Cyprus’ eighth President, Nikos Christodoulides, was sworn in on Tuesday before parliament, pledging to improve the lives of Cypriots and tackle illegal migration while combating corruption.
The seasoned politician gained 51.97% of the vote in a run-off on 12 February, beating communist-backed career diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis who took 48.03%.
It is the first time a president has been elected without the support of the two largest parties, DISY and the communist AKEL, which gives him minority support in parliament.
During his investiture speech, Christodoulides said: “The Cypriot people will be at the centre of all our policies.
“I already envision the country that I want to shape, and I am aware of the work that awaits me for a successful legacy”.
“The fight against corruption and favouritism will be key points of my administration,” he added.
He promised to deliver a society of equal opportunities for all.
“The goal is better schools, greener cities, more quality health services”.
Another key issue that Christodoulides has vowed to tackle is the topic of migration, where six percent of the 915,000 people living on the island are asylum seekers.
He said illegal migration is “one of the most pressing challenges, which adversely affects the daily life of Cypriots”.
“Our effort will focus on speeding up the processing of asylum applications to increase returns”.
Christodoulides committed to sticking with reforms paved by the previous government.
He said reforming the legal system is a ‘major challenge’ such as shortening the notoriously lengthy judicial processes and delivering justice.
“The long period of adjudication of cases and the length of time required to deliver justice, in addition to the disproportionate cost to the state, constitutes a denial of justice”.
Ending Cyprus’ decades-long decision is top of Christodoulides’ agenda when he assumes power on 1 March.
Talks have been in deep freeze since 2017 to resolve the division that resulted from Turkey’s 1974 invasion and occupation of the northern third of the island in response to a Greek-sponsored coup.
“Continued division does not allow conditions of peace and security, nor the implementation of the basic freedoms and human rights of all Cypriots”.
President Christodoulides said the Republic of Cyprus would bolster its energy program.
“The energy planning of our country is not directed against anyone, and I am referring specifically to Turkey”.
He added that Cyprus maintains excellent relations with all countries in the region, while Turkey could play a role.
“For this to happen, Turkey must demonstrate the necessary will, respect international law and meet its obligations towards the Republic of Cyprus, which are also obligations towards the European Union”.
Christodoulides called on the Parliamentary party leaders to offer their constructive contribution.
“I repeat once again that I see you as institutional partners and valuable partners.”