Ready to assist reunification efforts, EU Commissioner says

Ready to assist reunification efforts, EU Commissioner says

EU Commissioner for regional policy Corina Cretu said on Thursday both the European Commission and she personally stand ready to support any joint measures taken by the two communities in Cyprus, facilitating the reunification of the island.

Cretu who is paying an official visit to the island met with Minister of Finance, Harris Georgiades who said that as the Cypriot economy is following an adjustment and reform period “EU structural funds are key to economic growth.”

“We have discussed and we had a review of how Cyprus is making best use of these structural and investment plans as part of the difficult effort to reform the economy of Cyprus and also to create through such instruments the foundations for a much more viable economic model,” Georgiades said in joint statements with Cretu.

The Minister noted that the primary aim is to fully absorb the funds allocated to Cyprus in the 2007-2014 programme period, adding that the government began intensive preparations and plannings for the right and targeted utilisation of the co-financed funds in the new programme period of 2014-2020.

“The right utilisation of the structural and investment funds is key to economic growth,” Georgiades concluded.

On her part, Cretu highlighted that 2015 is a crucial year as the planning begin for the next programme period of 2014-2020.

“For us is very important to see the implementation of all projects and the full absorption of the funds,” she added, noting that Cyprus will benefit with more than €900 million in the next programme period “and I think is very important to have a strategic planning with clear needs, objectives and results.”

Cretu said she discussed with Georgiades ways to facilitate economic growth noting that Small and Medium Sized Enterprises is a very important part.

Referring to the ongoing talks to reunify Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, Cretu reiterated Commission`s President, Jean Claude Juncker`s remarks during his visit to Cyprus in July that it would be a big achievement if during our mandate we could assist to the reunification of the island.

“The Commission and I will support any common measure of the two communities and we stand ready to facilitate any initiative whenever and however possible and I think this opportunity and this better and good atmosphere should be exploited,” she went on to say.

Cretu, who is also responsible for the aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community, pointed out that the Commission has a programme to assist the T/c community to harmonise with the EU acquis.

She also said that the reunification of the economy and the harmonisation with EU acquis “goes hand in hand towards the development of the island.”