discussions with Central Bank governor Chrystalla Georghadji, on administrative reform of the central bank.
“What we have discussed with Mrs Georghadji, with reference to an experts’ report that the Central Bank itself has requested, is the administrative reform, i.e. the way the Central Bank is governed in order to avoid any future doubts as to the way everyone performs their duties, and as to the way decisions are taken.”
Ports benefits to be “tremendous”
On commercialisation of the Cyprus Ports Authority Anastasiades said: “We are not talking about privatisation but about administration. Looking at the Greek example, the benefits can be tremendous, especially at this point in time, when China’s visionary policy for a new silk road revives and significantly enhances Cyprus’ future role.”
He added that for the reform of telecoms operator Cyta, “there seems to be a common position with regard to equity shares and the percentage which shall be given to a strategic investor. Therefore, we are not talking about a complete sell-off of Cyta’s assets”.
Bailout exit not the end
However, an exit from the bailout programme in early 2016 does not mean the crisis is behind us.
“I appeal to all trade unions and say that exiting the memorandum does not signify the end of the crisis.”
However, he said unions had “shown a high level of responsibility and have significantly contributed to our coming this far”. A.L.