By Poly Pantelides
ARCHBISHOP Chrysostomos is unable to control what comes out of his mouth, former president Demetris Christofias said on Monday, a day after the Primate accused him of much of the island’s banking system to the ground.
“It is about time [the Archbishop] stopped making populist statements about the poor people and instead really help with some of the millions he has accumulated as a businessman,” Christofias said.
Opposition AKEL, which was in government until February during Christofias’ term as president, also went on the defensive calling the Primate’s “assaults” as “unfortunate at the very least”.
Archbishop Chrysostomos II said on Sunday: “I believe that whatever Mr Christofias has not managed to raze to the ground in relation to the banks and the co-operative institutions, he has left to the Central Bank governor to destroy.”
The Archbishop was talking at the end of a memorial service for the dead in the 1964 Tylliria conflict, in Paphos’ Pachyammos. The Primate criticised as flawed a due diligence report by investment managers PIMCO on bank portfolios to determine their recapitalisation needs. The Central Bank had been criticised by the opposition – now ruling party DISY – as allowing PIMCO to inflate the banks’ needs in order to confirm the Christofias’ administration position the banks were to blame for all of the island’s economic woes.
The Primate said some people were doing “whatever they wanted”. He did not name anyone but it was clear from the context he was referring to the Central Bank.
“They don’t respect people whose money they’ve taken [and] whose deposits they’ve raided. Rather than waiting for a new Bank of Cyprus board, a new chairman and new CEO so that shareholders can decide what to do, they go ahead and take decisions themselves.”
He was referring to the Bank of Cyprus (BoC), which recently exited administration status after 47.5 per cent of clients’ uninsured deposits were seized for recapitalisation. Depositors are getting equity in return, but Laiki bank – still under the administration of a Central Bank-appointed person as it is being wound-down, now holds 18 per cent of BoC’s stake. Laiki’s stake has provoked an intense discussion over who would control it.
The Church is a major shareholder in Hellenic bank but also has shares in the BoC, and its head – the Archbishop – even said earlier this week he should be nominated as a representative of BoC shareholders “to put things in order”.
“They are out to destroy our banking system and in the end it is the poor people who will pay for this. Not the governor, not I, not the President,” the Archbishop said.
“I am certain that disaster will strike in Cyprus,” he added.
Christofias said he was not surprised by the Primate’s statements and the way he referred to him “since he usually opens his mouth, unable to control what comes out of it”.
The former president – himself prone to spontaneous, uncensored, remarks – once again blamed the banks and its executives for the country’s woes.
“There’s a limit to patience, so [the Archbishop] should stop provoking the poor people,” Christofias said, who is widely blamed for refusing to accept a bailout agreement while allowing state finances to deteriorate under his watch.