The right of veto given under the Constitution of the Republic to the President and the Vice-President can be exercised separately by each one of them against:-
(a) laws or decisions of the House of Representatives concerning foreign affairs, defence and security;
(b) decisions of the Council of Ministers concerning foreign affairs, defence and security.
It is a right of final veto and, therefore, different from any other measure provided in certain Constitutions whereby the President of the country has a right of limited veto in the sense that he is entitled not to promulgate a law immediately, but to return it for reconsideration. Provisions for the return of laws and decisions for reconsideration exist in the Cyprus Constitution independently from the provision of final veto.
The Constitution of Cyprus has been based on the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature. The balance between them must be carefully maintained and friction avoided, if it is to work. The right of veto cuts right across the principles involved and could bring the President and Vice-President into direct conflict with the Legislature.
The exercise of the right of veto is a negative power in the sense that it does not enable the President or the Vice-President to take decisions, but it gives them the power to prevent a decision of the Council of Ministers or of the House of Representatives, on matters of foreign policy, defence or security, from taking effect.
It is obvious that it cannot be considered as a power which affords the President or the Vice-President the opportunity to deal with an existing situation in a constructive manner.
More difficulties are encountered because of the fact that the right of veto is not vested only in one person but in two persons, the President and the Vice-President of the Republic, thus increasing the occasions when a deadlock may occur. An example in point is the use of the veto by the Vice-President on the subject of the composition of the units of the Army of the Republic.
Under the Constitution the Army of the Republic must consist of 60% Greeks and 40% Turks. The Council of Ministers, by majority, decided that the organizational structure of the Army should be based throughout on mixed units comprising both Greeks and Turks. The Vice-President, who wanted the structure to be based on separate units of Greeks and Turks, exercised his right of veto against the above decision of the Council, with the result that there is no decision on this matter and the Army has remained ineffective.
In the case of the Army, no great harm has resulted, since it is doubtful whether the Republic can really afford its expansion to 2,000 men at present and cope simultaneously with the heavy financial burdens of economic development and expansion of educational and social services. But it is easy to envisage situations where exercise of the veto could result in more far-reaching and damaging repercussions.
Therefore, the right of veto should be abandoned and reliance placed instead on the provisions for the return of laws and decisions for reconsideration, and the various other relevant safeguards.