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US say closing economic gap in Cyprus will help solution
2005-02-11 11:34:26

Nicosia, Feb 11 (CNA) - The United States believe that closing the economic gap between the two sides in Cyprus will help pave the way toward a sustainable settlement of the Cyprus problem, US Ambassador in Nicosia Michael Klosson told a press conference in the Turkish occupied areas of the island today on the Cyprus Partnership for Economic Growth (CyPEG).

Klosson said that ''wherever possible, restrictions on trade, whether on or off the island, should be removed,'' adding that the United States are ''confident that by investing in the Turkish Cypriot economy, we are making an investment in the whole of Cyprus that will pay off in opportunities for a brighter tomorrow for all.''

He noted that ''economic growth is a worthwhile goal in and of itself,'' adding that ''our programme is also a means to a larger goal, a lasting settlement to the Cyprus problem.''

Klosson told the press conference that ''the United States has been hard at work over the past five months supporting opportunity and growth in the Turkish Cypriot economy'' and noted that the US is proceeding with measures ''to ease the isolation of Turkish Cypriots and to contribute to efforts to reunite the island.''

Outlining the objectives of CyPEG, Klosson said the programme aspired to contribute to beneficial Turkish Cypriot interaction with Greek Cypriot, American and other businesses, better enable the Turkish Cypriot economy to shoulder its share of the future economic costs of a settlement, and advance the adoption and implementation of EU and international standards and practices across the island.

''In sum, we aim to devise practical solutions to problems that hamper economic growth and that will improve the bottom line of Turkish Cypriot businesses,'' he explained.

Klosson referred to work already underway and said the whole effort was still in its first phase and was expected to unfold over the next several years ''to help create new opportunities for Turkish Cypriot businesses.''

He said the aim of the programme was to help businesspeople ''better understand your markets and find new customers, build strategic partnerships within and between sectors, and network both on the island and abroad, especially I hope with US firms and organisations.''

''The US remains open to trade with Turkish Cypriot businesses,'' he assured.

The Ambassador said that ''at the industry level, our programme will work with local associations to improve the services they provide their members and to help them identify new market opportunities for their members.''

''Perhaps most importantly, we see our programme improving the climate in which Turkish Cypriot firms do business. Businesses can improve their business plans, but if banks cannot properly assess risk, potentially lucrative activities will wither for lack of financing. We also plan to focus significant attention on improving the banking, financial, regulatory and other realities businesses face,'' he added.

Klosson noted that the programme seeks to address ''the disequilibria that exist in the marketplace by providing Turkish Cypriot firms with additional information, additional market access, additional resources in terms of human and other capital, and additional exposure to international norms and practice.''

"To be effective and sustainable, business opportunities must be reciprocal. Wherever possible restrictions on trade, whether on or off the island, should be removed. Trade cannot just flow in one direction," he pointed out.

Thomas Mefford, Deputy Assistant Administrator for a region encompassing Europe and Eurasia, also attended the press conference.

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