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Our View: Government would do well to ignore AKEL barbs, rhetoric

AFTER A four-month absence from public life, former president Demetris Christofias decided that he needed to get back into the political mix. He used his speech at a church memorial service on Sunday, for a man who was killed during the 1974 coup, to criticise the government for its poor handling of the Cyprus problem and for paving the way to a “bad settlement” as a direct result of what had been agreed with the troika.

His so-called analysis of the situation was the following: “Unfortunately, after everything that was agreed with the troika by the Anastasiades government and the very difficult economic situation the country is in, the danger of an attempt to impose a bad settlement of the Cyprus issue has grown.” Nobody is likely to have been surprised to hear this pitiful nonsense from Christofias, who was never renowned for his intelligence.

The irony is that the deluded former president does not recognise that the growing danger he has identified are the direct consequence of his ‘do-nothing’ presidency. He had the power to prevent the country from being in the very difficult economic situation it is in today, but did nothing. He could have seen off the danger of attempts to impose a bad settlement, but when the opportunity for a good settlement was on offer – during his presidency – he refused to take it.

Stung by this criticism, the Anastasiades government issued a response, which was a bad mistake. By engaging in a public exchange with him, it indicated it took the discredited former president’s views seriously. Responding to his nonsense was the biggest compliment the government could have paid the man that should be treated with utter contempt for his catastrophic presidency. His comments should not even have been acknowledged by the government and, if asked, the spokesman could have said he did not consider them worthy of a response.

Instead, the acting spokesman issued a statement on Sunday, giving Christofias and AKEL an excuse to hit back at the government. The exchanges continued all day yesterday as well, the communists claiming they were being persecuted by the president, who wanted to silence them. They went on defiantly to state that nobody could silence them, as DISY deputies also joined in the bickering.

The Anastasiades government needs to rethink its communications strategy. Knee-jerk reactions to AKEL’s criticism are becoming too frequent and are helping the communists re-build their party’s battered reputation. The government needs to treat AKEL and Christofias with the contempt they have rightfully earned after leading the country to bankruptcy. When will Anastasiades and his advisors realise that the best response to criticism from AKEL is no response?

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