Protracting a solution is as dangerous as an agreement which will not be accepted, Stavros Malas tells CNA [VIDEO]

Presidential hopeful Stavros Malas believes that the non solution of the Cyprus problem is as dangerous as an agreement which will not be accepted by the people, stressing that if elected, he will seek consensus on national issues.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Malas, who is running as an independent candidate for the second time round backed by the main opposition party AKEL, has pointed out that he will respect those who have different views to his own on the Cyprus issues, and made it clear that UN-led peace talks must resume immediately since things are changing rapidly in the island’s northern Turkish occupied areas and in Turkey itself and the solution will be difficult to implement.

He said that if elected, he will call on the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to reaffirm the framework, the principles and the result of the peace process so far and to move forward after good preparation, starting from the internal aspects of the Cyprus question and preparing the discussion on the external aspect.

A small country like Cyprus needs primarily a powerful weapon and that is its credibility. We have to actually mean what we are saying, he said, adding that incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades has failed to present Cyprus as a credible country. At the same time, Malas also pointed out the need to mobilize again the European Union with regard to the Cyprus issue.

On the economy, Malas said it was imperative to create a shareholding unit to manage Non Performing Loans (NPLs) that burden the local economy. He suggested that this unit, which should involve both the state and the banks, will protect mainly borrowers from losing their homes or their small business.

Replying to questions, he said that the country’s economic model should change so as not to rely only on tourism, low corporate tax and citizenship through investment. He proposed tax incentives for high tech companies, investment and manufacturing industry, agriculture and animal husbandry and also investment in medical tourism. As he said, these sectors will have multiple benefits for the economy and will create quality jobs.

Cyprus must invest in innovation, research, it must add value to all its products, whether material or intellectual, or services, in order to have an additional advantage beyond the low tax rate, he noted.

Referring to the oil and gas industry, he said that Cyprus should try to exploit its reserves in order to upgrade its position geo-strategically. He suggested the creation of a gas terminal in Cyprus, if there are new discoveries that will make it feasible, and criticized the current government for missing the opportunity to create this type of infrastructure in cooperation with Israel back in 2013.

Concerning the internal governance, he said that unlike President Anastasiades, he will respect the independent institutions like the Law Office of the Republic, headed by the Attorney General and the Office of the Auditor General and will try to enhance these institutions to enable them to be financially independent.

Questioned on health matters, he stressed the need to proceed with the implementation of the National Health Scheme and pointed out that in order to do so it is important to provide support to state hospitals which are collapsing.

This king of reform, he told CNA, will have many effects, especially on the private sector and expressed the view that the NHS issue will be discussed again after the January presidential elections by those who do not want it to be implemented. Malas appeared concerned that the delay in the implementation of the NHS could lead to the same situation which has happened in the US, where private insurance companies managed to increase their share and influence and eventually circumvent any national planning on the introduction of a health system that would cover the entire population.

Malas, who is supported by the left -wing party AKEL, the main opposition party and is running for the second time, was also asked on the alliances that may arise in a run-off election. Nine candidates are contesting the presidential elections, to take place on January 28. If no candidate gains 50+1 votes, a second round of voting will take place on February 4th, with the participation of the two front runners.

Those who will support my candidacy in the second round of the elections should do so on the basis of my positions, which have already been submitted publically, on the Cyprus issue, the economy and internal governance, he said.

Those who will fail to qualify for the second round of the elections, he said, should support him on the basis of his stance on meritocracy and transparency and not in exchange of political favors. This, he noted, is what presidential hopefuls Yiorgos Lillikas and Nikolas Papadopoulos also proclaim. He also said that although there may be some disagreements in a co-operation, when there is political honesty and the President respects the opposite view, then this will strengthen democracy and consensus. Unlike President Anastasiades, he will respect the different view, he told CNA, stressing that consensus on national issues is crucial.

Right now consensus on national issues is pivotal, because protracting the Cyprus problem is as dangerous as handling the Cyprus problem and concluding an agreement which will not be accepted by the people, he said, adding that this will be the end of the Cyprus question.

He also said that he would have a frank relationship with society at large and would not say things to flatter people.

Source: Cyprus News Agency