By Constantinos Psillides
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades’ decision to accept an offer to use the private jet of a Cypriot UK property mogul hit turbulence on Monday when he was criticised by opposition parties.
Chris Lazari offered the use of his jet to the Anastasiades on Friday, claiming that it was a sign of active support for the president whom, he said, had been a good friend for decades.
AKEL spokesman Giorgos Loukaides accused the government of undermining the country’s institutions by accepting a gift from a citizen, regardless of the fact that the property mogul business activities were in the UK exclusively.
Loukaides demanded that the president gave a full explanation for his dealings with Lazaris.
EDEK also joined in reprimanding Anastasiades, saying in a written statement that if the president really needed to use a private jet then he should go through the House “so as to ensure full transparency”.
“Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. We can’t have businessmen fulfilling state obligations,” read EDEK’s statement.
The office of the president issued a response on Monday afternoon, stressing that if the institution of the presidency was in any danger then he would have rejected the offer outright.
“The businessman portofolio is strictly limited to the UK and he has no interest in expanding to Cyprus,” read the statement, blasting AKEL for having included in the state’s budget a fund for purchasing the services of a private jet when former President Demetris Christofias was in power.
Anastasiades threw down the gauntlet, asking those who criticised him to take action.
“The president is ready to reject the offer made if AKEL and all other parties who oppose this development are willing to ask the public to shoulder the cost of hiring a jet for the president’s travels, like the previous administration did.”
The House allocated around €1 m. for former President Demetris Christofias to use a private jet during the five years he was president.
Anastasiades also pointed out that it was he who asked Lazaris to go public with his proposal, so as to ensure transparency.