By Loucas Charalambous
AUDACITY is the chief ‘quality’ of all Cypriot politicians. Listening to them talk, you are given the impression that they are in a never-ending competition in audacity and impudence. One who has proved a champion is the former DISY leader Yiannakis Matsis.
The funny thing about him is that he is no longer actively involved in politics, but still finds ways to make his presence felt for fear that we might forget him. This time he has surpassed himself, finding an embarrassingly populist cause with which to seize the spotlight and impress us.
He also put on a new hat for this purpose. He has declared himself president of the recently established creation he has christened, Institute of Demographic and Migration Policy. And on June 12 he called a news conference to shock us with his revelation that Greek Cypriots had become a minority in relation to the occupied area and were fewer than the Muslims in Cyprus.
“The numbers are shocking,” he said. “There are only 572,000 Greek Cypriots left and the numbers are falling.” He also referred to Greek Cypriots moving abroad in search of work, adding, with his trademark melodramatic style, that “this renders our tragedy indescribable”. The high point of Matsis’ shocking revelations was that, according to his calculations, the settlers in the north were now between 500 and 800 thousand.
I will not concern myself here with the accuracy of the numbers he gave. After all, the actual number is not that relevant here, as we all know that there has been a rapid increase of settlers recently. What I am interested in is Matsis’ galling political nerve and his astounding lack of consistency.
But as he took the trouble to carry out the survey and had the courage to announce – with much fanfare – the findings I would have congratulated him if he also had the guts to issue a public apology in the presence of journalists at the end of the conference. I would have appreciated it if, when he had finished his ‘shocking’ revelations, he said: “Faced with this tragedy, for which I feel largely responsible, I would like apologise to the Cypriot people and ask forgiveness. In this way I am also sending a message that politicians, at long last, should learn to take responsibility for their actions.”
An explanation is needed for those who might not have understood why Matsis should apologise. If Greek Cypriots had also voted in favour of the Annan Plan in 2004, only 41,000 Turkish settlers would have stayed in Cyprus and Matsis’ investigation would not have now found 800,000. There were 41,000 on the list submitted by the Turkish side to the UN on April 19, 2004, the figure included in the peace plan.
If today there are in Cyprus 200, 300 or 800 thousand settlers it is because there was no settlement of the Cyprus problem. And there was no settlement because, among other reasons, Matsis betrayed his party and campaigned against the plan. Not only did he show no respect for his party’s decision to support the plan, but he also defected to the Tassos Papadopoulos camp to add his weight to those opposing it. So the Turkish settlers kept coming, and now, thanks to Matsis and his ilk, there are now apparently 800,000 of them.
Politicians are guilty for the ‘indescribable tragedy’ and Matsis, who is shamelessly complaining today because the Greek Cypriots have become a minority, belongs to this group. What indescribable and unforgivable nerve he has to be pointing out today the horrific results of his irresponsible behaviour.
In another country, a politician who got things so badly wrong may have contemplated suicide. But Matsis does not even have the guts to say ‘sorry’, posing as a saviour instead.