July 17, 2018

Message of the President of the Republic, Mr. Demetris Christofias, on the ocassion of the 52nd Anniversary of the Independence of Cyprus – September 30, 2012

My fellow Cypriots,

On the occasion of the anniversary of the Independence of Cyprus, I extend my wholehearted greetings of deep appreciation, respect, honour and fellowship in struggle to all the people of Cyprus: Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins.
Independence is the most important accomplishment of our people. It created great prospects for growth, progress and advancement. Through hard work, our people have achieved a great deal during the years of independence. All that we have achieved should normally fill us with pride and confidence. However, the situation of occupation and division of our country since 1974 threatens the accomplishments of our people and compels us to be prudent, circumspect and vigilant.

In reviewing the tragic historical course of the independent Cyprus we can easily conclude that our people could have avoided the tragedies they have experienced; particularly the tragedy of 1974. Irrespective of outside interventions and conspiracies, if we had conducted our politics with prudence and realism, if we had correctly taken into account the circumstances and the balance of power, it is very likely that we would have avoided the tragedies as well as the dreadful situation we are experiencing today.

It is the duty of all of us, and in particular of the political leadership of the country, at all times, to draw the right lessons from the modern history of Cyprus. We are called upon to continue the struggle with realism and commitment to principles, in order to terminate the occupation and to reunify Cyprus within the framework of a just, under the circumstances, viable and functional solution.

We will not tire in stating that partition is catastrophic for our homeland. Partition cannot safeguard permanent peace and security for the country. The conditions will keep deteriorating with the passing of time. Turkey exploits the passing of time to reinforce the fait accomplis of the occupation on the ground.

We must be honest with the citizens. Besides, big words and shallow slogans usually accompanied actions that led to calamities and tragedies. Unfortunately, there are not many choices to reach a solution. The choice is down to one. It is the solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, one state with a single sovereignty, single citizenship and single international personality. It is this solution that we have accepted, together with the Turkish Cypriot community, through the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979. It is this solution that the United Nations and the European Union have adopted in a large number of their resolutions and decisions.

The inability to reach an agreement is not the result of the agreed basis for a solution. It is due to the refusal of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership to cooperate towards such a solution. It is due to their philosophy to promote a solution of two states in Cyprus. The rejection of the bizonal, bicommunal federation and the vague declarations for a solution make it easy for Turkey to escape from the UN resolutions on Cyprus which constitute the shield of our struggle. They make it easy for Turkey to promote, officially from now on, its goal of permanent partition.

During our Presidency, as we have promised the people, we devoted all our powers towards solving the Cyprus problem. We dedicated much time, we undertook initiatives, we submitted constructive proposals and we worked hard all over the world. Unfortunately, a solution was not achieved even though we had reached important convergences on various aspects of the Cyprus problem in the course of the direct talks with the former leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mr Talat.

With the assumption of the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community by Mr Eroglu there was backtracking in the negotiations. The Turkish Cypriot leader did not honour the commitments that we jointly undertook before the UN Secretary General for the continuation of the talks from the point we had reached with Mr Talat. In practice, he refused to reaffirm the convergences that had been achieved and he essentially nullified them. Mr Erogluʼs negative stance is nourished and bolstered by the provocative nature and the arrogance that, especially in this period of time, characterise the policy of Turkey. The negotiations on the Cyprus problem have reached an impasse and in essence a deadlock, because of his behaviour, which is infused with the political philosophy for two states in Cyprus.

With this uneasy situation as the background, we must all together keep alive the vision for a solution to the Cyprus problem. A solution that will be based on the UN resolutions on Cyprus, on international and European law, and the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979. In this effort, I also invite our Turkish Cypriot compatriots to make their contribution. After all, the occupation and the mass colonization constitute a deadly threat, first and foremost, to their own physical presence on the island.

My fellow Cypriots,

The economic crisis that beleaguers our country is yet another great challenge that rises before us. I would like to take the opportunity that is before me today to clarify some issues. This crisis is the result of the unprecedented, in scope and depth, world economic crisis, which has adversely affected almost all the countries of the planet and in particular those of the EU, including Cyprus.

