Former Diko leader Marios Garoyian on Sunday fired a shot at presidential candidate Nicolas Papadopoulos, who unseated him in 2013, voicing disagreement with his veiled efforts to denounce the bizonal, bicommunal federation as the model for a solution to the Cyprus problem.
That Garoyian would not side with Papadopoulos was something of an open secret in political circles, as is the certainty that the former House Speaker will try to regain the helm of the party in next year’s convention.
But Garoyian had thus far been extremely careful in his public remarks, avoiding direct criticism of the party leadership’s choices.
Under Garoyian, Diko forged collaborations with Akel, winning the 2008 election and participating in the Demetris Christofias administration, which it left following the 2011 Mari disaster, and then with Disy, propelling then-leader Nicos Anastasiades to the presidency.
In a speech at a memorial service for victims of the 1974 Turkish invasion in Sha, Larnaca, Garoyian asserted that the bizonal, bicommunal federation is a substantial parameter of the Cyprus problem negotiation.
Unveiling what he termed the “new strategy” last September, Papadopoulos avoided adopting the model as the basis for his proposed solution by arguing that it was the content, not the name, that would make a proposed solution good or bad.
Papadopoulos has been trying to avoid tackling the question of whether he would accept a federal solution or not, ostensibly to avoid a rift with his anti-federation supporters – socialist Edek and Solidarity – although some argue he, too, is opposed but will not admit so in public for political reasons.
“This is not the time for new-found strategic quibbles, nor for strategies of submission,” Garoyian said, apparently trashing both the ‘new strategy’ and the position of Akel-backed candidate Stavros Malas, who supports the most forward positions in the run-up to January’s presidential election.
“The bizonal, bicommunal federation was never the flag for our struggle, but through many years of negotiations it had been accepted exceptionally, as a painful compromise by our side in order to achieve a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.”
According to daily Politis, Garoyian added that the name of the solution “is not of minor importance and not a matter of symbolism”, but a substantial framework for a solution.
“Those who disagree with this framework must say so honestly and with conviction, instead of seeking to reduce the substance to names through equivocation and quibbling,” he said.
“Along with their disagreement, it would also be good if they offered a realistic and achievable counter-proposal that would be acceptable to the [United Nations] Security Council and the international community.”
Cyprus, he said, is at a crossroads of serious dilemmas and developments, and the situation must be assessed “collectively and soberly”.
While the Papadopoulos campaign did not comment on Garoyian’s speech, the candidate, addressing Solidarity’s convention on Sunday, elevated the upcoming election to a referendum on the two major schools of thought on the Cyprus problem.
“We are not deciding merely who the next President of the Republic of Cyprus is going to be, but we are deciding whether to continue the failed and dangerous Anastasiades strategy, also subscribed to by Akel’s candidate,” Papadopoulos said.
“We are also deciding on the content of a solution, irrespective of the pseudo-dilemma on federation, which Nicos Anastasiades and Akel’s leadership are trying to maintain.”