Speech by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, during his investiture ceremony at a special session of the House of Representatives
Today’s ceremony constitutes the highest honour for the President, since through the official affirmation provided for by the constitution helegally undertakes the governance of the country.
I cannot conceal that, aside the anticipated emotion, what is greater is the sense of responsibility to the entire Cypriot people, whether it participated in the strong mandate given to me or, as was its democratically absolute right, made other choices.
I would like to assure you that my respect is equally strong towards all citizens, towards all the political forces and institutions, the highest of which is the House of Representatives, the legislative power.
Because, Ladies and gentlemen, Members of Parliament, the Presidential system may allow for government stability but without the cooperation of the government and the legislative power, stability turns into stagnation and this is against the best interests of the state, in general.
And I would be unforgivably arrogant or ungrateful to all of you if I claimed that the progress made by our country over the last five years was solely due to the policies of the government and not as a result of our co-operation.
This is why I would like, once again to express my warm thanks to you, from the podium House of Representatives as well, looking forward to even closer cooperation during the new presidential term.
Ladies and gentlemen, Members of Parliament,
Today’s ceremony is not limited to the official affirmation, but extends to the presentation of the government’s program positions for the next five-years.
Program positions aimed at addressing the unacceptable state of affairs created as a result of the continuing Turkish occupation, the needs of a modern state, as well as the effective resolution of the problems that the citizens are experiencing.
It is with particular satisfaction that I discovered, during the election period, that in addition to the common hierarchy of priorities, there is in most political areas an identification of positions or even innovative ideas that can form the basis for more fruitful cooperation.
There are, of course, other differences, due to a different philosophical view and others which, due to a high economic cost, are impossible to achieve at the moment.
It is, however, my strong belief that, if dogmatism is set aside and the logic of what is in the best interest prevails in the dialogue between us, we can achieve much together.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I have stated before the elections, and I consider it my duty to repeat it from the podium of the House of Representatives as well, the present term of office will also be my last.
I wish this term of office to be characterized not only by a determination in taking the necessary measures, but especially by a readiness to engage in a creative dialogue with all the political forces.
My vision is that we build together the Cyprus of a new era.
That is why I intend to set up a scientific team to study the pre-election manifestos of the other candidates, so that proposals which will contribute towards the achievement of above objective will not be ignored.”
Ladies and gentlemen, Members of Parliament,
The references that follow will focus on listing the government's main program positions for the next five years.
I consider as the highest priority, no other than addressing the unacceptable current state of affairs, with the continuing Turkish occupation of 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
A situation that, unfortunately, worsens as a result of the attempt to create new faits accomplis, with the violation by Turkey of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, in its Exclusive Economic Zone.
What really saddens me is the stance of the leadership of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots because, once again, they retreat from convergences that have been achieved and confirmed by both Messrs Christofias - Talat as well as by Mr Akinci himself.
Convergences that clearly define that any decisions concerning the sea areas (territorial waters, contiguous zone, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone), will constitute a federal responsibility of the reunified Cyprus.
At the same time, the way in which the state's income is distributed, wherever it comes from, is agreed and, therefore, the rights of all legitimate citizens of the Republic of Cyprus are guaranteed; the Turkish Cypriots, of course, are not excluded.
In addition to what has been agreed, the government has tabled a bill to the House setting up a state fund for the management of revenue from the exploitation of hydrocarbons, in line with the Norwegian model and internationally recognized principles and best practices; an additional measure that ensures the interests of all Cypriots.
Consequently, all unacceptable claims made by the Turkish Cypriot leadership not only are unfounded but also confirm that the ultimate goal is to serve Turkey's strategic interests rather than the Turkish Cypriots.
It is now clear how justifiable was the demand made at Crans-Montana for the abolition of guarantee and invasive rights and of the permanent presence of the Turkish army, in order to put an end to Turkey's guardianship over the Turkish Cypriots and, by extension, with the alleged claims of our compatriots, to control the whole country.
Ladies and gentlemen Members of the Parliament,
There is no doubt that lasting peace and stability can only be achieved through the definite solution of the Cyprus problem.
A solution that will be characterized by mutual respect, which will aim at achieving an agreement that will not legitimize the fait accompli of the violation of international law, that will not disregard the human rights of the whole people, that will not ignore the fact that Cyprus is a member state of the European Union and, therefore, has an obligation to respect the European acquis.
The efforts I make to resume the dialogue following the wreckage of Crans-Montana are also pointing in this direction.
Unfortunately, Turkey and our Turkish Cypriot compatriots not only appear reluctant, but also, with additional violations of international law and unacceptable claims, make the resuming of the talks impossible, at least for the time being.
I want to repeat what I have made clear to the UN Secretary-General, that if Turkey's unlawful actions are lifted and any unacceptable claims made by the Turkish Cypriots are withdrawn, I am ready to engage in a new dialogue on the internal aspects and participate in a new Cyprus conference, providing that it will have been properly prepared and that the five permanent members of the Security Council and the EU will actively participate in it.
