The first interview after the official announcement of his candidacy for the 2023 presidential elections was given by the president of DISY, Averof Neophytou, on the show "Without Rotations". Mr. Neophytou answered questions about the "early" submission of his candidacy, the issue that arose with the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Christodoulidis, but also about the attitude of the President of the Republic, Nikos Anastasiadis, in relation to the internal party controversy. He was also asked to comment on his responsibilities for supporting the government, the possible collaborations with the central area and the bridging gap with AKEL.
In the interview, he also commented on the impasse in the Cyprus issue, the sinking of EastMed, while he selectively unfolded his vision for the Cyprus of tomorrow.
The internal party processes
Initially, when asked why he started his election campaign 12 months earlier, since his candidacy had been given for a long time, he replied that "it was not premature at all for a very simple reason. It happened that there was no other interested party to enter the DISY process. Traditionally the party (follows this procedure) when claiming with a new candidate. In 1992 with Glafko Clerides and Giannaki Matsi, the elections to the Supreme Council took place in early April 1992, we will be on March 12, so it is about the same period. Also in 2012, during the electoral contest between Nikos Anastasiadis and Eleni Theocharous, the process took place, I think, on March 17th. So now it's five days earlier. "
The chapter "Nikos Christodoulidis"
In relation to the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Christodoulidis, he was asked to comment on whether he has been campaigning for the past two years, but also to respond to the accusations that with his early candidacy he aimed to "exterminate" him and expose him. Mr. Averoff underlined that "March to April of the previous year of the presidential elections was the surrender to DISY (to carry out this process), we are not doing something that was not in the surrender. What is happening for the first time in DISY is that one of its executives, who stated that he is interested in the presidency, turned his back on the party process. Nikos Christodoulidis is a member of the faction and any of his views are fully respected. Because you have not said that he has been campaigning for two years, I will not comment on that. However, it is not appropriate to hold a pre-election campaign for two years and say that it is premature.
But I will stop to thank Nikos Christodoulidis because many times through the sources close to him some comments were written and some reports, even on Sigma TV, that it would be better to go to the party base instead of the Supreme Council of 1.800. I gave the opportunity to go to the base of the party so that the 51.000 members of DISY have the option of electing the candidate. For that I thank Nikos Christodoulidis, if he did not have this opinion to go to the base of the party, the Democratic Alarm would remain with a process that started in 1976, although in 1992 the Supreme was 200 people, in 2012 it was about 1000 now are 1700 -1800 and most are elected by the base of society in national elections. But it gave us the opportunity to take the Alarm again ahead of all political parties and pave the way again, because there are not many parties in Europe that go to the grassroots to vote for their candidate. I will propose in the next statute, we discussed it in the executive office, this proposal that I have made to be institutionalized in statutes ".
Asked to comment on whether his proposal was aimed at blackmailing Christodoulidis's resignation, he replied that "I do not evade because I am on the show Without Spin and I will repeat that it was the only way, without violating the statute, to go to the party base and not had no obligation if he won at the grassroots to remain president. That is why we will make the statutory change, where the president of DISY from now on will be elected one year before the presidential elections and at the same time the statute will explicitly state so that the alarm base knows that when it votes the president of the party votes and the next candidate for the presidency of the Republic. Because if someone is not capable of being a candidate for President of the Republic, he does not have the skills to lead the historical faction of the Democratic Alarm. Conversely, if someone thinks that he can become President of the Republic and considers that he can not run a party, he is clearly not running for President of the Republic. "If you can not command a party, will you be able to command a country?"
Asked if Christodoulidis will be expelled from the party if he becomes independent, he replied that "Nikos Christodoulidis stated many times even in his last interview that he is a member of the party. He said that he has been in the party since he was a child and I confirm it, when I was the district secretary of the youth of the Democratic Alarm in Paphos he was a member of it. DISY proved that it respects the other point of view, but from the moment that someone will choose his own path and will be confronted with the historical faction, the question should be asked to him and not to Averof Neophytou ".
Answering a question about "introversion" in the party, he said, among other things, "in the last parliamentary elections we were not lost and divided? This world of the Democratic Alarm and the wider society has proved that, despite our mistakes, we remain the key to the stability of the country. DISY traditionally had around 33%, had periods that had 30%, had periods that reached 35%. "We may be the only European party, which is in power and for seven consecutive electoral battles, despite the losses, we remain the first party and we have the biggest difference that has ever existed from the second, third and fourth party."
