I spent last weekend in Athens attending the wedding of a very good friend and relative. As a result, I was late in finding out that the RoC President had sent classified documents from the fruitless Cyprob Conference at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana to a number of journos and political observers. When I read the report I couldn’t help but think that Anastasiades, in view of his yet-undeclared pre-election effort, is trying desperately to keep pro-solution Greek Cypriots firmly into his camp. Pro-solution die-hards may not be that many, but, come February, they could be enough to ease his re-election in the second round of voting. I hear the President feels his latest Cyprob conduct and statements have won him back the right-wing populists who do not view the prospect of a federal settlement very positively. Naturally, he wants to be able to milk support from both camps, if this is still possible in Cyprus politics.
I couldn’t help, also, wondering why Anastasiades’ aides didn’t protect him from trapping himself in impossible situations. Obviously, nobody from the President’s immediate circle managed to persuade him that sending classified material to journos and other talkative recipients was not the best way to reverse the blame for the Crans-Montana debacle. Regardless of liking Anastasiades or not, many people would ask why the President criticised so strongly Edek chief Sizopoulos for leaking National Council docs, when he himself acted in a similar and possibly more damaging manner. I have to admit that, recently, I caught myself thinking that Anastasiades has indeed a very good chance of being re-elected. However, if he keeps insulting people’s intelligence, I am not sure his current support would remain intact.
I hear that the University of Cyprus rector, Constantinos Christophides, is considered a threat by some people at the Presidential Palace. Sources tell me that Anastasiades’ covert campaign team fear that the popular rector would run for President and he could attract many from the pro-solution crowd that voted for the current President in 2013. At the moment, Christophides is keeping his cards close to his chest. My sources, people who know the rector well, tell me that he would seriously consider running only if he has a serious chance to be in the second round. A tall order as things stand right now.
A good friend called me the other day with a piece of information. Citing people close to the Nicolas Papadopoulos camp, he told me that Diko’s chief and presidential hopeful is trying to woo the neo-Nazi leadership of Elam by promising the extremists a seat in his cabinet. I told my friend straight that I didn’t believe Papadopoulos to be that unintelligent as to approach Elam with such a proposal. He retorted that Nicolas could easily lie to get Elam’s support and leave them out to dry afterwards. Nicolas may not be truthful all the time (who is?) but I don’t think he could be so short-sighted as to approach Elam, alienating a number of potential voters and thus provoking his own political downfall.
After changing the name of the “Turkish Aid Office” to “Development and Economic Cooperation Office”, Turkey has also changed the title of the minister responsible for Cyprus. Until recently they were called “Turkish State Minister responsible for Cyprus”. Now it is “Minister Responsible for the Coordination of Cyprus Affairs”. The newly-appointed deputy prime minister and “Minister Responsible for the Coordination of Cyprus Affairs” Recep Akdag, who replaced Tugrul Turkes, visited the north this week. During a meeting with Turkish Cypriot journalists, he said that Turkey has readied TL540 million (€131 million) for the reforms and transformation programmes in the north within 2017. The total amount allocated for 2016-2018 is TL3.5 billion (€852 million). He said the priority should be health and transportation (highways) and unveiled a plan to build a 200,000-sq-metre hospital in the north.