In announcing his backing for Nicos Christodoulides’ candidacy, on Thursday, former justice minister, Ionas Nicolaou, cited several reasons for his decision, some of which were shining examples of misinformation. Why he felt he should resort to arguments that were plainly untrue to justify his decision, is difficult to understand. Nobody would think anything less of him if he gave two instead of five reasons to justify his vote.

He said: “The safeguarding of what has been secured in the negotiations for a Cyprus settlement, the deepening of strategic relations with states of the regions and the USA – as an umbrella of security – European orientation and integration, fiscal discipline and stability constituted unwavering priorities that cannot be exposed to the undisputed distortions of Akel’s politics.”

This was a repeat of the Disy political bureau’s resolution, but it is questionable that Disy’s priorities would be safer in the hands of Christodoulides who is backed by parties that consider what had been secured in the Cyprus talks as concessions that should be revoked. He did not however speak about the danger of exposing the Cyprus problem to the undisputed distortions of Edek-Diko policies.

Where Nicolaou is calculatingly misinforming is by implying that the deepening of strategic relations with the USA and our European orientation would be safe under a Christodoulides presidency. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christodoulides, together with President Anastasiades, maintained worrying close relations with Moscow.

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, a few months before the invasion of Ukraine, in October 2021, Christodoulides was called to Russia, where he signed an agreement on ‘cooperation with Russia on humanitarian operations,” which was essentially licence for Russian warships to dock in Cyprus ports, for military planes to use our airports, troops to move freely and for “dangerous goods” be stored here. The provision of military facilities had been christened “humanitarian operations,” Anastasiades and Christodoulides under the illusion this would fool the US and our EU partners.

Is this how, according to Nicolaou, Christodoulides will deepen our strategic relations with the US? By showing contempt for the main condition for deepening these relations, which was “to terminate existing agreements granting Russian naval vessels access to ports”? As for our European orientation, Christodoulides completely ignored that, not only vetoing sanctions against Belarus, but by signing a strategic framework of cooperation with Moscow, also in October 2021, for among other things, to cooperate on social media and combat misinformation. The man who will maintain our European orientation was signing agreements of cooperation with the country that posed the biggest cyber security threat to the EU.

Akel’s appalling anti-West stance is a given, but the parties backing Christodoulides – Diko, Edek, Dipa – have enjoyed very close ties with Moscow in the last 20 years as well. A few years ago, the Edek leader was publicly demanding that Cyprus gave a military base to Russia. Ironically, Christodoulides and the parties supporting him are more likely to move us away from the West and closer to Russia, than Andreas Mavroyiannis, who has proven his European credentials.

We should recall that it was the president elected by Akel, George Vassiliou, who improved relations with the West in the early nineties and did the groundwork for our application for EU membership after Spyros Kyprianou’s 10 years of government-fuelled anti-Western paranoia.