Cyprus Mail

Christodoulides promises non-binding referenda

Young People Ask, Christodoulides, president, youth
President Christodoulides at the question and answer session with high school children - 'Young People Ask'

President Nikos Christodoulides on Friday promised to hold non-binding referenda in the near future.

Speaking at an organised question and answer session with high school children, he said the government “sincerely believes in participatory democracy, that you must have a say and a role.”

He said the non-binding referenda would take place via an online platform and would concern matters such as lowering the voting age.

He also spoke about another planned online platform aimed exclusively at young people, on which the government would answer questions and suggestions submitted by young people once a month.

The platform will be called “Ekfrasi” – “expression” in Greek.

Christodoulides added that the meeting he held on Friday with high school students is a “rehearsal for what is to come” on the Ekfrasi platform.

He was then posed a question regarding the Cyprus problem, and said, “what we are living in today is not normality” and said “on the contrary to how some perceive it, young people are very interested in the Cyprus problem.”

“When you are in a position of power and you were chosen by the Cypriot people, the decisions you make … must be such that you are beneficial to your country and its future,” he said.

Moving back to the matter at hand, he said “people have the wrong impression in this country. What we see today is getting worse every day. New faits accomplis are being created, and that makes it much more difficult to achieve our goal: the reunification of Cyprus.”

If we divide our country, we cannot unlock its potential. A united Cyprus will make the most of this potential,” he said.

He then added, “there are no frozen conflicts. You see what is happening in our region. So, there is no choice but to do everything possible to reunite Cyprus. And you, young people, have an important role to play.”

The conversation then moved on to other matters, with Christodoulides saying “the government’s priority is issues about which young people have concerns, such as climate change, work issues, and housing.”

He added that education “should be connected with the issues the labour market faces, so that young people can be directed into professions with a future in Cyprus.”

Asked about corruption, Christodoulides said, “among other things, my most important advantage is that I am a ‘party orphan’. For the first time, someone was elected to the Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus without the support of one of the two largest parties.

“At the same time, this is also my greatest weakness, because when you are a ‘party orphan’, you are considered to be more vulnerable, although I don’t feel that way. I have no qualms going forward with these issues. I am sure the initiatives we will implement will cause much discussion and much reaction,” he said.

Moving on to the matter of the cost-of-living crisis, he said Cyprus’ economy “depends to a large extent on external factors.”

He said that heightened inflation has come about “due to factors such as wars in the region, the coronavirus pandemic, and others.”

With this in mind, he said the government aims to “make the economy less susceptible to external factors.”

He touched on the package of measures he had announced to help alleviate the cost-of-living crisis, closed by saying young people “must claim their role in society to have a say in social events.”

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