December 17, 2018

Message by the President of the Republic, Mr. Demetris Christofias, on the occasion of the New Year, 31 December, 2012

Fellow compatriots,

In a few hours we welcome the New Year. From the bottom of my heart I wish that 2013 will be better than the year leaving us. I wish personal and family happiness to all and freedom to our country.

Unfortunately, 2012 is characterized in Cyprus and in Europe as well as globally by the aggravation of important economic and social problems. The deepening of the all-round economic and social crisis of the system, that threatens institutions and values with collapse, has worsened problems such as unemployment, poverty and deprivation in the whole of Europe. Finally, it must be admitted that the policies implemented so far on pan-European level have not succeeded in providing a solution to the economic problems created by the crisis. On the contrary, they have recycled and worsened the economic and social injustice. The picture presented today by many European countries does not do the European Union honour. The future of United Europe cannot be poverty, deprivation, unemployment and the homeless. The one-sided policies of austerity and recession have already led to a deadlock. A different approach is needed which will emphasize development, social cohesion and true solidarity within the Union. It is with sadness that we observe that this policy is still absent.

The effects of the world economic crisis, and especially the exposure of Cypriot banks to the Greek public sector bonds and to the Greek economy in general, have created a severe economic vacuum, and in order to cover that and in order to save the Cypriot economy we were obliged to apply to the Support Mechanism. Long before we applied to the Mechanism, even before the initial agreement with the Troika, we made great efforts to find funding from other sources, precisely because we at least, were under no illusions about the problems we were going to face in the negotiations with the Troika. Unfortunately, these efforts did not have the desired result.

During the meetings with the Troika, we negotiated hard and persistently in order to protect the interests of Cyprus and our people. We knew in advance that any conclusion would be painful. But we prioritized some basic goals which we promoted and achieved with a lot of zeal.

We managed to secure the management of natural gas by the Republic of Cyprus, a fact that constitutes the great hope of our people. We averted the privatization of profitable semi-state organizations that the Troika pursued. We preserved basic labour institutions like the Cost of Living Allowance and the 13th salary, which thousands of our compatriots have received a few days ago. We achieved an arrangement for the Cooperative which saves it. We achieved the tiered and not the leveling contribution of salaried employees. We aimed at the fast revitalization of the banking system which was what brought us to this difficult situation. The responsibilities of the banks for the current situation are now clear to everyone. If we did not have the problem with the banks, Cyprus would not have appealed to the Mechanism, regardless of any structural and financial problems. For the problems of the banks, an important share of the responsibility lies, other than with the management of the banks, with the supervisory authority which is the Central Bank and its then Governor. According to the European acquis the Central Bank and the Governor, as an independent authority, are exclusively responsible for the supervision and regulation of the banking system.

We are never going to idealize either the initial agreement with the Troika or the present economic situation. It is clear that the people of Cyprus will suffer sacrifices so that the worse is averted. The Cypriot economy can be rescued by creating prospects in a short period of time to set it on a course of development.

My fellow compatriots,

Unfortunately, 2013 that will come in just a short time, finds our country once more not only under occupation but with the efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem at a deadlock. The deadlock has been caused with the sole responsibility of occupying Turkey and Mr Eroglu who, using the undertaking of the Presidency of the European Council by the Republic of Cyprus as a pretext, have discontinued the negotiations. Nevertheless, through the course of negotiations in the last few years, important positive results have been achieved for our side.

The negotiations were conducted on the basis that the United Nations defined throughout time for a solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation. This time we succeeded in integrating in the basis for the solution of the Cyprus problem one sovereignty, one nationality and one international personality, something that was consolidated in resolutions by the UN Security Council. The procedure excluded any form of arbitration and artificial timeframes. Convergences were achieved at the negotiations table which in their entirety constitute important improvements in relation to the former plans that was attempted to be imposed and were rejected by the people of Cyprus. We reversed the unacceptable punishing climate that existed internationally and especially in Europe after the referenda, proving our sideʼs good will and the intransigence of Turkey. The positive climate internationally has allowed us to materialize top national goals like the discovery of natural gas in the midst of Turkish threats and provocations.

We want to believe that in the next period of time dangerous brinkmanship on the Cyprus problem, that will lead not only to the finalization of the partition but will create new dangers for new suffering in Cyprus and its people, will be avoided. The Cyprus problem, despite any economic problems that we are facing today, remains the greatest problem for the people of Cyprus. It is a matter of survival for our people. We are not certain whether the next generations will remember the financial difficulties that the people are facing today. But it is certain that history would record in its darkest pages a possible permanent loss of half of our occupied country and the causing of new dangers for the other half.

Fellow compatriots,

The year 2012 has brought not only problems and difficulties but also positive developments that not only give hope to the people of Cyprus but create certain prospects for a better future. In 2012 we moved decisively, despite the Turkish reactions and threats, to the second licensing round for the blocks in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus. Following a decision by the Council of Ministers, the Republic of Cyprus has already started direct negotiation with certain companies for the exploitation of five blocks within our Exclusive Economic Zone. This development follows the decisive actions for setting the boundaries of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Cyprus Republic, the discovery of natural gas in block 12 and the strategic planning for the purpose of making Cyprus a Regional Energy Centre. The finding of natural gas creates the most important economic, political and social perspective after the Independence for Cyprus and its people. I have no doubt that this five-year period will remain in history as the period that materialized the perspective of natural gas and created hope and concrete prospect for us, our children and grandchildren.

The increase of the tourist wave, that resulted to a large extent from the actions and planning of the Government which has attracted new markets in the last few years, constitutes today one of the lungs of the Cyprus economy. Optimistic data also exist from the increase of Cyprus trade.

In these very difficult financial and social circumstances the welfare state has been safeguarded to a great degree. It is characteristic that even after the cutbacks we have had to implement because of the Troika, important social benefits remain noticeably higher compared to 2008 when this Government came to office.

Fellow compatriots,

Our completely successful Presidency of the Council of the European Union has created a remarkable political capital that is expected to visibly help Cyprus in the near future. It has reinforced the status of Cyprus in the European space. However, very important is also the fact that our excellent Presidency, as it has been generally admitted, has promoted the good nature of our people, our political leadership and our state to the world.

The unity that has been shown on the issue of the Presidency, the hard work and loyalty of everyone that has worked for the success of the Presidency, the right planning and implementation are only a few characteristic elements that, if they are put to good use in the near future, much can be achieved. Besides, our people have proven in the recent past that with unity and seriousness, they can face much more difficult and serious situations as they have done after the treasonous, fascist coup of the Junta and EOKA B and the barbarous Turkish invasion of 1974.

My fellow compatriots,

These festive hours our thoughts are with the enclaved, the victims of the coup and the invasion. Our thoughts are especially with our unemployed compatriots, our disabled compatriots and our fellow men who live in misery or are suffering, ill in bed.

We express our optimism as well as the faith that by making the most of what we have achieved during the 52 years of existence of our Republic, the Cyprus people will manage once more to stand on their feet despite the problems and difficulties. We can liberate and reunite our country and its people. We can overcome the economic crisis and soon enter a course of economic recovery. We can exploit our natural wealth and make Cyprus a place of prosperity and happiness. For the achievement of great visions the contribution of all is necessary: the political leadership, the social partners and the people as a whole. We can succeed and we shall succeed.

I wish you all, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins, a happy new year and all the best for you and your families.