by Harris Georgiades
An announcement against what has been heard in recent days in Cyprus, was issued by the Legal Service of the country regarding the conclusion about the Co-op. In the foreground and background, this finding has been criticized by all political parties, with relevant announcements, placements on panels etc, while on the part of the government the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, was “forced” to reiterate that FinMin Harris Georgiades enjoys his full support in his handling of the matter.
What does Legal Service say?
The Legal Service, as was obligated to a certain degree, takes position on the matter, describing the report of the Inquiry Committee on the collapse of the Co-operative Credit Sector, as “especially in-depth” with clear findings on both the reasons for the collapse and to whom it attributes responsibility. In addition, the Legal Service stated that the Research Committee was appointed by the Attorney General and not by the Cabinet because of the involvement of the Cabinet and/or its members in the matters under consideration. The Commission’s Terms of Reference, as it says, were clearly defined and revolving around a central axis: The identification of the causes that led to the collapse and the emergence of any responsibilities and accountability. With its voluminous and highly detailed Report, the statement of the Legal Service says, the Inquiry Committee has come up with clear findings both on the grounds of the collapse and on who is accountable.
The issue of the acceptance and assumption of these responsibilities by the persons to whom they are charged is not a matter for the Attorney General and the Legal Service, it is added. The role of the Prosecutor General, the announcement continues, is limited to examining the material collected, so as to ascertain whether, on the basis of some of the Commission’s findings, it is justified to open investigations into the possibility of criminal offenses having been committed, irrespective to whether these contributed or not to the collapse of the Co-operative Credit Sector.
Averof: I assume my responsibilities
In addition to the opposition parties that oppose the government after the publication of the report and to the government that provided cover for Harris Georgiades, the issue also strongly concerned DISY. The meetings within the party for the study of the Report were recurrent, while on Friday, Party President Averof Neophytou held a press conference.
In his speech to journalists he accepted responsibility both himself, and his party for the period before 2013 as well as the post-2013 period, in relation to the situation in the former Co-op, saying characteristically: “let he who is without sin through the first stone”. At the same time, he expressed his confidence and appreciation to Finance Minister Haris Georgiades, adding that “we all make mistakes, no one is Infallible”.
“He may have made mistakes in judgement in certain choices. But let’s look at the big picture of this damned political system and the unfairness on Harris Georgiades – which Nikolas Papadopoulos was rightly to say”, Neophytou said. Regarding the issue of political accountability, the DISY President said that “it is not only the Finance Minister to whom the Report lays the blame, but also to the parties for the period before and after 2013”.
The debate will go on
The issue of the findings after its publication is not exhausted here. It is certain that the discussion in Cyprus will continue well into the future, especially if ultimately charges are brought against FinMin Harris Georgiades and foreign officials. However, political analysts argue that this will not be the case and that from now on any investigation, if it proceeds, will concern officials of the Co-op.
This remains to be seen by the moves of the Attorney-General of the Republic, Costas Clerides, who also has the pressure of public opinion on his backs, since there is already disappointment, especially from the public, as the inquiries on the reasons for the collapse of the Cypriot economy in 2013 have led to nowhere.
The discussion about the Co-op outcome will be followed mainly at party level, as the opposition is expected, through future political office meetings, to exercise more pressure on the basis of decisions aimed at the resignation of the Finance Minister; a matter on which there was a discord on Friday, as from the environment of the President there was information that yesterday Mr. Georgiades handed over his resignation to the President of the Republic, without being accepted by the latter, but these claims were later refuted by the government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou./ibna