The General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL Stefanos Stefanou replies to journalists’ questions

7 February 2022, AKEL C.C. Press Office, Nicosia

QUESTION: Yesterday the Congress of the Democratic Party (DIKO) convened, which essentially maintains the candidacy of its president, Mr. Papadopoulos, as the party’s first priority. Before that we also had AKEL’s decision with its call that the names of the leaders of the two parties shouldn’t be under discussion. Has anything changed since yesterday’s DIKO congress with whom you are seeking to cooperate in the first phase?

SS: No. Our position stemming from the decision of our Central Committee is that we shall seek to have meetings in order to sound out the ground. That’s to say, to see whether we can forge cooperation with opposition parties not only with DIKO. First of all, of course, with DIKO which is the second largest opposition party and with its President with whom I have had some informal preliminary meetings. We were naturally waiting for the DIKO Congress to convene so that they too could take their own decisions. I expect that we will arrange some meetings to have that discussion.

We want to have meetings with the Ecologists as well. This morning I called Charalambos Theopemptou this morning to congratulate him on his re-election to the Presidency of the Ecologist’s Movement. Of course we shall arrange a meeting to discuss the presidential elections. We will also seek meetings with the social democrats EDEK and DIPA (Democratic Alignment).

Q: Will the name of DIKO President Nicolas Papadopoulos come back on the table?

SS: I had briefed you last week that the decision of the Central Committee of AKEL regarding avoiding placing the names of party leaders in the discussion we will have, not only with DIKO but also with other parties in relation to a possible cooperation, aims to facilitate the process itself. Other than that, I think it will be prudent to wait for the meetings, we will exchange views, discuss and see what the outcome is. I will not rush to prejudge any outcome and that wouldn’t be right.

Q: Mr. Stefanou, you know that DIKO puts itself on the table in a privileged way. Do you consider the dilemma to be blackmail?

SS: I think the meetings that will take place will set the tone. Personally I don’t think – at least that’s my understanding from what I’ve seen from the Congress – that this is blackmail. We are not entering into a dialogue with the intention of blackmailing anybody. I believe that there will not be such a disposition on the part of the other parties either. The meetings are being held to discuss and see how far we can go.

Q: What do you think will be at stake in these presidential election?

SS: The stakes at these elections are that an end should be put to the DISY government that has led Cyprus to the bottom. There is not a single serious issue that determines the course of the country and society that isn’t facing a huge deadlock due to the policies pursued by this government. For that reason, this government must go and at the same time a President and a government must be elected with a progressive programme that will open up prospects for our country and people.

It is precisely for this very reason that AKEL approaches the dialogue with the opposition parties on two levels. Firstly, to discuss possible convergences that may exist on policy pillars that are important. And at the same time, at some point, provide that these discussions progress, we will naturally discuss the issue of names for a presidential candidate because without a candidate you don’t have a presidential election.

Q: From the contacts you have had with DIKO President N.Papadopoulos, do you consider that there are more positives regarding the goal of achieving broader cooperation in the opposition camp?

SS: What we as AKEL ascertain, which is not only the result of the informal meetings we have had, but also of the general position expressed, is that DIKO also understands the need for change in the country, that there are many deadlocks and that this government cannot continue any longer. We believe that this common conclusion represents a solid foundation on which we can back any discussions and efforts so that some cooperation will exist.

Q: Mr. Stephanou you also mentioned that without a candidate one can’t contest the elections. I imagine you will already be thinking of some names to propose in the contacts you will have because the decisions as we understand will be taken before Easter?

SS: There is a saying by René Descartes that “I think therefore I exist” and we won’t stop existing.

Q: Isn’t there a short list?

SS: I will not repeat the discussion I have about names. I repeat each thing at the appropriate time and place. We are now in the process of arranging a meeting, getting the opposition parties to come together to discuss and depending on developments we will of course also discuss names.

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