Ruling communist Akel voted against the reform treaty, arguing its negative provisions exceed the positive ones.
Akel also defended the controversial position taken by their leader, President Christofias, who did not object to the treaty’s ratification in parliament, even after Ireland voted against it in a referendum.
Akel’s Parliamentary Speaker Nicos Katsourides, said: “The negative provisions of this treaty exceed positive ones. We cannot vote in favour of a treaty that is against he interests of the people, of workers.”
As for the President’s position, he said that both before and after his February election, Christofias had promised to honour his predecessor’s signature.
“The country’s image both at home and abroad would have been ruined if he went against his promises. Anyway, European leaders knew Akel would vote against the treaty and understood the reason why,” he added.
As expected, opposition Disy, coalition Diko and Edek, as well as Evroko, voted in favour of the ratification after almost a whole day’s debate. This brings to 20 the number of countries that have approved the accord.
The Green Party’s only MP, George Perdikis, abstained from voting. Earlier, a handful of party faithful staged a one-hour-long symbolic protest outside the House.
Their banners said “Democratic Europe-Democratic Referendums” and “Yes to Peoples’ Europe, No to Europe’s Interests.”
The Greens strongly object to the EU’s policy of having the reform treaty – described as dead after the Irish ‘No’ – ratified through parliamentary vote rather than by referenda.
Akel’s much-criticised no vote was strongly defended by other MPs from the party, who argued that, as a point of order, moral principle and democracy, the party could not close its eyes and ratify a treaty that did not reflect the interests of the people.
“We defend a united Europe, a Europe of the people, a Europe of the workers and of the entitled. We will not help a united Europe if we keep silent,” said Akel spokesman Andros Kyprianou.
Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades pointed out the reform treaty is not “The Bible” or a document that needs to be supported dogmatically.
“But neither should we reject it dogmatically, as if it were a ‘dark’ decision taken without the consent of countries and people by distant and cold Brussels,” he added.
He then referred to the February 20, 2008 resolution of the European Parliament, which notes that the Lisbon Treaty “strengthens the EU’s democratic legality and effectiveness, as its principles are reassured.”
Not the best
Diko’s MP Nicos Kleanthous, who also heads the House European Affairs Committee, said his party believes “better have Lisbon than nothing at all.”
“Let’s not kid ourselves. The treaty is not the best we could have, but it’s a positive step. Europe is in crisis, people in Europe are sceptical over their future. But, we don’t have the luxury to turn it down.
Earlier in the debate, Diko MP Nicolas Papadopoulos whose father – former President Tassos Papadopoulos – had signed the Treaty in Lisbon, said his party voted in favour “because we are inspired by the concept of a European completion, as well as because we firmly agree that the EU must come closer to its people, with its decisions becoming more transparent and effective.”
Socialist Edek leader Yiannakis Omirou said: “Edek believes putting a hurdle in the way of Europe’s march towards unity – especially at a parliamentary level – would be a big mistake.”
Omirou also said that, despite the reform treaty’s limitations, it is a substantial improvement on that of Nice.
Evroko leader Demetris Syllouris said the Lisbon Treaty was a step forward compared to the Nice Treaty, but it was not necessarily the European Constitution his party would have welcomed.
The document, signed by EU leaders in December, aims to streamline EU decision-making.
It creates the post of President, strengthens the foreign-policy chief’s powers, gives more strength to the European Parliament and cuts the size of the European Commission, the EU’s executive.
By Annie Charalambous , Cyprus Weekly , 8 July 2008