Cyprus Mail
Opinion

Tales from the Coffeeshop: The Holy Book vs the bank book

God must be paying very low dividends these days

By Patroclos

WHAT IS our world coming to when even the Church is being forced to sell its land in order to repay its €100 million debts to the banks? Do these foreign bankers we have brought in to run our banks not believe in God, or are they just nasty vindictive Catholics who want to screw the Orthodox Church for proudly refusing, for the last thousand years, to accept the authority of the Pope and subjugate itself to Rome?

Never before in its glorious history was our Church forced to repay its loans. This may have been because of its large shareholdings in banks rather than the devoutness of local bankers, but everything has changed since the economic meltdown of 2013. With the injection of capital into the banks by foreign investors the Church’s shareholding was diluted and so was its power to secure preferential treatment.

It is no longer the main shareholder of Hellenic Bank which for years had been run by the priests and their incompetent appointees, while the huge number of shares held by monasteries and bishoprics in the Bank of Cyprus and provided a steady dividend income has been drastically diluted and there are no dividends anyway.

Now we have a heavily-indebted Church that is cash-poor and asset-rich and has become easy prey for the ruthless Catholic bankers whose real agenda is retribution for the Schism of 1054.

 

HELLENIC Bank, to which most of the €100 million was owed had been in negotiations with the Church for months trying to persuade it to sell some land so it could repay its loans. Like all the island’s big businesses, the Church had non-performing loans, but unlike other businesses its assets more than covered these debts.

The problem for the bank was that the Church’s financial boss, Nikiforos, the Metropolitan of the Bishopric of Kykkos and Tylliria that has the biggest portfolio of prime real estate, was refusing to sell in order to pay the bank. Being a smart businessman, Nikiforos knew that in current economic conditions he would have to sell his land at unacceptably low prices and therefore resisted the bank’s pressure for months.

What made him give in now we do not know, but the bank could have threatened to initiate foreclosure proceedings, which would have caused great embarrassment to the island’s wealthiest landowner.

 

YOU HAD to admire the Archbishop Chrys’ honesty, when he told state radio yesterday, “We believed in the banks, we invested in banks continuously and in the end they collapsed.”

This should not be taken to mean they only believed in the banks. They also believed in God but the dividend He paid was very low and non-convertible which is why they showed such faith in the banks.

Chrys immediately rubbished any ideas that, after this traumatic experience, he and his colleagues on the Holy Synod would change the dogma and stop believing in earthly, money-making pursuits. Now, the Church believes in the tourist industry, because as Chrys pointed out “we have seen everything collapse in the past three-four years, apart from tourism.”

The Church would therefore extend a hotel it owned in Ayia Napa and continue the search for investors for its development project in Yeroskipou that would cost close to a billion euros. It might not be a bad idea to back the investment in the tourism sector with prayers that it does not collapse in the future. If the holy fathers had prayed for the banks (not all of them but those they believed in) the Church would not be selling off prime real estate at bargain prices today in order to get its loans to perform again.

 

STAYING on religious matters, it seems one member of the Church hierarchy is interested in loftier issues than business and NPLs. Bishop of Paphos Georgios staked his claim as the religious leader of the rejectionist camp last Tuesday when he attacked Prez Nik for exchanging pleasantries with the representatives of the occupation.

Speaking at an event to mark the anniversary of the death of Makarios to an audience of Paphites, the bash-patriotic Georgios, waxed lyrical about Makarios, who was a true leader and an exceptional personality. It would have been inconceivable for Makarios to give status to the occupation, visiting the occupied area and exchanging pleasantries with the representatives of the occupation, he said.

“Makarios would never have tried to disorientate his people by citing the economic advantages of any settlement while hiding the traps of Turkey and its allies,” said the devious Georgios, without bothering informing his unsophisticated audience how he knew all this. Had he been in contact with Makarios recently asked him what he would have done?

I suppose he had to prove he was capable of misinforming people before the rejectionist brotherhood of negativity accepted him as their spiritual leader.

 

THE GOVERNMENT found a very convenient way of resolving the spot of bother caused by the Russian journalist Andrey Nekrasov who is wanted by Mother Russia and was arrested by the authorities as soon as he arrived at Larnaca airport from Lithuania.

Nekrasov would be sent back to Lithuania this week, because according to EU rules he had to request political asylum from the country of entry into the EU. That spares the government of Cyprus from having to process his asylum request with the risk of angering Mother Russia. Alternatively, he would have had to appear in court for an extradition hearing and the government would have quite rightly been accused of aiding the persecution of journalists by the repressive Putin regime.

