PERHAPS after six-and-a-half years in office, President Anastasiades feels so secure in his position he has started to believe that he can do no wrong in the eyes of the public. To be fair, he has got away with so much in this time by resorting to half-truths, political spinning, and empty rhetoric, that he now feels untouchable and people will accept anything he tells them.
This goes some way in explaining Wednesday’s astonishing announcement, by the government spokesman, Prodromos Prodromou informing us that the council of ministers had decided an investigation would be carried out “into the cases of naturalisation which have appeared in publications and which are being talked about.”
The investigation was in direct response to a report published by Reuters some eight days ago revealing that in 2016 and 2017 Cypriot citizenship was granted to eight members of the inner circle of the authoritarian leader of Cambodia, including his niece, the chief of police and finance minister.
For one week the government refused to comment on the report, but once Akel started making a fuss about it demanding explanations, the investigation was announced in the hope this would silence the opposition. The ploy did not work because it highlighted a much broader issue – a state policy from which President Anastasiades’ family law office gains financially. An investigation into the granting of citizenships to eight Cambodians, is a drop in the ocean considering the Anastasiades government has naturalised in the region of 4,000 wealthy foreigners as part of its scheme.
Would the interior minister, who was given responsibility for the investigation, look into the thousands of citizenships, that were granted before this year, when “today’s more stringent controls and restrictions,” Prodromou referred to, came into force? Prodromou also said decisions could be taken to revoke nationalities but was he referring to all cases or just the eight Cambodians? The truth is the government will probably only investigate the cases in the Reuters report and if more see the light of publicity those will also be investigated.
Interestingly the citizenships for the Cambodians were granted by the law office belonging to the father of the communications minister at the time. Many others were secured by the law office of the president’s family, which is also involved in the sale of expensive properties to citizenship applicants. There could be no more glaring case of conflict of interest than this, a conflict of interest that cannot be whitewashed by an investigation of eight cases out of thousands. This seems to be what the government is hoping to achieve, against all logic.