President Nicos Anastasiades, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and European Christian Democrats president Manfred Weber took to the podium at Disy’s party conference on Friday night to send strong messages of support for Averof Neophytou’s candidacy in the 2023 presidential elections.

Ruling Disy’s party conference was scheduled to take place two years ago, but due to the pandemic was postponed at least twice.

This year it coincides with the election period, something which Disy HQ did not ignore, giving the conference an electoral character with strong symbolism in favour of party unity and credibility.

Neophytou said that his candidacy for the 2023 presidential election “stands against populism that destroys countries economically and the false patriotism that leads to national adventures”.

“Citizens do not need easy and big words. They need to be protected from danger. They need a modern and reliable state that serves them. This has always been my position. Even if I go against the current.”, said Neophytou.

For his part, Anastasiades urged members to support Neophytou’s presidential candidacy, in light of former foreign minister and Disy man Nicos Christodoulides throwing his hat into the election ring.

“I want to underline this, turn a deaf ear to what is said and what is spread. For me there is only one choice. The choice of Averof Neophytou. From today you are called upon to work in a way that we know. I invite you to stand by our party. Do not tear down the house you built. Only in this way there will be security, stability and continuity of progress,” Anastasiades stressed to the party faithful.

Anastasiades kept his speech focused on his government’s programmes, such as the introduction of National Health System Gesy and the creation of a professional army. He reminded the conference of the economic dramas of the recent past, the island’s shock haircut and subsequent odyssey to become solvent ahead of expected timelines, putting this down to his party’s actions.

“I want you to be proud of what we have achieved during the years of Disy’s governance of the country. You should be proud because when we came to power, the country was on its last legs. The liquid assets were inadequate, we were on the tier of garbage…thanks to the determination and the warm support of Disy, we turned the crisis into an opportunity, achieving the exit from the memorandum in 2016. Much earlier than they predicted. Some were talking about a second and third memorandum. We proved that we are leaders who can fix the crisis,” Anastasiades told the crowd.

He also touched briefly on the corruption scandals that have dogged his presidency, but turned it on its head to list the reforms introduced during his time in office, including the creation of an independent Anti-Corruption Authority, protection of witnesses, and the scrapping of anonymity of beneficial owners in companies.

“There was a noise about corruption. It is enough to ask who was involved in Al Jazeera. Let them ask the lawyers, the accountants, the land developers. At the same time, I do not misunderstand and apologize because some people abused loopholes and weaknesses. But I do not allow anyone to smear. The May results provide an answer to those who think that by distorting facts they can benefit politically,” Anastasiades said.

Mitsotakis, who was in Cyprus especially for the party conference, reiterated his support for Neophytou in his speech to the conference.

“Dear Averof, under your leadership DISY has recorded successive electoral victories. In your new effort you will be accompanied by the support of all of us, so that you can prove once again that Disy is the party of great goals and great successes for the good of the Cypriot people,” Mitsotakis said. He stressed that “I am here today to support the president of our sister party in the Republic of Cyprus in his struggle to be elected the next president of Cyprus.”

Mitsotakis also talked of the situation in Greece and the special relationship between the two countries.

“Greece today has nothing to do with the country of crisis, sedimentation and division. But a strong Greece means a strong Hellenism and a strong Cyprus. Every success of Athens becomes a strength in Nicosia,” Mitsotakis said.