By Constantinos Tsindas and Elias Hazou
There was still no reaction on Monday following the public endorsement of Averof Neophytou by President Nicos Anastasiades at a raucous Disy conference on Sunday, as sources tell the Cyprus Mail that the players in the 2023 presidential race are doing the waiting game, with time not yet ripe to respond to these latest developments.
Anastasiades dispelled any question marks about his endorsement of Neophytou as the ruling party’s candidate, with the same sources saying that no definitive developments are yet on the horizon on what the plans of former foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides might be, as he has largely kept a low profile following his resignation, beyond a presentation of a Cyprus problem book last week in Athens.
Rumours have circulated widely, including the fact that Christodoulides is preparing his election team – but these are unsubstantiated and not commented upon specifically by associates or the former ministers’ circle.
According to Cyprus Mail sources, the former foreign minister is currently in the process of organising his own election team and will be making relevant announcements.
“There is no plan B, only the second round and victory,” Anastasiades declared at Sunday’s conference officially confirming Neophytou as the party’s candidate by a show of hands.
“It’s Neophytou to the end,” the president said, indicating that power, or rather service to the country, can only be lost through division.
Grasping on the endorsement and taking a swipe at Christodoulides, Neophytou said the party was “not a flag of opportunity, but a party of values and principles.”
“No plan Bs for us,” he noted.
In his own speech, Neophytou spoke of ‘Trojan horses’ that seek to sow division inside the party. It was an apparent allusion to Christodoulides, a Disy cadre who has decided to ‘go rogue’ and potentially run as an independent.
In a packed stadium on Sunday, Neophytou used the slogan coined by party founder Glafcos Clerides: “United, United, United and never Defeated.”
The party leader and presidential hopeful described the moment as the greatest honour in his political journey. He outlined his vision of a Cyprus being driven by security, development and solidarity.
And in a clear stance on his vision of the island’s place on the international sphere, Neophytou said “it is dangerous for the country if we’re trying to put our feet in two boats, like we did before 1974.”
To this end, there should be no hesitation in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he added.
Participants were handed yellow and blue ribbons and a minute’s silence was held to pay respects to the victims of the war in Ukraine.
Meanwhile in a press release on Monday, possibly aimed at building up Neophytou’s presidential profile, Disy said he was currently in England where he would hold various contacts, including speaking at the Economist’s Sixth London Business Summit.
So far, only Neophytou, lawyer Achilleas Demetriades and Marios Eliades (a former minister) have thrown their hat in the 2023 race. Talks between the political parties are ongoing.