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President taken to task for sending private letters on talks

The president's letter did not include any confidential information, the government said on Monday

Critics of Nicos Anastasiades on Monday slammed the president over a private and confidential letter he sent to select people, including a number of journalists outlining why the talks failed in Crans-Montana.

The government played down the move on Monday.

Politis newspaper on Sunday published a response to the president from one of its journalists who was a recipient of the confidential documents, though he refrained from publishing any of the content.

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides defended the move on Monday as opposition parties took umbrage that the president had sent out confidential material about what happened at the Swiss talks that they said were not even given to the National Council.

Christodoulides said there was nothing in the correspondence that was not already public knowledge.

“The president of the Republic chose to send a letter to a specific group of our fellow citizens, who after Crans-Montana contacted him directly or indirectly,” the spokesman said.

“His letter is personal and not for publication. …  There is no leak of confidential documents.”

Christodoulides said the president had received questions about the real intentions of Turkey in Crans-Montana and the reasons why there had not been a positive outcome.

“The president of the Republic felt the need to send this letter, but this does not include anything that is not publicly known.”

The political parties said they were not convinced in the slightest. It is highly unlikely, however, that they would not have seen the letter as it was circulated to a number of people, and the chances of the documents not having reached a political party would be slim to nil.

Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos led the charge on Monday, accusing Anastasiades of a “selective leak” of the minutes of Crans-Montana, information the National Council had not been given.

“The president is essentially failing to withstand the criticism he has received over his handling [of the Cyprus talks] in Crans-Montana… and is trying to justify his attitudes and behaviour, despite the fact that he himself described this document as confidential,” Sizopoulos said.

He hearkened back to when he himself had publicly read out minutes from a National Council meeting last year and had been vilified by the president who had then gone out of his way to stop Sizopoulos being voted as House president in May last year, the Edek leader said.

“Now what does he have to say about his own attitudes and behaviour?” he added.
The Citizens Alliance suggested the presidential palace had a different definition of “confidential document”.

“The government has decided to move into public relations as the supreme lord of the state sends information to selected media to try to convince them of the correctness of his handling at Crans-Montana,” the party said in a statement. “This can be summed up as propaganda.”

Main opposition Akel spokesman Giorgos Loucaides said Anastasiades could not hide his pre-election anxiety and was using personal letters and confidentiality aimed at those “who question his manipulations on the Cyprus issue”.

“Mr Anastasiades seems to have sent a large number of people documents and data that he has not given to the members of the National Council. The reason is obvious. He believes that in this way he strengthens his pre-election position and ambitions,” Loucaides said.

He added that the party wished to remind the president that it was not influential Greek Cypriots he needed to convince “for voting purposes” but the international community so that the country would benefit from his move to convince people that he handled the Swiss talks correctly.

Anastasiades has not yet announced a bid for re-election. Christodoulides said on Monday he would clarify his intentions in October. It is likely that Anastasiades is trying to get the talks back up and running before doing so in order to firm up a re-election platform. An October announcement would follow an expected meeting with the UN secretary-general in New York in mid-to-late September.


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