The first cross-court debate between the three main presidential candidates based on polls featured nerves, dynamism, pace, and a variety of topics. In comparison to the three's joint appearances, last night's featured an all-out brawl. The particularly sharp tones between Averof Neofytou and Nikos Christodoulides, on the other hand, stood out. When Averof Neofytou was asked to be more explicit about Mr. Christodoulides' lies near the end of the debates, tempers flared. From that point forward, and for the next 7 to 8 minutes, the two candidates argued about two meetings in late 2021 and early 2022 that resulted in Christodoulides' resignation from the Foreign Ministry. In response, Averof Neofytou stated that Christodoulides mentioned three times last December that President Anastasiades did not prepare any statement in order to keep the party united. "What Mr. Christodoulides said, which I have highlighted in capital letters, is yet another lie."
Tempers flared when Averof Neofytou was asked to be more explicit when he had earlier referred to lies by Mr. Christodoulides.
Nikos Christodoulides clarified that he had said that the President of the Republic made many attempts to find a solution but they did not produce a solution. He had heard Averof Neofytou blame him during the debate for the division of DISY in the presidential elections. "Under no circumstances will I tolerate pressure being put on the President of the Republic—the man who bestowed upon me three positions—because I refused to accept something that Mr. Neofytou wanted. Nothing more or less is appropriate."
The "second lie"
Despite Christodoulides' apparent attempt to put an end to the conflict with Neofytou, the DISY candidate continued unabated in speaking of Christodoulides' second lie during last night's meeting. Neofytou at this point gave details about the background of last December with the main protagonists being the president of DISY and the then Foreign Minister. "It was the President of the Republic's fall initiative and the President himself prepared a text by his own hand, neither with a secretary nor with an advisor, in a last-ditch effort to keep the party united after the disruptive move of Mr. Christodoulides".
The former foreign minister responded to Neofytou's references and accusations of a second lie by asserting that the DISY president at the Limassol meeting made specific references that he wanted him to make but that he did not accept. Christodoulides then referred to the presence of others. The meeting with the president of the republic took place the day before my resignation (in January 2022) in Limassol, at his home.
Nikos Christodoulides heard Averof Neofytou blame him for the division of DISY in the presidential election.
The "third lie"
In response, Neofytou referred to a third lie by Christodoulides, clarifying that he was talking about December 2012 and that Christodoulides was talking about last January. At this point, Mr. Neofytou, addressing the four journalists, questioned them twice. "But will he be the leader of tomorrow's Cyprus?" Christodoulides in response said that the Anastasiades initiative started in December 2021 and was completed in January 2022 and that is why they were led to resign. "Let us respect the President of the Republic," he said to the DISY president.
What unfolded between Neophytos and Christodoulides was watched with surprise, especially by the third candidate. Andreas Mavroyiannis said after the cockfight between the two that it is a pity to see two people arguing about the issues of the DISY party.
What unfolded between Neophytos and Christodoulides was watched with surprise, especially by the third candidate.
The rest of the Debate
In the rest of the two-hour debate, the three candidates took positions on the Cyprus issue with the journalists focusing on the Crans Montana and the Guterres framework. On the Cyprus issue, Averof Neofytou turned his fire on Nicos Christodoulides, questioning what policy he would pursue with the parties supporting him. Mavroyiannis was pressed to answer why he did not leave a government that now describes its 10-year term as "an embarrassment". In other matters superficially touched on issues of everyday life, first and foremost with the three of them repeating their positions on the economy.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]