Outgoing Cyprus president makes farewell address

Outgoing Cyprus president makes farewell address
# 16 February 2013 03:04 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Outgoing Cyprus President Demetris Christofias bid farewell to the people in a televised address to the nation on Friday, 16 days ahead of the end of his 5-year term of office, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

In his 20-minute address, Christofias told Cypriots, most of who have turned their back on him, that he is leaving office with his head held high despite widespread criticism for a poor record.

"All these years I faced problems and difficulties with my head high.. In the face of difficulties I have learned to raise my head high", Christofias said.

Popularity ratings for Christofias took a dive from about 80 percent soon after he took office in 2008, to just above 20 percent, according to recent polls.

Events which caused widespread discontent among the population were a massive explosion in July, 2011 of about 500 tons of confiscated Iranian munitions bound for Syria, which had been left for two and a half years in the sun, and his application for international bailout a year later, after an unprecedented economic crisis.

Christofias never accepted responsibility for the explosion, though a commission of inquiry had blamed him personally for blast that resulted in the death of 13 people and the destruction of the island's newest and biggest power plant.

However, he said in his address that the explosion has caused him and his family great agony, strain and bitterness because of the loss of life it caused.

He also said he felt bitter because he could not negotiate with Turkish Cypriots an agreement re-uniting the eastern Mediterranean island, which was partitioned when Turkey occupied the northern part of Cyprus in 1974, in response to a coup by Greek army officers.

"Under extremely difficult conditions I did whatever I could to achieve the best results for Cyprus", Christofias added.

He blamed Turkey for the continued impasse in negotiations for a Cyprus settlement, saying that it lacks will for a solution.

Christofias read a long list of what he said were important achievements of his government, but maintained his government is not responsible for the economic crisis. He blamed it on the international crisis caused by neo-liberal policies and the greediness of Cypriot banks, which had exposed themselves heavily to the write-down Greek debt.

He said the next government which will take office following a presidential election on Sunday must promote the prospects of soon getting out of the straits of a bailout agreement reached with international lenders.

The new government to take office on March 1 will be burdened with the task of finalizing and implementing a bailout package which has imposed tough austerity measures on the population.