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Opposition takes president to task in Cyprob populist row

President Anastasiades addressing the overseas Cypriots conference on Tuesday night

By Jean Christou
Opposition parties on Wednesday tried to turn the tables on President Nicos Anastasiades who told the overseas Cypriots conference that populist slogans and unrealistic promises would not help solve the Cyprus problem.
Party leaders addressed the conference on Wednesday with the more hardline among them accusing the president of being the populist and of creating a false climate of optimism and of selling fairytales to the Cypriot people.
On Tuesday night Anastasiades had said: “We must realise that unrealistic promises and populist slogans have no place when it comes to the national problem. I will never allow populism to lead the way. What our country needs is a strong leadership, unity and joint action.”
Chief critics were DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos and Citizens’ Alliance Giorgos Lillikas with the Green Party’s Giorgos Perdikis and EDEK’s Marinos Sizopoulos also slamming the current process.
“Populism is when you tell the public you don’t accept guarantors [for a reunited Cyprus] but behind the scenes you are discussing the ways it could be guaranteed,” said Papadopoulos. “Populism is telling refugees they have property rights but in substance you to agree to such exemptions that no one will get to return.”
Turkey’s perennial goal was to abolish the Republic of Cyprus, and the solution Cypriots were heading for would mark “the end of Greek Cypriots on the island”, he said. “Think what will happen if Turkey achieves its fixed and timeless goal, our downgrade from state to community. Think what will happen if we are turned into to Mediterranean Palestinians, people without a state, and faced with Turkey,” he added.
Lillikas criticised the ‘too optimistic’ climate. “As the Citizens Alliance we are convinced that the Greek Cypriots do not need fairytales that Cyprus will be drowning in investments,” he said.
In an earlier statement the party said it welcomed Anastasiades’ comments that populism would not help find a solution. “That is why we are calling on the government to stop the populism that says a solution will boost our economy.”
Sizopoulos and Perdikis also outlined their opposition to the current negotiations, echoing warnings about “dangerous optimism”.
“Do not expect the Cypriot government to mention the huge flag that infects the slopes of Pentadaktylos, the destruction of cultural heritage, and Turkey’s refusal to help with the issue of missing persons,” said Perdikis, adding that to do so would “spoil the optimistic climate”.
Main opposition AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said that his party had a number of disagreements with the government, particularly on the economy, “but the interests of the country and the people requires that we all work together to solve the Cyprus problem,” he said.
“Slogans are fine and can make our breasts burst with pride and caress our ears but usually never produce results. We do not want slogans but actions and attitudes that bring practical results,” he added.
Anastasiades is expected to brief the party leaders on developments on September 8 and the house plenary behind closed doors on September 15. He is due to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on September 1 and 14.
Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu was reported as saying on Wednesday that Ankara expected some positive news on the negotiations in the autumn. He said the two leaders had covered a considerable distance.

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