Viewpoint: Cyprus's Andreas Mavroyiannis on EU crisis

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Media caption,
Is greed behind Cyprus' economic woes?

Cyprus is steering European Union budget negotiations under tough circumstances, its Deputy European Affairs Minister Andreas Mavroyiannis told the BBC:

"Cyprus is chairing the EU presidency in extraordinarily difficult times for the union.

The financial and sovereign debt crises have been testing us on both national and European levels. Cyprus has not escaped unscathed.

The large exposure of Cypriot banks to Greek bonds shut the country off from access to the markets. The haircut [debt write-off] on Greek bonds cost Cypriot banks more than 4.5bn euros, I think. The real problem is bonds - it was a very bad judgment.

The Cyprus government applied in June for financial assistance and is currently in negotiations with its troika partners [international lenders], with the aim of reaching a final agreement as soon as possible.

Despite the difficulties at home, as Cypriots and Europeans we assume fully our responsibility as president of the [EU] Council, focusing on restoring credibility, confidence, trust, financial stability and on creating growth and jobs in the EU.

On the next Multiannual Financial Framework [EU multi-year budget], reconciling the divergent positions between member states and the institutions has been a great challenge.

I believe that we have lived up to our mission as an honest broker and presented a pragmatic proposal with the right mix of solidarity, better spending, social cohesion, European added value, fiscal consolidation and growth.

Engaging citizens

I trust that no country or institution would like to bear responsibility for a failure, for depriving the union of its basic tools and capacity to act. This would effectively lead to further loss of credibility and confidence in the EU.

And let me be clear. When the citizens feel the EU to be relevant, that is when it lives up to the aspirations and expectations placed on the European project. The problem is whether the leaders and institutions can today respond to this vision.

We have to be more relevant to the citizens, we need more social cohesion and solidarity. Europe is part of the solution, not part of the problem. The sovereignty debate will go on forever - let's get the job done, and then give a name to the baby. We need to do whatever it takes. The Nobel Prize will help cement the EU to work harder, to find the necessary solutions.

It is indeed completely anachronistic that we are presiding over a united Europe while still living in a divided country, 37% of whose territory is illegally occupied by Turkey.

Despite our tireless efforts, negotiations have hit a brick wall due to the unwillingness of the Turkish side to share our vision for a truly reunited country.

However, we remain committed to finding a solution, so that future generations of Cypriots can live together in a normal European society.

I believe the division of Cyprus will not be able to survive further progress of the European project. We have no other choice, we don't lose hope. The Greek Cypriots rejected a particular [unification] plan, but haven't rejected the idea of a solution. Now in particular the younger generation has a longing for a normal society."

Andreas Mavroyiannis spoke to the Hardtalk television programme on BBC World News, on 6 November 2012.

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