NICOSIA – With his two terms of 10 years in office coming to an end with Feb. 5 elections to pick a successor, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades went to Greece to help lay a foundation stone in the seaside village of Mati, devastated by 2018 wildfires.
The blazes northeast of the capital Athens killed 104 people and led to charges being brought against 24 people, including the unnamed man who started them by burning brush, and former government and fire department officials.
Hundreds of people saw their homes go up in flames in the July 23 fires that year that spread rapidly and saw survivors in Mati having to go into the sea but others trapped in their cars and burned to death.
Cyprus’ government donated 10 million euros ($10.89 million) to help in the rebuilding effort and another 1 million euros ($1.09 million) was raised privately on Cyprus to help restore the village.
In his farewell tour, Anastasiades first went to Athens to meet Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential office, both pouring praise on him, said The Cyprus Mail.
Mitsotakis thanked him “for ten years of sincere friendship,” and said that, “Today is a very touching moment for me and for my country, as I welcome you for the last time in your capacity as President of Cyprus.”
The Greek leader noted that Anastasiades was elected in 2013 as the country’s economy and banks were teetering and said that, “Your appointment came in the midst of a great economic crisis. We are well aware of this,” the report added.
“You have managed not only to restore Cyprus’ economy but also to take your country forward on many different levels, and I think you have every reason to be proud of this,” said Mitsotakis.
The Prime Minister didn’t note that Anastasiades broken campaign promises and let banks confiscate 54.5 percent of bank accounts over 100,000 euros ($108,945) and didn’t hold bankers to account as he vowed.
Mitsotakis said he was sad that Anastasiades couldn’t bring reunification to the island divided by two unlawful 1974 Turkish invasions that continues to see the northern third still occupied.
And the Greek leader noted the alliance between the countries over Turkish provocations that have seen Turkish drill ships off shore of the island looking for oil and gas in defiance of soft European Union sanctions.
“We have been called upon to face several threats from Turkey and, thanks to our diplomacy and good neighbourliness, we have shielded Cyprus and elevated it to a position of strength, one that is in line with European values,” Anastasiades said.