For better or worse, the Republic of Cyprus has been presented in recent years as a country of corruption and entanglement that is gaining more and more emphatic banana characteristics. Our European partners point the finger at us as an example to avoid. Undoubtedly, our country is in this predicament first and foremost because of President Anastasiadis himself and the fact that there is a law firm in Limassol that bears his name, although it has nothing to do with it, as he claims from in 2013 who was elected President of the Republic. President Anastasiadis is unable or unwilling to acknowledge the serious ethical and ethical issues that often arise because of this relationship. And we are not the only ones saying that. Both the BBC and Guardian journalists who took part in the investigation into the Pandora Papers and made their revelations are wondering through their posts how and why President Anastasiadis allows a law firm to bear his name, since he claims he does not control it. The law firm Nikos Chr. Anastasiadis DEPE has been targeted a few times by supervisors in Cyprus and abroad, has been investigated and is being investigated because of his wealthy clients from countries of the former Soviet Union, who happen to be close friends of President Anastasiadis. All these and many other things in which the law firm of the daughters of President Anastasiadis was involved are dragging our country internationally, but some people pretend that they do not understand. As we speak today, an investigation is underway against the law firm Nikos Chr. Anastasiadis DEPE from the Pancyprian Bar Association, after the revelations of the Pandora Papers concerning his client, the Russian oligarch and former senator and MP Leonid Lebetev, who is said to have transferred the amount of 115 million dollars to tax havens through Cyprus.
It should be pointed out that to date no fault has been found against this law firm. However, this fact alone is not enough, because, according to the well-known saying, Caesar's wife is not only honest, but must also look honest. It seems that both the President and the law firm that bears his name have a big problem.
The corporate firms
Serious issues of ethics and ethics arising from corporate entities bearing the names of state and elected officials should finally be regulated by law with a view to banning them. In the past it was the law office of Tassos Papadopoulos, then we came up with the law office of Nikos Anastasiadis and until recently, the law firms of former Ministers of Justice and Defense Mr. George Savvidis and Savvas Angelidis respectively, as well as his family office former Minister of Transport Marios Dimitriadis. It is possible that in the 2023 presidential elections there will be another law firm. In its conclusion, the Gold Passport Research Committee highlights precisely these ethical and ethical issues that arose for President Anastasiadis and his ministers, who voted in favor of approving the exceptional applications for gold passports to the clients of the law firms with which they are directly or indirectly connected, concealing the conflict of interest. As the Inquiry Committee points out, the President and the Ministers were obliged to act in complete impartiality and to appear to be acting in this manner.
The law firms of other officials and elected officials should also be included in the scope of conflict of interest cases. Specifically, nine lawyers and an audit firm bear the name or surname of 10 deputies. At some point, the public office they hold will come into conflict with the professional activities they carry out and if they are unable to separate their function from professional activities and personal interest, then, we inevitably lead to entanglement and corruption. Furthermore, no one can know for sure whether the professional activities of Members of Parliament or of close relatives develop independently or are an extension of the power held by these officials.
Prohibitions by law
There are solutions to prevent the phenomenon of excesses of power and political corruption and entanglement in the future, as long as our legislators put aside their good and interests and prove in practice that they mean what they state publicly, that is, that they are constantly in conflict with the established, with entanglement, corruption and opacity. So here is Rhodes, here is the leap: Let them vote for the legislative regulations proposed by the MPs of DIPA – Cooperation of Democratic Forces Marios Karoyan, Alekos Tryfonidis, Marinos Mousiouttas and Michalis Giakoumis to ban the interconnection of commercial and business names. Introducing, at the same time, the absolute professional incompatibility of a large number of state and elected officials.
After the noise that broke out about the Pandora Papers and the possible involvement of the law firm Nikos Chr. Anastasiadis DEPE, the deputies of DIPA – Cooperation of Democratic Forces consider that there is a clear need for legislation that prohibits, on the one hand, state officials to bear the same name or any connection with business names and business interests. Specifically, it is proposed to prohibit the exercise of professional activity to ministers, deputies, commissioners, mayors and so on. Relevant draft laws are being prepared for both issues to be submitted to the plenary of the Parliament. As we have been told, possibly, the bill that establishes the absolute incompatibility should be ready by the services of the Parliament for submission at the next plenary session of the House, next Thursday.
According to current data, the only officials who mostly work are MPs. Therefore, the submission of the bill for the establishment of absolute professional incompatibility is expected to provoke the reactions of the majority of members of Parliament who also practice their profession.
It should be noted that there is legislation in force that partially restricts the professional activities of a large number of government and elected officials. At the same time, the Constitution of the Republic determines incompatibility with the parliamentary capacity.
According to Article 70 of the Constitution, the status of Member of Parliament is incompatible with the office of Minister, Mayor, Municipal Councilor, member of the armed forces or security forces, as well as with any other public office or position. Therefore, persons elected and belonging to one of the above categories will have to resign from the public service in order to obtain their parliamentary seat.
Businesses that are prohibited
Pursuant to the “Law on the Incompatibility with the Exercise of the Duties of Certain Officials of the Republic”, the following actions, activities or qualities may not be undertaken during the entire term of the deputies, as well as a large number of other state and elected officials :
* The provision to the public or any legal entity under public law or to a state or semi-state company of legal, auditing, accounting and consulting services, including the elaboration of studies or any other kind of services.
* Membership of the board of directors, director, general manager or their deputies in a company, cooperative, consortium or public sector company to which any public contract has been or will be awarded for the supply of a product or the execution of a project or the provision of any services.
* The submission and taking over by the official himself individually or by a company, cooperative, enterprise or joint venture in which he participates either as a sole shareholder or as a member of the board of directors in any capacity or as their legal advisor of any supply contract, works or services to the public sector to any legal entity governed by public law or a state or semi-public company.
* The capacity of managing director, chairman or member of the board of directors of a public company.
* The status of a member of the board of directors or director of a private company or the capacity of a member of the board of directors or director of a semi-governmental organization dealing with electronic or print media.
The pros and cons of the irreconcilable
The net monthly earnings of the MP together with the three allowances he receives currently amount to € 4,750 per month. One can easily claim that this is a fairly satisfactory salary that allows an MP to live comfortably without having to develop professional activities at the same time. It is, however, one side of the coin. The decision to establish absolute professional incompatibility is not easy. There are strong arguments here and there, which our Members should take seriously before deciding, of course, on the basis of the public interest and benefit and not the personal interest.
Why it must be implemented
The arguments put forward by the ardent supporters of absolute professional incompatibility with the officials are, among others, the following:
>> The possibility of influencing the officials from his professional activities ceases to exist.
>> The officials will focus on their duties arising from the public position they hold.
>> The unfair competition that private professionals currently face will be removed by practicing officials, who are in an advantageous position precisely because of the public position they hold, from which they derive professional advantages.
>> The inequality that exists today between Members of Parliament will be removed, that in order for an official of the public or wider public sector or the security forces to assume the duties of Member of Parliament, he must first submit his resignation, which does not apply to all other elected Members of Parliament .
Why should not be applied
On the other hand, those who disagree with the introduction of absolute professional incompatibility with officials put forward the following arguments:
>> The independence of the officials is shaken. Precisely because they are cut off from their profession, they are led to various dependencies in order to survive politically and in the cases of the deputies, in the maintenance of their parliamentary seat and in their re-election.
>> It will discourage many well-known and successful professionals from engaging with the public.
> In the case of elected officials, the final judge of whether someone deserves to be an MP or mayor, whether or not he or she is a professional, is the citizens. The decision should therefore be left to the citizens.