Cypriot EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, has said that European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker had no intention to put any pressure on either side in Cyprus when he said on Tuesday that “this is the moment for reunification and if we are missing this opportunity, this opportunity will never come back.”
Responding to a question during an open dialogue with the citizens on “Challenges & Priorities for Europe in 2017”, at the University of Cyprus, Stylianides said that with his statement, at the opening of the “The missing lives of Cyprus” photo exhibition at the European Parliament, Juncker expressed his agony and acknowledged that this is the first time that leaders in both communities in Cyprus want to work with a view to reach a compromise.
Stylianides noted that the new geo-political environment, with the new presence of Russia in Syria, creates a win-win situation, adding that he shares Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades` position that “we can reach a settlement in Cyprus with no winners and no losers.”
UN-led efforts are currently underway to reunite Cyprus, under a federal roof. The country has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Responding to another question, Stylianides said that an envoy of the European Commission`s President is present at the Cyprus talks, so that the settlement reached will be in line with EU values. He added that once a settlement is found, Cyprus will become a pillar of stability in a turbulent region.
Referring to the EU, he said that it is experiencing the deepest crisis since its establishment. He noted that even though the European institutions continue their work, the EU will be able to move forward with more confidence after the elections in Germany, France and the Netherlands, which play a decisive role as regards the unity of the bloc.
Stylianides said he did not want to be pessimistic about the future, adding that there is a lot of rationalism in Europe and that insanity will not prevail.
The Commissioner said that a decade of financial crisis in the EU, which Cyprus experienced in 2013 with increased unemployment, has caused social inequalities and has questioned the European development model. He said that the EU was not ready to address the crisis, however the Union made it.
Moreover he referred to the biggest immigration flow towards Europe since the Second World War and the terrorist attacks that have questioned welfare and security in the EU, as he noted, adding that populism and nationalism have flourished under these conditions.
Referring to Brexit, he described it as the most serious turmoil to the EU foundation, and wondered if we will just stand and watch our home fall apart.
He recalled that populism and nationalism resulted to two World Wars in the past, expressing his fear over the arguments expressed by members of the European Parliament.
Stylianides said that the EU is a leading power in the world as regards humanitarian and development assistance, adding that the Union promotes peace, and that peace, security and welfare are safeguarded only through the Union and not on a national level.
Referring to the European Commissions` agenda for next year, he said that it is positive and provides for the extension of Juncker`s plan until 2020, with the attribution of 116 billion euro per year. He added that until now 200,000 small and new businesses received loans in the framework of this plan.
He said that the project will cover businesses and sectors related to Cyprus, as well as tourist businesses.
Stylianides said that the Youth Guarantee project will be reinforced in 2017, adding that 11 million euro have been given to Cyprus from EU structural funds.
He noted that there is low interest in Cyprus as regards the European Solidarity Corps, while expressing the belief that 100,000 Europeans will become members of the Corps by 2020.