The role of Nikos Anastasiadis
Speaking about the role of Nikos Anastasiadis in the negotiations for the election of a presidential candidate, he stated that "I am given the opportunity to publicly thank the President of the Republic, who acting not from his institutional capacity as President of the Republic but from his institutional capacity as longest-serving president of the Democratic Alarm - he was president of DISY for almost 18 years and hurts the party like all pure and selfless executives - tried to find a common component through the party process so that the questions you asked me at the beginning would not exist. I had personally authorized the President of the Republic to put on the table any proposal he deemed would ensure the unity of the party and he had my prior consent from me. And in piles of sentences my position was "yes". In addition, we did what I previously publicly thanked Nikos Christodoulidis to propose what never happened in the political and party history of the country, that is, to go to the base of 51 thousand members of the Democratic Alarm.
As for what Nikos Anastasiadis will do, I will say my assessment. A president, the longest-lived of DYSY, with this sincere effort to find a solution so that anyone interested could be through the party process, I estimate that he will be next to the party and its candidate on March 12. "
Asked how he can convince citizens that he will solve the problems that concern them, he explained that "I am trendy, I will never behave opportunistically, because now it is fashionable to deal with parties, even those who say they were party officials and served the DISY Government, now to think anti-systemic. We made the parties cursed, they are fashionable and your shares go up when you put up with the parties. It is also a trend to play it anti-systemic. How can you govern a country without parties? Unless we believe that by electing a president of the Republic, the next day the Republic is overthrown and turned into a dictator. These parties that we devalue, who will vote for their budgets? A program to be valuable must be workable. You have to have collaborations in advance that ensure the majority in Parliament or have in your active history how you manage, even if you do not have collaborations, to have a strong party, like DISY, and we have proved in the last nine years that we could "We were building alliances and conciliation to keep the country on the right track."
AKEL and central space
Regarding AKEL and the rejection of any cooperation, he underlined that "we are separated by ideological differences regarding how a country will be governed. The left ideology is one thing and the liberal one is another. In addition, AKEL is from the parties, as well as ELAM, which stated that they will run with their own candidate. So there is no reason to say, apart from the ideological difference, that I will enter into a dialogue with this framework predetermined by them but also by me ".
Asked if he would insist on Averoff's candidacy, sacrificing collaborations with the center, he replied that "the country needs a program with a vision that will take Cyprus even further and I believe that with the forces of the center we will build a credible program with a great vision for the place. With the parties of the center but also the civil society and other organized groups if we come up with a common program, they know very well with their experiences and with the political relationship that I have built for so many years that I am a person who implements and brings results and together we can change the place. It is enough for us all to enter into the dialogue with open minds, the program to be what the citizens want and to serve the goal we want to take Cyprus and I am optimistic that if we find the program there will be no problem with the person ".
He even clarified that "there is no case for the Democratic Alarm, and I want to emphasize it, to go to candidacies that turned their backs on a historical faction".
Weights and participation in the Government
Asked what weights he brings to his pre-election campaign, he stressed that "I am a politician who has been at the forefront for 30 years. And I also respond to the whisper or the perception that Averoff is a man in the background. It is not with any background that Averoff became mayor in Polis Chrysochous, who was elected MP in Paphos, who changed constituency and was re-elected MP, who gave an intra-party battle to 40.000 DISY members and took the position of deputy president. I am here who I am through democratic processes and not appointments. From these positions, which are prominent positions, you can not be mayor, member of parliament, vice president, president of the largest faction and not be in the forefront. You need to do behind-the-scenes consultations for the good of the country. I have done it many times, both inside and outside the country, during the program period, in order to keep the country on the right track and to find the consensus ".
He added that "no one can disagree that Averoff has positions. When your place is in danger you must enter the fire. I was a firefighter for years and I was on fire for my country and my government. I did not shy away from supporting the government for the good of the place. But look at something paradoxical. I supported the government and today there are government ministers that I supported as anti-systemic and tell me about weights. I evaluate the work of the government very positively. Of course we made mistakes and omissions, both as a government and as a party, but in the big ones, the financial crisis of 2013, the management of the pandemic, in the reform program, this government was successful and laid the foundation for Cyprus tomorrow through the program of the Recovery Fund. I will not act opportunistically and come to today and say "what do I have to do with the government? The president was Nikos Anastasiadis ". I do not take responsibility for my conscious actions and policies. "It was a one-way street to support the government for the salvation of the country and not to be the minister of the country, to make decisions, which Averoff supported and are now presented to me far from the parties and anti-systemic."