This way, the government will not have to piss off Putin nor be seen to be behaving as his lap-dog. The relief of Mother Russia’s local supporters was expressed by Phil’s headline which said ‘Russian ‘bother’ goes to Lithuania.’ Persecuted hacks have no rights but are just a bother when Russia is doing the persecuting.

 

A FORMER deputy, had the courage to take a stand in the Nekrasov case. Former DISY deputy Christos Pourgourides wrote an open letter to justice minister Ionas Nicolaou, telling him that if Nekrasov was extradited to Russia he would not have a fair trial and would be locked up in prison “because he dared to pick a fight with the corrupt members of the establishment.”

He urged Nicolaou to refuse to sign the application for the start of the extradition procedure before court. Pourgourides acknowledged Ionas would be sacked, and wrote what he thought would happen. “President Anastasiades would consider your act as ‘hostile’ to the ‘great friend’ of Cyprus and will certainly sack you… he (Anastasiades) has close friendly ties with many Russian oligarchs that are ‘buddies’ of Putin. One of them in the past made his private jet available to our president.” I suspect this was the time the presidential palace was saying that the private jet Nik was using had been made available by UK-based businessman Chris Lazari, who passed away a couple of weeks ago.

 

PREZ NIK is developing a habit of praising repressive regimes for the “principled stand” they take on the Cyprob. On Monday in an interview given to the Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat he praised Saudi Arabia for the “principle stand” it always took at the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), making an effort “to align its resolutions with international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.” The resolution adopted at the OIC conference in Kuwait, “constitutes an important step forward,” he said, and we had the Saudis to thank “as they removed ambiguous and problematic references from it.” It was another triumph for our foreign ministry.

 

SEVERAL newspapers have been asking where Nik had gone on holiday en famille, one of them mentioning that it was unheard of for Barack Obama to keep his holiday destination secret. DIKO had even criticised him for not attending the opening of the new Suez Canal, unaware that he was on holiday; such was the secrecy surrounding his holiday.

We can reveal, with a note of caution that Nik has gone on holiday to the Seychelles taking with him his entire family – daughters, son-in-laws and grand-kids. The presidential family’s host is according to our information a mega-wealthy Arab, who might also be Sheik. This explains why the holiday was a carefully-guarded secret.

Nik did not want his subjects to know that he was enjoying the lavish hospitality of some super-rich individual and holidaying in opulent luxury, because they might get jealous.

 

MANY were surprised to read about AKEL’s new-found commitment to law enforcement. Party chief Andros had written to the Chief of Police asking him to investigate a case of perjury against deputy AG Rikkos Erotokritou. He cited tricky Ricky’s admission in court that the accusations of bribery he had made to the police against the AG were untrue.

In the end Ricky is not as smart as he thinks he is; he could now also face charges of perjury apart from charges of corruption and bribery, but that is another matter.

An AKEL official explained that Andros’ letter “was within the framework of the party’s efforts to reverse the climate of revulsion towards institutions and the administering of justice and to establish a sense of equality before the law.”

Total nonsense – the commies seized the opportunity to get their own back on Rikkos as he was considered responsible for the prosecution of AKEL official Venizelos Zannetos, whom the party insisted was innocent – a victim of a set-up – even after he was sentenced to prison. When Akelites are being prosecuted, equality before the law is unacceptable.

 

THE PRESIDENT of the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV), Christos Michaelides must have regretted telling an audience of businessmen that he wanted Cyprus to become a type of Hong Kong after a settlement.

Simerini put him on its front page on Thursday, under the headline ‘Making a solution attractive by talking money,’ and devoted two inside pages to abusing him for not knowing that Hong Kong was a semi-autonomous region that belonged to China. He was also informed that “Cyprus does not belong to Turkey.”

All the parties, apart from DISY, slammed Michaelides for using the promise of money and prosperity to win support for a settlement. Why did they bother? Do our parties not know that we Greek Cypriots, like our political leaders, would never give up our principles for money? The priests might be swayed but ordinary people never.

 

AN EVENT in honour of Makarios will be held at the village of his birth Panayia on August 13. The event has been heavily advertised on state radio which informs listeners that the event would feature “a message of greeting by Archbishop Chrysostomos.” I would really like to meet the person who wrote this ad so I could ask him why he thinks a greeting by the Archbishop is selling point for the event. Is there likely to be even one person who would say, ‘I will attend this boring event because there will be a greeting by the Archbishop which might be worth the trip’?

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