INTERVIEW with SotiraNews: Kyriakos Hatzigiannis: "There are too many who do not want Sotira to have tourism development"
Dr. Kyriakos Hatzigiannis has been one of the members of the Parliamentary group of the Democratic Alarm in the province of Famagusta since 2006. He is a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs and the Parliamentary Committee on Refugees-Trapped-Missing-Victims. He is also a member of the Parliament delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe since May 2013.
On the occasion of the latest developments for the restoration of the monastery of Apostolos Andreas, the economy and the development of the Municipality of Sotira, he gladly accepted to give us an interview, as stated by a reader of SotiraNews.com.
Read the interview:
Mr. Kyriakos, I would like to thank you very much for the interview you give us at SotiraNews.
I thank you for the suggestion to give an interview to such an interesting website and activity, which I constantly follow.
Mr. Kyriakos, last month the Municipality of Sotira hosted the photo exhibition: "Morphou: the Looting and the destruction of the Ancient Heritage". As a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Refugees, Trapped, Missing and Suffered, I want you to tell us how Parliament protects our cultural and religious monuments in the occupied territories and how you comment on the processes for the restoration of the monastery of Apostolos Andreas.
Your question is very apt and really relevant. Regarding the issue of the processes of the Parliament, I personally had written in chapter D, the issue of saving our cultural heritage in the occupied territories. This was followed by a resolution on the occasion of the entire debate in Chapter D, a resolution of the Parliament which essentially calls on Turkey to respect the decisions to date, either of national courts, e.g. in America, as well as in Europe, but also resolutions of other international organizations for the protection of Cultural Heritage. I want to emphasize that the preservation of the Cultural Heritage in the occupied territories is a priority and is parallel to the preservation of the very rights of our captives. However, as things turn out, without a solution to the Cyprus problem, protection is our highest priority. Woe and woe if in ten years from today there will not be with this course of things, with these prevailing conditions, with non-existent interest on the part of the occupying power, there will be no hope that anything will remain standing.
In relation to the monastery of Apostolos Andreas, let us say only one thing: Certainly Turkey is responsible for the fact that until today this monastery has not been restored with the aim of occurring in the form where the University of Patras has designed. And we end up with the proposal of the University of Patras as not only a technical solution by the experts but also as an acceptable and agreed solution in the context of our own consultation, our own side of the institutions, the management committee of the monastery, as well as its inhabitants Karpasias. So for us it is absolutely clear what we ask through the restoration to preserve. The proposal and plans are those prepared by the University of Patras. I recently had a three-hour meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul to explain the facts. I had described them to the extent that I could describe and in the detail that I could convey to the Patriarch the catastrophe that is taking place in our occupied territories, I asked for his own contribution in both directions, that is, to the Turkish government but also to ours. on the side, towards the side of the church, in order to speed up the procedures for the restoration of the monastery. The readiness is given by the Patriarch and let us hope that with his own contribution there will be that acceleration of things to end up somewhere.
Let's move on to the burning issue, that of the economy. This March has been described as a "black March" for the Cypriot economy. Do you think that the Government of Nikos Anastasiadis has followed the right policy in dealing with the economic crisis?
So much has happened in our economy and the answer lies only in the result. We managed to make our state still functioning today. We avoided naughty bankruptcy. Bankruptcy would mean the collapse of hospitals, we would not even have money to buy basic goods, we would not be able to buy raw materials such as fuel oil so we would not have electricity, we would not be able to provide food and all that could happen through a naughty bankruptcy. In some areas, for example in the field of feed preservation, we were left without feed for some days. On the contrary, we are fortunate today to discuss not from the point of view of naughty bankruptcy but from the point of view of saving our economy.
How long do you think Cyprus can face the economic crisis completely?
