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Our View: Minister’s ‘campaigning by stealth’ is hypocritical

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides

The hypocrisy of Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides is astounding. He has been engaging in activities that could only be described as electoral campaigning, but wrote to the leader of Disy, Averof Neophytou, to tell him he believed it was “premature” to start party procedures for the selection of a candidate for the 2023 presidential elections. In theory, he is correct, but he is the last person entitled to make such a point, given that he has been pushing his candidacy for several months now, without considering this “premature”.

The letter was sent to Neophytou just before Disy’s political bureau meeting, on the agenda of which was the start of the procedures for choosing a candidate for the presidential elections. Christodoulides did not even have the decency to attend this party meeting and argue his case in person, citing prior commitments. All the other members of the cabinet put aside their prior commitment, in order to attend the meeting, but the foreign minister could not cancel a book presentation he was scheduled to talk at, to go to the political bureau that was to discuss a matter of direct interest to him – the elections.

That Christodoulides could snub the meeting, while expressing the hope his self-serving views would “contribute to a constructive and creative dialogue” he was not willing to participate in, is another illustration of the man’s hypocritical moralising. It is like the claim in his letter that a party election procedure now “would undoubtedly work against the implementation of the government programme.”

But the only reason Disy has decided to have this procedure prematurely is because Christodoulides has been campaigning and gathering votes for months now in the belief this would give him an advantage over any other candidate seeking the party’s backing. Has this behaviour not undermined the implementation of the government programme?

How is the foreign minister giving priority to the government programme while prioritising his daily public appearance which have just one purpose? Even his fellow ministers are critical of his antics, something that undermines the unity of the cabinet and its ability to implement the government programme. There is an ethical issue here – Christodoulides, who pretends to embrace high ethical standards, is campaigning by stealth, at the taxpayer’s expense.

He does this because President Anastasiades has allowed him to do so. A president committed to the smooth functioning of his government would not have allowed his foreign minister to use his position to pursue his personal election agenda, secure maximum media exposure and cause divisions in the government party and cabinet while being paid by the taxpayer. But it seems that high standards of behaviour is not something Anastasiades demands of his ministers.

 

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