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Our View: DIKO-AKEL political gimmick could undermine reforms

Andros Kyprianou of AKEL with DIKO's Nicolas Papadopoulos (r)

DIKO LEADER Nicholas Papadopoulos has found an ingenious way to rebuild his party’s bridges with AKEL, with a view to future electoral alliances. He has announced that the re-negotiation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) was his party’s main objective, a move that was guaranteed to endear him to the communists.

Ever since the MoU was finalised and signed AKEL has been its fiercest critic, downplaying the fact the Christofias government had negotiated a large part of it. The Christofias government had not signed the final document, party representatives would disingenuously argue, omitting to mention that it was their president’s policies that made entry into an assistance programme necessary.

In fairness, the smaller parties have also been very critical of the MoU, their main argument being that it did nothing to promote development and the recovery of the economy. Of course the Troika did not come here to assist economic growth, but to make us put our public finances on healthy footing so that we could be in a position to repay the €10 billion it loaned us to save the state from bankruptcy.

The Troika thinking was that once the restructuring was completed and the ailing banking sector returned to normalcy, growth would follow.
DIKO appeared to have understood this reasoning as long as it was a government partner, backing almost all the memorandum bills. It continued with this responsible attitude even after February when it decided to withdraw from the government alliance because of disagreements over the president’s handling of the Cyprus problem.

But in the last couple of weeks, Papadopoulos has decided that many parts of the memorandum needed to be re-negotiated. His party was meeting yesterday to discuss his proposals for improvements.

And the good news was that AKEL chief, Andros Kyprianou, yesterday announced that his party was ready to engage in a dialogue with DIKO for improvements to the MoU and would submit its own proposals. The question is how far the two parties would be prepared to go to achieve the supposed improvements.
Would they vote against all memorandum bills taken to the legislature or would they organise mass rallies against the government and the Troika?

This anti-memorandum alliance seems like a political gimmick and a good excuse for DIKO to mend its relations with AKEL, but it could undermine the government’s efforts to implement the provisions of the assistance programme with regard to SGO privatisations, reform of the state education system, modernisation of the civil service and introduction of the national health scheme. No government dared grapple with such issues in the past and we have the Troika to thank that action is now being taken.

This why there is no need for a re-negotiation of the memorandum, even if this might serve the political ambitions of Papadopoulos.

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