AKEL ‘needs Messi-like political kick for ballot’

AKEL ‘needs Messi-like political kick for ballot’

AKEL ‘needs Messi-like political kick for ballot’

Amid economic woes, growing unemployment and unpopular policies, Greek Cyprus’ ruling AKEL needs a performance similar to football star Messi, its top leader says. DAILY NEWS photo

Greek Cyprus’ left-wing ruling party has admitted that it has almost no hopes of winning the upcoming presidential elections amid high unemployment and economic malaise.

“We need to show a performance similar to that of [Argentina and Barcelona football star] Lionel Messi in order to win,” said Andros Kyprianou, the secretary-general of the Progressive Party of the Working People (AKEL).

Greek Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, a former AKEL leader, has lost all hopes of winning and is not seeking re-election. Public opinion polls show it would require more than a miracle for AKEL’s candidate, Stavros Malas, to emerge victorious in the February presidential elections.

AKEL’s task in the polls is not easy at all, Kyprianou said, but added that the government was nonetheless working on securing a bailout package for the country’s moribund economy. Greek Cyprus’ government has so far calculated that a 4.5 billion-euro package would be sufficient, unlike the EU’s bailout bill of 10 billion euros, he said.

Kyprianou also denied claims that the Greek Cypriot government would provide Russia with a base on the island in exchange for much-needed credit.

‘Talks retreated after Eroğlu’

Both Kyprianou and Malas complained about a regression in peace talks with Turkish Cyprus after Derviş Eroğlu replaced Mehmet Ali Talat in northern Cyprus as president. In a separate interview, Malas promised to continue peace talks from where they were left if elected.

He said talks must continue on the agreed target of producing bizonal and bicommunal federation, rejecting the possibility of a loose federation.

In a settlement, he foresees Turkish Cyprus’ “efficient participation” in the central government, with no guarantor powers. Turkey has misused its guarantor power in the past, Malas said.

Kyprianou said he believed Greek Cyprus had the right to explore, drill and extract all natural riches on and around the island, adding that sharing gas revenues with Turkish Cypriots or placing revenues in a fund to finance the costs of the Cyprus problem’s resolution were out of the question without a settlement.

Accusing Turkey of conducting a dead-end approach to the island’s offshore riches, he dismissed Turkey’s endeavor to place a gas platform around 100-200 meters away from a Greek Cypriot platform, saying, “The international community won’t let that [happen].”