A European Parliament (EP) resolution specifically naming President Nicos Anastasiades in connection with the Pandora Papers, negative media articles, and the opposition calling for his resignation, all only serve to undermine everything Cyprus has done to clean up its financial reputation, the government said on Friday.
It was its first official response since it emerged on Wednesday that the EP planned to pass the name-and-shame resolution on Thursday, other than the government spokesman having a dig at opposition Akel on Thursday for milking the situation.
The EP resolution on Thursday said the Parliament “deplores the fact” that a number of politicians, including EU high-level decision-makers, have featured in the Pandora Papers, and calls on the authorities of the member states involved to carry out appropriate investigations into any wrongdoing. It goes on to name Anastasiades and seven other former and current EU leaders.
Prior to the resolution, Anastasiades repeatedly denied any wrongdoing after the law firm he founded and bears his name was accused in the Pandora Papers of hiding the assets of a former Russian senator behind fake beneficial owners.
In a written announcement, the finance ministry on Friday evening said all of the negative publicity surrounding the naming of the president in the Pandora Papers, “essentially devalue all measures taken in recent years against money laundering and terrorist financing as well as the competent authorities responsible for monitoring them”, it said.
“Also, the authors of these reports forget the reforms and measures taken by the government to strengthen Cyprus as a regional financial centre,” it added. It went on to give a rundown of how many changes have been made to shore up legislation and put in place checks and balances within the financial system.
“The system applied by the Republic of Cyprus in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing has been repeatedly praised by the Moneyval Committee of the Council of Europe,” it concluded.
The finance ministry statement came amid growing calls from opposition parties on Friday for the president to resign.
The parties criticised ruling Disy for attempting to downplay the fact Anastasiades is named in the EP resolution, something main opposition Akel called an embarrassment for the entire country, “and yet another addition to the cases of entanglement and conflict of interest that have plagued him all these years”.
“For the umpteenth time, our country is humiliated and dragged through the mud internationally,” Green Party leader Charalambos Theopemptou said in a statement.
Both Akel and the Greens asked that Anastasiades resign and immediately declare presidential elections, with the former saying, “he should have already resigned,” and the latter that “he should resign on principle”.
In its own statement, Diko took a milder stance, with Costas Mavrides saying that the president is the one responsible to act for the benefit of the credibility and the interests of the country. “Anyone in Cyprus refusing to acknowledge his mistakes just have to look at the European Parliament’s resolution”.
Meanwhile, Disy refused to admit any wrongdoing, instead saying that the party “sides with any policy aimed at tackling tax evasion, money laundering and in general, the fight against financial crime, which we have proved through our actions and policies”.
The party also rushed to defend the president, saying that “we are saddened by attempts from the opposition to politically exploit” the situation by hurting the president, who according to them has not been clearly implicated in any illegal activities.
“We oppose any kind of opposition attempt based on group logic, whose only goal is to hurt the president as it is contrary to the spirit of the European Parliament’s resolution”.
The House ethics committee is due to begin debate on the Pandora Papers next week.