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The President should watch his tongue.

Byline: Loucas Charalambous

ON MANY occasions, we've pointed out that the President is not one to watch his tongue. He often utters things that do not befit a politician, let alone a head of state. It makes you wonder whether he himself understands the seriousness of what he's saying. We've already mentioned a number of slips-of-the-tongue which had to do with the handling of the Cyprus problem. Here are a few examples. Last spring, coming out of a meeting with European Commission President Barroso, Christofias made the following statement: "I told Mr. Barroso, 'You take care of Ankara, and I will handle Talat'." Two months later, Christofias met with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He informed us that he asked Brown to put pressure on Turkey so that Talat could be "weaned" off her. Later, again in public, Christofias urged Talat to "rid himself of Ankara's tight embrace." Since, then, Christofias has repeated these comments several times. Recently, he raised more eyebrows when uttering the following, again with regard to Talat: "If he wants me to call him Sir, he should behave like one."

Until last week, the victims of his loose tongue had mainly been foreigners. This week, the first Cypriot casualty was registered, and it was none other than Nikos Katsourides, one of his closest aides in the AKEL party. In a live television interview last Monday, Christofias spelled out five criteria governing the selection of the party's next general secretary: 1) He should be a team player and not a powerbroker par excellence; 2) He should be ideologically consistent; 3) He should be honest and have a clean public record; 4) Have an impeccable private life; 5) Be modest, chaste and measured. Christofias is full aware, as everyone else is, that there are only two candidates for the top AKEL job: Katsourides and party spokesman Andros Kyprianou. But by publicly airing these criteria, he has automatically disqualified Katsourides and handed the mantle to Kyprianou. Even a moron could figure this out. Christofias cited the latter three criteria -- which essentially say the same thing -- in order to eliminate Katsourides from the race, setting out criteria that would effectively disqualify the majority of Cypriots.

But more to the point: was there not a better, more courteous way of accomplishing his objective? Did he have to publicly expose a friend and associate, and in such a crude way no less? Instead, could he have not summoned Katsourides in private and told him to drop his candidacy? Why did he go for the tar and feathers attack? Was there really any reason to say, on national television, that one of the candidates was "sullied" in their private life? The question we set at the beginning still stands: does the President realise the weight his words carry, or is he just plain naE[macron]ve? As an old Cypriot adage goes, "Hollow or not, words can break your bones." Christofias' words and Katsourides' cracked bones are an apt illustration.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Jan 4, 2009
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