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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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SOME 10 days ago, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides raised expectations by announcing the possibility of a deal with Turkey for the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, for the return of its inhabitants. In exchange the Cyprus government would agree to the opening of Tymbou airport to direct flights. ...
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By George Psyllides PRIVATE auditors have expressed doubt the electricity authority (EAC) could be considered a going concern and have asked its board to draft a credible plan to tackle the problem, according to the auditor-general’s 2012 report on the semi-state company. Among other issues, ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ President should scrap the National Council ]

President should scrap the National Council

LAST Saturday, Simerini published large chunks of a 35-page, classified, Cyprus talks document which had been given to the members of the National Council. The document listed the points of convergence and disagreement on issues of a reunited state covering governance and power-sharing. The paper published most of the content and – just to underline the fact that it had the entire document – it also reproduced copies of pages including the front page which was stamped ‘Secret’.

The government spokesman said the leak of the document was “irresponsible and unacceptable behaviour” that was in “clear violation of a commitment for confidentiality and discretion” by the members of the National Council. The leak, which followed a renewed pledge by party leaders not to divulge what was discussed at Council meetings, was condemned by all the leaders.

Pledges to secrecy have become a running joke as they are never honoured. During the Papadopoulos presidency, the DISY leader decided not to take part in the meetings because the positions he expressed were regularly leaked to the press and censured for lacking patriotic rigour.

The National Council had thus become a forum for certain leaders to advertise their defiant patriotism and to intimidate colleagues who did not share their views. In such an environment there could be no constructive debate about anything and there was no reason for the Council’s existence. Nicos Anastassiades may have returned to the Council after the election of Demetris Christofias but nothing else has changed. The document leaked last weekend was presented as proof that Christofias was making too many concessions to the Turkish side in the negotiations.

In short, the National Council is being used by opponents of a settlement to collect information which they can use to undermine the president and build opposition to the negotiating process. This appalling behaviour was justified with the argument that “people had a right to know what type of settlement was being negotiated”. By this logic, every time Christofias leaves the negotiations he should issue an announcement with all his negotiating position on every issue, which would be absurd.

Green Party leader George Perdikis implied that the document may have been calculatingly leaked by the presidential palace, so that the president would have an excuse not to give the National Council members any information about the talks. This is an absurd claim, based on the mistaken assumption that the president has an obligation to brief Perdikis, Koutsou, Omirou et al about the negotiations.

The president has no such obligation. In fact, he should seriously consider scrapping the institution of the National Council, because it cannot operate as an effective advisory body. How could it when its members do not have a unity of purpose? Could leaders who do not support the negotiating process – and want it to fail – give useful advice to the president who is committed to reaching a settlement? Of course not.

This why the president should scrap the National Council and instead have regular meetings with the two party leaders (AKEL and DISY) who fully support the process and sincerely want it to succeed.

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

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