Malas pledges to work with Church

Stefanos Evripidou – 13/2/13

THE AKEL-backed presidential candidate Stavros Malas yesterday pledged to work with the Church of Cyprus in forming policies to tackle the country’s division and economic woes.

Following in the footsteps of his main opponent in the presidential race, DISY leader Nicos Anastasiades, Malas yesterday met with Archbishop Chrysostomos II for over an hour.

Despite the rather acrimonious relationship between the Church and the AKEL government over the last five years, Malas pledged to formulate policy on the key issues of the Cyprus problem and economy in consultation with the Church.

Malas also shared with the primate his intention to form a coalition government made up of people hailing from left to right of the political spectrum should he win the election on Sunday with a second round the following week should no candidate get more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first.

The AKEL candidate said he agreed with Chrysostomos on the need to create a solution framework agreed by the National Council which will be used as a road map to achieve a just solution of the Cyprus problem.

For his part, the archbishop said he agreed with Malas’ views on creating a cross-party government.
“We would be happy” if it happened, he said, adding, “We will certainly cooperate with anyone who is voted by the Cypriot people.”
The church leader plans to meet with the third main contender for the top seat at the presidential palace, Giorgos Lillikas, today.

Meanwhile, EDEK-backed Lillikas met former head of the energy service and current executive director of state hydrocarbons company (KRETYK) Solon Kassinis yesterday.

Speaking after the meeting, Lillikas said if elected he will not sign a memorandum with the troika which gives the international lenders a defining role in the management of expected hydrocarbon revenues. Nor will he accept any attempt to link an international bailout with the creation of a pipe to transport natural gas from Cyprus to Turkey, he added.

Kassinis thanked Lillikas for the visit, saying that the two cooperated well during the latter’s time in cabinet during the Tassos Papadopoulos government.

Kassinis described the recent agreement giving French company Total licences to explore blocks 10 and 11 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone as a “big success”, referring specifically to the French energy giant’s agreement to drill for oil.

“I believe that within three years we can make use of revenue from fuel, and certainly find a way for politicians to release themselves from any loans made,” he said.

Speaking after a meeting with Bishop Chrystoforos of Karpasia yesterday, Anastasiades called on Greek Cypriot refugees to stop selling off their properties in the occupied areas through the immoveable property commission (IPC) in the north.

The DISY candidate, who currently leads in the polls, said selling occupied properties through the IPC would lead to Greek Cypriots effectively creating “a Cyprus solution on our own”, by selling off any rights to the north of the island.
Anastasiades asked refugees to give the new government time to tackle the problems that are leading them to apply to the IPC for compensation in exchange for giving up their property rights.

Asked how he plans to support refugees, Anastasiades said he would order a serious study on the matter after the elections.
“We will need to see where the state’s finances are at,” he added.

Support for the DISY leader was voiced yesterday by right-leaning union SEK, which called on its members to vote for Anastasiades, saying he was a capable and experienced leader with strong European connections.

The Cyprus Sheep Farmers’ Association also voiced its support for him while, according to a press release by the Anastasiades campaign team, 222 local community leaders across Cyprus have also pledged their support to the DISY leader.