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Our View: Who really tarnished the legacy of Glafcos Clerides?

Προεδρικές Εκλογές 2023 – Επαναληπτ
Averof Neophytou speaks to the press after voting on Sunday with Katie Clerides (left) by his side

The absolute pettiness of the outgoing president was on full display on Sunday when he entered into a very public spat with Katie Clerides, Disy member, former MP and daughter of the late president and party founder Glafcos Clerides.

Clerides, in a tweet, had expressed support for Akel-backed candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis and not ex-Disy member Nikos Christodoulides, and had alluded to the alleged corruption scandals that had marred the Anastasiades presidency.

When he went to vote on Sunday morning, Anastasiades was asked to comment. He replied that he was not interested in “engaging in conversation with those who try to harm the stability of the country.” But then went on to do exactly that.

“I don’t want to comment on vulgarities. How is it even possible to carry a name [Clerides] which you do not honour?” Anastasiades said, by way of not commenting.

Replying to the president later while standing alongside Disy leader Averof Neophytou, Clerides said that Cyprus was a small place and everything was known eventually. “I don’t need to say anything else,” she added.

Firstly, if Anastasiades had stopped after the first sentence, it would have been enough, but to invoke the legacy of a man he called his mentor, with a personal attack using the Clerides name in such an insulting manner was uncalled for. He should have kept a dignified silence especially on an election day and simply refused to comment when he was asked about it. He is well-practised at ignoring the media when he chooses to.

What’s worse was that he subsequently ordered a written, official response to be issued from the palace before lunch. In it he said that while he respected Clerides’ political positions – clearly he didn’t – the mud-slinging and allusions of corruption against him were “totally unacceptable and unsubstantiated” and “an unethical attempt to tarnish my name”.

This is exactly what he himself did in response – tried to tarnish Katie Clerides’ name: “Unfortunately the behaviour of Ms Clerides brings to my memory the quote of the late George Papandreou who, referring to the son of Eleftherios Venizelos, said: ‘Mr Sophocles Venizelos is nothing but the bearer of a great name’”.

To all intents and purposes, Katie Clerides is a private citizen who as far as we are aware has not tried to run for president or indeed tried to become a political rival to Nicos Anastasiades by capitalising on her name. It literally is her name. As a citizen, she is also entitled to air her opinion.

That a president would go to the trouble of issuing a written statement containing an ad hominem attack against a private citizen in a fit of pique says a lot about who he is. Who is it really that has tarnished the legacy of Glafcos Clerides by taking founder’s party to the brink of a crisis with his own duplicitousness during the recent election campaign?

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