Closing Speech

Conference paper

Tønnesson, Stein (2006) Closing Speech, presented at Second Annual Conference of the PRIO Cyprus Centre, 22 November.

Your excellencies,
Distinguished guests,

“What is the cost economically of a non-solution?” asked Michael Møller, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, in the first session today. “If the Germans can do it, we can do it,” declared Dr. Michael Sarris, Minister of Finance in the Republic of Cyprus.

P.R.I.O. stands for International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. PRIO is a multi-national research institute with offices in two countries: Norway and Cyprus. On behalf of PRIO and the PRIO Cyprus Centre (PCC) I would like to thank the economic research and training centre MFC S. Platis for organizing this conference on Economic perspectives in Cyprus: The Path towards Reunification together with us, thus allowing Michael Møller to ask such a good question, and Michael Sarris to make such a good declaration of intent. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Finnish EU Presidency, the British High Commission, and the Embassies of Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland for lending their support to the endeavour. And I would like to thank Dr. Tim Potier for moderating today’s conference with such a gentle hand. Isn’t this conference an eminent testimony to how easy it actually is to speak constructively together if one only shows a certain restraint with using provocative terms, and in not allowing oneself to be provoked if the others use terms one understands but does not accept or use oneself. North and South Cyprus have been referred to in many different ways here today, but no one has chosen to take offense, and I think Tim Potier’s style of moderation has contributed to the positive atmosphere.

I’m proud that we were able to launch PRIO Report 2/2006 today under the long, but precise title: The Property Regime in a Cyprus Settlement: A reassessment of the solution proposed under the Annan Plan, given the performance of the property markets in Cyprus, 2003-2006. It has been written by Stelios Platis, Stelios Orphanides and Fiona Mullen of S. Platis Economic Research. They have made a comprehensive analysis of the dynamics of convergence in the property markets in the two economies, and of the only solution scenario that is available thus far: the property regime proposed in the Annan Plan. The report is quite optimistic as to the economic effects of implementing a property regime of this kind. Economically speaking, a solution to the Cyprus issue would no doubt be beneficial for both communities.

PRIO’s mission in Cyprus is to contribute to an informed public debate on key issues relevant to an eventual settlement ofr the Cyprus problem. We hope to achieve this by disseminating information, providing new analyses and facilitating dialogue. We wish to stimulate research cooperation and debates between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, as well as within each of the two communities, and also between them and representatives of the international society. In order to achieve our aim, we seek to establish joint research groups, with both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot participants, and to develop new venues of inquiry among researchers on either side of the communal divide. Our project on the property issue, which will soon also lead to the publication of another PRIO Report, written by Ayla Gürel and Kudret Özersay, is just one example of what we are trying to do.

Trade and investments have a major role to play in peace making. They do not always lead to peace. Immanuel Kant’s expectation that increasing trade and mutual dependence would lead to a perpetual peace has not yet been fulfilled. In today’s globalized world disputes over trade in goods and services still have a potential for generating large scale conflicts. Yet it is my firm belief that we are moving towards a more peaceful and unified world, where shared problems and joint challenges will gradually assume more and more of our attention and reduce our preoccupation with conflicts over territory and property. But this requires that conflicts over territory and property be resolved one way or another, with the full use of human creativity and good will. Although my country Norway is not a member of the European Union, I venture to say that the EU has played an essential role in resolving conflict on the European continent, and unleashing the constructive creativity needed to foster a future of peace and regional unity. There are similar positive tendencies in some other world regions.

So let me end by expressing my hope that Cypriots will use their creativity to find ways of trading more and more with each other, making fruitful and environment-friendly investments everywhere in this beautiful island, and remove all the obstacles to the full and complete integration of a unified Cyprus in the European Union.

Thanks to all of you for your contribution to this conference. And let us do what Mustafa Aroglu suggested on behalf of himself and his friends: Meet Again Soon.

Stein Tønnesson
Director, PRIO

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