President Nicos Anastasiades apologised again on Monday to the relatives of the 13 victims of the naval base blast in Mari, during a ceremony on the fifth anniversary of the explosion, which also took out the island’s main power station at Vassiliko.
In his speech, Anastasiades said the state had shown “unprecedented failures, shortcomings and committed cumulative and recurring errors”, leading up to the explosion.
“Today is a day for those who have positions of responsibility on this island, to reflect on how we were led to this tragedy,” he said.
He said the blast at the Evangelos Florakis base caused by a confiscated shipment of munitions stored haphazardly outdoors for two years, proved that the worst thing a government can do is to postpone decisions that need to be taken “because of a fear of responsibility”.
Anastasiades repeated the state’s apologies for “all that we, as government” should have done but didn’t.
“During this tragedy we lost 13 people, 13 professionals… heroes, while the state exhibited unprecedented inadequacy and committed a number of repeated mistakes. Once again, we see that the worst decision is one that you put off because you are afraid to assume responsibility,” he said.
“We share the pain and sorrow and share the anger of the parents, spouses, children and siblings of those who were unfairly and tragically lost and who died because of the political and administrative responsibilities of others”.
Anastasiades said the state would not allow something like that to happen ever again.
Accountability and professionalism should constitute the fundamental conditions on which a state operates, he said, adding that a government needed to work towards creating a state that follows risk prevention policies at all levels.
The memorial was held in a special chapel built by the government on the site with 13 headstones placed outside. Anastasiades said the chapel was a permanent reminder of the obligation of the state to honour those who died.
As part of the government’s intention to provide the necessary support and assistance to the families of the 13 victims, Anastasiades said the Cabinet approved recommendations to monitor the problems faced by the relatives and said so far it appeared to have been effective so far.
“I wish to reiterate the promise that we will never allow either their memory be forgotten nor our responsibility as a state to be deleted,” he added.
Making a brief reference to the controversy where relatives want members of the former government to be prosecuted, including Demetris Christofias, Anastasiades said it was a decision for the attorney-general “who studies and decides whether there is evidence to proceed with prosecutions”.
On Sunday the AG, Costas Clerides said he did not wish to comment on the reasons why he would not be pursuing further prosecutions.