President Nikos Christodoulides informed the national council on Friday about the efforts being made to restart Cyprus talks, the government actions following the incidents in Pyla, and the government’s plan to deal with the migration problem, following the rioting in Chlorakas, Paphos a few days ago.
Speaking after the meeting, Government Spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said: “The President of the Republic proceeded to thoroughly brief [the party leaders] regarding the handling in relation to our effort to restart the negotiations, but also in view of his going to New York in the context of the UN General Assembly.”
Letymbiotis added that the president made it clear that the Greek Cypriot side is ready to restart negotiations from the place they left off [after Crans Montana in 2017].
“The president discussed with all the political leaders and what we can say with satisfaction is that national goals demand national unity and that is exactly what we saw today in the national council session. A national unity, a constructive, meaningful exchange of views, all the political forces putting the national benefit and the national interest above all else,” he said.
The government spokesman said that the president also informed in relation to the recent incidents in Pyla and the diplomatic timely manipulations to prevent the Turkish plans, resulting in the unprecedented international mobilisation.
“The political forces recognised the correct actions of the government, the president, and the minister of foreign affairs to mobilise the international community, the declaration of the Security Council which sets the context in very specific parameters and reaffirms the support of the council in the agreed framework, in the bi-zonal bi-communal federation with political equality, but also the need for the appointment of an envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Cyprus issue, a position that the president has repeatedly emphasised to the UN Secretary General,” he said.
Finally, he said that the Immigration issue was discussed, and the president informed about the course, the development, the actions, and the next actions which the government is willing to undertake.
“What the president has made clear is that this government, in accordance with the governing programme of the president, has set as a primary goal an effective immigration policy that will address the issue holistically,” he said.
He added that Cyprus is a frontline country that has taken in large migration flows in the last few years.
“What we have seen in the last four months, for the first time in the history of the migration issue, is the reversal of the numbers, departures being more than arrivals for the first time, double the number of applications being processed on a monthly basis than last year, 1800 applications per month instead of 1000,” he said.
The migration department has been staffed with 27 more asylum application examiners, and in the next month another 25 will join, he said.
“What the President of the Republic has requested from the political forces, and is the appeal of the executive power, is to advance as soon as possible the bill for the establishment of the Deputy Ministry of Migration, which we consider to be self-evident from the procedures that have been set in motion, that it will play a catalytic role in the further radical treatment of migration issue,” he said.
He added that a common point of view of all the members of the national council is that through acts of violence, through incidents of material damage and endangering lives, “we cannot resolve the issue. Violence begets violence and that is a message we are all sending together.”
“The government will not tolerate phenomena of escalation of violence, phenomena that endanger public safety and this is non-negotiable,” he said.
Asked about the issue of Pyla and if the government is close to an agreement, he said that “there is no conclusion [to the issue].”
“We were and are in contact with the peacekeeping force. The framework has been set by the Security Council through its unanimous Declaration and this is to prevent Turkish plans to overthrow the buffer zone regime. This is also clear through the Declaration, to ensure the terms of the mandate of the peacekeeping force, to prevent the expansion of the occupation by the occupying regime,” he said.
Asked if the measures concerning Turkish Cypriots will be announced before the UN General Assembly, Letymbiotis said that the president will decide this. He added that the measures have been finalised and will be announced when the president decides they should be announced. He said that they concern areas that affect the daily life of Turkish Cypriots.
When asked if there are political responsibilities for what happened in Chlorakas and replying to a comment that MPs are asking for resignations, the government spokesman said that the decision to take political responsibility is a constitutional authority of the president.
“We as a state, we are concerned with and have set as our goal to ensure public safety. It is the enforcement of the law through the organised bodies of a well-governed state and that is what we would expect and hope for at this time,” he said.
Speaking about the next steps in the Cyprus issue, he reiterated that the UN General Assembly has been set as a milestone on the occasion of taking the initiative to resume the talks and said that we look forward to these important contacts.