By Angelos Anastasiou
EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos has challenged his predecessor – and House Speaker – Yiannakis Omirou to an open and public debate, after Omirou criticised Sizopoulos’ first couple of strategic decisions in a talk show on state broadcaster CyBC.
“I express great disappointment at the remarks made by the former leader of our party in a noon talk show,” Sizopoulos said in a brief statement that turned nasty fast.
“This is the last time I will concern myself with comments made by Mr Omirou. Because the new EDEK functions in an environment of democracy and transparency, if the former leader means what he says, I invite him to an open and public debate.”
Earlier, Omirou had appeared on state TV following a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, but the anchor did not miss the opportunity to ask him about the festering crisis within EDEK.
Omirou resigned his post as party head in January, after 14 years at the helm, citing a “whisper campaign” serving “personal agendas” and “undermining”, but falling short of naming names.
Elections for a new leader saw former VP Marinos Sizopoulos winning the top spot, and it was not long before tensions and friction surfaced.
Omirou distanced himself from the new leadership but maintained a neutral stance, until things came to a head in recent days.
After a discriminatory bill regulating the opening hours of shops was voted into law, with EDEK’s votes, Omirou came out squarely against it, tweeting that discriminating between tourist areas is “unthinkable”.
And days later, when the new leadership – Omirou opted for absence – decided to renounce the “bizonal, bicommunal federation” as a model for a solution to the Cyprus problem as it deemed it discriminatory and unfair, Omirou struck again.
Employing his Twitter profile once more, he blasted Sizopoulos’ decision.
“Dangerous acrobatics,” he tweeted.
“They can only cause confusion. When was EDEK ever trapped in names? It has always been focused on content.”
Sizopoulos let this slide, too, but Thursday was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Appearing on state TV’s noon talk show, Omirou was asked about his apparent rift with the new leadership.
“The decision to renounce the bizonal, bicommunal federation was certainly wrong,” he said.
“It is devoid of meaning. It simply adopts Turkey’s interpretation of what a federation is, which our side has never accepted.”
But asked about his disagreements with Sizopoulos, Omirou got even more confrontational.
“I need no one’s permission to express my opinion,” he said.
“There is no communication with the new leadership, and I explained the reasons when I tendered my resignation.”
“I had said at the time that political morality must be restored before communication can be salvaged. If there has been a violation of political morality, it is left to those who violated it to apologise and make amends.”