EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: AKEL MP from Famagusta Mr. Christakis Tziovanis
In the recent parliamentary elections, he acquired for the first time the position of deputy of the Famagusta District with AKEL. He is a member of the Parliamentary Committee on the Environment, the Parliamentary Committee on Refugees-Trapped-Missing-Victims and the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Works. Read the interview he gave exclusively to SotiraNews.com…
I would like, Mr. Christakis, first of all to congratulate you on your election for the first time to the position of Parliamentary Representative of the Famagusta District. What are the reasons that pushed you to get involved in politics? I am a man who has my political background and from a young age I have been involved with the commons and the problems of the world and I just always believed that I could help my fellow man more than the position of Parliamentary Representative. I have always had the great misfortune that the Free Province of Famagusta, after 1974, was and remains neglected. Politicians may have identified our province with the opening of Famagusta over time, and I believe that it was an important reason why the works that should have been done or the works that had been done in the other provinces of Cyprus were not done. All this had as a consequence, with the first storm, with the first political and economic problems, our region being plundered and indeed having a very serious problem. I can say that all these were the most important reasons that pushed me to contribute from this position. I answer the question by saying that I will spend my best self these five years, to break some wrong and old mentalities. We must unite all the deputies of the province with a common goal to upgrade our area as much as possible.
On the occasion of your reports on the development of our Province, I could not help but ask you about the latest efforts for its development, through the efforts made either by Conferences or by Business Exhibitions. However, we also saw the coordinated efforts of the Municipalities of our Province to create a casino in the area. How do you, as a businessman, but also as an AKEL MP, see the creation of a casino, either in the province of Famagusta, or in our country in general. I will start by expressing my special joy, seeing that so many young people are involved in the commons of our province. I have a business, in which 80% are young people almost a little over thirty, whom I trusted when I was under thirty. I believe that new minds, combined with the wisdom of the older ones, can help the most.
As for the casino, I have to say that I am not against it, although it is a purely personal position. AKEL's position is different, there is a position of the Central Committee that should perhaps be differentiated. The government has already taken a stand, but there are two parts: We should point out that after statistical studies and surveys that have been done, there are countries where 18% -20% of the population has been affected by casinos in various ways. Some of us, no matter how much we are in favor, no matter how great the need is considering the new data that the upgrade of our tourist product will go through the casinos in Cyprus, we should be wary of the problem that the casinos will bring. I say "yes" in casinos, but with great sparing and great care because I believe that we will create a big problem in our society.
A big headache, however, in the Cypriot society in general is on the one hand the numerous betting centers and on the other hand the push of many of our compatriots in the Occupied Territories to visit casinos, as a result of which the Pseudo-state earns huge revenues. Do you think that creating a casino will help eliminate these two negative situations? These are the two factors that make me take a stand in favor of casinos. However, everyone should take responsibility and be accountable for their actions both nationally and personally. Going to the occupied territories and practicing cubism and squandering one's wealth and money in the occupied territories, then the least that can be described as this is a crime. In the other part, the many illegal electronic gambling establishments, which with our accession to the European Union found suitable ground and windows of the law to make their appearance. However, with legislation that needs to be either modernized and harmonized or with the appropriate legislation, this phenomenon can be resolved. And this is where I believe that the Parliament in its wisdom should immediately legislate because no one can come, get servers from Malta, bring them to Cyprus and have a casino. Even when I pass by and see them, I am honestly terrified that we are against legitimate casinos, but there are so many illegal ones. It is not only a matter of the Government, but it is also a matter of legislation. I will mention a typical incident that happened to me. Some years ago, when I happened to be in Russia on a business trip, at a time after the collapse of the Soviet regime, casinos were mushrooming. There were probably 60-70 huge casinos in Moscow. Crime has risen so much that at one point Putin ordered their 5-hour flight away from Moscow, somewhere in the Ural Mountains. This is the truth and some should take all this seriously, who think that the casino will solve all our problems. Sure there will be a significant revenue to the state and some entrepreneurs will hoard, but the side effects and the problem will exist.
