Reunification Momentum Grows
Talk of reunification is growing ever more optimistic. Meetings between the representatives of both Nicos Anastasiades – President of the Republic of Cyprus – and his Turkish-Cypriot opposite number Mustafa Akinci are reported to be progressing positively, with both leaders eager to exploit the economic benefits that reunification promises to bring to the island.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 but as memories of that time fade, the current drive for reunification is as much economic as it is political. Independent research has shown that bringing the two sides of the island back into a single entity would boost Cypriots’ per capita income by as much as $1,800 per year in the first five years alone.
But even more notable from the perspective of the two leaders is the prospect of being able to exploit the offshore gas reserves of the Aphrodite field to the south of the island. It is estimated that this could contain as much as four trillion cubic feet of gas. But until the island can establish a unified national identity, the politics of being able to export that gas (particularly to North Africa) are severely limited.
With the prospects of the Cypriot economy looking better than they have for decades, the already-attractive Cypriot citizenship by investment scheme is growing ever more appealing. No fewer than eight upgrades by the international rating agencies in recent months is a reflection of a fast improving economic outlook. Property sales were up 17% in the first quarter of 2015, whilst tourist numbers were up 13.7%. Cyprus now boasts a more than respectable government bond rate of 3% and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development’s commitment to make new investments in Cyprus in the order of €600 million (100 million per year by 2020) is another hugely encouraging development.
With European and British backing for reunification, and with a wholly pragmatic determination to overcome the small-scale difficulties associated with the process evident from both sides, the prospects for reunification have never been more encouraging.
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