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City of London Lord Mayor says Turkey must change stance
2005-05-23 16:56:21

Nicosia, May 23 (CNA) - Lord Mayor of the City of London Alderman Michael Savory said Turkey, a candidate for EU accession, must consider how it will change its stance and permit free trade and access to ships, notably to those flying the Cyprus flag.

In remarks to the press, the Lord Mayor said the British government advises its citizens, interested in buying property in the Turkish occupied areas, to absolutely ensure that the title of that property is determined and proven, otherwise they will be in contravention to British government policy.

Replying to questions about free trade, the Lord Mayor said ''a divided community, such as one has in Cyprus, needs trade to prosper and we always say that with prosperity comes confidence and optimism.''

The Lord Mayor is on a visit to Cyprus at the invitation of Nicosia Mayor Michael Zampelas. His visit aims at enhancing the economic and trade relations between the United Kingdom and Cyprus.

To a question about Turkey's embargo on ships flying the Cyprus flag, the Lord Mayor said ''what is clear is that, as Cyprus is now a part of the EU and Turkey has aspirations to become a member of the EU in due time, there has to be a solution to this issue well before that takes place and it will have to become a major consideration for Turkey as to how it is going to change its attitude towards shipping and the way that it is going to be permitting free trade and free access to ships.''

Asked about foreigners, including British citizens, investing in Greek Cypriot property in the Turkish occupied areas of the island, the Lord Mayor said ''it is a political issue to a degree, it has a practical implication as well,'' adding that ''there has to be a resolution and the sooner that resolution is achieved the better for everybody concerned.''

''The advice that is given by the British government through its communications to anybody in the United Kingdom who is interested in buying property, is to absolutely ensure that the title of that property is determined and proven, and anybody who doesn't go through that is going in contravention to British government policy,'' he pointed out.

Replying to questions about free trade, the Lord Mayor said ''a divided community, such as one has in Cyprus, needs trade to prosper and we always say that with prosperity comes confidence and optimism.''

The Lord Mayor, who departs from the island tomorrow, has already met with President Tassos Papadopoulos, President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias, ministers and businesspeople, and will have further discussions tomorrow, ''notably focusing on the maritime industry, which is not only important to Cyprus, with some almost 1,900 vessels under its management, but is becoming a very important global market, with the influence of China.''

He said that this afternoon he had session with the chairman and members of the board of the Cyprus Stock Exchange, discussing the way forward.

''I must say, I have never come across the experiences of the dramatic boom and bust that occurred in the Cyprus stock market, although I have lived through the booms of 1971-1972 and the bust of 1974 in the UK, and there are some close parallels between the two,'' the Lord Mayor, a stockbroker himself, said.

Asked what advice he would give to the CSE, the Lord Mayor said ''the past needs to be well and truly buried and resolved but the most important message I have conveyed is to get good reliable systems in, to get modern electronic systems in so that the custody of securities, the transaction process is robust, and then to focus very much on improving communication, making sure that they communicate effectively to the government on one side, and practitioners, that is stockbrokers and banks, and ultimately the users, and to encourage training of staff.''

''I think the CSE has quite a long time ahead of it before it can restore confidence in the eyes of the retail market because clearly a lot of money has been lost and that does take time,'' he added.

The Lord Mayor said ''one of the major features of the CSE is the lack of substantial institutional investments,'' noting that ''you need solid pension funds, insurance companies and a mutual fund industry, which if you have well developed gives some stability to the stock market, otherwise it tends to be very speculative, subject to short-term fluctuations, based on the greed and fear of investors and you get exaggerated rises and then exaggerated falls.''

''So this is not something that is achieved by a quick fix. It takes a cultural change of attitude,'' he added, noting that ''people have to be used to the principle of saving and of course today's priority is focused on saving into property and we see this all around the world.''

Replying to questions, the Lord Mayor said Cypriot banks have branch networks in the United Kingdom. ''You have to bear in mind though that there are nearly 400,000 Cypriots living in the United Kingdom and therefore there is a huge demand for their banking services,'' he added.

He noted that ''the financial services community in London does not see Cyprus as a very large market, in which it ought to have presence, so you are not seeing financial service providers in the UK setting up businesses to any great extent in Cyprus, and I don't think that is going to change.''

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