By Angelos Anastasiou
At a time when inter-communal talks for the settlement of the Cyprus problem are at an advanced stage, the issue of safeguarding the human rights of all citizens living on the island is of paramount importance, and a decisive factor in exercising judgement in a possible referendum, Attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Saturday.
Addressing an event on human rights, organised by the Paphos Bar Association, Clerides said the identification of the need for basic human rights, their acknowledgement, and, most importantly, their safeguarding, came about gradually over the years, and their consolidation and effective implementation in every well-governed state required a lot of work, sacrifices, and even blood.
Given this, the AG noted, it is inconceivable and unacceptable that, in the context of any agreed solution to the Cyprus problem, there can be exemptions, relegations, and allowances in the recognition and practical implementation of all fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Any other instance, he added, will cause significant regression, which will justifiably strike an irreversible blow to the public’s sense of justice, and will create suspicion and a lack of the necessary good faith and decisiveness, which must be exhibited by both sides for any new constitutional arrangements that may be agreed to function effectively.
“Human rights must be enjoyed by all human beings, and human rights exist, and will exist, while human beings exist,” he said.
“They are so necessary and interrelated with human nature, that they safeguard the dignity and decency of every individual on this planet, and can only be considered inalienable and universal.”
The AG’s comments echoed those of President Nicos Anastasiades and the Greek Cypriot side that any solution to the Cyprus problem would not include permanent derogations to the EU acquis when it came to freedom of movement.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has said that permanent derogations from the acquis should be viewed as a “natural right” of Turkish Cypriots instead of a restriction to the rights of Greek Cypriots or other EU nationals.
Akinci said the Turkish Cypriot community must find the ways of being able to have “the majority of property ownership and population in its own area”.
Such restrictions are opposed by the Greek Cypriot side, which wants people to enjoy all the freedoms enjoyed by every EU citizen.
Anastasiades has said that he and Akinci had agreed to implement the European acquis, and that the Turkish side could not now start looking for permanent derogations.
The human rights and basic freedoms enjoyed all other European citizens provided for free movement and the right to property for all, he said.