By Loucas Charalambous
TWO COMMON features have always dominated the behaviour of our politicians – audacity and hypocrisy.
All of them have displayed these character traits but the truth is that the politicians of AKEL deserve the laurels. One wonders how it is possible for them to publicly state things which common sense should have made them ashamed to say.
A while ago, I had pointed out this phenomenon to a friend, a former AKEL member. ‘I don’t believe they are so stupid they do not realise that in reality they are damaging their standing and that of their party,’ I had said.
My friend’s response was enlightening. ‘You are making a mistake,’ he said. ‘You think they say this so that you would hear it and be convinced, but it is not you they are addressing.
These things are said for the benefit of their supporters. It is them they are trying to convince.’
I recalled this conversation last Sunday night watching the AKEL chief Andros Kyprianou on television, expressing a view, which betrayed his unbelievable nerve. ‘I do not know whether I will persuade the Cypriot people, but I must say that Mr Anastasiades places his personal interest and the chair of power above the interest of Cyprus.’
It was a dig at the president’s failure to agree to the start of Cyprus talks.
I am not going to claim that what Kyprianou said was not valid. But he, as AKEL chief, is the last person in Cyprus who has the right to level this accusation against the president.
After all, Anastasiades has been sitting in the presidential chair only for 11 months. Demetris Christofias, however, the political father of Kyprianou, sat in the same chair for 60 months, placing, quite blatantly, his hold on the chair and his personal interest above the national interest.
If Kyprianou disagrees, he should explain the following: Christofias knew that he had about 18 months to secure a settlement.
He knew that by April 2010 there would be elections in the north and that then leader Mehmet Ali Talat would have lost without a deal on the Cyprus problem.
And yet he wasted 14 months in efforts to change a single provision of the Annan plan – the provision about the presidency of the federal state.
The priority set by Christofias could be described as a political crime against the country, taking into account the fact that the original provision was the wisest in the plan and nobody had objected to it, not even the hard-line Tassos Papadopoulos.
The Annan plan envisaged (articles 25-29) that executive power would be exercised by a six-member council that would have been elected by the House and the Senate.
It would be presided over by a Greek Cypriot for 40 months and a Turkish Cypriot for 20 months.
These provisions ensured the co-operation of the parties of the two communities for the election of the six members of the council and of the two that would be president.
In short, they secured exactly what Christofias, misleadingly used as an argument to justify his insistence on ‘weighted voting’ and vote by the people for rotating presidency.
Why had Christofias pursue this change so obsessively? Why did he waste all the time he had on demolishing rather than building? It was because the only thing that interested him was his personal future.
He was not prepared to sacrifice his presidency a year-and-a-half into his term for a seat on the six-member presidential council of the federal state.
He wanted the new state to have one president so he could be sat in the presidential chair on his own. He wasted all the available time to reach a deal with the co-operative Talat, to secure, as he thought, his personal interest – keeping the presidential chair.
It was a win-win situation for him personally, because if there was no deal with Talat he would remain firmly seated in the presidential chair of the Republic until the end of his term.
And this is what happened. Talat was defeated in the elections by the hard-line Eroglu and partition was cemented.
Ironically, in the end, Christofias lost power and someone else sat in the chair – the man that Kyprianou is accusing today, with astonishing audacity and boundless hypocrisy, of putting his personal interest above the country’s.