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Our View: Polyviou should have kept to himself on disagreements

Lawyer Polis Poliviou

THE member of President Anastasiades’ negotiating team, Polis Polyviou, might be one of Cyprus’ top lawyers, but in his role as talks advisor he has behaved in an unprofessional, irresponsible and self-serving way. His email, questioning the wisdom of some of the convergences achieved in the talks, disagreeing with others and raising concerns about the workability of the settlement being shaped, was distributed to all the members of the Cyprus negotiating team.

This raises suspicions that he may have wanted it leaked. With some 17 recipients, the source of the leak would have been untraceable and he could not be accused of publicising his distancing from the negotiating team and the decisions of the president. If he genuinely did not want his email to become public knowledge – it was marked ‘strictly confidential’ – his mailing list should have only included the negotiator, Andreas Mavroyiannis and the president. Everyone knows that a large number of recipients guaranteed the leaking of the letter even if the sender had marked it ‘top secret’.

Perhaps Polyviou misunderstood his role. He is an advisor to the president and his advice should be offered exclusively to the president rather than be distributed among the entire negotiating team, especially as there is always a risk that his advice could be used to undermine the procedure. Would Polyviou the lawyer have displayed such sloppiness and lack of thought when giving written advice, on a sensitive and confidential issue, to a client of his law office? We very much doubt it.

How does it look, when the president has undertaken not to make public statements about the talks, to have one of his advisors divulging information through thoughtlessness, if not by design? We leave aside the ammunition he has given the opponents of a settlement to attack the president at a critical time in the talks. All the opposition parties used the advisor’s views to back their narrative that terrible things were being agreed at the talks and repeat the demand for information from the president. One party called on all Anastasiades’ advisors to state publicly if they agreed with what the president had decided in the talks, as if this were the role of the advisor.

An advisor has every right to disagree with the president and engage in discussion with him, but this should be done in private. As an advisor, he or she has no business publicising the disagreements because he is part of a team that is accountable to the president and not to the public. We are certain Polyviou knows this, which makes his actions much more difficult to understand.

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