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Germany ready to assist Cyprus reunification
2003-08-01 14:45:44

Nicosia, Jul 31 (CNA) -- Germany is willing to help Cyprus tackle problems, economic or other, which may arise from the reunification of the island, German Minister of Finance Hans Eichel has said, and announced that he has invited to Berlin Cypriot experts for an exchange of views on the matter.

He said Cyprus and other countries to join the EU could help Brussels formulate its policy on the Middle East and said Germany will back Cyprus in its effort to adjust to its membership of the EMU (European Monetary Union).

The German Minister made these statements during a joint press conference here today with his Cypriot counterpart Markos Kyprianou, with whom he had official talks.

Earlier in the morning Eichel was received by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos. He had also meetings with Cyprus Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou and the House Standing Committee on Financial Affairs. |

The Eichel told the press that he would encourage Germans not only to visit but also to invest in Cyprus, whose economic performance he praised.

Speaking through an interpreter, Eichel said the entry of the new members will give the EU a new dimension and the EU will have a common border with Russia and will move much closer to the Middle East.

''These countries which are closest to the region can help us better understand developments in the Middle East and they are best placed to help us formulate these policies and this is a big asset for the EU,'' he added.

He said Germany and Cyprus have suffered from separation and it was agreed to have a meeting between German and Cypriot experts to discuss how to prepare for reunification, what to learn from the German lesson, noting however that conditions may be different but there are also common issues.

The German Minister said there will be exchange of views, questions will be answered and the visit can take place as soon as possible.

He said the Green Line (that divides the capital Nicosia into the northern Turkish-occupied part from the southern government- controlled area) which he has visited reminded him of the division of his own country.

''We also talked about EMU and economic issues after Cyprus' accession, an early entry of Cyprus into the EMU would not cause major problems, Cyprus has to reflect on the loss of flexibility from accession and how much additional flexibility it will gain through measures relating to the labour market, price setting mechanisms, etc,'' he said.

The minister said if Cyprus wants to join the EMU early and pursue a pragmatic approach, ''I think it will be able to avoid such problems and will have the support of Germany on this.''

He said Cyprus may be a net contributor as of 2007.

Replying to questions, he said once the situation in the Middle East stabilises more, opportunities will open on the island and in the region for German investors.

In his remarks, Cyprus Finance Minister Kyprianou said they discussed EU issues, EMU, EU budgetary concerns, and matters relating to the Stability and Development Pact.

He said his German counterpart was briefed about the economic realities in Cyprus and further enhancement of bilateral ties.

''Europe will come closer to the Eastern Mediterranean once we join the Union and we believe we can contribute to a new EU policy in the region,'' Kyprianou said.

The German minister leaves later today.

CNA MM/GP/2003


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