President Apologises Over Minister Benefits Row
President Demetris Christofias has apologised for saying that an ex-minister under former president Glafkos Clerides took state unemployment benefits, and that he made a mistake.
"I am a person who - when I make a mistake - as an individual and as a leader, continue to criticise myself," he said, in an apparent answer to accusations that he has whitewashed problems in the economy that affect ordinary people.
He continued to defend his government's performance, saying that he assures the people of Cyprus that his administration is proceeding seriously with its work.
Earlier this week, Christofias gave a press conference at which he laid out how he sees the government's performance over the last three years. Political opponents criticised his speech as lacking self-criticism and glossing over economic issues like unemployment, which has risen to almost 30,000 people without jobs.
His press conference was held just over a month ahead of parliamentary elections coming up on May 22nd. During the conference, Christofias said that a minister from a past administration had taken unemployment benefits while he was in office. News reports said that the minister in question was Socrates Chasikos, former minister of defence. Chasikos denied that he had ever taken unemployment benefits while he was a minister.