I have forwarded this position to Mr Akinci, through the UN Secretary-General Special Representative Ms. Elizabeth Spehar.
The aim is to build on what was acquired during the talks, that was achieved via the negotiation process, and to find a solution jointly with our compatriots, that will:
(i) Safeguard the full independence of the nation by abolishing any rights of guarantee and intervention or the permanent presence of Turkish army.
(ii) A solution that is fully compatible with the country’s capacity as an EU member state.
(iii) That will safeguard functionality and viability, by creating real conditions for peaceful coexistence and co-creation.
(iv) A country that, via a multilevel foreign and defence policy, will reinforce the international prestige of the nation and will constitute a model of stability as well as a connecting bridge between the countries of the wider region and the European Union.
Ladies and gentlemen MPs,
Where the foreign policy of the Republic of Cyprus is concerned, I would like to mention that we will continue with our current strategy, by pursuing, beyond the deepening and further reinforcement of our relations with all the neighbouring nations:
(i) The further reinforcement of our already excellent relations with countries of the Gulf.
(ii) The institutional connection of the Summit of the 7 EU member states of the Mediterranean with neighbouring nations.
(iii) The further reinforcement and deepening of our relations with the five Permanent Members of the Security Council.
(iv) The continuation and reinforcement of our active participation in EU events and the shaping of the Common Foreign Policy.
(v) The promotion of economic diplomacy with important players of the international system, through the fitting foreign policy, in order to safeguard the uninterrupted materialization of our energy planning.
Ladies and gentlemen MPs,
Where internal governance is concerned, the entire planning for the years 2018-2023 is a continuation of everything we achieved together in the past five years and it’s based:
Our aim is to create a state that through a stable budgetary policy, will guarantee a soundly founded and dynamically developing economy with a new, modern and comprehensive development model.
Within this framework, we will continue with the policy of balanced budgets that produce surpluses, we will safeguard – the way it’s recognized by international Houses – the high growth rate that in 2017 reached 4%, thus safeguarding the reinforcement of our development and social actions.
Through new initiatives we will continue with the policy of tax reduction, incentive creation, by reinforcing entrepreneurship, family income and attracting new investments.
Our aim is a state that in combination with the above and the investments in research and the exploitation of European programmes, will emphasize and support innovation and start-up companies.
The abovementioned policies, in combination with taking a number of other measures, that are detailed in my pre-election campaign programme, will not only lead to the effective tackling of unemployment, but will also create highly-paid job posts, protecting labour rights at the same time.
Our policy aims at achieving conditions of full employment – referring to a percentage of 4-5% approximately of unemployment level – in order to engage in a dialogue with the social partners for establishing a National Minimum Wage for all professions.
Ladies and gentlemen,
One of the problems the state is called upon to face is that of the non-performing loans.
The government, beyond the insolvency framework, the support of the Financial Ombudsman and other related legislations, shall promote – always in cooperation with the House of Representatives – the creation of new tools such as a specialized body to deal with the problem effectively. Related to this matter is the planning of the Project “Estia” to be put before you for further discussion.
I would like to reiterate that our goal is to exploit any creative suggestions irrespective of the political force these may stem.
We are all well aware of the conditions under which in 2013 a large number of our fellow citizens were called on to save the economy and the state with personal sacrifice, such as the bank victims, the depositors and the bond holders.
I believe that resolving public finances as well as returning to development will enable the state, with pragmatism and through a long-term and complete policy, to gradually compensate a large part of the damages sustained by these groups of our fellow citizens.
Within this framework apply the following decisions:
(i) Recovery of the 75% of the loss sustained by the welfare funds, which equals to half a billion euro.
(ii) Mobilization of the National Solidarity Fund, to which the state will contribute financially, depending on the economy’s results, but also with the granting of state property, moveable or immovable.
Our priority for the next five years is the further support of the small-middle sized businesses and the wider middle class through actions such as:
(i) Disposal of one billion euro for the small and middle-sized businesses, which has already been drawn from the financing programs of the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
(ii) Establishing targeted tax allowances and incentives for the small and middle-sized businesses.
(iii) New programs promoting entrepreneurship amongst young people and women, developing e-trade and technological up-grading of businesses.
I would like to reiterate that the above are mere indications of the actions and series of other measures which are included in the full government program.
Amongst our priorities we also place the creation of a new model of development which will not only widen and strengthen the traditional production areas of the economy, like services, tourism and shipping, but will also create new production fields like:
(i) transforming Cyprus into an Centre of Excellence for research and innovation,
(ii) a transit trade center,
(iii) a regional center for the provision of Services in Health and Education and
(iv) the creation of an audiovisual industry.
At the same time, I believe it is our common goal to create a state which shall listen to the needs of the Cyprus society and continue with the same zeal and decisiveness making reforms aiming to improve the citizens’ everyday life and dealing with the chronic and systemic distortions and problems.
