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12° Nicosia,
08 February, 2023
 
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Government transparency and a single Cyprus identity on the campaign agenda

Here's the latest news from the presidential campaign trail

Source: CNA

The Cyprus problem, energy, green economy, public education, the calls for disclosure of information related to the Cyprus Investment Programme, and the failure of four independent candidates to run under a common candidacy, were the main topics of candidates' statements and activities on Thursday.

The election campaign team of candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis said in an announcement that the independent candidate’s comprehensive strategic plan for the economy, green development and energy, was presented on Wednesday evening at an event in Paphos. Speakers at the event were energy expert, Dr Charles Ellinas, former Minister of Energy, Neoklis Sylikiotis and the former President of the Energy Regulatory Authority, Giorgos Shammas.

Ellinas, in his speech, said that the EU’s goal to become independent of Russian natural gas presents opportunities to export natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean. He also referred to the need for Cyprus to focus on the supporting role of natural gas for the development of renewable energy sources.

Sylikiotis said Mavroyiannis was “the only candidate” who submitted comprehensive positions giving solutions to the country’s energy problems. He pointed out that, among other things, Mavroyiannis considers that the installation of photovoltaics in residential units, public buildings, small and medium enterprises, and local government offices, by using funds and resources intended for the green transition, was imperative. He also said Mavroyiannis calls for the exploitation of gas deposits in the Cypriot EEZ, despite the difficulties posed by Turkey, while believing that natural gas in the Cypriot EEZ “can and must act as a catalyst for the resolution of the Cyprus issue”.

Shammas referred to a series of recommendations for medium-and-long-term management of the issue of electricity prices for the benefit of consumers. Among other things, he referred to the inclusion of RES in EAC's production mix, which is the only way to reduce its wholesale prices, the statement said.

In another statement, the spokesman of Mavroyiannis’ election campaign team, Panos Parras, presented their positions on preschool education, expressing their disagreement with the way, he said, the Government wants to promote the extension of preschool education for children between the ages of four to six.

He said that though this could be positive for children, public kindergartens “were sidelined and are unprepared today to extend pre-primary education to the age of four, in order to give every child unhindered access to modern educational tools”. Parras said that their position is that the transformation of public education is a social need that must proceed with carefully considered steps and overall planning and that this was the spirit of Andreas Mavroyiannis' positions for public education.

Varosha is the beacon of the solution, if it goes out, we will fall on the rocks of partition, said Presidential candidate Achilleas Demetriades taking a stance in favour of the Bizonal Bicommunal Federation (BBF), with a negotiating team that believes in the federation and will consist at least 1/3 of women.

At a press conference on Thursday, in the presence of his supporters, including former Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Markoullis and Titina Loizidou, the presidential candidate said the immediate goal was to bring the Turkish Cypriot leadership back to the negotiating table to discuss the agreed basis of the BBF, calling for the Guterres framework to be enshrined as a strategic agreement to start from where things left off for a comprehensive settlement for a federal Cyprus with one sovereignty, one citizenship and one international personality.

That is why, he said, he identified two key areas, energy and the Euro-Turkish relationship, and proposed the creation of Technical Committees on hydrocarbons, migration, climate change and green energy. Citing as an example the recent EEZ delimitation agreement between Israel and Lebanon, he said that saying that we can discuss the transfer of gas to Turkey after the solution.

Presidential candidate Georgios Colocassides said in a statement that citizens of a democratic country “can feel nothing but ashamed by the announcement by the Audit Office of the treatment it is receiving from the Anastasiades government - a government that bled democracy dry with the scandal of scandals and is now obstructing the work of the only agency that can seek the accountability it needs."

He notes that it raises strong "suspicion" that it took several weeks for the Interior Ministry to respond to the Audit Office that it cannot give access to information related to the Cyprus Investment Programme.

It points out that "the alleged reference that the list 'touches on sensitive data, the confidentiality of which must be preserved” is unacceptable. We demand, Colocassides adds, that all the data be given to the Audit Office so that the process of seeking accountability can continue.

Presidential candidate Marios Eliades, in a written statement, apologised that he and three other independent candidates failed to run in the February elections united, under a common candidacy.

This is certainly a "sad" moment, he notes, "because we have disappointed those citizens who believed in us and that through this joining of forces of truly independent candidates, something truly new and capable of changing the current situation in the electoral scene could be created".

Eliades said that this “failure” may have disappointed him, but at the same time, it makes him more determined, adding that his electoral plans and goals remain unchanged. “I will remain an independent candidate, believing that my potentially unifying candidacy fully meets the needs of society and our fellow citizens and is a credible solution to the current impasses," he adds.

At the same time, he added that he remains open to any unifying effort, saying that it was his “deep conviction” that in these critical times that Cyprus is going through, the unity of forces of those who embody the same values, ideals, goals and visions, is more important than ever before.

In another development, the Interior Ministry announced on Thursday that the new electronic system for submitting applications for registration to the electoral roll is now up and running. As a first phase, the system is open for the submission of applications of people aged 18 to 25 and people who will turn 18 by the date of the upcoming Presidential Elections, February 5, 2023. The last day for applications is December 27, 2022. Those eligible may register at www.elections.gov.cy.

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