05 May 2014 11:59

Visiting EPP European Commission candidate Jean Claude Juncker was all praise for the Anastasiades government yesterday when he addresed a ruling Democratic Rally conference in Nicosia. 
The Opposition described the Juncker showing as a political charade aimed at public relations gains against the backdrop of European Parliament elections and not an objective assessment of the current administration.
Juncker once again placed himself in the midst of the blame game over the near collapse of the Cyprus economy, saying that as President of the Eurogroup until January 2013 he had “tried to persuade the previous government to move faster in adopting the programme suggested by the international lenders”.
He essentially pinned the haircut choice on the Christofias administration, saying that had action been taken sooner this option would have been off the table and Cyprus much better off.
In a boost for EPP ally Anastasiades, Juncker noted that he is acting with determination to put things back together, with a steady implementation of the memorandum programme.
Although there’s still a long way before Cyprus is out of the woods, “the positive reviews are already here”, contributing to a boost of confidence in the country relatively earlier than expected.
He made clear that the only way forward was through the necessary structural reforms, bringing the island back on the road to recovery.
Juncker pointed to the discovery of natural gas in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, as key to a significant role for the island in bolstering the EU’s energy security policy. He further remarked that violence in Syria and Egypt underlined the need for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, based on Security Council resolutions and EU principles.
He lent his support to the on-going talks process and what he termed the constructive package proposal put forward by President Anastasiades on the return of the fenced off city of Famagusta, which has been “endorsed by both the EU and the US.”
Juncker called on Turkey to implement the Ankara protocol, calling for the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as hand Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants and respect the country’s sovereign energy exploration rights.
In his Disy conference address, President Anastasiades also focused on the economy, referring to positive results and expressing thanks to citizens for their patience and trust. ‘You will not be disappointed…mistakes have been made, but our government is noted for its self-awareness and rectifying of such errors’.
The President did stress the recent upgrading of the economy by two credit rating agencies and the good Troika assessments, less than a year after he took over. “We reversed the negative expectations with the best possible results” he noted. In spite of the tough haircut decision, social trust has been regained, he added, in the hope of better days along with our European partners.
He praised Juncker as a straight talking honourable politician who in spite of the small size of his country had the courage and personality to stand up to the big guns in Europe and kept believing in social solidarity and a bright European future with youth on the frontline.
Anastasiades called on people to cast their vote in the European Parliament elections, because “Europe is our home too”.


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