Within this framework:
(a) We shall, for the purpose of modernization of the state, implement stricter meritocracy rules, but also diminish the obstacles caused by bureaucracy, and we shall resubmit the six reform bills of Public Administration, taking into account the comments expressed in the House of Representatives.
(b) At the same time we believe the following to be necessary:
(i) the voting of the Law on Investments and the creation of Under-Secretariats for Development and Tourism,
(ii) the reform of Local Administrations,
(iii) the completion of the 250-million-euro program under development in cooperation with Estonia for the full digitalization and implementation of e-government in all state action fields.
I could not emphasize more how important your contribution is in responding to the whole society’s expectations of us for the creation of a trustworthy, modern, flexible and efficient state.
Our aim is to continue the actions towards the creation of a state with an integrated and complete policy for all social groups.
Towards a welfare state providing protection to the vulnerable groups, either through the further development of the Guaranteed Minimum Income or through the programs for the pensioners, the large or single-parent households, the youth, the disabled persons and persons with chronic diseases.
A state that supports the family and safeguards social freedoms and difference.
I want to make special reference to the determination of the Government to apply and implement the National Health Insurance Scheme, so that all citizens can enjoy quality health care services.
I wish to be perfectly clear: what has been agreed will be implemented within the timeframes, as established.
Another of our priorities during the new five-year term is Education. Through the reforms in the education system we will upgrade the education provided, so as to promote culture and reinforce and purge sports.
I note indicatively that:
(i) We will implement to the letter the provisions of the new and modern appointment system.
(ii) We will proceed with the expansion of the all-day school.
(iii) We will speed up the operation of the Cyprus Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts.
(iv) We will prepare a proposal for the creation of a Deputy Ministry of Culture and Sport.
(v) We will rigorously implement the provisions of the Code of Good Governance in sport and with determination we will strengthen the framework for comprehensively combating violence in stadiums.
I hope that after all that we are witnessing, I'll have your support for establishing stricter legislation to rid of stadiums from all those using them to vent off any reactions or behaviours.
Our goal is to reshape refugee policy, in order to deal effectively with the problems of refugees.
At the same time, we will continue to offer support to the enclaved and to work to establish the fate of missing persons.
Specifically, I note, for instance, the following actions that will contribute substantially towards the State implementing refugee policy more effectively and fairer:
(i) The completion, in the forthcoming period, of the Registry of Property Owners in the occupied areas. There has been significant progress achieved, with 80% recorded and we hope in the coming months to record the remaining 20%.
(ii) Upgrading of the Central Agency for Equal Distribution of Burdens.
(iii) Upgrading of the Cyprus Land Development Corporation, in order to formulate a comprehensive housing policy that will concern all citizens who meet the criteria and will include social housing.
(iv) Rational management of Turkish Cypriot properties, through the recording of users and permitted uses, as well as the redefining of criteria for beneficiaries, and
(v) Completion of the plan for the full and universal upgrading of refugee housing in settlements.
Another field of vital importance is the protection of the environment and the quality of life, through specific actions, such as:
(i) The complete land use planning, the utilization of «Natura 2000» Network areas and the materialization of the National Action Plans dealing with:
(a) the desertification,
(b) the climate change,
(c) the biodiversity,
(d) the waste management.
At the same time, our pursuit is that the State continuous to materialize the concrete policy on animal welfare.
It is not at random that I have left as last in my brief notice, the definite fight against the phenomenon of corruption.
I would decisively like to stress that we are going to continue our zero tolerance to any kind of corruption in public life, establishing further measures for transparency and accountability, as well as for the acceleration of justice administration processes.
In this framework, we are going to implement with strictness the actions adopted via the National Strategy Against Corruption, adopting series of legislative interventions, such as the composition of:
(i) The Authority against Corruption.
(ii) The framework of witness protection.
(iii) The special penal responsibilities on behalf of ministers and other state officials, including the President of the Republic.
(iv) The administration’s compliance with the Court Decisions.
As far as the acceleration of justice administration processes, in addition to the establishment of the Administrative Court, we are promoting:
(i) e-justice implementation,
(ii) the establishment of a Court for Trade Disputes,
(iii) An International Centre for Arbitration,
(iv) A Court for disputes not exceeding 10,000 euros,
(v) the further staffing of our courts and the General Attorney’s Office
(vi) the radical reform of Family Law.
I have sited to the extend I was allowed today, indicatively and in short, our goals already put forward, as well as all our specific and concrete targets.
Our aim is to finalize the reconstruction of the State that is going to lead Cyprus to a new era. This is my vision for my second and last service, which is going to maintain its characteristic of passion, tenacity, determination and also strong will to cooperate with everyone.
It was not a pre-election rhetoric that in a final service, no one is going to be an opponent, because I am sure that you also adopt the position that everyone’s opponent are the public and our country’s problems. And I have no doubt that no matter what or how many our differences are today, what brings us together is the vision and duty to create an free, contemporary State, entirely compatible with our peoples expectations. My vision is to give back such a State in 2023.
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