|President Christofias says he will not seek re-election |
Nicosia, May 14 (CNA) -- President of the Republic Demetris Christofias announced on Monday his decision not to seek re-election in the presidential elections of 2013.
During a 15-minute televised address to the people of Cyprus, the President said that “given the fact that the Cyprus problem has not been solved and it does not seem possible to achieve decisive progress during the next months, I have definitely decided that I will honour my pre-election commitment” and not seek re-election.
Christofias recalled that during the previous pre-election period one of his commitments towards the people of Cyprus was his decision to be President for a single term in office. The only exception, he noted, would be a possible settlement of the Cyprus problem that would require the presence of the leader of the Greek Cypriot side and President of the Republic of Cyprus or the possibility of the two sides being very close to a settlement. “In this case certainly it would be impossible to abandon this effort,” he noted.
Christofias said that this commitment was a result of his desire to see his country free and reunited, without occupation troops and illegal settlers. He stressed that the settlement of the Cyprus problem is a purpose of life for him and recalled that his was the main reason for which he ran for presidency.
He referred to the efforts made by the Greek Cypriot side since 2008 when he assumed the presidency, noting that the Cyprus problem was at a very difficult junction then as regards the Greek Cypriot side.
“The international community had the wrong impression that our side was not really pursuing a settlement”, he said, adding that ''punitive approaches for the decision of the Cypriot people at the referenda continued.''
In April 2004, a solution plan presented by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was put to simultaneous referenda. The Turkish Cypriot community voted in favour, while the Greek Cypriot community rejected it as unacceptable due to the fact that it did not meet its main concerns.
“In this framework we started a huge effort to reverse the situation,” Christofias said, adding that “we used the 8 July Agreement and began direct negotiations on an agreed basis and with an agreed process.”
He said that according to the agreed basis “we pursue a settlement providing for a bizonal, bicommunal federation with one and single sovereignty, a single citizenship and an international personality.”
“It was the first time that the Turkish Cypriot side was committed on the issue of sovereignty. At the same time we agreed on a 'Cypriot-owned' process, without arbitration, without artificial deadlines and mediation. This process not only protected us from the dangerous paths of the past but at the same time it served as a safety net for us at crucial phases of the negotiations,” he said
Christofias said that despite what is being said in the domestic front “we have been and we will remain attached to the principles for a settlement of the Cyprus problem and the agreed process, something which causes the intense reaction of the occupying Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader. He noted that the unanimous decision of the National Council on September 18, 2009, “was taken at our initiative during our governance.”
Christofias said it is obvious that “despite the substantial difficulties between the two negotiations of the Turkish Cypriot side Eroglou and Talat, Turkey did not help to efforts for a settlement. On the contrary, it undermined them.”
He said that despite Turkey’s negative stance “we achieved to revive the substantial interest of the international community. We were able to have a strong support from important countries of the Security Council on crucial issues. We achieved a strong support by European countries and the European Union itself on crucial issues for the country, as our explorations for hydrocarbons and the Cypriot Presidency of the Council of the EU.”
Furthermore he noted that “we enhanced our relations with neighbouring states and we created the prospects for a hopeful future for the whole region. Cyprus is today more powerful worldwide. We have regained the support of progressive Turkish Cypriots to efforts for a settlement providing for a federation,” he added.
Referring to the talks on the Cyprus problem, Christofias said that “we have come up with the most numerous and most important convergences achieved in direct negotiations between the two communities since the Turkish invasion. The convergences that have been achieved constitute substantial improvements compared to what has been proposed until now to the people of Cyprus as a settlement.”
Christofias said that all convergences are based on the fundamental principles for a Cyprus settlement, adding that “if we had the necessary unity and adherence to goals in the domestic front it would have been better.”
President Christofias noted that “our goal is a solution but this unfortunately does not only depend on us. It also depends on Turkey’s stance which has been disappointing,” he said, adding that “the situation in the negotiations is not unfortunately encouraging today. We expect to jointly decide how we will proceed with the negotiations, if the process will move on, while Turkey and Eroglu are drafting B' plans and culminate their intransigence and provocative stance,” he said, adding that “there are no well-founded hopes for a settlement of the Cyprus problem or further substantial progress during the remaining months of our Presidency.”
“Given the fact that the Cyprus problem has not been solved and it does not seem possible to achieve decisive progress during the next months, I have definitely decided that I will honour my pre-election commitment. I will not run for election at the highest post of the President of the Republic of Cyprus,” Christofias said.
The President also noted that today he informed formally the Central Committee of his party, left-wing AKEL. for his decision. He added that he also informed the members of the government during the latest meeting of the Cabinet.
Christofias assured that “we remain at the forefront” of our struggle, adding that “we did our outmost'' to achieve a settlement and terminate occupation and division.
“We are not overwhelmed with disappointment. The liberation and reunification of our country and our people is the only way out for the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriots,” he noted.
Referring to Cyprus' economy Christofias said that “we prevented the situation from worsening, showing particular social sensitivity, especially in comparison with what peoples in many other European countries are experiencing.”
“We continue to strive with a view to address the problems deriving from the excessive exposure of Cyprus banks to Greek bonds and to the Greek economy, which constitutes today the main problem of the Cypriot economy,” he added.
With regard to explorations for hydrocarbons in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, Christofias said that “the expressed interest in the second licensing round proves how our sovereignty, our state entity and security of the region are being reinforced through this process. It proves the immense prospects in the financial and political field,” he noted.
He assured that “we are ready to exercise a successful Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which will reinforce the country’s prestige” and will prove to be beneficial for the future.
Christofias also said that he always tried to serve the people with honesty, collegiality, fighting spirit, and passion and assured that he will continue to struggle for a settlement, the reunification of the country and its people.
He expressed hope that the next President and the new government which the people will elect, will continue efforts for a more just society and a proper settlement of the Cyprus problem.
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have been engaged in UN-led peace talks since September 2008 to find a negotiated settlement that would reunite Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
UN Secretary General Special Representative for Cyprus Alexander Downer announced last month that the UN would engage in shuttle diplomacy between the two sides to negotiate the way forward and the precise way in which matters should be handled concerning Cyprus talks.