President of the Parliament Demetris Syllouris said on Friday that the Cypriot Constitution, imposed by the Guarantor powers, instead of bringing the two societies together, it encouraged their separation.
Addressing an International Conference on Imposed Constitutions – Aspects of Imposed Constitutionalism, organised in Nicosia, Syllouris noted that if there was not for the bi-communal element in the Constitution of Cyprus which, I would say we had accepted under ‘duress’, it would still have been a good Constitution.
In his speech, the President of the Cypriot Parliament explained that there are two arguments as to whether the Cypriot Constitution was imposed or not.
The first argument, he said, is that, since the Cyprus Constitution was signed by all parties, it was not imposed to the Cypriot people.
Practically, the decision for changing the scope from enosis with Greece to the Independence of the island was directed by the Greek-Cypriot leadership, and despite the presence of the British power- which allowed for a Turkish say-, it can again be argued that the formation of the Constitution was a Cypriot decision, he said.
The second argument, according to Syllouris, suggests that the change of the direction from enosis with Greece to Cyprus independence and the subsequent discussions for the formation of the Constitution on this basis, was not under the free will of the people of Cyprus.
Despite the political responsibility of the Greek Cypriot leadership for changing the scope of the struggle, it can be argued that this decision was taken under pressure, firstly in the presence of 30.000 British troops and the continuous executions of Greek Cypriot fighters, and secondly, under the threat of the direct involvement of Turkey. Thus, the constitution was imposed by the Guarantors and goes against the principle of self-determination Syllouris said.
The armed reaction of Turkish Cypriots in 1963, (led by Turkey’s strategic objectives) following the suggestion of the 1st President of Cyprus to proceed with thirteen Amendments on the Constitution which aimed to resolve constitutional deadlocks, backs up the argument that not only the Cypriot Constitution was imposed, but there was not even ground for civilised and democratic discussion for improvement. I will not go into detail on whether the thirteen Amendments were rightly proposed or not, but democracy presupposes that decisions should be taken through discussions and not through violence the President of the House noted.
Syllouris explained that the main parameter imposed on the Constitution was its bi-communal character which allowed for the co-existence of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. This particularity in the structure of the Constitution was one of the reasons for the upheavals which soon after took place in Cyprus. In essence, instead of bringing the two societies together, the Constitution encouraged their separation he said, adding that apart from the bicommunal character, the Cypriot Constitution does not allow any amendment of the basic Articles that have been incorporated from the Zurich Agreement dated 11th February, 1959.
In my opinion, if there was not for the bi-communal element in the Constitution of Cyprus which, I would say we had accepted under ‘duress’, it would still have been a good Constitution said Syllouris. For example, he noted, the provisions in Part Four of the Constitution for the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus, are from my experience in Cyprus politics, an exemplary model defining the power and functioning of a Parliament.
The protection of a state’s principles should be our first and foremost priority, he stressed and underlined that in this crucial period for the Cypriot problem, a future solution should respect the principles and rights of the people as reflected in the Constitution, and the European Acquis Communautaire and the European Principles.
Source: Cyprus News Agency