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17° Nicosia,
20 February, 2019
 
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The Importance of Integrity

Integrity as a measure of political action is directly linked to accountability

Yiannis Kafkarides

We have for some time now entered an era where words have lost all meaning.

Ideally, an interview in print or a televised statement presents itself as an opportunity, for an opinion leader, to express political priorities with a view to garner public support in order to achieve a morally sound objective that would at the end of the day improve the quality of life for a society- or a group within a society; a policy that would be debated and scrutinized based on its merits.

Those who act as if honesty and responsibility can be bent so as to achieve higher objectives are undermining what they seek to protect

Instead, we now witness an academic shoot-out whereby people argue over a particular topic by listing several exclusions to their argument so as to limit to the lowest degree the amount of backlash, to reduce the risk of falsifiability to their words. In the face of blatantly obvious facts political leaders deny supporting a set position all together and result to rephrasing their argument according to what the public wants to hear.

The only ones who benefit from this behaviour are those that thrive on the lack of accountability.

Because if a politician does not have a fixed and transparent policy direction, he or she cannot be judged. In our society we are experiencing an assault on integrity where the absence of results do not matter as the debate is being relocated on the value of motivations and intentions instead of outcomes. But unlike a peer reviewed scientific paper, which does not need to pass through a Facebook filter or a TV screen to gain validity, a political action gains legitimacy through its publicity.

Take for example the Cyprus problem, although the same principle can be used to probe why pavements, roads and squares are never finished, why corruption prevents progress and why State utilities abuse their market position.

Even experts in the field who know precisely where everyone stands and can recite the evolution of negotiation chapters and solution plans over the years cannot articulate which are the key positions of each side at the moment, or if you prefer what is the desired objective. Just recently the Turkish FM cautioned the Turkish Cypriot leader for his support of a Federal solution, giving his go-ahead for Ozersay to gradually take over in the north, whereas adjacent to the Hill, securing the presence of the bruised and battered by us UNFICYP has been elevated to a national goal. At the same time both sides declare ready to negotiate a lasting settlement. The Cyprus issue it seems has been in an endgame phase for decades. 

This is not merely an odd paradoxical conundrum. It was Foucault who said ''Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society''. Integrity as a measure of political action is directly linked to accountability because without it, accountability has no institutional acceptance. Those who act as if honesty and responsibility can be bent so as to achieve higher objectives are undermining what they seek to protect.

Political success is quantifiable, by looking at effectiveness and measuring efficiency and accountability over the long-term. There are those who will argue that success is also measured by votes and even likes. Which in turn means that the public is also responsible for the unaccountability of politicians.

The main consequence of the lack of integrity in politics is that people lose faith in institutions and in each other. When such a climate of mistrust prevails a certain ideology comes to the forefront, to functionally fill in the gaps and bestow a sense of belonging; an ideology which stresses the cultural similarity of its adherents and exclusion for it’s enemies.

On the other hand aggregating conditions that generate more and more trust has a higher probability of producing beneficial results than defecting to negativity.

We hope that our leadership understands the importance of integrity in the political and social life of the island.

TAGS
Accountability  |  Cyprus  |  Integrity  |  UNFICYP  |  Politics

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