Nicosia.- By Maria Koniotou/CNA
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, who is running for a second term in office, has said that the government is trying to mobilise countries, which maintain friendly relations with Turkey, to exert their influence in order to help find a negotiated settlement that would reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Nicosia, the President said, seeks the support of these countries to help Ankara realizes that it must abandon its demands – which are not accepted by the Greek Cypriot community and which may ensure the security of one community but constitute a threat for the other – so that a Cyprus settlement can be achieved.
In an interview to CNA, Anastasiades stressed that achieving a settlement will remain his primary and most important goal if re-elected.
Asked if he considers that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are ready to accept a bizonal, bicommunal federation, as a solution, he said that “people will be able to accept a solution that will not give advantages to one community and disadvantages to the other, a solution which will lead to a functional, viable settlement that will not collapse the day after, due to excessive privileges of one community against the other.”
He stressed the need to safeguard human rights and freedoms and also the state’s functionality, to avoid the possibility of the state being paralysed and not being able to function. “If there is a well-established state, and prospects to create conditions for a normal way ahead, for a state that will be functional, those who believe in this state will be able to accept it. However if it paves the way for something else, then it will not be accepted.”
Asked how he is planning to promote the resumption of talks on the Cyprus problem, if re-elected, Anastasiades recalled that he has already conveyed to the UN Secretary General his determination to continue the dialogue on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem, while, at the same time, he reiterated that a new Conference on Cyprus must be well prepared so that a new effort will not fail.
Therefore, the inter-communal dialogue can resume immediately to overcome existing difficulties, problems and disagreements relating to the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem, while at the same time an international Conference must be prepared and finally lead, through proposals that we have submitted and through negotiations, to a really independent and sovereign state, without obsolete Guarantee Treaties, intervention rights and the presence of the Turkish occupation army, he told CNA.
“I believe that in this way a new effort will be able to bear fruit,” Anastasiades noted. He also said that the government is exercising a multi-level foreign policy, recalling his meetings with US officials, the Russian President and permanent members of the Security Council.
The President said that “our effort is to mobilise countries which are friendly towards Turkey to exert their influence” so that Ankara will realize that it must abandon its demands which are not accepted by the Greek Cypriot community and may ensure the security of one community but constitute a threat to the other so that a Cyprus settlement can be achieved.”
“Therefore, our efforts will be directed not only towards the five UN Security Council permanent member states but also towards countries which are also friendly to Turkey,” he added.
As regards the economy, Anastasiades said that “our intention is to continue, if people vote for us, a disciplined fiscal policy, with economic stability and carry on with our efforts to attract new investments, with new incentives, tax exemption etc.”
He referred to the adverse economic conditions under which his government assumed its duties, noting that though cooperation with political parties, and especially the Democratic Party, with the trade unions and employers’ organisations, and the sacrifices of the people of Cyprus it was possible to follow a policy of fiscal discipline, putting in order the state’s finances, and implementing concrete policies on tax and urban development and introducing incentives.
He also noted that there was a re-orientation of the economic model, through investment in research and start-ups, with a view to creating a new sector that will possibly become the most important pillar for creating new jobs especially for young people.
Replying to a question about energy concerns and developments regarding drilling operations in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, the President said that “one of the most important things that have been achieved is that we have secured our sovereign rights and we have achieved this through our multi-level foreign policy, through alliances with our neighbours and by deepening relations with powerful countries, and through allocating licenses for drilling operations to giant energy companies.”
“We have attracted giant companies, which represent major interests of powerful countries. This is why the course of this operation has been successful,” he said. Furthermore, he noted that the interests of these countries do not allow Turkey, which promotes its own interests and relations with these countries, to question the Republic of Cyprus projects.
Anastasiades also recalled that currently drilling research operations are taking place in bloc 6 of Cyprus EEZ, for which TOTAL and ENI have been given license.
Asked about efforts to modernize the state’s structures and institutions, the President noted that the government submitted six bills regarding the public service, with a view to consolidate meritocracy, and achieve a more effective operation of the public service, an investment bill and three bills concerning the establishment of three Deputy Ministries.
He also referred to the government’s effort to promote e-government, in cooperation with Estonia, a pioneering country in this sector. Moreover, he highlighted efforts to reinforce the institutions of the General Attorney, the General Auditor and to taking concrete steps so that courts will be able to deliver their decisions in a shorter period of time.
Referring to his priorities if he is re-elected, Anastasiades said that except from the Cyprus problem, another issue that is of utmost importance is the introduction of the General Health Scheme that will provide quality health services to all the people.
Invited to comment on opinion polls that show him going through to the second round of the presidential elections, which will take place, if necessary, on February 4, Anastasiades said that polls indicate tendencies, adding that if someone wants to succeed he must work and that there is no room for complacency.
The election of the new President of the Republic for the next term in office, covering the period from 2018 to 2023, will take place on January 28. A total of nine candidacies have been submitted.