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Cyprus

Parties unimpressed with Anastasiades’ mea culpa (updated)

President Nicos Anastasiades

Other than ruling DISY, the response to President Nicos Anastasiades’ news conference on Monday night by the political parties was predictably negative.

During the televised conference, Anastasiades said his pledge about deposits haircuts made in March 2013 was probably his biggest mistake “simply because, not knowing the situation, I believed we could avoid it through negotiations”.

DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said the president should also have acknowledged that the government had not made any significant move to prevent the haircut.

He said it was also troubling that Anastasiades had not made any announcement about tackling the problems created by poverty, unemployment and non-performing loans. Now that the troika had left, “he doesn’t know what do with himself”, Papadopoulos told CyBC.

“We are dealing with a government that appears to be resting on its laurels and has no plan,” party spokeswoman Christiana Erotokritou said in a written statement later.

She said the latest European Commission report indicated that poverty and inequality were growing and that Cyprus had the highest percentage of non-performing loans in the EU and unemployment remained high. There was no plan to combat poverty, inequality, unemployment and debts, she said.

Main opposition AKEL general secretary Andros Kyprianou said Anastasiades had told half-truths “that are more dangerous than the lie”.

He accused the president of trying to embellish the situation and of attributing the delay in the creation of the NHS to the financial crisis when it was really due to the government’s insistence on a multiple insurance system that served the interests of the insurance companies and not the public.

Party spokesman Giorgos Loucaides accused Anastasiades of “distorting reality” when he should have had the political courage to engage in a little self-criticism. His mea culpa over the haircut did not count, he added, as the president “again put the responsibility on the previous government”.

Socialist EDEK jumped on the same bandwagon. “We appreciate the fact that the President acknowledged the enormous mistake committed by the haircut but he concealed once more important elements, such as why he had not negotiated an alternative scenario with the Eurogroup, why he suggested haircutting deposits less than €100,000 and which the House had to vote legislation to protect?,” the party said in a statement.

“And while the government celebrates the supposed exit from the memorandum, so far it has not produced any package of measures for citizens who were asked for heavy sacrifices for something that was the result of wrong political decisions and unaccountable banks.”

The Solidarity Movement of Eleni Theocharous described Anastasiades’ press conference as a PR exercise that had nothing to with the real problems being experienced by people, some of whom were living on €480 a month under the Guaranteed Minimum Income scheme “while thousands of small businesses have closed”.

Greens MP Giorgos Perdikis described the news conference as a “President Anastasiades election conference”. Referring to the president’s mea culpa over the haircut, Perdikis said this was a PR stunt.
“President Anastasiades presented an image of another Cyprus, which only he sees,” said Perdikis. “He said the number of people going to social groceries had fallen but forgot to tell us when, how and why there was a need for social groceries in our country.”

Ruling DISY said it should be recognised by all that the country was on track when compared to where it was in March 2013, which was the result of responsible governance, the contribution of the political parties, and the sacrifices of the people.

Neophytou acknowledged that there were still serious problems such as unemployment and non-performing loans. “Government and political parties must rank their priorities and undertake solutions through dialogue,” he added.

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