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Cyprus Editorial: A change of direction needed

14 February, 2014 | Posted By: Financial Mirror

We haven’t realised it yet, but the new momentum in the Cyprus talks and the conclusion of the third review of the Troika inspectors has offered us a great opportunity to put to practice what we have been talking about all this time – a fundamental change of direction and the birth of a new economic model for Cyprus.
Seeing as our recently-found energy resources and quiet diplomacy have found their place in a wider political sphere, where the global powerbroker U.S. is keen to find as many alternatives and safe-havens as possible from the bullet-riddled Middle East, we should keep up this pace of stretching our miniscule influence to wherever possible or whoever will accept us.
On the other hand, we must not forget that Ankara’s importance to Washington will never wane, at least not in the immediate future, just as President Obama ordered Israel and Turkey to find some common ground and start talking to each other again. The U.S. is still licking its wounds from Iraq and wants to exit Afghanistan as soon as possible, so, it doesn’t want any further flaring up of the Arab Spring into continuous battles and skirmishes among sects, not just religions.
This does not mean, however, that Cyprus should abandon its own right to beef up its defences, seeing as Turkey continues to provoke trouble in our waters, even as negotiators sit down to talk about a political solution to the island’s division. But the sooner Erdogan breaks away from the Ottoman tradition of land-grabbing and leaving behind scorched earth, and looks to find peaceful partners in the area, the quicker Cyprus will respond as a natural launch pad for an ‘economic invasion’ into the greater East Mediterranean basin.
A solution, as has already been determined by UN resolutions and EU principles, should bring prosperity to both communities on the island who would be more willing to discuss stumbling blocks such as the issue of settlers, as well as the Turkish Cypriot paying their share of administration costs (in order to reap the relevant rewards).
But also learning from our most recent mistakes, a general about-turn of the services industry is mandatory, which is why the National Economic Council should move faster and push the present-day administration for immediate solutions and decisions that will rekindle the economy and get it going again.
On the other hand, the World Bank’s report on ‘Doing Business in Cyprus’ showed that the main weaknesses still lie in the slow-moving bureaucracy, while the Troika has pointed out that many reform bills remain in limbo at the various parliamentary committees that should work faster.
In other words, our new economic policy should be just this – speed. You’d be amazed at what can be achieved, even in politics, if some lazy public servants get off their fat arses and start working for a change.