What made you interested in your current job?
“Well I suppose that the honest answer is that the first time I came to Cyprus at the beginning of my career, I did not have any choice – I was told that was what my place was. So I came and I enjoyed it and felt particular interest in it. Then, I was not involved with Cyprus directly for 20 years of my career or more, and then I had the opportunity to apply and come back as a High Commissioner, so that was the point when I had a choice to make. I did apply because the place interests me. There is a worthwhile, important job to be done, to which I hope I can contribute. I am glad to be back, and in fact, I was asked last summer if I would come back again, and the answer was even easier to say ‘yes, I will see what I can do, and I want to come back, and here I am!'”
What qualities in your opinion make you a good Commissioner?
“I am not sure what the answer to that is! I think that one of the things I have learned in my career is that when you are in the business of persuading, explaining and trying to win support from others on what you think is the right plan of action – which is basically what Commissioners do – one of the really important things is not how you say to others what you think is right. It is how you listen to what they think is important, and then find a way to compromise. So I would like to think that I have learned a bit of that!”
You also mentioned in your speech that Costa Rica is one of the few countries that use peaceful means instead of armed forces. Do you think this may be a possibility for Cyprus?
“I know that this is something that is being talked about. It is a difficult choice for any country to make, how to best protect itself and its interests. It is true that it is easier to implement this in a country like Costa Rica where there are no significant military threads to worry about, unlike Cyprus. This is a real choice, but it’s tricky.”
Given the many attempts to resolve the Cypriot crisis, what do you think must be done in order to finally reach a viable solution?
“Most of what needs to be done, in terms of reaching an agreement, has actually been done. The two sides, by now, have gotten into discussing even the difficult parts, the trickiest aspects of the negotiation. So what they need to do, with the help of others, is to keep working on the remaining things that need to be settled, and not allow themselves to lose their momentum and nerve – not allow themselves to be discouraged. Also, they need to think of the implementation of the solution – it is not just agreeing how it will work, it’s also putting in place the things that they need to make the solution work.”
Finally, what is your opinion on Brexit and how do you think Europe may be affected?
“Well, as you know we are in the beginning of defining of what our negotiating aim will be, in agreeing what Brexit will look like. The thing is, we still have just as strong an interest in Europe as a continent and a region remaining strong, stable and prosperous, and we will want – from a different position, outside of the EU – to be very closely involved in helping to manage all the security challenges that affect us all together, even after Brexit. We will also have just as much of an interest in a strong EU economy so that we can sell to it and buy from it, sharing its prosperity and contributing to it, but we will probably do so from a different basis, from outside rather than inside. Now how that works is going to be the big challenge in the upcoming negotiations.”