WE DOUBT too many people would have tuned into President Anastasiades’ second televised news conference in 10 days. Using one show to talk about the economy and a second one for the government’s domestic policies seemed excessive, given that the two are inextricably bound and could easily have been dealt with in one go. In fact it would have been much more helpful to have talked about the two issues together as the one determines the other.
But the president seems to enjoy addressing the people and it would not be a surprise if another appearance is arranged so he could speak about the Cyprus problem which he has yet to touch on in a television show. Predictably, opposition party leaders see the television appearances as being part of the election campaign, an opportunity to win a few more votes for DISY in next month’s parliamentary elections. A good showing for DISY would be interpreted by Anastasiades as support or at least approval of his government.
Opposition parties have inadvertently shot themselves in the foot making a fuss about the television appearance. As the DISY chief has pointed out, if the government has been the disaster the opposition parties have been claiming they should not be complaining that he was using television to gain advantage. What advantage would he have talking about disastrous policies and his government’s supposed failure to tackle the economic problems facing the country? Surely, they should want him to appear on television and talk about the fiasco his government has generated.
In a way, he allowed them to take this line especially after Monday night’s comments which were dominated by his mea culpa over his pledge not to agree to a deposits’ haircut. This gave the opportunity to the opposition to accuse him of evaluating the situation wrongly, going to the crucial Eurogroup meeting unprepared and of overestimating his powers, while implying there were alternatives to the haircut of deposits. But were there? If he refused to agree, both big banks would have closed down, the state would have been bankrupt and there may have been an exit from the euro.
In difficult times a leader has to take tough and unpopular decisions, which is what Anastasiades did in March 2013. Despite the criticism he has been under it was the right decision, under the circumstances, as the economy has been put back on track after a couple of very difficult years for people. This should have been his line instead of being apologetic and allowing the opportunists of AKEL to boast on Tuesday that Christofias had been the resolute leader as he had refused to agree to the memorandum because it envisaged the privatisation of CyTA and EAC!
The truth is that he was afraid to take responsibility for an unpopular decision, which in Cyprus is interpreted as resolute leadership.