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Cyprus

Thoc denies backing down in auditor-general battle

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides

Both sides in the Thoc versus auditor-general dispute over the staging of Antigone in the ancient theatre of Salamis denied they had backed down on Saturday, despite having reached a mediated agreement on Friday that they would meet to resolve the crisis.

Following a barrage of increasingly escalating letters between auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides and Thoc chairman Yiannis Toumazis mid-week, the row appeared to have reached the point of no return on Friday, when Michaelides’ men raided Thoc’s office but were still denied access to the organisation’s archives.

At issue is the refusal of the board of the national theatre (Thoc) to furnish the state’s audit service with all available information on the cost of Antigone, the Sophocles play that Thoc staged in several cities in the south as well as the ancient Salamis theatre in occupied Famagusta.

Although Michaelides had warned this constitutes an offence and would be reported to the attorney-general, a last-ditch intervention on Friday by government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides got the two men in the same room and helped strike a compromise deal, by which the board members would not be reported and the requested information would be supplied.

But despite the deal, Thoc on Saturday denied having backed down at all.

“Some media presented Friday’s agreement between Thoc and the auditor-general as the organisation’s back-tracking from views and positions he held and defended,” a statement by Thoc read.

“The Cyprus Theatre Organisation wishes to clarify that these reports do not reflect reality, and refers to the announcement of the audit service itself, which clearly describes the exchange of views regarding the framework and audit rules concerning Thoc, and the final agreement for complete cooperation between the two organisations, with mutual respect to each other and legality.”

Thoc was referring to an argument it had presented early in the row – that a European Union directive, which supersedes national law – exempts it from audit-service scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Michaelides, who was scorned for not following through on his earlier threat that he would report Thoc’s refusal to the attorney-general for failing to furnish the audit service with requested evidence, denied having implicitly admitted to crossing the line in demanding to engage in a purely political matter.

A report in daily Politis on Saturday claimed that Michaelides’ commitment to “respect legality” with regard to Thoc equals admission that his attempt to establish the legality of use of the occupied theatre was without his remit.

“Politis’ report is pure fantasy,” Michaelides later tweeted.

“Oversight of any public spending includes the evaluation of its legality.”

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