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Our View: Foreign interest in election shows importance of Cyprus aligning with the West

ΠτΔ – Συνέδριο ΔΗΣΥ // // por – disy confer
Mitsotakis and Anastasiades arriving at the conference

The timing of Disy’s political-ideological conference seemed rather strange. If it were intended to give a boost to the candidacy of party leader Averof Neophytou it was done too early. There are still eight months to the presidential elections so its impact could be lost by the time people are called to vote.

Perhaps the objective was to rally the party’s supporters who are being targeted by former foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides, who is both an independent candidate and a Disy member, having refused to give up his membership despite defying the party’s decision and standing against its candidate. Whether the objective was achieved, it is difficult to say at present.

It would probably have been much more difficult for the distinguished foreign guests at the conference to have attended and shown their support for Neophytou if it were held closer to the elections, as this could have been denounced by other candidates as interference in the democratic process.

This was, after all, a political-ideological conference and Neophytou was perfectly entitled to invite politicians of parties that embraced the same ideology as Disy. Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is also leader of New Democracy, while President of the European People’s Party (EPP) Manfred Weber heads a political grouping to which Disy belongs. Vice President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas, who was also present, is a member for the New Democracy.

Regardless of the purpose of the Disy conference, there is no denying the presence of these men was a public show of support for Neophytou’s candidacy. In fact, never before has a Greek prime minister showed a preference for a Cyprus presidential candidate so openly. The same could be said of the EPP leader, even though he does not have as much clout in Cyprus as the Greek PM.

We can only speculate that next year’s presidential elections is considered to have particular significance in the cold war conditions that have emerged since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There is a fear the elections could be won by the candidate who had very close relations with Moscow as foreign minister and would continue President Anastasiades’ policy of subservience towards Russia.

Neophytou is trusted in the West and, understandably, is seen as the candidate who will ensure Cyprus would not try to play in both camps as had been the official policy of Anastasiades and his former foreign minister. Hence the open support from people like Mitsotakis, Schinas and Weber, all of whom would like to see Cyprus take its place firmly in the West, especially now the world is divided again.

 

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