As a member of the Parliamentary Committee on the Environment, I would like you to tell me your opinion on the recent partial condemnation of Cyprus by the European Union regarding Lake Sotira-Paralimni and the water snake. I will start with Natura 2000. My view is that there should be more reflection on which areas should be included in this program. There are many protected species in Cyprus, for which we should harmonize properly. The biggest mistake regarding the lake was made many years ago, where a part of it was suddenly found within a residential area and there was a huge development of houses, as a result of which a part of the lake was cut off and probably affects the water level because from this point passes the canal that directs the water out of the lake. If they let enough water pass into the lake, because there are houses, they are obliged to open the canal to let the water go so that there are no floods of houses. At the other end of the lake there is the shooting range, and we must not forget that the sport must be promoted and the shooting range has in its ranks the World Champions. The goal is to find the right land and move the shooting range in the future, just as the motocross track moved. The number of water snakes is around 80-90. I do not know if he will be able to survive, but we must do what we can. On the other hand, we can not predict the natural conditions in case of lake drought. Dangers lurk for his survival. We should, perhaps, consider moving it to another area. The lake is a natural wealth given by nature and for several years watered the surrounding area. As a trademark of our province, we must preserve it as much as we can.
As one of the most important, admittedly, entrepreneurs of our province, I would like you to tell me your views on the development of the Savior. That is, what would be your plan if you had to develop a Municipality like Sotira, which has its own natural wealth, in order to be able to compete with the neighboring areas of Protaras and Ayia Napa. First of all, I must say that it is a progressive Municipality now, with the recent development from Community to Municipality, with very capable, active and ambitious people, who, until recently, were largely engaged in agriculture and to a lesser extent with livestock. Sotira has the coastal front of Agia Thekla, which should be motivated in order to create a hotel development and the thought at some point should be how Agia Thekla will be united in some way with Sotira. In the area of Agia Thekla in which I have personally been active and know her, from the chapel of Agia Thekla to the river of Liopetri, I believe there are beauties that are unique to me. In the context of the division of state services in the Province of Famagusta, I believe that the Municipality of Sotiras is entitled to some Government departments to be housed within the Municipality. It is part of the upgrade. Regarding the projects that could be done, I believe that with the new data, and the new way of grants as a Municipality, I believe that some projects should be done that will highlight the area. But I repeat that the works should start from Agia Thekla and become a way of connection primarily from the coastal front.
And to move on to the current announcements of candidacies of the Presidency of the Republic, I want to ask you how you would see an imminent candidacy by Dimitris Christofias. Do you think that AKEL will support again a candidate whose name, badly, is associated with the tragedy in Marie, or will try to support a candidate who will come from the center? To say that AKEL is a party that has some principles and procedures, and this will follow in this case as well. Decisions will be made by June. At the moment there is nothing to announce. But what I want to say clearly is that after the term of every politician and every leader, history records both the positives and the negatives. I clearly believe that this Government has done a tremendous job during these four years of Christofias' rule. Let us not forget where the Cyprus issue was. I do not know if anyone believes that there is any other possible solution other than the bi-zonal bi-communal federation, agreements which were made after the coup and the invasion, from '77 -'79, with the agreements of Makarios-Dektas and Kyprianou-Dektas, which in the whole situation that developed after the war was, I believe, the most feasible solution. Evidence I can say that President Christofias is the fifth President who is at the helm of the Republic of Cyprus and has not escaped from the Bi-Zonal Bicommunal Federation.
As for Marie I think it was a tragic page, and I do not know if it is time to start blaming. I am not saying that the Christofias government was infallible. I repeat that Marie is recorded in the negative, but in order not to be misunderstood, I believe that in order for our state to function, the Public Service must be upgraded in all areas. Even Marie can be the culprit of the whole situation in the Civil Service.
What do you have to tell us about the huge problem of unemployment? With our accession to the European Union and without having put the safety valves we could have put, things will always be difficult. There are today, almost, 40 thousand unemployed in Cyprus and if I remember correctly, I think 130 thousand legal foreign community workers. Of these 130 thousand, about 40 thousand are Greeks. Do you understand that with the unfavorable development in the living standard of Greece, and with the pre-existing difficulties in the living standard of Romania and Bulgaria, Cyprus is a destination, and I would say that any efforts we make to reduce unemployment, we will unfortunately run into the issue of the European Union. Some ask us why we are not doing something to block the influx of non-Cypriots to tackle unemployment. I believe that there is nothing we can do about it from now on. What I personally believe that each of us who has a national conscience can feel is an obligation for the Greek Cypriot to work first and then any foreigner or community member. What I am saying is not racist but I believe that there are too many companies today that employ many foreigners, with the sole aim of making extra profit. I'm sorry to say that, but here we have to think on a personal level. That is, the state at some point, whoever rules, can not do so much. Here only the Cypriot businessman can intervene and solve the phenomenon. Nevertheless, too many efforts are being made by the Ministry of Labor. The other big tragedy is the unemployed young scientists. It is a generation that unfortunately does not feel so comfortable with our generation and is an important reason for the discrediting of politics.