By Stefanos Evripidou
DIKO LEADER Nicolas Papadopoulos met President Nicos Anastasiades yesterday at the Palace to discuss a range of issues, including the Cyprus problem and economy.
Papadopoulos said the two had a “very useful discussion in a good climate” on various issues, including the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and the challenges facing the economy.
He said he passed on the message that regardless of the fact DIKO had left the government, the party continued efforts to contribute in a constructive manner to peace efforts.
“Despite our disagreements, we will table alternative proposals and contribute in a constructive way to efforts to restart the Cypriot economy,” he added.
After taking over the helm at the centre right party, Papadopoulos gained narrow approval for a DIKO exit from the coalition government, citing the president’s agreement on a joint declaration with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu as the casus belli.
The new leader accused Anastasiades of going back on his commitment to DIKO regarding his positions in the peace process, going so far as to accuse the president of lying. The move threatened to divide DIKO as many within its ranks, including former leader Marios Garoyian openly questioned the logic of abandoning government over a joint declaration before substantial peace negotiations had even begun.
The four DIKO ministers in government were told by Papadopoulos to leave government, but all four responded by distancing themselves from the party. Two actually gave up their party membership, one of whom, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis was re-appointed to cabinet by Anastasiades.
Yesterday’s meeting with the president was the first after the acrimony that preceded and followed the subsequent cabinet reshuffle.
“We hope this dialogue will continue precisely because we believe despite our disagreements, there is scope for cooperation” on efforts to solve the problems facing the country, said Papadopoulos.
Regarding the president’s view that the Turkish Cypriot side is submitting positions in the talks that are anathema to the joint declaration, the DIKO leader said: “Unfortunately, this development confirms our fears.”
Contrary to the belief of the president, Papadopoulos believes the joint declaration cannot act as a shield for the Greek Cypriot side.
“All indications point to the joint declaration becoming a shield for the positions of the Turkish Cypriot side,” he added.