| POLITICS |Politis



The honest Andreas [Mavroyiannis], the capable Averof [Neophytou] and the good Nikos [Christodoulides]. In a positive assessment, the Cypriot people seem to have come up with certain adjectives for the three leading candidates for the presidency of the Republic. There is, of course, the negative assessment as well, which stems from people’s suspicion on various issues.

The capable Averof

Beyond the fact every single billboard along the motorways of Cyprus proclaims it, Averof is actually capable of governing this country. Averof understands something very fundamental. That, in general, healthy compromises lead to new arrangements. The synthesis of positions, views and interests drive the economy and, as he says, a good economy provides wealth, while also supporting the social policies of the state. Averof differs from the average conservative Cypriot politician. Through these arrangements he sees new perspectives: He believes that a solution to the Cyprus problem will more than double our state’s revenues. It will triple tourism, it will turn our country into an “emirate” because it will make possible the exploitation of the approximately 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that Cyprus has in its EEZ, plus even more in the EEZs of Egypt, Israel and Lebanon. He knows that without a solution, this will either be swallowed up for free by others or will remain there to hang out with the fishes.

What’s holding Averof back? Basically, the outgoing elephant Nicos Anastasiades, and the stain of the allegedly most corrupt President since the founding of the Republic of Cyprus. The question asked even by supporters of DISY [Democratic Rally] is a reasonable one: How is Averof different from Anastasiades: Many claim, “Anastasiades ate until he burst”. “Won’t Averof do the same if he is elected?” Clearly, Averof is not so stupid as to tell us at some point “that he goes around in an oligarch’s jet to save money for the state”. But he is haunted by the perception that his friendships with a group of Cypriot businessmen do not allow him to look everyone in the eye equally. As a leader of all.

The honest Mavroyiannis

Andreas Mavroyiannis did not win the title of honest player in a home game but at the European level. He has carried this title of honour since 2011 when, under the Cypriot presidency of the European Union, he managed to distribute among European countries a sum in excess of €1 trillion. “The honest broker of Cyprus” was what remained as a badge of honour for Mavroyiannis and Cyprus after 6 months of the presidency. It was the acceptance of Andreas Mavroyiannis within the EU that subsequently established him as a serious negotiator on the Cyprus problem. His faith in Europe and insistence on a European solution to the Cyprus problem further convinced the Commission to appoint active observers to the Cyprus problem who were present during negotiations and resolved on the spot issues of compatibility of the intended solution with the acquis communautaire. His honesty as regards the Cyprus problem, as his former interlocutor Ozdil Nami says, is no different from what we call credibility. When you talk with credibility on the Cyprus problem, you do not try to stick it to your opponent. You are trying to build a Cyprus for all Cypriots and, above all, a country with a future for the generations to come. In a nutshell, the honesty and technocratic competence of Andreas Mavroyiannis are what Cyprus needs after 20 years of party-dominated governments, say those who support him. He will have to appoint around 1,000 people during his term of office. If half of them are honest like him, Cyprus will be a different country within the next five years.

On the other hand, why would anyone vote for Andreas Mavroyiannis if AKEL, which made a mess of things under Demetris Christofias, is to govern again, say the suspicious. This argument has been reinforced in recent years by a centre-right conservative shift in the electorate, not only in Cyprus but internationally. The logic of classic leftist talk of providing for the people is not convincing since it does not deal with the factors that would make these promises plausible. That is, to guarantee economic growth. The inflexibility of Demetris Christofias forced our country to enter into an unbearable memorandum. If he had listened to [Kikis] Kazamias and [Vassos] Shiarly [Translator’s note: responsible for the economy under Christofias], or even if he had listened to Mavroyiannis when we held the EU presidency, maybe the crisis of 2012 and the haircuts [on bank deposits] of 2013 would never have taken place. People do not forgive AKEL for this, but at the same time, when it comes to issues of corruption, they are not deluded. In other words, they know that during the AKEL government we were talking about thieves, and commenting on whether Christofias paid Miltis [Translator’s note: reference to Miltiades Neophytou, a real estate developer] for his apartment and how much he owed him, while today we are talking about towers, mansions worth millions, jets and billions in turnover.

What has Mavroyiannis done to counter this existing suspicion? He strengthened his campaign team with moderate and socially liberal politicians and technocrats. Economists such as Sofronis Clerides, Marios Clerides, Lazaros Lazarou and [Andreas] Assiotis, but also green development ecologists such as [Alexandra] Attalidou and Efi Xanthou. Clearly, honest right-wingers are more reliable as regards the economy than the parasitic passport economy created by Nicos Anastasiades, and they are clearly better than some on the Left who still support the logic of criminalising profit in business.

The good Nikos

Young, polite, sociable. He smiles at everyone and can easily discuss with any Cypriot graduate that he has a programme for governance. At the same time, he can chat with the simple family man in Geroskipou who laments his fate because he is struggling to educate his children, who still live with him because they do not have a serious job and even if they do, it is difficult for them to pay the rent or the loan payment for the house. He can convince him that he has solutions for him too.

Anyone who follows the good Nikos in various discussions on social media will find that he manages to identify with and win over the average struggling Cypriot. He will tell him that he too is concerned about how to educate his 4 daughters. He will explain that he and his wife are struggling to pay off the mansion they bought next to the Laiki Sporting Club.

The good Nikos Christodoulides has a good word for everyone and everything. He is both in favour of bi-zonality and in full agreement with DIKO’s [Democratic Party] positions on the Cyprus problem. He’s both a DISY supporter from birth, but also ready to dismantle DISY to get elected. Mostly, when answering questions, he knows how to make his interlocutors feel like they are somebody great: “You guys know better than us politicians. You are the ones we listen to and learn from. The people in general know better than any of us.”

Nikos Christodoulides is truly an extravaganza of sound and vision. As a video clip, he has the greatest panache of a politician that Cyprus has ever produced, which of course sometimes leads him to fall into contradictions. He mainly uses body language to say what he has to say in generalised and largely vague terms: According to research, non-verbal communication (body language) accounts for 55% of the message we send, while only 7% is verbal communication and 38% is the volume of our voice. In short, and based on the surveys, Mr Christodoulides is judged mainly through sight (83%) and 11% through hearing.

What does that mean? It means that if you are, for example, a glittering tin can that rolls noisily down the stairs people notice you more. On the other hand, if you stand at the top of the stairs and start delivering a coherent speech detailing your vision for Cyprus, you will be properly ignored. Maybe that’s why he even stole the one speech he had to give!

The universal problems

Unfortunately, our country will be called upon to face much bigger problems than those presented in the context of the election campaign. Cyprus in the post-passport era is still moving through an economy and a growth model that will not take us far: Land development only for the rich – Forex – Porn Industry – Betting. If this is not reversed, very soon we will be faced with new scandals, new [Demetris] Syllouris-type assurances of ‘Full support’, new ‘This is Cyprus’ style soundbites. [Translator’s note: reference to Al Jazeera’s undercover investigation alleging corruption in Cyprus over the sale of passports] Can the three main candidates support an economic model far from the current graft and miracles of the past that relied and still rely on ad noctem belt loosening and the creation of super profits in the pockets of some with inside information? Some can, some cannot. Whoever is elected, regardless of what they say or do, will be judged by this.



Director of Politis Newspaper. Born in Limassol, he studied history at AUTH (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and Queens College NY. He started as a journalist in 1986, working in newspapers, magazines, radio and television. Since 1999, he is a Publishing Consultant at Politis newspaper, and from 2016 its Director. He lives in Nicosia.

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