Before we get into that I would like to say that it is positive that we have avoided naughty bankruptcy. There would be such consequences, and I wonder how even the very existence of the Republic of Cyprus would be dealt with. And I live here. It is truly a feat that we managed through these situations and the misery of the financial data we received not to be driven and to secure a loan. Secondly, it goes without saying that it was not a pleasant surprise to implement the bail in. and is overwhelming to our dignity. A free economy, you do not crush it in such a way. You do not cut deposits and do not take away property from someone. It is an individual right. And yet, as it happened in 1974 to the Cypriot citizen where a force with military means took away his existence, the same happened in March where the Eurogroup has removed from the economy of the Cypriot citizen its creation. It was obviously not right. Let us also say the following: The magnitude of the economic problem of Cyprus was so great that we all estimated that it was not within our capabilities. The issue with the haircut proposal was not something to be expected, despite the fact that it was discussed in the past. And the previous government had made statements with the former president of the republic that he would not accept a haircut. It was an open trading at sea.
Let me ask you something at this point. Exactly one year ago, in July 2012, in a previous discussion, you sounded very prophetic and said that we should enter the support mechanism early so as not to be overwhelmed. Do you think that you are right?
Unfortunately yes. If we were preparing our own memorandum from the end of 2008, Cyprus today would still be in the markets. If we had then taken action and resorted to the mechanism, we would not have ended up in bail in. In passing, I must say that the decision of the Republic of Cyprus to buy Laiki Bank was completely wrong. That was the big and fatal mistake. Then we managed the bankruptcy of the state before the bankruptcy of a bank. And if we made the right decisions then, we would have de facto guaranteed liquidity in front of us for a year and we would negotiate on other terms. We had to join the mechanism, and the application had to be prepared much earlier, and in fact, if we entered with the other countries, there would be no attitude towards Cyprus with this vengeful treatment that we have faced as a "country of money laundering", as a "tax haven" with the result that we are all targeted, because it was a targeted bombardment of our banking system. I believe that what has happened has happened.
The second mistake was that the first decision of the Eurogroup was clearly much better than the second. Even if this decision was humiliating, at least we cut horizontally from everyone, ensured or managed the aspect of justice or ethics on better principles, that is, everyone paid a price, because everyone was responsible. Responsibilities existed at various levels. Not individual only. There are responsibilities from those who were abused, from the bankers, from them, from them, even from the ordinary citizen who borrowed and can not return on the basis of the agreed terms the money he has received and claims today that it is a problem the bank's. No, it is not a bank problem. So if we had these six billion, if we subtract that the course of Laiki was what it is today, the closing, that is, we would have at our disposal more than 3 billion and we would work better on the principles of justice and the development needs of this place. Unfortunately, we did not accept it, with feelings of exaggeration and impression at the time, so as not to characterize them as populist, with the result that some of our fellow human beings were beaten mercilessly and humiliatingly.
Mr. Hatzigiannis, from the day the Eurogroup imposed the public debt cut, some economists who appeared on television night and day, but also some politicians, even supported leaving the euro. How could such reactions be addressed?
An exit from the euro would be disastrous. Catastrophic for tourism, catastrophic for services but also for Cyprus itself. Exiting the euro would mean a 70% haircut on all deposits afterwards. Exiting the euro would be a setback that would lead us to the precipice, to disaster and leave behind malfunctions in the economy. Why do not we come forward to build a new Cyprus, with intersections with reforms. Besides, our banking problem in Cyprus was not only. It was also budgetary. All these malfunctions so far exist and we must address them with cuts and reforms. So are we trying to go to the pound so as not to change the Cypriot taxpayer or the Cypriot citizen to be a slave to these malfunctions? Electricity, water, telephone, sewerage, garbage and taxes, how much does the Cypriot citizen pay? He has nothing more left. We have become a tyranny as such an uncharacteristic and third world system in Europe, which the citizen can not stand. To be responsible it is better to see what we need to change and then talk about whether we will return to the pound. There is an agreed program, the memorandum and the loan agreement. We see that the course of implementation and application of all that we have agreed is moving in a satisfactory way and to a good degree, and I believe that we should find the strength to implement what we have agreed on together.
