FM: Cyprus places significant weight to strengthening the rule of law in Europe

The Republic of Cyprus places significant weight to strengthening the rule of law in Europe, Foreign Ministry Ioannis Kasoulides stressed in his address at the opening session of the 5th Intercultural workshop on Democracy entitled “Interaction Between Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Jurisdictions and Ordinary Courts” organized on April 3 and 4 in Nicosia by the Venice Commission, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, in the framework of the Cypriot Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

According to the Venice Commission, the workshop is attended by judges of Constitutional Courts and Councils as well as ordinary courts from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian National Authority and Tunisia and is organised in the framework of the South Programme II “Towards a Strengthened Democratic Governance in the Southern Mediterranean”, funded by the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe.

Kasoulides, who is currently the Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the CoE, said that “in giving priority to upholding the rule of law and ensuring full respect for human rights, we will strive through diplomacy and democratic procedures to support the efforts of the CoE to fulfill its mandate, and achieve democratic stability and improvements in human rights protection.”

He added that “Cyprus considers strong diplomatic ties with its partner states and the peaceful settlement of disputes, the way to respond to global challenges.”

As Kasoulides noted, “Cyprus holds the relations of the Organisation with its southern neighbours in very high regard, and we take the opportunity of the Chairmanship to bolster the relations of the Organisation with its southern neighbours, primarily through enhanced dialogue and invitations extended to neighbouring countries to take part in events organised during the Chairmanship. We, undoubtedly, fully support initiatives to support democratic reforms in the Southern Mediterranean.”

Kasoulides also said that the topic of the workshop is particularly pertinent for the Southern Mediterranean region, since several countries either established a constitutional court in recent years, or expanded the scope of its jurisdiction. “From judicial expertise to strengthening of institutions capacities through peer-to-peer exchanges, this initiative contributes to the establishment of legal and judicial networks between the two shores of the Mediterranean and highlights the significance of exchanging experiences and good practices between different jurisdictions,” he added.

President of the Supreme Court of Cyprus Myron Nicolatos elaborated on the countrys legal system, noting that “an independent, impartial and honest Judiciary in our country, is in a unique position to perform its Constitutional and Judicial duties and to provide the necessary checks and balances, which are absolutely vital for the proper functioning of democracy.”

Furthermore he noted that “there has not been a single case of corruption among members of the Judiciary. Some Judges have been obliged or forced to resign, for reasons of inadequate performance of their duties, but there has not been any Judge who was accused and convicted for dishonesty or corruption,” he added.

Nicolatos said that the rule of law is also fully applicable on the territory under the control of the Republic of Cyprus and that the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus provides for full protection of all human rights, included in the European Convention on Human Rights.

He went on to say that the Cypriot people have suffered massive violation of their human rights, due to the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the continuing illegal occupation until today and expressed hope that “the problems of Cyprus will soon be solved, in accordance with International and European Law and with respect to Human Rights, the Rule of Law and the Principles of Democracy, leaving behind the remnants of Colonialism.”

President of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio said that this meeting provides the platform for an exchange of ideas between judges, lawyers and academics in a format that allows them to put aside political priorities and power games.

He noted that intecultural workshops help to the identification of areas where cooperation is needed and to agree which foreign experience would be most useful in the context of a given national reform process.

Buquicchio said that participants in the workshop come from countries with a rich variety of systems, but all operate on the basis of the same principles, the rule of law, the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.

“Courts are the guardians of these pillars in any democratic state,” he added, noting that “we can no longer confine ourselves to the safety of our national legal systems and legal traditions” and that a thorough study of experiences from other countries” is needed.

Source: Cyprus News Agency