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12° Nicosia,
03 February, 2023
 
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President defers foreclosure mess to attorney general

Cypriot finance minister overruled as presidential race heats up, center candidate attacked from left and right

Newsroom

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has refused to veto legislation that suspends foreclosures yet again until February 2023, essentially calling on the attorney general to examine the constitutionality of the bill as the issue on the presidential election campaign trail continues to heat up.

Last Thursday the House voted to continue the suspension of foreclosure sales for the third time in a row in the Republic of Cyprus, drawing strong reaction from Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides who described the bill as “extremely disappointing and unacceptable.”

Petrides, who previously served as the president’s reform czar, has been arguing that ongoing suspensions failed to take into account responsible borrowers “who are marginalized and wronged to the benefit of strategic defaulters.”

“The wrong message is given to society that there is no obligation to repay the loans, or that the state will come up with flawless arrangements that negate this obligation,” Petrides said.

Petrides called on Anastasiades to send the bill unsigned back to the House but later he was quoted as saying the government would still 'do what is possible to mitigate the negative consequences'

But the finance minister, who said he had no choice but to ask Anastasiades to send the bill unsigned back to the House, was quoted as saying the government would still “do what is possible to mitigate the negative consequences,” according to Financial Mirror.

Anastasiades, who has been accused of being vague on his pick amongst presidential candidates in the upcoming election, said “opinions of ministers of course matter in presidential decisions but legal opinions by the attorney general take priority on whether that will be constitutional or unconstitutional.”

“If the attorney general deems it unconstitutional, it is then the president's duty under the Constitution to send back the legislation and then refer it to the Supreme Court,” Anastasiades said, adding that leaving the bill legally untested could later be challenged in an appeals court.

The issue has also gained traction on the presidential election campaign trail, with center’s candidate Nicos Christodoulides drawing criticism both from left and right.

Christodoulides, who served as foreign minister under Anastasiades, had gone on record as being against the suspensions.

But recently Christodoulides’ attempt to seek compromise solutions with his supporters in the center drew strong reactions from opposite camps, with ruling party candidate Averof Neophytou questioning his former ally’s motives and left party AKEL backing independent Andreas Mavroyiannis accusing both DISY men of “arguing pointlessly as they both support bankers against vulnerable borrowers.”

Neophytou had also recently called Anastasiades out after the DISY leader suggested the president ought to publicly clear out any vagueness about who he would support in the election.

Anastasiades has refused to do so but sent a personal letter to Neophytou earlier this month, while also stating publicly that “it is necessary to show respect for party decisions as well as abstain from making statements that could question stated positions of party members or officials.”

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