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Our View: Emotion and dogmatism still reign supreme in Cyprus politics

Finance Minister Harris Georgiades

FINANCE Minister Haris Georgiades has once again failed his Greek nationalism exam. Comments he made in an interview published by Phileleftheros on Sunday about Greece have triggered a new political offensive against him by the parties and the media. What was astonishing was that Georgiades merely stated the obvious – that his primary concern when attending meetings of EU bodies was the safeguarding of Cyprus’ interests.

He also said that despite the national and cultural ties with Greece, Cyprus’ economy was different and followed a different path.

Last month he was again targeted for saying after a Eurogroup meeting that he did not know what Greece wanted. This honesty sparked calls for his immediate resignation as he had failed to offer support to Greece and had sided with the unsympathetic European finance ministers. But what should he have done? Should he have declared that he supported Greece’s demands even though he did not know what these were? It was difficult to support his Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis’ vacuous diatribes at Eurogroup meetings which, as events have shown, achieved nothing. This is why Varoufakis has been sidelined and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has taken over negotiations with the EU.

This point has been ignored by the opposition politicians as well as some DISY members, who insisted that he should have supported Greece regardless. It is an emotional argument that is also based on the delusion that Cyprus wielded great influence at European organs. Cyprus’ support would not have made the slightest bit of difference.

DIKO and AKEL meanwhile have disingenuously claimed that Georgiades did not want Greece to succeed in re-negotiating its assistance programme because then his own failure or unwillingness to improve Cyprus’ programme would be exposed. Yet the truth is that Greece’s attempt to improve its programme proved a lamentable failure, hardly an example worth following.

It was unfortunate that the Speaker of Greece’s Parliament Zoe Constantopoulou also took a swipe at Georgiades after her meeting with the president. She felt that everyone should be supporting Greece in its effort to free itself of the “memorandum yoke” and said it was “a disappointing surprise when solidarity for such a claim is undermined”.

It was an unnecessary comment that Greek politicians should avoid, given the cost suffered by the Cyprus economy as a result of Greece’s economic meltdown, from the PSI which crippled the banking sector to the fire-sale of the Cypriot branches to Greece. We did not see much solidarity from Greece when Cypriot banks were being stripped of their assets.

DISY leader Averof Neophytou, defending Georgiades, pointed out that “rationality and logic needs to prevail”. But the attacks on the minister showed the opposite was true – emotion and dogmatism still reign supreme in Cyprus politics.

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