Opposition Akel on Sunday called for a meeting of the National Council to discuss a six-page document for a decentralised federation that was drawn up by the Greek Cypriot side some time ago.

Details of its contents were published in Kathmerini on Sunday.

Akel leader Stefanos Stefanou when asked by reporters about the document, said the party had requested a meeting to discuss it in a letter to President Nicos Anastasiades a month ago.

He said Akel had asked during the last National Council meeting what the government’s proposals were about a decentralised federation since the president brought up the issue a number of times since 2017.

“He [Anastasiades] simply said that a working document had been prepared which he indeed gave us but because he told us that it is confidential, we did not even say that we had this document and we did not give it to anyone,” he said, adding that the party did not know how it fell into the hands of Kathimerini.

“We do not know who published it but I must say this: we sent a letter to the President of the Republic about a month ago asking for a special session of the National Council to discuss this document because we consider such documents useful to discuss so they do not become the subject of public debate, possible controversies and counter-appeals,” Stefanou added.

He also said that the notion of delegating certain responsibilities by the central government to the constituent states was something already included in the existing convergences “and is not something new.”

“I would not like to comment further on this at the moment because we are ready to express our views within the National Council and I would not like to violate what we believe should be discussed at this level and not the subject of public debate.”

According to the Kathimerini article, the six-page document records six proposals for its implementation in the form of questions to which the Greek Cypriot side tries to give answers.

It has already been sent to the United Nations, the EU and the UK for study, and was drafted before the most recent talks in Geneva in April this year.

According to the information, the aim of the decentralisation of powers in a reunited Cyprus is to improve the operation and efficiency without, endangering the long-agreed basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation (BBF), though the Turkish side has moved beyond that and is seeking a two-state solution.

The idea behind decentralisation is to come up with a workable solution that won’t ultimately collapse if power-sharing is too centralised.

The proposal is based entirely on UN resolutions and parameters and the idea of the BBF as agreed in the 1977 and 1979 High Level Agreements.

It suggests that more of the federal powers listed under BBF discussions, could be transferred to the constituent states such as environmental protection, public health, social welfare and road safety, protection of antiquities and cultural heritage, excavation licensing and management of EU funds as examples.

On environmental protection for instance, which was used as an example, even though it would be enshrined in the constitution, but implemented by decision-making centres in the constituent states with the existence of coordination mechanisms for common policies that will come from Brussels.

Another example cited was shipping where it has been agreed that shipping will be the responsibility of the central government. This, the document says, could however, have a broader interpretation. Sub-sectors such as ports or coastal activities could be assigned to constituent states.

Ownership of these various jurisdictions would remain with the federal government on paper but just transferred, with the option of the powers being revoked by the federal government.

According to the report, there are 144 institutions and authorities that could be looked at for further decentralisation that previously were slated for federal government control.

The proposal provides for the creation of three-member coordinating bodies to be called National or Cypriot delegations with equal participation of representatives, one from the federal government and one from each constituent state.