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Cyprus President: Joint Declaration the start of painstaking effort towards a solution

13 February, 2014

President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades stressed on Wednesday night that the joint declaration, agreed with the Turkish Cypriot leader, does not constitute the solution of the Cyprus problem but it lays down the fundamental principles and the framework within which the talks will move towards the search of a solution.

Speaking at a press conference to inform the public at large about the provisions of the joint declaration, the President outlined and explained in detail the parameters agreed with Dervis Eroglu, pointing out that the agreed text meets the sensitivities and the objectives of the Greek Cypriot side, without sidelining the concerns of the Turkish Cypriot side.

In his introductory remarks, addressing the island’s political leadership, he said he fully respects different opinions but called on all political leaders to respond to the common wish of all Greek Cypriots and “join forces to address what is to follow because because it is well known that the joint declaration is only the beginning of a painstaking effort in order to achieve our country’s reunification”.

Addressing the Turkish Cypriots, he assured them that it is his sincere intention and wish to resolve the Cyprus problem as soon as possible, in a way which will restore the human rights and the fundamental freedoms for all the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus.

“The solution must have no winners and no losers. It must not provide the possibility for either side to dominate the other. It must make it possible for everyone to co-exist, create together and prosper in a modern European state,” the President stressed.

The two sides, he said, were able to agree on a joint declaration on February 11, after strenuous efforts over the past six months.

The declaration, he said, “without ignoring the other side’s concerns, satisfies our objectives and sensitivities”.

President Anastasiades said that the political parties’ leaders and the National Council, the country’s top advisory body, have contributed greatly to the achievement of this goal. To that effect he thanked them since, as he put it, even through presenting a difference of opinion they contributed to successfully meeting the demands made by the other side which the Greek Cypriot side did not agree with.

He extended warm thanks to the Greek government, which as he said, was kept informed of developments on a daily basis and gave “its full support to our efforts”. At the same time he thanked the legal team which was suggested by the parliamentary parties and contributed decisively to shaping the final content of the text.

He further proceeded to explain exhaustively the seven points of the joint declaration as follows.

As regards the first paragraph, he pointed out that the current status quo (the island’s division as a result of Turkey’s invasion in 1974) is considered by both leaders unacceptable. He explained that inter alia this means that the presence of occupation troops, the continued division of the country, the illegal use of Greek Cypriot properties in Turkish occupied Cyprus, the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the illegal settlement of Turkish nationals in occupied Cyprus, the destruction of religious and cultural heritage, the need which forces Greek Cypriots to sell off their properties in the occupied areas and the consolidation of the faits accomplis caused by the invasion.

President Anastasiades continued to say that the first paragraph also provides that the solution will respect the basic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms and will safeguard the common future of all the citizens of a united Cyprus within the EU.

The principles and the values on which the EU is founded will be safeguarded and be respected in the entire territory of the Republic of Cyprus, he added, referring to paragraph 4 of the joint declaration.

At the same time, he highlighted the fact that in paragraph 3 of the joint declaration, equally as important, or even of the utmost importance is the fact that the three basic principles which are characteristics of every member state of the UN and the EU are guaranteed as a united Cyprus, a UN and EU member will have a single international legal personality, one and only sovereignty and a single citizenship.

The President pointed out that in paragraph 3 any tight or other timeframes are excluded.

Paragraph 5, he said, adopts the principle that nothing is agreed unless everything is agreed.

President Anastasiades noted that paragraph six expressly excludes any form of arbitration and that only an agreement based on the free will of the parties will be put to separate referenda to the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots.

He said that in paragraph four the union of all or part of Cyprus with any country or any type of division or secession and any unilateral action to change the status is expressly and unambiguously forbidden.

At the same time according to the President the hierarchy of laws is also ensured as it is expressly referred in paragraph four that the highest law of the state will be the Federal Constitution, which will bind all the authorities of the federation and the constituent states. The Constitution, he added, will supersede any other legislation.

He further pointed out that it is also expressly defined that once the powers of the Federal Government are agreed upon, any extra powers, that is to say the residue, will be conferred by the Federal Constitution to the constituent states. He explained that these powers have to do with internal powers such as education, health and social insurance.

It is further ensured, he noted, that the constituent states will not have any pre-existing right of sovereignty.

President Anastasiades noted, inter alia, that it is provided in paragraph 3 that any differences between the Federal State and the constituent states will be resolved by the Federal Constitutional Court.