IN THE END the visit of Greece’s new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Kyproulla was rather disappointing. There were no empty promises, no big words and no rabble-rousing, which would have made the visit much more fun, but as we do not vote in Greek elections, presumably, he had no reason to go down that path.
This was not the only disappointment Tsipras inflicted on us. Whereas some of us expected him to be an arrogant, self-righteous, left-wing poseur, he turned out be a rather likable and agreeable chap – polite, modest, level-headed and approachable. His speeches were so measured and sensible you wondered if this was the same guy that had set a new world record in empty election promises.
If anything, we should be grateful for his measured approach, as he did not inspire, let alone encourage, our own lunatic fringe to wage an all-out war against the Troika, the Germans, the bankers and all other enemies of the people.
On the Cyprob he must have really let down the lunatic fringe of bash-patriotic freedom-fighters, because despite the obligatory condemnation of the Turkish violations of the EEZ, he adopted a very conciliatory tone in his speech at the House and, worst of all, met Turkish Cypriot members of NGOs.
A government big-wig, who sat at the presidential palace meeting of the two delegations, although not a Tsipras fan, was impressed with the new PM. “This guy is much better than (former prime minister Antonis) Samaras,” he said.
TSIPRAS made such a good impression you could almost forgive him his decision to meet comrade Tof for half an hour during his visit. Being a lefty himself, he must have felt it was his duty to grant Tof’s request for a meeting and make him feel important for a few minutes.
Tsipras would have paid for this act of comradely kindness, being patronised by the know-it-all Tof and having to listen politely to his worthless advice. What advice could the clueless comrade have given the new PM – bankrupting your country in five easy steps or how to blow up a power station and remain in power?
I would have thought Tsipras, being an atheist that had refused to take his prime ministerial oath on the bible, would have avoided the obligatory visit to our Archbishop, but he had no choice in the matter. No visiting big-shot (it is not just Greek dignitaries that are taken to him) can avoid meeting Chrys II, because of Kyproulla’s theocratic protocol.
There have been half-hearted attempts by the foreign ministry to have the Archbishop removed from the protocol list, but Chrys has crushed them, threatening to send the protocol officials to hell.
HACKS, felt obliged to ask Tsipras, during the news conference he gave, whether he would be leading Greece into the arms of Mother Russia. There was no such issue, but the worship of Moscow is not exclusive to our politicians, many of our hacks also belonging to the same faith that views Vladimir Putin as our guardian angel.
The PM was asked whether he would seek aid from Russia, but disappointed our Moscow cheerleaders, by saying: “We are in substantial negotiations with our partners in Europe and those that have lent to us; we have obligations towards them. Right now there are no other thoughts on the table.”
This did not upset Russia’s leading salesman Yiorkos Lillikas, who after meeting Tsipras, felt so inspired he said that citizens should have a demonstration to voice their solidarity and support for Greece’s efforts to end the austerity. It was another one of the populist Paphite’s noble ideas that he will never pursue for fear nobody shows up.
ETHNARCH Junior, who is now taking advice from the former governor of the Central Bank Athanasios Orphanides, asked Tsipras to order an investigation into the sale of the Cypriot banks’ branches in Greece to Piraeus Bank.
Junior who echoed Orphanides in saying this was the “biggest scandal in the history of Cyprus”, gave a letter to the PM with details of the alleged scam which he claimed wiped out 20 per cent of Cypriot GDP in order to recapitalise the Greek bank.
Tsipras, reportedly, told him an investigative committee would be set up to look into all the events relating to the haircut of the Greek debt and the “biggest scandal in Cyprus history” could be probed as part of that probe.
He made no promises to Junior about the matter. Then again, you have to be a bit naive to think Greece that has to worry about debts of hundreds of billions of euros would bother with the couple of billion Orphanides had told Junior to make a fuss about.
But Tsipras was well-meaning, adding substance to the government big-wig’s assertion that “he is better than Samaras.” When Samaras first met Nik, his main piece of advice was ‘go easy on Vgenopoulos’.
WHEN NOT dealing with the biggest scandal in Cyprus history, the squeaky clean prince of Strakka was dealing with the small scandals of Cyprus history involving politicians and their law offices.
