Ever since the first edition of the Financial Mirror was published on March 17, 1993, we have tried to remain faithful to the editorial standards we set back then, with a focus on “pro-business” and “pro-Cyprus”.
Over the years we have survived hostility and attacks by narrow-minded business ‘leaders’ and weathered legal storms.
We have been tolerant of the level of stupidity that exists in government and among those who pull the strings in every administration, including the present one.
We dealt with incompetent state officials, at all levels of the food chain, and ambitious politicians, who continue to shun the media, for fear of being scrutinised and their improper actions being revealed for the public to see.
In all these cases, however, what we have reported has always been ‘for the good of Cyprus’.
And this very often means being critical of our own, no matter what the cost.
Never has any politician, leader or official in Cyprus accepted that under the mountain of allegations surrounding any scandal or wrongdoing, legal or ethical, that there could be a glimmer of truth.
Nor that we should collectively work to mend what has been broken, starting with the island’s tarnished reputation as a corrupt and sleazy financial centre.
Adding to the need for more checks and balances is the tricky new phenomenon of social media, where whatever is posted, does not necessarily have to be true.
Cyprus enjoys a liberal society, where everyone is allowed to say whatever they want, often the first thing that comes to mind.
Yet, the right questions are not asked, and if asked, the right answers are not provided, with no one there to challenge them.
Blaming the media for everything that goes wrong is naïve, to say the least.
It is only through transparency and healthy dialogue that we can move on and rebuild the good name that Cyprus used to enjoy, thanks to the hard work of a handful of courageous visionaries of the past.
When, out of necessity following the catastrophe from the Turkish invasion in 1974, the economy turned towards services, the industry relied on the high ethics of the individuals who had passion.
Unfortunately, that passion has since been replaced with greed, both financial and political.
Many remain unpunished, rewarded even, for their inaction that has brought more harm to this place than good.
And those responsible for the shortcomings of their subordinates, are equally to blame, as has been the long list of scandals and irregularities in recent years (Milosevic millions, stock exchange bust, title deeds, Mari, Laiki, Cyprus Airways and Eurocypria, privatisation, property bubble, Co-op, halloumi debacle, Gesy).
The passports-for-investments scheme, geared more towards satisfying the wants of real estate developers and the union-led public sector wages that they bankroll, remained afloat because of the arrogance of a few and the attitude of ‘we can get away with it’.
No wonder, then, that foreign powers do not take Cyprus seriously.
To change all that we must be proactive and not reactive, after the event.
We need to invest more in education, civil liberties and tolerance for diversity. We need to embrace change and reward achievements.
We need more ‘good news’ stories and to follow the fine examples of true innovators.
Most importantly, we need everyone to speak freely, but also to listen to different views. Let’s fix this first and the rest will come easy.