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Anastasiades slams Sizopoulos over National Council breach (Update 1)

EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos

President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday slammed socialist EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos for what he called “cherry picking” parts of the National Council minutes to publish in an attempt to undermine the Cyprus negotiations.

“This is an unacceptable act which undermines our efforts for a sustainable solution for our national issue,” a written statement from the palace said. Sizopoulos was also accused of presenting a distorted picture and of being very selective of what he revealed.

“The President of the Republic will not follow Mr Sizopoulos in this downward spiral making the full National Council minutes public and this is because the president’s only concern is to serve the interests of Cypriot Hellenism and not prioritising party interests over the good of the country.”

The presidency would remain reserved on whether it would respond to everything Sizopoulos said, the statement added.

Sizopoulos on Wednesday in a grand gesture made public the minutes of the two latest National Council meetings, saying the public had a right to the truth. “Over the past few months, there were several times when I gave serious thought to what the correct political decision for me to take was. Above all, I feel I have the responsibility and duty to inform the Cypriot public on what is going on behind their backs in regards to negotiations for solving the Cyprus problem,” he said.

At a news conference, Sizopoulos said the move had been prompted by deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos’ February 12 remarks that Sizopoulos’ assertion – that the public was being misinformed over the true developments in ongoing negotiations – did not reflect reality.

Thus, taking full responsibility for what he was about to do, Sizopoulos began to read out excerpts from the minutes of two National Council meetings, which took place on September 5 and December 8.

Although some of his points were already covered when a National Council document was leaked in December, Sizopoulos referred to several points unaired in public so far.

For instance, in a new state, residents would be divided into four categories, each with different rights, he said.

The first would be comprised of those who have a citizenship of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot constituent state and would have all their rights safeguarded

Greek Cypriots who wished to live under the administration of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state and take constituent citizenship from there, would have the right to vote in local authority elections and European Parliament elections – not parliamentary nor presidential elections.

Permanent residents without a citizenship in the constituent state would only have the right to vote on local authority level.

The last category would be those who live in one constituent state but would vote in the other.

The minutes also revealed that 114,000 Turkish settlers would remain in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state.

Sizopoulos said the Constitutional Court would be comprised of an equal number of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots – four each. For constitutional matters, the president would be elected from a pool of foreign judges with the exception of those from Greece, Turkey and Britain, the current guarantor powers.  The foreign judge would preside and have the casting vote in the case of a tie.

A senate will also be established with an equal number of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots – 20 each.

On property, a commission will be set up comprising of one Greek Cypriot, one Turkish Cypriot and one foreign specialist who will be chairing the group. The commission would make decisions based on set criteria on who would be prioritised – the legal owner or the current user.

Sizopoulos also said a public service commission would be set up comprised of three Greek Cypriots and three Turkish Cypriots. As far as high ranking state officials go, they would be appointed on a 2:1 ratio.

Though no formal rules exist, as the National Council is an unofficial body set up to advise the President, its sessions have always been held behind closed doors, with views aired freely in strict confidentiality, and any information from inside the room had come exclusively from leaks.

Earlier on Wednesday, deputy spokesman Papadopoulos, who condemned the stunt by Sizopoulos, linked it to the upcoming parliamentary election in May and pointing out that since 1977, when the National Council was set up, Sizopoulos was the first party leader to ever read minutes to the public.

“Neither Makarios, Vassiliou, Clerides, Kyprianou, Christofias nor Tassos Papadopoulos did something like that during a pre-election period,” said the deputy spokesman, referring to the former presidents of the Republic.

Papadopoulos claimed that not only did Sizopoulos not give a correct picture of the situation, as he only read out certain bits, but that he made the move safe in the knowledge the government would not publish the full minutes of National Council meetings just to refute what has been said.

Additionally, Papadopoulos said, EDEK’s leader was further strengthening the Turkish side as he was giving the impression the Greek Cypriot side was not serious in its commitment to the success of the talks.

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