By Achilleas Demetriades
At the end of every year each one of us reflects on the year ahead and sets out our goals regarding what we would like to achieve in the new year. There is uncertainty, both in Cyprus and in the world at large. We think about our divided homeland, the financial problems that affect us, the environment which is under threat, and we wonder what we could do to create a better future for our children.
One is naturally disappointed. People recognise that there are many things that trouble us and prevent us from making progress. We can no longer sweep them under the carpet. Our country cannot be a champion of corruption and lack of transparency. The Republic of Cyprus (which needs international solidarity) cannot be brought before the European Court twice because of the ‘golden passports’ issue. We have hit rock bottom on the corruption front, based on various international indicators. Is this the Cyprus we want to have for us and our children?
The question that we need to answer is simple: can we change things or are we condemned to live in this downward spiral?
My response to this is that we can change things for the better because it is up to us to bring about change. This is how I see this happening.
To start with, we have lost our trust in our institutions. Citizens question and discredit decisions which should be for the benefit of the common good. It needs a lot of effort to convince citizens to engage in decisions which concern us all.
The Honest State is my response to the deadlock we are faced with today. An Honest State means we put an end to the lack of transparency and the absence of accountability. Today’s image of corruption and ineffective administration must give way to positive prospects and concern for everyone. We have to strengthen public life with rules that are observed. The leaders have to lead by example and need to be open to the public on what their actions are. There is an urgent need to upgrade e-government and accelerate the administration of justice.
Secondly, we are two steps away from the partition of our country. We can prevent this. We need first to regain our credibility in Europe and then align ourselves with Europe’s interests which will protect us. These two go hand in hand, and that is why we should stress the need to regain our credibility and our reliability as far as our claims are concerned.
Thirdly, we should refocus and rebalance our economy through increased opportunities for investment, reducing inequalities, firmly maintaining a responsible fiscal policy while at the same time exploiting the possibilities afforded to us by the new European economic policy. The state has a responsibility to strengthen the social welfare system with targeted safety nets for those of our compatriots who are not as financially strong as we are.
To achieve this, we have to fight corruption, upgrade the image of Cyprus as a serious investment destination and make the best use of our human resources. At the same time, we must not forget the environment and our duty to the generations to come. The way to safeguard the quality of life is through green development and a circular economy.
Fourthly, it is necessary to introduce reforms in the educational system. Children and young people must acquire those skills to be able to compete in today’s environment which our EU membership warrants – freedom of movement for working people, remote opportunities for work and education, lifelong learning and new types of employment.
We know the difficulties that lie ahead in 2022: the pandemic, rising prices, lack of employment, low salaries for young people, closure of businesses.
Nonetheless, the new year can be a year of hope as well. The preconditions for a change of course can be created. The people of Cyprus are working hard, they strive harder and do not bow down to adversity. We have the right to aspire to a brighter future, that is my conviction.
With this belief, I wish you all a good and creative 2022.
Achilleas Demetriades is a partner at the Lellos P Demetriades law office LLC, https://achilleas.eu