In the interview, Mr. Onoufrios Koullas, with the sincerity that characterizes him, did not hesitate to take a stand on the issue of the opening of the beach of Famagusta, for the Presidential Elections and the serious problems faced by the Local Government and the District of Famagusta.
How do you judge the procedures in the Cyprus issue so far and how do you comment on the announcement of the Turks for the opening of the beach of Famagusta?
After the peak of the processes in Crans Montana without a happy ending, I would say that the parties involved are in a phase of reflection. I would not characterize this period as stagnation but as rest. I hope that soon with the initiatives we will take, the way will be reopened for the continuation of the negotiations. Turkey should be pressured to accept the framework set by the Secretary General. of the UN on the issue of security. If such a will is really shown by Turkey, then the way will be opened for a comprehensive solution to our national problem. Undoubtedly, the President of the Republic made a huge effort that led the talks to a great depth and breadth, the like of which has never been seen before. Consequently, the enormous work that has already been produced in recent years cannot be set aside, on the contrary, we must try, with the contribution of the international community, to take those initiatives to rekindle the talks at the point where they stopped.
Any opening of the beach of Famagusta will be another negative accomplishment. However, I do not think that this is the major, in the face of the great effort and vision for our liberation from occupation and our return to our homeland.
What are the most serious problems facing the Famagusta Free Province today?
Our province is, without a doubt, in a state of development. However, this requires infrastructure work that should have been done years ago. Of course, it is gratifying that some have started to be implemented and others have been approved and are in the process of being designed or announced. Another serious problem is the absence or incomplete presence of important government services that would serve citizens and businesses. Finally, but perhaps the most serious problem, I would say that is the seasonality of employment since, as is well known, the province is mainly based on tourism. Therefore, it is necessary to intensify the efforts of the state - K.O.T. - local government - and other stakeholders for a substantial extension of the tourist season.
Citizens have heard a lot and are disappointed on many issues with the Local Government. Several municipalities are unable to respond due to lack of staff. In which direction is the Government Party moving towards the reform of the T.A.?
It is true that many municipalities and communities are unable to provide the services they owe to the citizens. And it is logical that they feel frustrated with the phenomena of corruption and entanglement that have plagued our country. I should note, however, that such phenomena have not been observed in our province. On the contrary, there seems to be proper and rational management to the extent that in recent years the revenues of the municipalities of the province have increased substantially. I should clarify that some municipalities have staff shortages but others have surplus staff. In other areas, too, there is heterogeneity and this is where local government reform comes in. The government's bill to reform the T.A., which has been under discussion in Parliament for a long time, will bring about the necessary consolidation of forces, so that there will be economies of scale and a reduction in spending that will enhance the effectiveness of the T.A.
There are almost six months left from the Presidential Elections and DISY has not announced the elected one, is there any concern?
No, no worries. Until a few weeks ago, we had the peak of the efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue. Our attention was focused there. At the end of the summer holidays, it is natural that we will also deal with the presidential elections. After all, in my opinion, 6 months is a huge time for a pre-election campaign and we are dragging society into such a long period of tension and discord. In any case, we are waiting for the final decisions of the President of the Republic. In my opinion, having in mind the multifaceted work that has been produced in all areas, Nikos Anastasiadis owes and is obliged to reclaim a second term.
Another year has passed away from the ancestral homes and the diary returns to the first page that says return. How do you experience the unquenchable desire to return from your fellow citizens every day, how heavy is the responsibility towards them?
The desire of the people of Famagusta and all the refugees to return is truly incredible. Our vision is to return to Famagusta, Mesaoria and Karpasia in conditions of peace, freedom and security. The frustrations of all these years do not discourage us. We will continue our efforts for the liberation and reunification of our homeland. And I consider this to be the heavy responsibility towards the refugees and the unborn who will come to this place.
Onoufrios Koullas is a Member of Parliament for the Electoral District of Famagusta