From politicians’ sources of wealth to the search for a solution, we should be looking at well-planned construction
By Christos P Panayiotides
Those of you who happen to be architects or engineers know that demolishing a building is a relatively easy task. With the help of the right equipment, it can be accomplished within hours. In contrast, the erection of a proper building requires imagination, technical know-how, detailed designs, experienced craftsmen and suitable materials.
Unfortunately, opposition politicians in Cyprus specialise and systematically engage in acts of demolition and, at best, confine themselves to presenting beautiful, artistic images of new buildings, without paying any attention to what the proposed buildings will cost, where the necessary money to finance them will come from and without the slightest idea as to what the technical construction details must look like.
The result of this erratic approach to problem solving is either a failure to erect the building, or a building that permanently malfunctions, or an ‘ivory castle’ constructed at a huge cost. Inevitably, such exorbitant costs are either borne by the hapless taxpayers or they increase the public debt.
All our politicians are competing amongst themselves over who will give more to the people. Of course, when we say who will give more we mean “who will force us to give more ourselves”, because the politicians never give. They only take – a few not so much, some of them more-rather-than-less and a few take a lot.
As a rule, the attention of those who take a lot is focused on how to disguise their bleeding of the system, and this brings us to collusion and corruption. Thus, when some incurably romantic people go to the trouble of carefully studying a particular aspect of collusion and corruption – such as the wealth statements of politically exposed persons – in order to identify how the system has malfunctioned and prevented it from delivering the goods over the past 17 years, and when they propose a well-thought-out integrated solution, they become the subject of ridicule. The reward for their hard work is exclusively confined to praise and declarations of good intent, incorporating empty, evasive promises.
This is the recent experience of the author of this article, who was the chairman/rapporteur of the committee that has compiled the White Paper on the statements of wealth and the related “pothen esches” (sources of wealth) of the politically exposed persons (www.pothen-esches-cyprus.com). So far, literally no one has criticised the contents of the White Paper on the complete reconstruction of the system as being incorrect or inappropriate. Quite the opposite. The political establishment without exception has praised the contents of the White Paper. However, to date, nothing has happened.
It is tragic that many members of parliament were overheard saying: “Now our attention is focused on how to secure our re-election. We have no time to preoccupy ourselves with pothen esches.” Equally tragic are marginal politicians seeking to secure their political advancement by claiming the role of the independent regulators of the political system. Invariably they have no plan but offer mere wishful thinking and pompous declarations, designed to satisfy the expectations of all the disillusioned and frustrated citizens of the Cypriot state.
A similar and possibly worse mentality is the one which prevails in terms of the Cyprus problem. Everybody appears to know and is happy to vocally argue what we should not do: we should not accept anything less than what we vaguely consider to be the “ideal” solution of the problem. Have they ever asked themselves the critical question of what is likely to happen if we follow this approach, ie if we ‘demand’ (demand from whom?) the immediate withdrawal of the occupying army, the cancellation of Turkey’s guarantee and intervention rights, the immediate expulsion of all the settlers and their descendants, the immediate return of all refugees to their homes, the compensation of all Cypriots for the losses they have suffered as a result of the coup staged by the Greek military junta and Turkey’s military response in 1974? What do they really expect will happen if we proceed on this basis? Can those forcefully arguing in favour of this approach tell us what they expect to see happening? This is, indeed, the approach we have followed for the past 50 years without any result or, rather, with the result going from bad to worse. Cypriots have become tired of hearing the same ineffective, empty words from our politicians. This is precisely why the Cypriot people are searching for an alternative approach.
Unfortunately, worse is forthcoming. This is the phenomenon of the distortion of the truth and the generation of misinformation by unrepentant advocates of partition. I suspect that you have seen in the newspapers, on television and on billboards, the image of an amputated Cyprus under the heading ‘Is this the country we want?’ in Greek and English. In certain – admittedly isolated – cases, that sentence has been reproduced without the question mark at the end of the sentence. Word order in written Greek makes this question mark crucial, otherwise it reads as a statement. I am certain that this incident will find itself in the position it deserves in university textbooks, as a fine example of distortion and misinformation.
Under these circumstances, YOU, tired, disappointed, disillusioned, frustrated, desperate fellow citizens must do something. I suggest you start with the following easy steps:
- Go to 1cyprus.eu and join those demanding a constructive approach in addressing the Cyprus problem and reject the passive acceptance of the inevitable consequences of pretending that there is no problem. It is readily apparent that the status quo is ephemeral.
- In the coming parliamentary elections, support the candidates that do not confine themselves to setting ambitious targets but extend their efforts to specifying, in adequate detail, how they will achieve the targets they have set for themselves and how they are going to finance their plans (if they have detailed plans).
- Demand that journalists who present the various candidates to the public ‘corner’ them, as opposed to passing them the ball so they can score.
- Make the candidates understand that you are not stupid and that you are not prepared to swallow whatever rubbish they throw your way. Consider to what extent what they are proposing is attainable and examine the possibility that the candidate is simply trying to grab your vote and then throw you into the waste bin.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia