Achilleas Demetriades is no stranger to the political spectrum in Cyprus.
As a human rights advocate he became known over the decades after winning a string of cases against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights. Now he wants to lead Cyprus’ efforts as a president to reunite the country and set a path for peace and prosperity.
At the launch of his candidacy for the 2023 elections on Thursday, Demetriades said that his objective now is to engage in a dialogue with the people on a number of key issues including fairness, integrity and reviving the solution efforts based on political equality and a bizonal bi-communal federation.
Clearly, his political platform aims at a younger audience who didn’t vote in the latest parliamentary elections, frustrated that no political party can bring about change.
Demetriades’ political agenda appears to be compatible, at least for now, with moderate voters when it comes to solving the Cyprus problem, many of which belong either to the left or the right of the spectrum.
In fact, his political agenda echoes the objectives of previous candidates from the Democratic Rally (DISY), such as Ioannis Kasoulides, the former foreign minister who run on a similar platform in the 2008 elections, but also that of the leftist AKEL which has been traditionally pro-solution.
Achilleas Demetriades has gained respect in Cyprus for being a successful human rights lawyer not only by winning landmark cases against Turkey, but also for righting the wrongs made by the Republic of Cyprus which denied information to families of missing Greek Cypriot soldiers who perished during the Turkish invasion in 1974 and were buried by the army.
Demetriades’ father, Lellos served for 30 years as mayor of the divided capital Nicosia and previously was a member of parliament along with Glafcos Clerides.
He was both progressive and moderate who sought to work with the Turkish Cypriots to achieve the completion of infrastructure projects that have benefited both communities. Perhaps his most famous achievement was the integrated sewage system of Nicosia that was completed thanks to the combined efforts with Mustafa Akinci, then mayor of the Turkish Cypriot part of Nicosia.
During the press conference to launch his campaign, Achilleas spoke eloquently and his words carried the vision of some of the most prominent Greek Cypriot politicians, such as Clerides and former foreign minister Nicos Rolandis. He spoke of the need to work together with the Turkish Cypriot community to find lasting peace and benefit the next generations with what he called the ‘peace dividend’. Demetriades expects to complete the process of drafting his agenda by the end of the year after completing a series of meetings with social and economic groups, including ordinary citizens.
After that, he said he will meet with pollical parties that may find his agenda compatible with theirs, except that of right-wing nationalist ELAM.
Although it is too early to speculate which parties, if any, might support his independent candidacy, it is not a hyperbole to say that AKEL might find Achilleas Demetriades’ agenda appealing, particularly if he forms a political platform by next spring that a considerable number of voters will support.
AKEL will need a reliable partner with a compatible agenda of its own if it is going to win the upcoming elections and the available choices are extremely limited. Achilleas could prove to be not just the obvious choice, but the decisive one.
Michael S. Olympios is an economist, business advisor, Editorial Consultant to the Financial Mirror