By Achilleas Demetriades
On February 23 I submitted my resignation from the post of president of the Human Rights Committee of the Cyprus Bar Association (CBA) during a Committee meeting. I believe that due to a possible conflict of interest it would not be legitimate to remain in this post, given that I am concluding my consultations relating to the 2023 presidential elections.
At a time when people in general regard politics with contempt, only deeds, not words, have value. Consequently, my resignation sends the message that the independence of the institutions should be safeguarded, and my colleagues at the CBA, whom I thank, will go ahead and appoint my replacement after seven years of service.
It is my firm conviction that leaders should lead by example and inspire by their policy actions. This is one of the fundamental elements that constitute the Honest State, as I see it, which citizens are desperately looking for. This was, at least, one of the clearest messages I have received in all the consultations I have had in the past few months with organised groups and society at large, on the three pillars which are of concern for our country: Honest State, Cyprus 2035 and the Solution is in our Interest.
A number of reputable international bodies have recorded the plunge in corruption indicators for Cyprus. This negative course relates to the practices of the outgoing government which have tainted our country’s reputation and the dignity of its people.
Cyprus does not deserve this. This reality has to change.
The present image of maladministration and corruption should give its place to transparency, progress and development for everyone. We should strengthen public life with rules that will be adhered to; with transparency based on the rules set by GRECO for the whole of Europe; with regulations which will prevent the conflict of interest in exercising authority, upholding sound governance and the rule of law.
To achieve these objectives, I propose the following:
- Introduce rules and regulations which will prevent the conflict of interest. A Code of Conduct, which will commit first and foremost the President of the Republic and the members of the Cabinet, in order to prevent any conflict of interest while exercising authority. If a minister fails to comply with the Code of Conduct, he has no place in the Cabinet. He will have to resign his post immediately.
- Elected officials must declare their financial situation, justifying how their assets have been gained. Their starting financial position must be disclosed, as well as any subsequent changes along with an explanation regarding these changes.
- The state and the political parties must be kept separate. It is imperative that the President should serve all citizens equally and govern as the president of all Cypriots. In practice, this means that once somebody is appointed to the Cabinet, he/she submits his/her resignation from any political party post they may hold. This will be in place for the entire duration of the ministerial term.
- The people must be kept informed about the President’s meetings. Adherence to rules first and foremost by the President, the first citizen. A weekly electronic briefing of the people regarding his schedule. People have the right to ask and the Presidency must respond to questions on his activities involving the responsibilities and the duties of the president.
I know very well that in politics northing is easy, and the path towards a change in the conduct of governance is not laid out in a bed of roses. I am fully aware of the difficulties. I believe that we need to start now to lay out a clear strategy, with clear positions which will render Cyprus into a modern state.
A state aligned with the EU highest levels of development in the protection of human rights and the rule of law.
With a sustainable economy, balanced growth and social sensitivity and respect to its citizens.
That is why I propose an Honest State.
Achilleas Demetriades is a partner at the Lellos P Demetriades law office LLC https://achilleas.eu