‘Constitution not violated by PfP resolution’

PARLIAMENT did not violate the constitution when it passed a resolution calling for Cyprus to apply to join NATO’s Partnership of Peace (PfP) programme, a legal expert said yesterday.

Former Attorney-general Alecos Markides said parliament was within its rights to pass the resolution, as was President Demetris Christofias who decided to veto.

It is understood that no president has exercised his right of final veto since the early sixties.

Beyond the political standoff, approval of the resolution last Thursday has also created a legal quagmire, with the two sides accusing each other of violating the constitution.

Parliament invoked Article 50.1A of the Constitution, which gives the legislature the “authority to decide on matters pertaining to the Republic’s participation in international organisations and pacts of alliance in which both” Greece and Turkey are members.

According to the same article, the president has the right of final veto on any law or decision of the House concerning foreign affairs, except of participation in those organisations and alliances where both Greece and Turkey are members.

“Parliament exercised its authority and the president, by vetoing, exercised his,” Markides told state radio. “The key is whether PfP is an international organization or not.”

Markides said that would be something for the Supreme Court to decide.

But “no one is obliged to apply to the Supreme Court,” Markides said. Christofias can refer the resolution to the Court but “if he thinks it is a case where he has the right to final veto then he exercises his right and has no need to” do so.

Parliament cannot refer a law to the Supreme Court but any party can, under Article 149 of the Constitution, ask the Court to clarify an ambiguity.

“There are ways out but it’s not the obligation of any party or institution to go to court,” Markides said.

The resolution was passed by majority vote, with opposition DISY, EDEK and EVROKO joining forces with government partners DIKO.

DIKO, which continued yesterday to fight off criticism that it was behaving more like an opposition party than a partner in the ruling coalition.

“The principles and autonomy of parties in an alliance should be respected,” party spokesman Fotis Fotiou said.

Fotiou said DIKO’s action was not directed against Christofias and did not aim in creating problems for him. “To us, it was a political decision based on principle,” Fotiou said.