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Anastasiades admits to mistakes, looks forward to post presidential life (updated)

ΠτΔ – Χριστουγεννιάτικα Κάλαντα α

President Nicos Anastasiades wants to rest and then write a book about his experiences handling the Cyprus problem after he steps down as president next month, he said in an interview published on Tuesday.

Now in his final few weeks holding the country’s top post, Anastasiades said his mea culpa during his 10-year tenure was that he should have ensured the citizenship-by-investment scheme was stricter.

“The unsubstantiated claim that I am the most corrupt president pains me greatly,” Anastasiades said. He noted it was “killing” him.

“What I have to admit is that some exploited and abused the scheme. Whether they were audit offices, lawyer offices or developers.”

It was also a bad idea for him to accept using a private jet operated by a Saudi businessman who benefited from the scheme, he told Phileleftheros.

“I have to say a second thing, which concerns a personal error,” he said, referring to accepting the trip “from a person that never received special treatment nor was he a client of my former legal office.

“He (the Saudi businessman) did not have any special favours but it was wrong to accept his offer. This to me was the biggest personal mistake, that gave more ground to those who, when they could not question the work of the government, believed that by hurting my morals and honesty, would reduce my presence at the presidency.”

Anastasiades noted the citizenship-by-investment scheme was created during the Tassos Papadopoulos presidency, and later inherited by that of Demetris Christofias.

Referring to the in-house disputes in Disy between Averof Neophytou and Nikos Christodoulides, where both are running for president but the former as party leader and the latter as an ‘independent’, Anastasiades said he tried and failed to avert the problems.

“It is not just Disy’s cohesion that everyone needs to be concerned with but the climate that will follow after the elections. We have international crises that demand collectiveness.”

Predictions suggest next year will be a tough year of recession and parliament needs to remember to be above any ideological differences, he said.

Anastasiades added the fact that the three main candidates were his associates is a vindication of sorts for him. The third is former chief Cyprus problem negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis, who is supported by Akel.

He believes a number of feats during his tenure will be appreciated, such as the Cyprus – Tomorrow plan, with 58 reforms and 75 investment actions.

“I took over a bankrupt country – and without imposing new taxes, instead we abolished taxes – we managed to build a welfare state with guaranteed incomes for the vulnerable.”

Akel responded to the interview, saying “if Anastasiades didn’t want to get hurt by citizens calling him corrupt, then he should have made sure not to get involved in corruption.” In any other country, a president like him would have had to resign, Akel spokesman Giorgos Koukoumas said.

Government spokesman Marios Pelekanos hit back saying Akel refused to acknowledge the “harsh reality” of the bankrupt state Anastasiades inherited and the state of the one he leaves behind.

“They have nothing to offer the country, and instead prefer to hide and throw stones,” he said.

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