Yesterday in Brussels I met with Mr Phidias Pilides, President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Mr Fikri Toros, President of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.
It was the occasion for me to thank them both for their active involvement in achieving a Cyprus settlement, through economic activities. As Commissioner for Regional Policy, my mandate is to encourage Turkish Cypriot economic development and to promote contacts between the communities. I want to honour what Mr Toros and Mr Pilides have done to build mutual trust and do business together beyond dividing lines.
I encouraged the Cypriot Chambers to continue working on facilitating trade across the Green Line, as I am convinced that the economy can be a driver of peace; I believe the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community is crucial for the reunification of Cyprus.
The Commission enabled the trade of products over the Green Line by putting forward the Regulation on Green Line Trade in 2004. Since then, the Commission successfully facilitated the trading of additional products over the Green Line and has been involved in helping the two Cypriot communities to remove remaining obstacles to trade.
I assured Mr Toros and Mr Pilides of both my personal support and the Commission's support. The Commission's Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community supports the two Cypriot Chambers through a €250,000 project which aims to promote dialogue and cooperation between civil society and business over the Green Line.
Since 2006, we have made available some €370 million under this Aid Programme, in order to improve the quality of the Turkish Cypriots' everyday life.
The programme promotes the economic and social development of the area, through the support to local entrepreneurs, farmers or students. It helps developing and restructuring vital infrastructures and prepares the Turkish Cypriot community for the implementation of the EU body of laws in the perspective of the reunification of Cyprus.
I encouraged them to continue setting the right example. On my side, I will go to Cyprus in October, in order to show my commitment to support a Cyprus settlement.