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All parties say their man came out on top. Greens lament no talk of the future
STATEMENTS made yesterday about the performance of the three main presidential candidates during Monday’s live televised debate raise a challenge. All parties claimed – but cannot all be right – that their candidate came out on top during a discussion on the Cyprus problem ahead of the February 17 elections.
The debate focused on the 2004 referendum on the Annan plan which was rejected by Greek Cypriots and accepted by the Turkish Cypriots.
The three candidates’ supporters yesterday used comparable language to make comparable statements.
“Independent candidate Stavros Malas proved during (Monday night’s) debate that he is the only reliable choice in handling the great challenges our island and people are facing,” said parliamentary spokesman of ruling party AKEL, which supports Malas, Giorgos Loucaides.
“Nicos Anastasiades has once again confirmed he is a serious and responsible leader who can offer prospects and solutions,” said the spokesman of main opposition party DISY, which Anastasiades leads, Harris Georgiades.
“Giorgos Lillikas submitted to the Cypriot people – with clarity – the need for a new national strategy, away from dead-ends, the spineless and ineffective ways of the past,” said the leader of EDEK which is backing Lillikas, Yiannakis Omirou.
But the Green party issued an announcement expressing its disappointment with the debate.
“We expected proposals on the future, not a talk about the past,” the Greens said in an announcement.
“In the case of the Cyprus issue, referrals to the past should have the only goal to acquire knowledge to avoid mistakes… and not for impressionistic purposes and for pre-electoral expediencies,” the announcement said.
The Green party went on to elaborate on its own positions on the Cyprus problem, but its view that the candidates were stuck in the past was corroborated by people on Facebook and Twitter who, in the majority, remained unimpressed.
“Now Live!… The solution of the Cyprus problem. Episode 2567,” one person said on Facebook while one user on Twitter stated the obvious: “This is a discussion on the Annan plan”.
Another asked, “who will take a more detailed position on the FUTURE of the Cyprus issue rather than the failed past?”
Candidates did yesterday speak of the future with Malas referring to the need to “look ahead with specific, pragmatic and viable solutions so that what we all want – the solution to the Cyprus issue – we may manage to bring about”.
Lillikas issued a statement claiming that he did offer a “complete proposal on how to handle the Cyprus issue” based on strategic alliances also bearing in mind the island’s natural gas reserves, using an independent national council, and starting separate negotiations with Turkey and Turkish Cypriots to reverse the international community’s view that the issue “is about distributing power between the two communities”.
Along similar lines, Anastasiades’ spokesman, DISY MP Tasos Mitsopoulos claimed that Anastasiades “avoided divisive recursions to the past” and had put forward specific proposals.
Those proposals also include strategic alliances that bear in mind natural gas reserves and a “framework on a solution” that all parties can agree with.
The next and final televised debate is due on Monday, February 11 on the economy and domestic policy.