In the case of our country, of course, the economic crisis in Greece plays a decisive role with regard to the situation of its economy. Internationally, everybody – including the leaders of the eurozone – acknowledge that the main problems of the Cyprus economy derive from the situation in which the major banks of Cyprus find themselves due to their excessive exposure to the Greek economy. This development aggravated the structural and systemic problems of our economy that have accumulated for decades and which unfortunately had not been previously dealt with. It was imperative for these problems to have been solved for some years now, but the necessary measures were not taken. To the contrary, various governments, through decisions that were politically expedient, exacerbated and multiplied the problems.

The allegations that our Government has not taken measures in that direction are not true. We have implemented and will continue to implement fiscal and structural measures as well as measures to support growth. Through the implementation of these measures, public operational expenditures were initially contained and subsequently reduced. We reduced the number of civil servants. We settled the viability problems of the Social Insurance Fund and we reformed the pension scheme in the public sector. We solved the problem concerning the temporary employees in the public service. We abolished privileges such as multiple pensions and the unemployment benefits that civil servants used to receive for a period of six months after their retirement.

These and other measures that were implemented for the first time during the years of the existence of the Republic of Cyprus cannot go unnoticed and cannot be erased. And most importantly, the measures were implemented following a dialogue with social partners and in particular with the labour unions. In this way we secured labour tranquility, at a time when certain political parties and politicians were asking us to ignore the representatives of the working people.

The allegations that it is the fiscal situation of our country that has led us to resort to the support mechanism do not correspond to reality either. Despite the fiscal pressures that we face, mainly due to the exclusion of Cyprus from the international markets, we would not have been compelled to resort to the support mechanism if it was not necessary to recapitalise at least one large bank. This is the objective and hard reality.

The resort to the support mechanism has created a new reality for Cyprus, which we are trying to address responsibly. An effective negotiation with the Troika necessitates the formulation of a comprehensive package of measures which will be documented and include a cost analysis. It is this imperative task that the Government is currently carrying out through intensive work. I emphasize one more time that we will present the package we are talking about before the political parties and the social partners and will discuss it with them. Our wish and expectation is to reach a consensus and an understanding in order to achieve the widest possible support in the negotiation with the Troika, for the good of our country and our people.

The measures that will be taken will have a social cost. Our aim is that whatever the repercussions, these be allocated in the most balanced and rational way possible, and for each person to assume a burden corresponding to his or her financial ability. Our effort will continue to focus on the restoration of the economy, on the support for growth, but also social cohesion.

I want to give my assurances that this Government will not nullify the welfare state for the creation of which we have been on the frontline over the years, and have contributed in practice during the last years towards its improvement and development. This is the message I send, in particular to the vulnerable groups of the population and to all those who were affected by the economic crisis, like the unemployed for example.

This is not the first time that our people were compelled to make sacrifices in order to address difficult situations. They have done so also during the much more difficult conditions of 1974. All of us together, with a high sense of responsibility, and with the labour movement leading the way, we managed back then in a short period of time, to address the most critical situation in our history and to return shortly to periods of growth and prosperity. I am certain that we will show the same sense of responsibility at the present time as well in order to address the consequences of the economic crisis.

My fellow Cypriots,

The impasse in the Cyprus problem and the adverse developments in the economy undoubtedly bring about circumspection and scepticism. There are, however, at the same time, developments under way and will contribute to the efforts for better days to come.

The discovery of hydrocarbons is definitely a development of great importance for our country. This development is the result of the methodical and decisive implementation of the plan that we have prepared for the discovery and exploitation of the undersea wealth of Cyprus. Through a serious and well designed policy we manage to address Turkeyʼs challenges and threats, and to have the support of the entire international community. In the context of our policy for the promotion of the exploration and the exploitation of the hydrocarbon reserves of Cyprus we will soon conclude the second round of licensing. At the same time, we are pushing forward the implementation of the plan to transform Cyprus into an energy centre, a development that will have great positive consequences both for the economy as well as for our country in a broader sense.

In honouring the 52nd anniversary of the Independence of Cyprus we send a message of optimism despite the difficulties and the problems we face. We believe in the potential of our people and we invest in them. We honour the Independence of Cyprus convinced that today’s difficult times will be succeeded by much better days in the near future. We shall keep working for these better days