Sophie Claudet, Euronews:Is the business community in and outside Cyprus preparing and pushing for a peace deal?
Fiona Mullen, Sapienta Economics: “I think what you see is definitely the two chambers are doing a lot of work together. They’re doing great work bringing businesses together and introducing people to each other, so that people are ready for the day after this solution.”
Sophie Claudet, Euronews:How about foreign business delegations – have you seen any of those visiting Cyprus?
Fiona Mullen, Sapienta Economics: “I know that the UN special advisor Espen Barth Eide has said he’s spoken to a lot of people. He’s got good connections with the World Economic Forum where he was managing director. He says there’s a lot of interest out there. But I think you would need to see a referendum called, or a referendum passed, before you started to see foreign investors pouring in here.”
Sophie Claudet, Euronews:Talking about foreign investment, what are the sectors likely to gain from a peace agreement?
Fiona Mullen, Sapienta Economics: “I think the obvious ones are tourism, natural gas, shipping and professional services. But the real thing is, the whole economy will benefit. Because you have an 18 billion euro Greek-Cypriot economy that will be able to do business with a 700 billion euro Turkish economy, which is not happening at the moment. And the Turkish Cypriots, who only have a 3 billion euro economy, will be able to do direct business – which they can’t do at the moment – with a 14 trillion euro European Union economy. So the benefits will be obvious to everybody.”
Sophie Claudet, Euronews:How about job creation? We’ve seen in our report that youth unemployment in Cyprus is quite high, especially in the south. Would a peace agreement, in relaunching or boosting the economy, translate into job creation, especially for young people?
Fiona Mullen, Sapienta Economics: “Yes, I mean this is a big issue in Cyprus. One in three young people are unemployed. And even those who are employed, you have PhD graduates serving coffee. And you’ve also got businesses and households up to their ears in debt. And I’ve seen what Cypriots can do with the small amount of things that they have already. But they could do so much more if they put the country back together again. Because Cyprus will be the only country in the region that can talk to all of its neighbours. And that’s really big: It will be diplomatically important, it will become a player instead of a pawn. But it also means that people will come to Cyprus, safe EU-member Cyprus, to do business. And that’s the greatest thing that needs to happen here. If the older generation can’t get over its historical problems in order to give this great gift to its unemployed children, I think that would be the great tragedy here.”