Cyprus president Demetris Christofias is stepping down at the end his term and will not seek re-election next February, saying his mandate four years ago had been to broker a peace deal with the Turkish Cypriots over the island’s division.
He said in his 15-minute televised statement that “there was no progress” with the current Turkish Cypriot leadership and that the Cyprus problem has not been solved, giving an end to weeks of speculation that he would not seek reelection.
Christofias added that “no definite progress will take place in the next few months,” following Turkey’s threats on Cyprus natural gas exploration plans and that Ankara has said it does not recognise Cyprus as an EU member state and subsequently the six-month presidency that starts on July 1.
The president said that he had briefed his cabinet at their last meeting and informed the communist AKEL party central committee earlier on Monday. This now paves the way for the party to seek a new candidate as the incumbent has little chance of winning the next elections.
Christofias avoided mentioning the Mari disaster when 13 soldiers and firemen were killed in a munitions blast last July that crippled the island’s energy sector and the economy due to negligence and poor handling of the matter. Relatives of the victims blame the president and daily protests last summer called for his resignation.
In what seemed like the start of an election campaign for his successor, Christofias said that his administration achieved great strides in the economy and “we avoided the worst,” despite the exposure of the Cypriot economy and the local banks to Greek toxic bonds and investments.
He said that other significant achievements included the discovery of natural gas and hosting the EU Council presidency. His government has implemented education reform, helped the poor and is trying to resolve the problem of joblessness.
Christofias said that the current economic troubles were a result of “purely external factors” and avoided saying anything about austerity measures, a monstrous public sector deficit, rigid trade un ions and the administration’s failure to control spending and the high civil service payroll.
Published on 14 May, 2012|||Cyprus president won't seek 2nd term; blames Turks for stalemate