He brought up the Anastasiades law office’s links to Ryanair yet again and reminded us about prez Nik’s pledge to resign if the investigation by the Auditor-General found anything linking him personally to the matter. The investigation found nothing but Junior ignored this, demanding that Nik “explain to us whether he was playing with words or fooling people”.
He was engaging in so much gossip and mischief-making that he should not have complained when Politis reported that his law office was hired by the Cyprus Stock Exchange to draft regulations regarding mutual funds, while he was chairman of the House finance committee. Junior claimed he had the left family law office – just as Nik had done – but I cannot go into the explanations because they are too boring and I would like to keep the whole matter on gossip level like our politicians have done.
Junior’s sister Anastasia told Sigmalive that there was an attempt to politically hurt her poor brother. The Papadop family thinks that Junior has the right to sit in judgement on everyone, taking swipes at whoever he chooses, but nobody is permitted to retaliate and extend the same treatment to the young prince.
MEANWHILE Nik continued to cover his tracks, as he run out of state officials to ask to carry out investigations into his office’s conduct in the Ryanair affair. After the Auditor-General, the Attorney-General was asked to investigate the matter but a few days later he said the matter had nothing to do with him as no suspected criminal offence had been committed.
Not even his daughters had anything to do with the matter. One of the two senior partners at Nik’s law office, Fanos Philippou issued a statement last weekend (not on orders from the prez of course as he has no involvement in the affairs of the law office), taking full responsibility for the handling of Ryanair by the office and informing us that the presidential daughters, although partners, had nothing to do with the running of the law office.
I find this very easy to believe as neither of them seems like the type who would sit in a dark office going through law books and writing complex legal analyses of cases.
LAST weekend Nik issued a statement complaining about the low level politics, “lamenting the political ethos of all those who deliberately seek to twist the facts”.
On Friday, Junior issued a statement about the unjust accusations he had been subjected to, and although he was not lamenting over the low level of political life, he found it “really sad” saying his detractors “relegate political life and political dialogue to the level of gossip”.
Hearing lawyer/politicians claiming they are morally better than each other is like football hooligans complaining that rival hooligans are violent or that their violence is of a higher ethical standard than their rivals’.
OPPOSITION politicians took great offence collectively after the leaking of an internal email written by the Bank of Cyprus CEO John Hourican who questioned the parties’ motives in blocking the implementation of the foreclosures law. He wrote:
“To the extent that some politicians are, indeed, pretending to be protecting the more vulnerable in society against the ‘bad banks’ when really they are protecting the larger businesses in Cyprus, this is a scandal.”
It was not the biggest scandal in Cyprus history, nor even the second biggest but a routine scandal that nobody gets worked up about. Deputy/lawyers protecting big businesses is pretty standard practice as is the accompanying bull-s**t about defending the interests of the little people.
For instance the ‘small-to-medium’ businesses that AKEL and EDEK want to protect are about 95 per cent of Cypriot companies, while the primary residences include the small hotels or big ranches Cypriots call their homes.
The e-mail, which was written to someone handling the bank’s communications, also mentioned that “the political comments about mass foreclosures are absurd,” and that “such a possibility is a product of their imagination.”
It was pretty strong stuff and our politicians have not been accustomed to bankers being so blunt about them in public. I would not be surprised if the email was purposely leaked by the bank to expose the politicians’ motives behind their foreclosures’ campaign.
This stuff has been written in papers, but coming from a banker hurt our wheeler-dealing politicians much more.
IT WAS also unfortunate that Hourican is Irish. If he were English he would have been pilloried by the parties as being an unrepentant colonialist, serving the dastardly designs of perfidious Albion and treating locals as inferior natives.
But our parties, all of which issued indignant statement, claiming that the banks were “terrorising” customers, had no right to have an opinion and could not be trusted not to pursue mass foreclosures, could not use anti-English card. Instead they opted for subtle xenophobia, both EDEK and DIKO referring to Hourican’s long absences from the bank.
Both asked “how long Hourican spends in Cyprus in order to understand the problems of the economy?” From reading his email, despite the shortness of his stays, Hourican had shown he fully understands not only the problems of the economy, but those of the country as whole – our politicians.