By Elias Hazou
DIKO’s deputy head Marcos Kyprianou on Monday called for cooler minds to prevail, arguing that exit from the ruling coalition would on balance hurt the party.
The plea comes just 48 hours before DIKO’s central committee convenes to ratify – or not – a decision by the party’s executive bureau last week to quit the government, acting on a motion by party boss Nicolas Papadopoulos.
The vote at the central committee – where the executive bureau members will also take part – is expected to be a close one.
But Kyprianou, who served as foreign minister in the previous government, has suggested a middle-of-the-road solution. He says the party should remain in government, but only if certain conditions are met.
Kyprianou said that given the joint declaration for the resumption of peace negotiations is open to interpretations, which the Turkish Cypriot side can exploit to push its own agenda, the president must clarify these vague points without delay during the talks.
“The declaration has some positive elements, some especially dangerous points and many ambiguities which allow for different interpretations. Not all is rosy, but neither is it all dark,” Kyprianou posted on his Facebook account.
“However, the declaration is a given. The talks have already begun. Our departure will not change this fact. The talks will continue with or without us,” he added.
Kyprianou hinted also that a decision to leave the government would be at odds with the party rank and file.
“The image of DIKO is this: it does not want talks. It has turned the Cyprus issue into a trade and does not want it solved. It promotes personal ambitions. DIKO was already bent [on leaving the government] and was looking for a pretext to do so.
“But the party base is worried. Even those who agree with us about the joint declaration would feel more secure if we remained within the government. They say that since the talks began they must succeed. That this is no time to leave.”
Kyprianou goes on to argue that it will tougher for DIKO to support bailout-related measures once it abandons the government.
“Already I hear voices that say: if we are not part of the government, why should we bear the political cost for implementing the memorandum? There will be pressure on us on this front too. And it will be difficult for us to convince them otherwise.”
DIKO’s exit, if implemented as proposed by party leader Papadopoulos, would see the resignation of four ministers (defence, energy, education and health) and also of the chairmen of three semi-governmental organisations (Electricity Authority, Cyprus Tourism Organisation and the Housing Finance Corporation).
At the very least it would necessitate a mini-reshuffle of the Cabinet, if not a broader shakeup.
The DISY-led government has so far put on a poker face, indicating that it will cross that bridge when it comes to it.
“The president is not concerning himself with a reshuffle before a final decision is made by DIKO’s collective organs,” government spokesman Christos Stylianides said.
DIKO leader Papadopoulos last Friday moved for his party to withdraw from the coalition with DISY over disagreement on the resumption of peace talks. But it’s understood that party cadres are split on the proposal. Should Papadopoulos’ play fail, it would cast in doubt his leadership of the party, and already commentators are asking whether he would step down after a vote of no confidence.