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Cyprus Integrity Forum’s AGM highlights mission, work so far and future plans

Cyprus Integrity Forum (CIF) President Marios M. Skandalis has outlined the Forum’s important role in the island’s business scene.

Speaking at CIF’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 15 May, Skandalis noted that 2023 had been a particularly productive year.

He elaborated on CIF’s activities in the three pillars of its activities: State, Society and Business and outlined future plans. His full speech, translated from Greek, can be read below:

CIF PRESIDENT'S SPEECH - AGM 2024:

"Dear members, friends, good evening,

Welcome to the Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Integrity Forum and thank you for honoring us with your presence.

2023 was a particularly productive year for us, during which we saw important visions and goals come to fruition. We initiated many partnerships, developed existing partnerships and saw the institutional implementation of actions that we had proposed and fought for.

In each pillar in which the organisation is active, we continued to demonstrate important work. The members of the Board of Directors together with the staff and partners of Cyprus Integrity Forum, with effort, persistence and a sense of responsibility, strengthened the dynamics of the organisation, managing to raise it even higher in the estimation of important stakeholders, in Cyprus and internationally. At the same time, with a full sense of the role we should have in our country, we managed to consolidate the CIF as the only organisation in Cyprus that promotes information, research and tackling corruption, at all levels of society. Since 2011 when we registered as an organisation, our long-term goal remains the fight against corruption and the promotion of transparency in the public and private sector, with actions directed at 3 main pillars: State, Society and Business. Let me expand a bit on each of them.

As you will recall, 2022 was a year in which our important long-term proposals such as the Independent Anti-Corruption Authority and the Protection of Persons Reporting Breaches of Union and National Law , commonly known as Whistleblowing, were enacted. In 2023, the institutional framework against corruption was further strengthened, with the implementation of the Transparency in Public Decision-Making Procedures Law, i.e. Lobbying. Of course, our role does not stop with the enactment of legislation and the establishment of Committees and Authorities. The real value to society is how the provisions of the Laws will be implemented in practice and it is at this point that Cyprus Integrity Forum will focus on the coming years, so that we can make sure that the benefit for all of us will be tangible.

In addition to the aforementioned, in the State pillar, our important pursuit is to ensure the sustainability of the General Healthcare System. In this direction, we are organising a press conference on 20 May on the topic of "Transparency and Combating Corruption in the GESY" with specific recommendations on the need for Medical Auditing. It is important to mention that the press conference is under the auspices of the Minister of Health.

In the Society pillar, we succeeded in participating in a conference organised by the Radio and Television Authority towards the end of this year. The conference will have participants from around 40 countries and I am pleased to announce that Cyprus Integrity Forum will participate in discussion panels. Our intention is nothing more than to make the attendees consider if there is real transparency in the Mass Media. Also, focusing on the next generations, we tried through the Ministry of Education to release "Paramythaki" that stimulates our children from a young age on the need for transparency. Unfortunately, our efforts were unsuccessful. But due to our nature we will not write off an excellent prospect due to external factors. We are already in the process of releasing this version to private schools. In case our venture succeeds, we will approach the Ministry again.

Finally, as far as Business is concerned, we look forward to strengthening the Business Integrity Forum program, with another round of meetings and exchange of views. I would like to convey my thanks and deep appreciation to the Business Members Integrity Forum, Ancoria Bank , Bank of Cyprus , Deloitte , EY , Grant Thornton, Infocredit , Kendris, KPMG , Logicom , NetU, Pyrgou Vakis and PWC for their exemplary behavior in terms of transparency in the economic development of Cyprus and continuous support to the work of our organisation. At this point allow me to make special reference to the formation of the Cyprus Compliance Association, last month. It is our belief that the cooperation of Cyprus Integrity Forum and Cyprus Compliance Association will significantly upgrade the level of professional services of the Cypriot Economy, a sector that has traditionally been an important lifeblood of the island's economic development. It would be remiss of me not to mention the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with Cyprus Fiduciary Association, thus expanding our collaborations with other stakeholders who embrace the need for transparency, namely the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus, the international organisations Institute of Business Ethics, Chartered Governance Institute, Partnership for Transparency, International​ Compliance Association, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the local organisations Reaction - Youth for the Prevention and the Youth Board of Cyprus , the tertiary educational institutions of Cyprus University of Cyprus , European University Cyprus , UCLan Cyprus , as well as the Audit Office of the Republic and the Cyprus Police.

As I have mentioned, our action concerns 3 pillars: State, Society and Entrepreneurship. Our purpose is cooperation with the agencies and not discrediting them. In addition to meetings and memorandums of cooperation which are important to begin with, there should also be a follow-up. We plan to monitor the commitments made by state partners and remind them of their responsibility to implement what they promise.

We seek more active public participation. You as Members are the cornerstone of our structure. I urge you to spread the word about the work we are doing and with your help we can attract people regardless of age, education or other criteria who embrace our concerns and concerns. In this way our voice will become stronger than ever and will contribute the most to our pursuits. I also invite you to engage more actively with Cyprus integrity Forum in case you think you can help through your presence on the Board of Directors. Awakening society against corruption and being in favor of transparency is not the task of a few individuals, but of those who can and want to see a change of mentality in our country, creating a mentality in the new generations to be proud of.

In closing, I would like to first of all thank you, the Members of Cyprus Integrity Forum for long-term support. I would also like to thank each and every colleague and fellow member of our Board of Directors for the valuable time they dedicate to our effort to promote transparency and combat corruption.

I also thank the Administrative Officer of our organisation Mrs. Elena Theocharidou but also our valuable partners, our accountants and especially Mr. Stergios Savvides, our auditors PWC and especially the responsible partner, Mr. Nicos Theodoulou, our legal advisors L Papaphilippou & Co LLC. and especially the partner Mr. Pantelis Christofides, IMH, the Radio and Television station ANT1 and all our other partners.

I hope you find today's AGM, as well as the event to follow, particularly useful.

Thank you"

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