NICOSIA - President\ Christofias has expressed optimism that the people of Cyprus will manage once more to stand on their feet despite the problems and difficulties they are facing.
In his message on the occasion of the New Year, President Christofias said that the Cyprus problem, in spite of economic problems in the country “remains the greatest problem for the people of Cyprus” and warned against “dangerous brinkmanship” in the next period of time.
At these festive hours, he said, “our thoughts are with the enclaved (Greek Cypriots living in Turkish occupied Cyprus), the victims of the 1974 coup and Turkey’s invasion, our thoughts are especially with our unemployed compatriots, our disabled compatriots and our fellowmen 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 problems and difficulties”, he stressed.
The President expressed the belief that “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”.
“Everybody’s contribution is necessary if we are to achieve our great vision; the political leadership, social partners and the people as a whole,” he pointed out.
“We can succeed and we shall succeed”, he stressed.
Referring to 2012, he said it was a year characterized in Cyprus and in Europe as well as globally by the aggravation of important economic and social problems.
He noted that the policies which have been 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 honour the European Union. The future of United Europe cannot be poverty, deprivation, unemployment and the homeless”, he stressed.
President Christofias noted that the one-sided policies of austerity and recession have already led to deadlock and called for a different approach which will emphasize development, social cohesion and true solidarity within the Union.
In his message, the President also referred to the positive developments in 2012 which “create certain prospects for a better future”.
He said that in 2012 “we moved decisively, despite Turkish reactions and threats, to the second licensing round for the blocks in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus and that 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, he added, follows decisive moves to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Cyprus Republic, and comes after the discovery of natural gas reserves in block 12 and the strategic planning to render Cyprus a Regional Energy Centre.
“The discovery 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 which realised the perspective of natural gas and created hope and concrete prospect for us, our children and grandchildren”, he underlined.
He placed emphasis on the “successful Presidency of the Council of the European Union” by Cyprus which has yielded “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 scene. Our excellent Presidency, as generally acknowledged, has promoted the good nature of our people, our political leadership and our state to the world”, he went on to stress.
He also referred to the unity displayed on the issue of the Presidency, the hard work and loyalty of everyone who has worked for its success.
President Christofias commented on increased tourism which, as he said, was the result, to a large extent, of government planning and decisions taken which have attracted new markets in the past few years, noting that tourism is today “one of the lungs of the Cyprus economy”.
Referring to the economic situation, he said that the effects of the world economic crisis and especially the exposure of Cypriot banks to bonds of the Greek public sector and to the Greek economy in general “have created a severe economic vacuum and in order to cover that and save the Cypriot economy, we were obliged to apply to the Support Mechanism”.
He pointed out that “long before we applied to the Mechanism, even before the initial agreement with the Troika, we had 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, he added, these efforts did not have the desired result.
During the meetings with the Troika, he said, the government negotiated “hard and persistently in order to protect the interests of Cyprus and our people”.
“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 had pursued. We have retained basic labour institutions like the Cost of Living Allowance and the 13th salary, which thousands of our compatriots have received a few days ago”, he said.
The President added that during the negotiations with the Troika, the government “achieved an arrangement for the Cooperative, which saves it and achieved the tiered and not the leveling contribution of salaried employees” and aimed at the fast revitalization of the banking system, “which was what brought us to this difficult situation”.
He expressed conviction that the responsibilities of the banks for the current situation “are now clear to everyone”, reiterating that “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”.
President Christofias said that 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.
“It is clear”, he went on to note, “that the people of Cyprus will suffer sacrifices so that the worse is averted”, adding that the Cypriot economy can be rescued by creating prospects in a short period of time to set it on a course of development.
The New Year, he said, finds Cyprus once more not only under Turkey’s occupation but also with the efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem at a deadlock. This, he pointed out, has been caused with the sole responsibility of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr Eroglu, who, on the pretext of the Cyprus Presidency of the European Council discontinued the negotiations.
Nonetheless, the President said that during the course of the negotiations in the past few years, important positive results have been achieved for the Greek Cypriot side.
Explaining that the negotiations were conducted on the basis that the United Nations defined throughout time for a solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, he added that “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”.
In addition, he said that the procedure excluded any form of arbitration and artificial timeframes.
According to the President, convergences were achieved at the negotiating table, which in their entirety constitute important improvements in relation to previous plans which were 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 (in April 2004 on a UN-proposed solution plan), proving our side’s good will and exposing Turkey’s intransigence”, he pointed out.
He added that 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”.
In his message, the Cypriot President underlined that 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 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 partition but will also create new dangers for new suffering in Cyprus and its people, will be avoided”, he stressed.
Concluding, the President wished Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins, a happy new year.
“From the bottom of my heart I wish that 2013 will be better than the year leaving us. I wish everybody personal and family happiness and freedom to our country”.