And let me say one more thing: none of those you mentioned, either from the channels, or new political forces, made a proposal. There was no serious proposal but it was all populism. The only serious way is to find money so that this place does not collapse politically. After all, those who made proposals should come out officially and make proposals and insist that there is another course outside the euro. Do you hear this sentence repeated beyond fragmentary sentences? From none!
Recently, the Municipality of Sotiras has proceeded with developments, creating two new beaches and reshaping its coastal front, creating a modern restaurant in the coastal area of Agia Thekla, but also trying to resist the financial crisis by creating its own revenue. The fact of the existence of the area, however, in the "Natura 2000" plan has provoked reactions from individual environmental organizations and individual sections of the public. Do you consider these reactions justified or do you believe that there are various bodies that want the Savior to remain without tourism development?
I will start with the last one. Yes, of course there are many who do not want the Savior to have tourism development! There are some others who do not realize the necessity that exists in a Municipality that has such a coastal front, that it must develop it. That is, I do not understand. And what was the right process? Should this zone be included from the river to Agia Thekla as a protected area? No proper procedure has been done. There was no consultation, nothing. The Municipality of Sotira should normally go to court and investigate whether the process of joining the Natura 2000 project in 2008 was correct. Therefore, I believe that the Municipality of Sotiras should proceed without further delay, to complete its development plans. We must put Sotira on the map of tourism as well, but also move forward with another development model.
Unfortunately for many decades we did not follow a balanced development in Sotira with the result that the tourist opportunity is not dragged off the table and used. Houses were built in Agia Thekla which offer virtually nothing to the Municipality of Sotira and its inhabitants. The citizen of Sotira financially pays disproportionate expenses such as sewerage and lighting to have that residential area and now in the efforts made by the Mayor, to have those who influence their interests and create all these problems. We are strongly next to the Mayor, we call on him to continue his efforts, we call on the central administration without bureaucracy to come as an auxiliary and additional helper, without delays and to respond to the requests of the Municipality which, by the way, are not financial requests , but it is clear to overcome bureaucratic obstacles.
Mr. Hatzigiannis, how do you, as an MP from the province of Famagusta, see the general image of the Savior today?
There is a development, both on the coastal front, as well as a cultural upgrade of the Municipality. We also see an administrative upgrade of the Municipality. We have areas that may need to be developed and properly developed. Unfortunately, we have fallen into a time when financial resources have been depleted. We are talking about at least maintaining resources, instead of increasing them as in previous years. We have a reduction that I would say is endless down. Therefore, today the Municipality is called to continue its development with non-existent means. Now, here is the challenge and I believe that with the logic and mentality that prevails in the City Hall, the Mayor and the Municipal Councilors, a creative approach to things will be sought and we will not just remain spectators or doom.
We must move forward, at least in the plans. The crisis will pass at some point and I see the Savior as a size but also as an opportunity to have a balanced development in contrast to other Municipalities which may have unilateral development. Let us not forget that the agricultural sector in Sotira is huge. Let us not forget that there is a sector of agricultural units that can be enriched and developed. The tourism sector and small and medium-sized enterprises in the center of Sotira, which have to present successful activities, either through restaurants or through other forms of professional enterprises, must be developed. I believe in the creativity of the citizens and they must continue to do so.
Mr. Hatzigiannis, thank you for the interview.
I thank you and wish the Municipality of Sotiras to continue this course. It is a vision for me for this Municipality to take its place in the tourism sector, through agritourism, through cultural activities, but also through the remodeling of its traditional space and to be the hinterland of tourism, and yes, it has these backgrounds to do it.
At SotiraNews I congratulate you on your hard work, effort and creativity, and to say that it is a source of information for us politicians with the validity it has for you. Keep going and it really is very helpful for us. We are always at your disposal and thank you for the opportunity to contact us and your readers: