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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Time for Christofias to act like head of state ]

Time for Christofias to act like head of state

PRESIDENT Christofias often finds it difficult to behave like a head of state, which requires a certain degree of detachment and objectivity. This is not to suggest that he should ignore what is happening in society and public sentiment, but he should be able to rise above certain disputes, instead of taking sides and acting as if he is still a party leader supporting the interests of his followers.

It appears that his populist, Left-wing ideology does not allow him to take an impartial view of matters. Speaking at the annual AGM of the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB) on Monday, he made it quite clear whose side he was on by rubbishing a proposal, made last week by the Federation, for a two-year wage freeze. He had no hesitation about taking the simplistic, populist line we would expect to hear from a union leader.

Workers should not be victimised in the name of the international crisis, he said before offering the familiar platitudes about unity of purpose and consensus, platitudes that he had rubbished with his initial comment. What sort of consensus could there be when he takes such a blatantly pro-worker stance, maintaining that workers should not make the smallest sacrifice at a time when most businesses are struggling to stay afloat?

Wage increases should be given, even if these would bankrupt a company, because otherwise workers would be victimised. This is irresponsible populism, encouraging the unions to push for pay rises at a time when most businesses cannot afford to give them, because, even though the president appears not to have noticed, the international crisis has affected Cyprus as well. OEB did not propose a two-year wage freeze because there is a recession in the US and Britian as Christofias disingenuously implied in his speech.

The funny thing is that his labour minister boasted yesterday that the government’s objective was to keep the unemployment rate as low as possible. She did not explain how this objective would be met in the light of the president’s decree that workers should not be victimised, both pretending they were not aware that wage increases at a time of deep recession are a recipe for bankruptcies and high unemployment.

A president who was less partisan would have spoken of the need for everyone to make sacrifices for the sake of the economy. And a president who was less of a populist would not have publicly blamed the Governor of Central Bank for Marfin Popular Bank’s (MPB) decision to move its headquarters out of Cyprus. But Christofias, instead of defending his state official when asked about the matter, implied that MPB was leaving because of the Governor.

Should he not have made it clear that the Governor had exercised his regulatory powers and was not prepared to bend the rules for anyone? As head of head state Christofias has a duty to defend the decisions of his top state officials instead of publicly questioning them. This is what a responsible head of state would have done, but the president is more concerned with his popularity than the prestige of the state.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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