Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has said that the measures set to be announced on Friday morning constitute the greatest intervention ever in the Republic of Cyprus in order to establish the strongest possible protection network against corruption.
In a televised address to the people on Thursday evening, President Anastasiades rejected accusations in the social media against himself personally for corruption, acknowledged that mistakes were made in the Cyprus Investment Programme and said he would not shrug off political responsibility the government has had in the oversight of the programme.
Corruption, he pointed out, “is a phenomenon that exists”, adding however that if the government did not acknowledge that then it wouldn’t have taken multiple steps against corruption nor would it go ahead with announcing new ones tomorrow, “in order to drastically deal with the phenomenon.”
He also said that his own and the government’s determination to crack down on corruption is also recorded in the great number of prosecutions of public officials and not only who were involved in corruption related offences.
“The measures which will be announced tomorrow, constitute the greatest intervention ever in the Republic of Cyprus, in order to create the strongest possible protection network against corruption,” President Anastasiades stressed.
He called on everyone, “in full respect of different views, in a climate of constructive political differences, to jointly face both the problem of corruption and all other critical problems of livelihood our people are faced with.”
I would like to believe that patriotism, which I believe all political parties have, will prevail, he noted.
This, he said, “is what citizens expect from the political system and it is in that direction that I will continue to work towards, so that once more I can meet your expectations.”
On the Cyprus Investment Programme, President Anastasiades recalled that all political parties had been in agreement on its operation since 2007 and had not called it into question until it was terminated.
“At the same time, I do not overlook the existence of shortcomings and weaknesses in the programme, mainly to do with oversight and surveillance,” he said.
With candour, President Anastasiades said, “I acknowledge and assume political responsibilities the government has.” It is a fact that not only did we not ignore but as a result of which the government amended the programme six times in eight years, he added.
Despite the above, he continued, its abuse and criminal activities by a number of devious people were not prevented.
Cyprus President underlined “our political will for an immediate investigation of all cases and to decisively take drastic measures to punish those who acted fraudulently as well as to restore the country’s credibility.”
He also reiterated that the government “has had and has no objection in the Auditor General receiving the case files of citizenship by exception once the Investigative Committee completes its work, so that he can also carry out his oversight in accordance with his constitutional competences.”
President Anastasiades also referred, among other things, to a recent report by the European Commission in which it says that for the first time in Cyprus 37 people have been convicted for corruption in 26 cases and that there is an improvement in the combating corruption indices compared to before, a positive review by Moneyvall on the progress Cyprus has made in combating money laundering and a report by GRECO which for the first time finds no pending matters on its recommendations to the executive power.
He also said that he has never rejected any bona fide or other criticism for positions that he adopted or for mistakes or omissions he may have made.
“What, however, as a person and not as a politician, I cannot accept is any systematic and orchestrated effort, through lies and rumours, to damage my morality, my honour and my dignity,” he stressed.