Asked if he was referring to George Pamporidis, he replied that "I am not referring to anyone, I want to be very careful". Commenting on the statements of Mr. Pamporidis, he said that "I and Nikos Anastasiadis are flesh in the flesh of DISY. And we do not feel ashamed. Some ministers entered the government with the identity of DISY and the party executive. I am not the flesh of Nikos Anastasiadis because I do not think anyone has any doubt that Nikos Anastasiadis is the son of Chrysanthos and I am the son of Pikis from Argaka. Decisions in the Councils of Ministers are not made by the president but by the Council of Ministers. "Then if it was my sin to support the decisions of the Ministers who today will attribute responsibilities to me because I supported their decisions".
Cyprus of 3A
Asked why he has not been in power in Cyprus for so many years, even with 2A, after reviewing the achievements of the Clerides and Anastasiadis governments, he noted that "we do our self-criticism to correct ourselves, to have a plan before the Cypriot people to make Cyprus of 3A in everything. To be 3A in the evaluation of the country, 3A our tourism, 3A our services, 3A our universities, 3A the health sector, 3A our shipping, 3A when we build, 3A in the possibilities that we will put in people. The three As also correspond to the development, necessary for the security that starts from A and necessary for the development and security for the solidarity and the welfare state. So, apart from evaluating everything and putting the bar high, because there are the potentials of our country but also of our people, our citizens, our brilliant minds, it also includes the goal of Development, Security, Solidarity ".
Whatever stone you pick up, do you find Averoff?
Asked if he is incorruptible and immaculate or is so smart that he is not "caught", he replied that "since I am recognized as smart, I have to understand what they attribute to me in the perception of society. That I am under any stone you lift. The stones and boulders stood up and Averoff was not found under any stone. We had a stock market, searches were made for Cypriot airlines, for Helios, when I was Minister of Communications, a government official. Investigations were carried out for the collapse of the economy, for the Co-operation, lists were written with loan write-offs and NPLs, the passport report was made. Averoff was not found. I challenge anyone to come out branded to document. I have been in politics since 1985 and in political positions for the last 30 years. It is not enough to be smart and cunning and "devil black". How clever someone can be, who for 35 years has been taking such precautions that no research can touch him ".
In relation to the Cyprus issue, he explained that "the biggest reform of the country is the solution of the Cyprus issue. To find a solution you must know the wishes of the Greek Cypriots, the wishes of the Turkish Cypriots, to read the international environment in order to gain the support of the international factor. There is the agreed framework for the solution of the Cyprus problem which is the Bi-zonal Bicommunal Federation but which has flexibility, maintaining a sovereignty, a state entity, with benefits for Turkey not on Cyprus but on the issue of improving its relations with Europe and the world and not to the detriment of the interests of Cyprus.
Referring to AKEL's criticisms of EastMed, he reminded that "is not AKEL that when we passed the treaty on EastMed in Parliament, Mr. Loukaidis taught us that EastMed's father was the blessed Christofias? Now did they remember to criticize? EastMed was an ambitious project, one of several other energy planning scenarios for which we all knew we needed to have the necessary quantities, be technically feasible and sustainable. That is why studies were conducted by European funds. The studies seem to demonstrate the difficulty of the project and there is one who since April 2017 stated that it was a very ambitious project, which can be done but may not be done. But it remains very ambitious. "
He selectively referred to his vision in case of his election to the presidency, emphasizing that "my vision is to live in a free and reunited homeland, without occupying troops, without foreign guarantors, with absolute respect for our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, a solution to the Cyprus problem. which will help realize the big vision for Cyprus of 3A, Cyprus of development, security and solidarity. A Cyprus that will take off the potential of every Cypriot, because we have great potential both as a society and as a country. To have the bar high. A country that can be a pioneer, a forerunner and a champion in reforms, and whose faction I lead has been a standard-bearer of reforms. To be the first country in Europe with zero carbon dioxide, to set the bar high to make our country Digital, any transactions to be done via the internet and it is in this way that we will beat the bureaucracy, the bribe and we will take off the fields of tourism, shipping, private education, a country that will leave no one behind when it takes off. We have the foundations. We must give our young people the opportunity, these brilliant minds to invest on their own but when jobs are created through the growth of the economy and the private sector has decent wages, not only like the public sector but also higher. This is our vision for the place and we can put it into practice. "