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12° Nicosia,
20 May, 2024
 
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Did Cyprus President really party during crisis?

Christodoulides' vacation during wildfires raises eyebrows

Marina Economides

Marina Economides

During the summer of 2021, a photo of Nicos Anastasiades with Takis Zacharato and Angela Demetriou went viral for all the wrong reasons. It wasn't just how the leader of an otherwise serious state chose to have fun, but also the timing that made it so.

It happened just when the Turkish president announced the pilot opening of 3.5% of the enclosed city, confirming concerns about new developments in Cyprus. Nicos Anastasiades's photos at the Athens parties provoked, among other things, a sense of public sentiment. This sentiment had been tested since 2017, when right after the announcement of the shipwreck in Crown Montana, the president immediately boarded a plane and went directly to the Cuban party organized by his daughter Ino for her birthday, saying, "Good luck to Cypriots in the North and South" Antonio Guterres.

The impressive party photos with the president smiling a few hours after the Cyprus shipwreck had been published by the presidential family themselves in lifestyle magazines and on social media. They did the same a year later during their joint vacation in Seychelles, at a time when educators were taking to the streets in Cyprus, causing the first crisis of his second term.

Nicos Anastasiades had conveyed early on that empathy was not his political forte. He made it clear that the presidency wasn't a day-to-day job for him, but a role he could set aside during holidays. However, Nicos Christodoulides, a political figure who had carefully crafted his image, surprised even the most cynical when it was discovered that during the wildfires, he was vacationing in Greece. And most importantly, he didn't return.

Clearly, no one expected the President to personally put out fires or oversee the situation firsthand. But the President is no longer an individual who can relax whenever he wishes. He doesn't represent only himself anymore. If that were his intention, he shouldn't have sought election to the highest office. He is an institution, and as such, he should lead by strengthening citizens' sense of security. Above all, he must convey the message that he can effectively manage any crisis, even if it means postponing his holidays for a while.

It's unclear how many were convinced when political officials kept insisting that the fire situation was under control from the monasteries where the President was praying. Nor is it clear how many found it logical to seek help from foreign countries while our own leader was absent.

Now I wonder what all those who claimed the President isn't a firefighter are saying about his lack of response to the new crisis that emerged. The clash between Health Minister Popi Kanari and the ministry's general director Christina Giannaki.

As unofficial as Popi Kanari's famous English exams may have been, the same applies to the leaked information about the President's intentions. It's rumored that he will convene to "diffuse the crisis in a painless manner for both sides," sealing the reputation of intrigue within the ministry. The President's associate is the political leader of the ministry.

He either supports or dismisses him immediately. However, his role doesn't end with diffusing their internal conflict. His duty is to prove what he committed to during the election campaign: restoring transparency, implementing meritocracy, and fighting corruption.

And because many are fixated on the fact that all this stems from a parody account, trying to diminish the seriousness of the findings, it should be noted that anything that comes to light – whether from the media or social networks – must be filtered and treated seriously to prevent unfounded mudslinging. However, when letters are presented that expose the entire system and further damage citizens' trust in institutions, absolute transparency is required.

Only this way will the President demonstrate his commitment to his pre-election promises. Above all, he will manage to disprove those who believe that the institution will be on prolonged vacation every time a crisis arises.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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Cyprus  |  opinion  |  presidency  |  holidays  |  crisis  |  fires

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