Leaked information that Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades would give a vote of confidence to beleaguered Finance Minister Harris Georgiades after the release of a damning report on the collapse of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank was confirmed on Thursday evening.
A written statement by Anastasiades gave full backing to Georgiades but was also preceded by an announcement on the President’s personal twitter account that he had not lost faith in his minister.
The tweet was probably sent out in order to prevent speculation on the evening news as the official announcement was to be delayed.
In the official announcement, issued at about 20:20, the President basically sent the message that what the findings attribute to Georgiades is not enough to overshadow all that he has achieved during his term as Finance Minister.
And, in summary the President stressed, these include the avoidance of state taxation, the successful exit of the country from the imposed austerity memorandum, the development of surpluses, the reduction of unemployment and high growth rates.
At the same time, despite the separation made in the investigating committee’s report for the period before and after 2013, Anastasiades opted to focus more on what has been achieved through the CCB takeover agreement with Hellenic Bank than in the years before, that is between 2013 and the summer of 2018.
These were the years the responsibilities of Georgiades had been identified in the report. Essentially, for this specific period, the President highlights several points that act as mitigating factors for the minister’s responsibility.
First and foremost, the President refers to the €7 billion of non-performing loans inherited from the pre-2013 period. This particular reference, however, could be interpreted as an admission by the President that CCB could not be saved, anyway, something which is contrary to official statements made from time to time.
The President also attributes direct and indirect responsibilities on the Single Supervisory Mechanism, since, through its ever-increasing demands, it had made the situation more difficult. The findings of the investigating committee do not point the finger at the European Central Bank whatsoever.
As a matter of fact, even though the President does not say directly, he disagrees with the report’s conclusions that were attributed to Georgiades as regards mismanagement, mistaken choices and ignorance of the crucial problems within the CCB.
The President seems to attribute the collapse of the co-op movement to the unsecured loans accumulated over the decades. And, essentially, the President also rejects the responsibilities attributed to him for not asking the Finance Minister to step down from his post.