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Cyprus Internet Directory [ DISY sideline Pourgourides after PACE fiasco ]

DISY sideline Pourgourides after PACE fiasco

OPPOSITION D.I.S.Y. has taken swift and decisive action to distance itself from deputy Christos Pourgourides after he rubberstamped a contentious motion regarding the human rights of the ‘Turkish minority’ on two Greek islands.

The party’s most senior deputy has been informed that his term at PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) will not be renewed.

The move comes after it emerged that Pourgourides, as representative of the European People’s Party, signed a PACE motion calling for an investigation into possible human rights violations of the ‘Turkish minority’ in the Greek islands of Rhodes and Kos.

It did not take long for the matter to take a political twist; Greece does not recognise the presence of a Turkish minority on its territory, instead referring to Greek citizens of Turkish ethnic origin as the “Muslim minority”.

The motion was presented by Swiss parliamentarian and PACE rapporteur Andreas Gross. A number of Turkish MPs also signed the same document.

Much to the chagrin of the political establishment both here and in Greece, the document also used the Turkish names for the two islands – Rodos and Istanköy.

Pourgourides says he signed the document because it would be better to investigate the allegations rather than not – without necessarily agreeing with them. He argues also that ignoring the allegations would have been a blatant case of double standards, given Cyprus’ preoccupation with human rights issues.

Noble or not, the sentiment has taken a back seat to the realities of politics.

“His motives were genuine… no doubt about it. But it is the specifics that we disagree with,” DISY spokesman Harris Georgiades told the Mail.

Pourgourides had failed to consult with DISY or to alert the Greek delegation with PACE that he was signing the document.

“It’s a sensitive issue, and we have to ensure that it is not hijacked by Turkish diplomacy. Is it any wonder that no Greek parliamentarian on PACE co-signed the motion? It seems Mr. Pourgourides rather hastily put his signature on it,” said Georgiades.

“We were caught off guard,” he added.

Over the weekend, DISY boss Nikos Anastassiades told the media he would not be recommending Pourgourides’ reappointment at PACE; the deputy’s term ends this year.

Pourgourides meanwhile has been hammered with charges of lack of patriotism bordering on treason. Although DISY have sought to shield their man from some of the more malicious attacks, they also made it crystal clear that they don’t wish to be associated with him – a case of having it both ways?

Politically, it’s a sound move. Backing Pourgourides was never an option, since the party would have faced a fresh barrage of accusations of ‘collaborating with the enemy.’ With the euro elections coming up, DISY could probably do without the extra heat.

Pourgourides may have found himself in the political wilderness, but there have been a few voices of support. Elsa Papademetriou, head of the Greek delegation on PACE and Chairwoman of the Special Standing Committee on European Affairs of the Greek Parliament, has fully endorsed the Cypriot politician. In statements over the weekend, Papademetriou said of Pourgourides that had always been a “steadfast upholder of Greece’s interests.”

The DISY deputy declined to comment yesterday, except to say he did not regret his actions.

“In light of Mrs Papademetriou’s statement, I think there are some people who should apologise for calling me a turncoat,” he told the Mail.

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

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