President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades assured on New Year’s Eve that, despite the challenges, he will continue efforts with determination and strong political will to resume talks for a solution of the Cyprus issue the soonest possible.
In a televised address on the occasion of the New Year 2020, President Anastasiades referred to his government’s achievements and announced the government’s major political actions which aim at dealing in a more effective way with the problems of the people.
“Tonight I am addressing all our fellow citizens – Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots – in order to express my warmest wishes on the occasion of the new year; wishes for the fulfilment of the collective and individual expectations of our people, in a free and reunited homeland, in a contemporary state that will guarantee stability, human rights, peace and prosperity for the totality of its citizens,” President Anastasiades said.
He pointed out that “2019 was another year that our first priority was the recommencement of the dialogue, in order find an acceptable solution by both communities of the country; a solution that will safeguard functionality, viability, mutual respect, the protection of human rights and also the freedom of the country from military occupying troops, the end of the anachronistic term of guarantees and in general, the independence from any third country influences.”
“In this framework, we managed to renew the active involvement of the UN Secretary General, reaching a peak at the Berlin meeting, on 26th November,” he said.
The President noted that “with determination and strong political will, we have reassured the readiness to participate in a creative dialogue, through the definition of the elements of the pursued solution – something confirmed through the UN Secretary General’s statement.”
“Because of Turkey, unfortunately, no pursued deal was achieved to the Terms of Reference, so that we could have an immediate recommencement of the negotiations. However, I consider that there has been a first positive step in our efforts,” he said.
President Anastasiades added that, “having said this, I cannot but express my worries for the ongoing Turkish illegal acts, which by underestimating the international law through the violation of Cyprus’ and neighboring countries’ sovereign rights, including Greece, threatens peace and stability in the wider area. “
He noted that, “unfortunately, every day, we become witnesses of the efforts to create new faits accomplis, aiming at satisfying the Turkish demands that were alleged at Crans-Montana and led to the unravelling of the most ambitious effort of the last few years to find a permanent solution to the Cyprus problem.”
“Compatriots, I would like to stress for the umpteenth time, that despite the provocations, I will continue with persistence the efforts to recommence the dialogue the soonest possible, on the basis of the UN Secretary General’s statement of November 25th, as long as the same political will comes from the Turkish Cypriot side, and especially from Turkey, without bringing issues to the fore that will be part of the dialogue,” he said.
The President added that he considers “of equal importance the termination of any illegal acts in the territory or in the sea region that the Republic of Cyprus, according to the international law, has sovereign rights.”
“Apart from our efforts to manage our national issue, the Government, based on the viable growth we had, has continued with the materialization of the governance programme,” he pointed out.
He noted that “in recent years we have implemented a number of important reforms, including: (i) The implementation of the first phase of the General Healthcare System, a reform that constitutes the largest social conquest since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus. (ii) Another element is the welfare system, through the adoption of the Minimum Guaranteed Income, the rationalization of public benefits and a host of other measures for the benefit of vulnerable groups of the population. (iii) Another reform concerns education, implementing the new system of teacher appointment, the implementation of the new form of lyceum and the new rules of school operation. (iv) In the field of tourism and maritime, through the creation of the competent Deputy Ministries. (v) In defence, through the recruitment of staff that has allowed the military service to be cut by nearly half.”
President Anastasiades said that, “at the same time, the implementation of a series of development projects worth of more than three billion euros is continued.”
“In addition to resolving the Cyprus problem, our primary concern remains the further strengthening of the productivity and competitiveness of our economy, the enhancement of our country`s attractiveness as a regional investment hub and its emergence as an international business centre,” he said.
He added that he considers it “equally important to continue implementing a series of measures aimed at improving the social protection network of vulnerable groups, and through specific policies, at improving the daily lives of citizens at large.”
“In this direction, we will move on to additional, wide range reform actions in order to achieve a holistic reconstruction of the state – something which the citizens demand and the political institutions must satisfy,” the President pointed out.
President Anastasiades said that the goal in 2020 is to achieve reforms related to the completion of the General Healthcare System, through the implementation of the second phase and the autonomy of public hospitals; the modernization of the justice system; the completion of Local Government Reform; the overall reform of the education system; the promotion of e-Government; the new simplified procedure for licensing projects under the Investment Law; the implementation of the new Housing Policy; and the commencement of a dialogue with stakeholders on the establishment of a National Minimum Wage, when, of course, full employment conditions are achieved.
He noted the reforms are also related to the creation of a Deputy Ministry for Digital Transformation, Research and Innovation; the continuation of implementing specific measures to open up the competitive energy market, which we expect to definitely reach in 2021; the commencement of implementation of the National Plan for the Development of Mountain Regions provisions; and the implementation of the Akamas National Forest Sustainable Development Plan.
President Anastasiades assured that “my aim is to work with all the political forces in order to achieve immediate promotion of the reforms underway and, in conjunction with the consistent implementation of the strategies I have outlined above, to enable the state to meet the citizens` current expectations and be in line with the needs of the modern age.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.