“TWO MONTHS ago I argued that President Anastasiades would not dare take the decisions necessary to reach a settlement. This is what I wrote:
“In reality , because of his lack of courage, Anastasiades is pushing things back to 2018, following the example set by Christofias. I fear the results will be the same. With his delaying tactics, Christofias managed to see Mehmet Ali Talat voted out of office in 2010. Is there not a risk of the same thing happening to Akinci if Anastasiades carries on in this way?”
Two months later , this evaluation appears to have been correct. The president does not have a settlement as his priority . I am not claiming that he does not want a settlement – he just does not dare. His mind is on the next presidential elections.
It is no coincidence that he keeps buttering up the public servants. He reached the point of forcing his health minister , Philippos Patsalis, to resign because he refused to give in to the irrational demands of the government doctors and nurses with regard to the national health system. He even managed to receive public praise from PASYDY boss Glafcos Hadjipetrou, something that certainly does not honour him.
It is also no coincidence he has now decided to send a bill to the legislature for pay rises to be given to some 700 high-earning public employees who were promoted. When they were promoted it was agreed that the corresponding pay rise would have to wait until January 2017, but his bill would bring this forward by a year .
Anastasiades is a compulsive tactician but a clumsy one. It is a clumsiness he demonstrated by taking this provocative decision at a time there are 70,000 unemployed in the private sector , while those with jobs have seen the wages being cut by as much as 60 per cent in some cases. Nor was it a coincidence that the finance minister of the presidential palace (we have two finance ministers) announced the end to the extraordinary contribution by public servants at a time when the bankrupt state is going after unemployed house-owners to collect immovable property tax on their house.
And it is no accident that while people are still suffering the effects of the recession, and thousands are still relying on soup kitchens and handouts of food to survive, Anastasiades and his council of ministers sit and discuss how many square metres the office space of the spoilt, princes of the civil service should cover . The issue has caused tragicomic rows. The area of the office space for top civil servants has become a topic of public debate and includes who is entitled to a personal toilet and who will have to piss in the communal loos.
These are the important issues occupying the president of bankrupt Cyprus, which is why he has no time left to solve the Cyprus problem and insists that referendums in March would be too soon.
And what should we say about his decision to set up ‘sub-ministries’. Each one will require an ‘under-secretary’, a permanent secretary , limo, personnel etc. His concern is to sort out jobs for as many as possible as he looks for more supporters. But again his decision has the opposite result.
He does not understand that the president of a state that is bankrupted and is in an assistance programme cannot keep increasing rather than reducing state spending. These actions also add substance to the view that he is not interested in a settlement. He cannot, on the one hand, claim he is working intensively for a solution of the Cyprus problem as soon as possible while, on the other , setting up unnecessary sub-ministries for which there would be no need in the event of a settlement and would have to be scrapped.
And it is no accident that Anastasiades has also embraced the rhetoric of the rejectionist camp. He is even giving Giorgos Lillikas a helping hand in ‘deconstructing’ the image of Mustafa Akinci because he supports permanent derogations from the European acquis on the issue of populations, when it is Anastasiades that should have been demanding this so that T urkey would be prevented from flooding the south with T urkish citizens and turning Greek Cypriots into a minority .
Conclusion? While everything is going wrong, Anastasiades is grooming himself for the next presidential elections. And he does not realise that all these ridiculous tactical manoeuvres are more likely to destroy than help him. In 2018, with the Cyprus problem unsolved, not even half the DISY voters would vote for him.”
(Sunday Mail, 25.10.2015)
By Loucas Charalambous