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A longtime columnist bids farewell

Προεδρικές εκλογές – Λεμεσός – Ψηφοφορία
Nikos Christodoulides won with 51.9 per cent of the vote

Disillusioned by the election results and the failure to act on suggestions to root out corruption and find a viable solution to the Cyprus problem

Last Sunday, the Greek Cypriot people chose Nikos Christodoulides as their president for the next five years, with 204,680 votes or 51.9 per cent, against 189,522 votes or 48.1 per cent for Andreas Mavroyiannis). The difference of 15,158 votes was not large, but it was sufficient to give a clear victory to Nikos Christodoulides.

A major event that marked the presidential elections of 2023 was Nikos Christodoulides’ defection from the party that raised him and the ramming of the Democratic Rally (Disy) by the consortium of all the rejectionist, rather small parties.

I did not hesitate to openly oppose the election of Nikos Christodoulides, because I believed that electing him as president of the Republic would be another step leading to partition and, in the longer term, to the annexation of the whole of Cyprus by neighbouring Turkey.

I have not come to this conclusion arbitrarily. It is based on a systematic, in-depth study of contemporary Cypriot history. The basis of my conclusion is set out in detail in my almost 400 articles, which were published in the daily Greek-language newspaper “Alithia” and in the English-language “Cyprus Mail” and “Sunday Mail” since 2015, when I launched my career as a political commentator.

Over the past eight years, many people told me that my articles were well written and sufficiently supported by logical arguments. Admittedly, I have always suspected that these comments contained a large dose of exaggeration and flattery. However, it is a fact that these articles sprang out of both my mind and my heart, where an enormous quantity of love for my homeland nestles.

But one fact is undisputable. I have failed to convince the Cypriot voters of the correctness of my political assessments. Possibly, my failure was due to an inability to formulate my thoughts in a coherent, convincing manner. Possibly, it was because my thoughts were simply wrong.

I sincerely hope and pray that future developments will prove my assessment that we are heading full steam ahead towards a new Asia Minor catastrophe wrong and unfounded. I am a deeply democratic person, and I recognise the possibility that I may be wrong in my assessment; hence, my obligation to respect the verdict of the majority. Let us hope that the majority is right, and I am wrong. Unfortunately, we will know who is right and who is wrong, when it will be too late to do anything about it.

I am already at an age where I cannot rule out the possibility that last Sunday’s presidential election was the last I had the opportunity to participate in. It appears highly likely that I will depart from planet earth with the heartache that my generation has ceded the control over my homeland to a neighbouring country. I hope that I will not be forced to be a witness when catastrophe strikes. The truth is I do not have the physical and the mental strength to go through the devastating experience of becoming a refugee for a second time. Hence, my decision to leave Cyprus and resettle in Athens, which had opened its arms wide and embraced me for the first time in 1975. That is where I am planning to lay down my pen and preoccupy myself with something that is unrelated to political commentating.

At this stage, I feel obliged to thank the two oldest newspapers published in Cyprus – “Cyprus Mail” and “Alithia” – for hosting my articles for eight years, without ever interfering, without ever exercising any form of censorship. I would also like to thank the publishing house Papazisis for publishing a selection of my articles of the period 2015-18 in a book (in Greek) titled O Katantis–The Slippery Road to Destruction. Finally, I would like to thank the many readers of my articles for the encouragement they have given me to carry on, when the road seemed prohibitively uphill.

Unfortunately, the current situation in Cyprus is frighteningly difficult – both in objective and in subjective terms. Objectively, because, after a series of serious mistakes on the part of the Greek Cypriot leadership, faits accomplis have been created that are extremely difficult to overturn. Subjectively, because there is now sufficient evidence to confirm that corruption has spread its tentacles all over the island, with the result that the national interest has become an issue of secondary importance.

In recent years, I have worked, on a pro bono publico basis, to help address the problem of corruption by compiling and publishing a White Paper on “Pothen Esches”, that is on the capital statements of the politically exposed persons [https://www.pothen-esches-cyprus.com]. The fact that, to date, nothing substantial has been done to tackle corruption confirms the magnitude of the problem, which has spread its tentacles to all the political levels and all the social strata of Cyprus. The game of corruption includes the “passively corrupt” players, comprising the intelligentsia of Cyprus who do not dare to speak out, because they fear that their self-interests will be negatively affected.

At the same time, I worked diligently together with 11 other eminent compatriots of mine to formulate a comprehensive proposal for reaching an agreement to resolve the Cyprus problem [https://www.eastmed-thinktank.com]. This proposal was welcomed by the European Commission and other international players, but the Cypriot political establishment chose to keep their mouths shut (despite the fact that, in private, they declared themselves to be favourably disposed).

They remained silent because they did not have the guts to speak honestly and openly about the existential problem confronting our homeland. Taking the Cypriot people for a ride over the past 50 years is, for me, the most painful aspect of the problem. This pain pushed my parents to depart from this world earlier than they would have otherwise done. Right now, I am being overwhelmed by this feeling myself.

With these pessimistic and gloomy thoughts, I withdraw from active service. I wholeheartedly wish my compatriots good luck. It will be badly needed in the coming years.

 

Christos Panayiotides is an ex-regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia

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