By Marios Eliades

The President of the European Parliament (EP) Roberta Metsola recently visited Cyprus to inspect the progress on the Amalthea humanitarian aid project for the relief of the beleaguered people of Palestine in the Gaza Strip. Metsola seized the opportunity to also address a letter of appeal to the Cypriots to vote in the forthcoming European elections.

Even more recently, in a video message on the occasion of Europe Day, on May 9, marking also the 20th anniversary of Cyprus’ EU accession, Metsola urged the Cypriots to participate en masse in the European Parliament elections in order to “defend Europe; to shape it”.

In both her addresses, Metsola referred to the low turn-out of the Cypriots (45 per cent) in the previous elections for the EP in 2019 and very rightly she rallied all and each one of us to exercise our voting right by telling us “Your vote counts.”

“It counts for all of us, for freedom and its benefits …Your vote counts for the Europe that you want to see,” Metsola stated in her direct appeal to the Cypriot people.

I wish to extend my warm thanks to Metsola for her public appeal to my fellow citizens, the European citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, to flock to the polling stations and vote in the EP elections. It would most certainly be a responsible act on our side to participate in the construction of Europe, which, as Metsola succinctly remarked, “should not be taken for granted.”

However, I take this opportunity as a European citizen to make my own appeal to Metsola in her capacity as EP President and a leading figure of European Institutions.

Immediately after June’s European elections efforts will officially get under way to choose the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council. In these efforts Metsola will have an important role to play in filling these two EU positions.

Just as Metsola has appealed to the Cypriots to act responsibly by casting their votes for a new European Parliament on June 9, so do I, as a Cypriot European citizen, address a public appeal to Metsola to act in her institutional capacity of European Parliament President with even more responsibility when she consults with other European leaders for the selection of new presidents for both the European Commission and the European Council.  

I was indeed very disappointed to hear that the European People’s Party (EPP), which is anticipated to emerge again as the largest political power in the European Parliament, in its recent meeting at Bucharest, had decided with Metsola’s support, to nominate Ursula Von der Leyen, leading member of EPP, as European Commission President for a second term.

I really cannot help but wonder if by taking this stance Metsola believes she is performing her leadership duties as President of the European Parliament in the interest and for the future wellbeing of the European Union, or she is merely following the beaten track in supporting an EPP colleague for the position of the Commission President.

If Metsola’s selection criterion in the above process is the interest of the EPP and not that of the European Union as a whole, then Her Excellency will allow me to suggest that she is not living up to her responsibilities as leader of the European Parliament, when she is guided by the partisan identity of those selected for the top positions and not by the Union’s best interest. This is far more reprehensible than not going to the polls, and could be one of the reasons for shunning the EP elections.

I am certain that Metsola is aware of the need for the European Union to have real leaders at the top of European Institutions, leaders who can inspire again the European peoples rather than mere officials for a difficult and yet incomplete mission. “Europe is not for granted,” were Metsola’s words in her letter to the Cypriots. I make a public appeal to the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola and to all the members of its political groups to put the interest of the Union before their affiliated partisan interests.

Marios Eliades is a former minister of the Cyprus Republic and European citizen