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The stature of a state and a people is measured by the boldness shown in decision-making, how situations are managed, transparency, accountability and the way in which institutions function. What a waste of stature, they used to say to those who were timid and irresponsible. In Cyprus, we want to believe that we have stature, that we dare, that we do not hold back in difficult situations. We say it and we hear it at social gatherings. But it is wishful thinking. A quick glance at how institutions function, at the attempts to solve political, economic and social problems, and at the prevailing mentality among the public, shows the truth of the matter.
Let us take the tragic case of the murder of soldier Thanasis Nicolaou, 17 years ago. As it ultimately turned out – after the superhuman efforts exerted by the soldier’s mother – the initial investigation of the case conducted by the police and the state pathologist could be seen as shoddy at best or criminally negligent at worst. In fact, in a recent review of the case, investigators left open the possibility that criminal liability may arise for the police officers and the state pathologist who ‘handled’ the case at the time and who deemed the death a suicide. As a result, valuable evidence, which could have led to the arrest and punishment of the murderers, even now, was not collected and analysed.
We have all become aware of this. The recent criminal investigation has overturned things. These are the kinds of situations where the institutions of a state demonstrate their stature. In socially advanced countries, the findings of an investigation that is of great concern to public opinion are given first to the victim’s family (who has tried so hard to prove the obvious), before being made public without naming any perpetrators or accomplices. In this particular case that took place in our country, the Attorney General, Giorgos Savvides, received the criminal investigators’ findings and decided not to give them to the family of Thanasis Nicolaou. He simply informed them, perhaps by providing some facts selectively.
In fact, the Attorney General made sure to remove criminal investigator Savvas Matsas from the ongoing investigations, because, as he said, Matsas spoke publicly about the murder and the culpability of police officers and others. This annoyed the authorities, even though at the time Mr. Matsas did not name those responsible or the suspects. He referred to the facts, without giving any evidence that could hamper the new investigations the police were conducting. After this development, anyone trying to convince people that we are not heading towards a new cover-up will have a tough job.
The stature of a society is also clearly shown by how it chooses the people who will govern it. We have entered the final stretch of the presidential elections. And in the recent poll conducted by Sigma, the following paradox could be observed. Overwhelmingly, people care about the race and say that they will vote. But at the same time, they believe that the candidates for the highest office are not sincere, that they do not have specific positions and that they are mocking the people. They also believe that they will not be able to free themselves from the grip of political parties and that things will in fact remain as they are. They do not react, they do not actively demand something better. They say they are seeking change, while high percentages are supporting candidates whose willingness or ability to effect change is questionable.
Finally, the stature of a state is also shown by how it solves major outstanding issues, such as the political problem of Cyprus. For decades now, political leaders from all parties and factions have ruled half the island, going back and forth in talks here and abroad. Not once did they see to it that the people were informed properly, honestly, without an agenda, about what they were discussing behind closed doors. All were operating, on an almost conspiratorial level, in a way that allowed them to stitch things together according to their short-term party, financial and personal interests. This is how we arrived at the brink of partition, and this is how we lost Famagusta. To the point where today, the Turkish Cypriot leader can boast and taunt the current president with the inimitable “each speaks according to his own stature.”
Source: THE STATURE!