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21 July, 2024
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You can call it political karma

The economy czar of Cyprus stacked up against his choices in the aftermath of investigations

Marina Economides

Marina Economides

Back in the distant 2013, Harris Georgiades who was the Disy party spokesman at the time, declared that “Nicos Anastasiades won’t be running the country palling around with the likes of Sylikiotis, Kyritsis, and Sotiroulla,” driving home a message that local politics was out and subscribers to Milton Friedman’s Chicago school of thought was in.

These people would be political figures of a new cohort, who would put to good use their diplomas, knowledge, and can-do attitude to breathe new air into politics and pull it out of the misery after years of shortcomings by their predecessors.

In other words, these would be political figures who wear their political gravitas on their sleeve and would never stay in a position if a probe by independent investigators would ever assign political blame to them. They would not be ideologues or people with emotional insecurities.

In the eyes of Nicos Anastasiades, one of these people was the current Finance Minister Harris Georgiades, considered by some to be a conceited know-it-all and by others a hopeful politician full of confidence. Of course, his confidence was based on his knowledge and ability, and this was exactly the reason why president Anastasiades thought he could move forward with the haircut and faithfully execute the bailout terms.

These people were political figures of a new cohort, who were going to put to good use their diplomas, knowledge, and can-do attitude to breathe new air into politics

And he managed to implement the bailout programme down to the last letter without cracking skulls. He did so at times by making a mockery out of the Syriza administration in Greece for leftist protests during Eurogroup or other times by pretending not to hear those who were asking or even demanding favours and special privileges.

Besides, when Cyprus managed to exit the bailout programme sooner there were many who praised the success story by giving credit where it was due, to the “Cyprus economy czar.” Such a success story it was, that the minister could easily be forgiven for any faults he might have had in standing by Savia Orfanidou at all cost or for assigning classmates, best men, and friends to key positions. Or maybe not?

Probably not. Pambis with his ideological hang-ups got out of the way as he had promised but handpicked golden boys and girls who turned out to have been buying expensive brand new cars, using company credit cards to pay for meals in Kolonaki, all paid for with money from a bankrupt institution that was going under which they had been tasked to come in and rescue.

These were best men and pals who came up short under the circumstances, classmates who have been accused of mismanagement and not without possible criminal liability in the collapse of the entire institution of cooperative credit unions.

Of course, people say stories that are prolonged never end well and this is why you should know when it’s time to pack up and leave. But who is actually in a position to realize this and act on it? And so, with the re-election of Nicos Anastasiades, many were puzzled with Harris Georgiades’ decision to insist that he not be reappointed finance minister. I mean, with the road paved ahead and a brewing storm miles away, shouldn’t he be allowed to leave while things were still good?

Strong ambition or good reflexes?

Was it really a matter of ambition by “laying out his demands on the table” as reports would say and going after higher posts or just his political reflexes ahead of the big cooperative storm that was fast approaching?

If we take into account the probe finding by the independent investigative committee, then the latter is probably true. Of course, we wouldn’t want to be unfair to Mr. Georgiades, as he obviously did not create the mess with the credit unions. He took office perhaps at a most critical juncture ever when others were playing it safe because they didn’t want to get dirty or hurt their political careers.

Things in a cardboard box

I guess you can call this political karma, when a politician is stacked up against his choices. In the microcosm of an economy, where he was the grand master, maybe he didn’t choose Sylikiotis, Kyritsis, and Sotiroulla, often speaking out against the practice of political favours. But he still fell in line with good old cronyism by choosing Hadjiyiannis, Stavrinides, and others who took a hit front and centre in the probe finding.

And because he doesn’t consider himself as one of those who don’t take risks, nor is he the “Sylikiotis type” or Kyritsis or Sotiroulla for that matter, he believes he represents new blood in politics who know what it means to be responsive and accountable. And since he already has his things packed in cardboard box ready for the grand escape, why is he still there, what is he waiting for?

Cyprus  |  Marina Economides  |  Harris Georgiades  |  economy  |  cooperative  |  credit union  |  probe  |  committee  |  politics  |  ideology  |  cronyism  |  reform  |  bank  |  scandal

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