Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in a televised address on Thursday rejected allegations of corruption within his office and administration, accusing the opposition and media of singling out his former law firm for being involved with golden passports and appealing on the political parties’ patriotism to support a new strategic plan to fight corruption.
Anastasiades, who addressed the public on Thursday evening in an unprecedented presidential address, used some strong language where he accused political opponents of throwing mud over corruption allegations while ignoring his administration’s past efforts to address omissions in the country’s disgraced Cyprus Investment Programme as well as go forward with prosecuting political corruption crimes.
“On purpose and while ignoring these realities, corruption was chosen as the basis for a united front of all those whose goal was to serve partisan interests or those who disagree with the President’s handling of the Cyprus Problem, and even those who adopted in good faith the rhetoric that goes on 24 hours a day,” Anastasiades said.
“As a human being and not as a politician, what I cannot accept is the systematic and orchestrated effort, through lies and hearsay, to undermine my morals, my status and my dignity,” the President also said.
'I want to believe that what will supersede everything else is patriotism, which I know can exist across party lines, this is what citizens expect from our political system'
Anastasiades took the stage a day before the government was scheduled to announce a new strategic plan to fight corruption. The measures, expected to be announced Friday morning at 11:30am, will be revealed by Anastasiades himself, along with Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis who was also targeted recently in the media over allegations of power abuse.
But opposition parties and media critics were quick to point out that the President did not go far enough to address the overall political climate, along with failing to respond to serious allegations against Anastasiades’ former law firm involved with golden passport applications as well as a series of other issues of corruption on the island.
Last week, the First Lady’s niece made headline news after it emerged back in December that she had been assigned to the Interior Minister’s office overseeing golden passport applications through the CIP.
Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides, who testified before an independent committee probing golden passports corruption allegations, had cautioned about the ministry appointment of Maria Adamidou, who was described as "essentially a cousin of Anastasiades’ daughters” who head the Limassol-based law firm bearing the President’s name.
Fraud cases against EU budget linked to Cyprus
The presidential address also came two days after Laura Kovesi, who leads the new European Public Prosecutors Office, said around 10 percent of all pending fraud cases against the EU budget to be tackled by her office were linked to Cyprus.
"That is a lot of work and this is the reason why we need to have full-time prosecutors there in Cyprus," Kovesi said.
Attorney General George Savvides offered remarks on the reports, saying on Thursday that the number of corruption cases annually did not go beyond four, citing data between 2016 and 2019.
“The observation of Ms Kovesi does not seem to match our own figures,” said the minister.
Savvides, who previously served as Justice Minister before becoming the state’s chief law enforcer, has called on the EPPO to show evidence and proof over the latest claims.
President appeals to patriotism across party lines
During his speech, Anastasiades said the European Commission cited in an October 2020 report “an improvement on the indices of fighting corruption” compared to figures in the past.
“I want to believe that what will supersede everything else is patriotism, which I know can exist across party lines. This is what citizens expect from our political system and this is the direction I will continue to take as I work to, once again, meet your expectations,” Anastasiades said.
The President, who is scheduled to testify on Tuesday before the passport committee, also warned that Thursday's address was the last time he would speak on the matter until after the conclusion of the independent probe.