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26 May, 2024
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Cyprus admits failures in immigration crisis

President's outburst as far-right gains in Cyprus

Marina Economides

Marina Economides

Those who followed the fascist incidents in Chloraka and Limassol were provoked, not just by the lack of a plan to handle this major crisis. Perhaps even more frustrating is that part of the political system seems to think they can deceive people who have short memories and limited awareness. The main issue is how easily they've tried to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. While some of them encouraged racism and promoted it in society with their statements, they now act surprised.

The president of the Republic became angry and banged his hand on the table after the incidents in Limassol. However, society didn't elect him to express his shame and anger publicly towards members of his Cabinet. A president is elected to govern, manage, and prevent significant crises.

If his Cabinet members prove ineffective in this regard, he should dismiss them without the need for such a public spectacle. But more importantly, a government should offer solutions through political proposals, not perpetuate chaos. The president claims to know who is involved in these incidents; if he does, he should address them promptly and take responsibility by naming them.

Politics isn't just a record of events or a matter of communication. It's not about reacting to problems after the fact or acting surprised by unfolding events. Above all, it shouldn't be marked by hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, Anita Demetriou has chosen the path of hypocrisy. Her theory of conveniently presented extremes is the easiest way to avoid responsibility, but it also serves as a tool for far-right groups like Elam. A responsible politician should identify the problem. Either Mrs. Dimitriou hasn't been in Cyprus for the past few years, or her statement was a cunning attempt to evade her party's and her personal responsibilities.

For the past ten years, alarm bells have been ringing. The issue of immigration needed to be addressed, but it wasn't. To cover up their inadequacies, they chose to create an enemy through lies and propaganda. Nikos Nouris is a clear example of how racist beliefs have been institutionalized and how the fear of foreigners has been propagated.

However, Nikos Nouris didn't act alone. From Nikos, who openly declared himself a racist, to Mario Pelekanos, who called for immediate deportations, to Averof Neophytou, who promised to build a fence to win votes. DISY, the party that now seems oblivious to the problem, has had members build their careers alongside the far right, including the president of DISY.

When Anita Dimitriou celebrated her election as Parliament president in June 2021 and thanked Elam for their support, she conveniently ignored the normalization of the far right during her term. Most importantly, she ignored the danger when she empowered them further by allowing their lies and hatred towards the "other" to be institutionalized through the notorious ad hoc committee.

If the Speaker of the House didn't want to prevent the committee's creation, she could have at least managed it afterward. That's what Ms. Demetriou should have considered. If not to stop the poison they were spreading in society, at least to protect the institution she was leading and prevent institutional diversion.

The far right has been convenient for all of them. It allowed them to deflect responsibility for their own shortcomings. They found it convenient to blame the extreme right for society's problems instead of admitting their own incompetence.

So, there are instigators within the far right, but there are also politicians who have opportunistically built their careers by feeding them. Now, we face the consequences – a country in the hands of populists who fuel racism for political gain and then pretend to lament the resulting chaos.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  Chlorakas  |  cabinet  |  politics  |  government

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