The year 2016 could be the year that will liberate Cyprus from Turkey`s occupation and lead to the reunification of the island, President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades has stressed in his televised message to usher in the New Year.
Addressing `all our compatriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots` he conveyed his wholehearted wishes on the occasion of the New Year, `in a free and reunited homeland, in a modern state that will guarantee stability, human rights, peace and prosperity for its citizens`.
“Without intending to create unrealistic expectations, I believe that 2016 could be the year that will end the unacceptable existing situation with our liberation from the occupation and the reunification of our homeland”, he stressed.
Recalling that since May 2015 an intensive dialogue to solve the Cyprus problem resumed, he said that the aim is to reach a solution that will lead to the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus into a bizonal, bicommunal, modern European state which will respect the human rights of all its citizens and its sovereignty will not be disputed by the existence of anachronistic rights of intervention from any third country.
“The dialogue up to now, which has covered all chapters related to the Cyprus problem, is marked by common understanding in many issues and also by differences in significant other issues”, he underlined.
Addressing the Greek Cypriots, he said that in order to achieve the goals set over time, there should be consistency and dedication to what at times the political leadership has adopted historically through high level agreements or achieved through UN resolutions and decisions of the Security Council.
He pointed out that “deviation from what was agreed and from the unanimous decisions of the National Council, not only runs the risk of perpetuating the deadlock but also the risk of a deterioration of the conditions in a future claim of a settlement which will safeguard what we claim today based on international law and the acquis communautaire”.
“I want to assure you that I am determined tirelessly to continue negotiations on the basis of the unanimous National Council decision of 11 September 2009. And this is because I believe that only a solution on the basis of the above principles can give the assurance of a future with security, peaceful coexistence and prospect for new generations that will follow” he stressed.
Addressing the Turkish Cypriots, President Anastasiades assured them that he will not underestimate the concerns expressed, adding that the solution basis agreed definitively eliminates any concerns that rightly or wrongly go back to the past.
He noted that safeguarding human rights, basic freedoms and the effective operation of the state in the framework of the European Union is the best guarantee for a secure future.
“Therefore, as the voice of the common desire for peaceful cohabitation, coexistence and co-creation, I would like to point out that the only way to end the regime of uncertainty and isolation or deprivation of the benefits of participation in a modern European state, is the acceptance of a solution that will not disregard the rights and concerns of the Greek Cypriots either”, he underscored.
The Cypriot President assured that his quest is not a solution that will create winners and losers.
Our common desire, he added, should be the creation of a common homeland that through the legally regulated mutual respect of its citizens will create conditions of stability and prosperity and will function as an example of peaceful coexistence regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief.
“I fervently hope that 2016 will be the year that we celebrate together the restoration of peace in our homeland”, he said.
Referring to the state`s foreign policy, he said that 2015 was a milestone in strengthening bilateral and multilateral relations with third countries.
The multifaceted foreign policy, he said, has strengthened the credibility of the Republic of Cyprus at a European and international level. Cyprus, he added, has further deepened relations with traditionally friendly countries and broadened the horizon of cooperation with countries with which we were facing approach problems up to now.
“With the success of tripartite partnerships we strengthen synergies for safeguarding and exploiting our natural wealth converting Cyprus into a key factor for enhancing energy security in our region and in Europe”, he stressed.
As regards the economy, he said that during 2015 the government continued its policy for economic recovery, the rationalization of public expenditures, the creation of conditions for growth but also the safeguarding of the credibility of the state.
“As a result of the hard work and the sacrifices of our people, the cooperation of the political parties, the organizations of employers and the trade unions, we succeeded, in less than three years, to overturn all predictions and instead of a recession to register for this year a rate of growth that will be close to 2%”, he said.
Most importantly, the President noted, “we created the conditions that will allow us to exit the memorandum thereby succeeding to end the dependence on the Institutions but also the restoration of the sovereignty of the state”.
“Our European partners, the IMF, but also the international Rating Agencies refer to the achievements of our country with the most flattering comments”, he continued.
The President pointed out that `however, as proud as we may rightly feel, we will become equally and unforgivably irresponsible if, by ignoring the problems that still exist, we abandon the sound policy of prudence, of self-restraint, of hard work, and if we do not shake off the attitudes of the past once and for all`.
He appealed to the political parties and the organized groups of the working people to continue together the policies of responsibility, “the policies that will allow us to continue protecting the rights of the working people with certainty, to safeguard the right to employment for the unemployed, and to address even more effectively the problems of the vulnerable groups”.
The year 2016, he said, appears particularly important in the development sectors.
“We are strengthening development expenditure through the state budget, while through the licensing of a casino and the implementation of a series of development projects by the private sector, we create conditions to effectively tackle the major problem of unemployment” he added.
The Cypriot President said that the government continued in 2015 the implementation of modernizing and reformative innovations relating to both the welfare of the citizens and the improvement of the functioning of the state and institutions.
Examples of these, he said, include the establishment of a welfare state through the improvement of the criteria covering the vulnerable groups of people by making the guaranteed minimum income accessible to more beneficiaries.
He added that in an effort to consolidate meritocracy as well as the smooth functioning and the improvement of the quality of the services provided to citizens, five Bills were submitted to the House of Representatives.
In addition, President Anastasiades said that the Government is proceeding to the modernization of the development structure of the civil service on the basis of the best practices prevailing in contemporary states.
“With consistency and the same decisiveness, we have proceeded with the strengthening of the institutions for the administration of justice, of the Law Office and the prosecuting authorities, as well as of the Auditor General, in order to materialize our decision on zero tolerance to instances of convolutedness, corruption and abuse of public resources” he said.
Moreover, he announced that as of 1st of January the institution of the Administrative Court will start functioning, while the Law Office is in the process of hiring 25 new prosecutors, and the office of the Auditor General will be reinforced with 30 new officers so that its work would become even more effective.
The government, he said, has introduced an education reform which touches upon both the content of the provided education and also regulates the staffing of schools in a meritocratic manner.
“The above mentioned actions are a summary listing of the most important actions of this Government during the previous year. We are aware that much remains to be done. For this reason we want our course during 2016 to be even more hopeful”, he assured.
President Anastasiades noted that the government will proceed with the implementation of the prerequisites in order to implement a viable general health system and said that the government intends to introduce electronic governance as well.
“An important area concerning the quality of life is the reform of Local Government that we hope to achieve during the first half of the new year”, he concluded.