Elections are only a month away. It’s time to take a serious look at our choices
In my mind, there is absolutely no doubt that the presidential candidate nominated and supported by Disy is Averof Neophytou, by Akel is Andreas Mavroyiannis, by Elam is Christos Christou and by the alliance of Diko, Edek, Dipa and Eleni Theocharous is Nikos Christodoulides. It follows that the incoherent claim that beyond Achilleas Demetriades, Constantinos Christofides and Georgios Colocassides, we have “independent” presidential candidates, must be ignored by all intelligent voters. What is also clear is that the partisan presidential candidates and the three independent candidates can be divided into two main categories: the proponents of reunification and those of the partition of Cyprus (often referred to in Greek as “the rejectionists”). In the first category we have Averof Neophytou, Andreas Mavroyiannis, Achilleas Demetriades and Constantinos Christofides and in the second category we have Nikos Christodoulides, Christos Christou and Georgios Colocassides.
I have repeatedly stated in my articles that for me it is inconceivable to support the partition of my homeland and to cede 40 per cent of Cyprus (and potentially the whole of Cyprus) to Turkey (or any other third country, with the consequence of ceasing to be part of the European Union). It follows that I rule out the option to vote for Nikos Christodoulides or Christos Christou or Georgios Colocassides as president, because I find their stand that they will “never consent to an unfair solution to the Cyprus problem” a smokescreen behind which they hide their preferred option of partition.
At no stage have we ever been asked by Turkey (or anyone else for that matter) whether we are in agreement with what has been happening in Cyprus since 1974, and it is naïve to expect that we will be asked in the future. Turkey ignores us and consolidates the faits accomplis. This is the bitter truth, whether we like it or not. The 50 years that have passed since 1974 are clear proof that maintaining the illusion that we will be able to force Turkey to adopt our views, without making concessions, is a myth maintained by the rejectionists in order to perpetuate their political presence. More specifically, I have serious reservations about the ability of Nikos Christodoulides to govern in a manner that would serve the long-term interests of Cyprus. His craving for power will probably make him a puppet president of the rejectionist parties that support him, whose main goal is their ascension to power.
With these thoughts in mind and given that our political system does not appear to have room for independent candidates, who are not supported by one or more political parties, the real choices I have are Andreas Mavroyiannis and Averof Neophytou. In relation to Andreas Mavroyiannis, I have three reservations, which Akel itself (and not Andreas Mavroyiannis) must address. The first reservation concerns the economic policies which will be pursued by Andreas Mavroyiannis. I am in favour of state aid in support of the non-privileged members of our society, but I am not in favour of supporting those who are generally inclined to live at the expense of the taxpayers. However, as long as I do not hear from Akel a clear apology for the fact that the Christofias government placed Cyprus on the “ventilator” and effectively led the economy to the brink of bankruptcy and as long as I hear from Akel’s casual statements of the type “why only 100, give them 300 or 500”, I get very worried.
The second reservation concerns the possible involvement of Russia in preventing the reunification of Cyprus. It is now generally acknowledged that Russia is among the “rejectionists” and views the partition of Cyprus with a favourable eye. It is an indisputable fact that in 1974 she remained a passive observer of the Turkish invasion, while in 2004, her intervention led to the infamous “we say ‘no’, to cement ‘yes’”.
It is also rumoured that in 2016/17 she also played an important role, through Nikos Kotzias and Nikos Christodoulides, who eagerly adopted the blatantly unrealistic position of “zero troops – zero guarantees from day one”; a position that resulted in torpedoing the negotiating process, despite the fact that all those involved in the process were saying that they had come very close to achieving a satisfactory solution. I make no secret of the fact that, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the merciless destruction of that country, I have absolutely no confidence in the Russian declaration of ‘upholding the principles of international law’.
The third reservation concerns Akel’s apparent rejection of any form of cooperation with the “right” (Disy) for serving the national goal of the reunification of Cyprus. Admittedly, over time, there have been voices within Akel that supported the cooperation of the two major parties of Cyprus for reuniting Cyprus, but, in the end, these voices did not prevail.
Frankly, I would be happy to reconsider my intentions as to the approach that should be taken in the upcoming presidential elections, if Akel, in a clear and unequivocal manner, stated that the above-mentioned concerns of mine are unsubstantiated and that it would have no reservation to support the Disy candidate, if this were necessary to prevent the election of Nikos Christodoulides, provided that a similar undertaking is given by Disy for the candidate who is supported by Akel. Such a development would lead – in the first round of the elections – to Disy support of Averof Neophytou and Akel support for Andreas Mavroyiannis. But, in the second round, both parties would support one of the two candidates to pass the first round, thus excluding the possibility of electing a rejectionist candidate to the position of the president.
You may ask me what is going to happen to the truly independent candidates – proponents of reunification and, in particular, to Achilleas Demetriades, who admittedly acted in the run-up to the elections in an exemplary fashion and has published an electoral manifesto that finds me in full agreement? What I would like to see from the side of Disy and Akel is a commitment that whoever secures the election of his own candidate, will give a key position to the two independent candidates-advocates of reunification. How about appointing Demetriades as foreign minister and Christofides as education minister, thus providing a sense of balance and security to the civil society I form a part of?
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia