THINGS have turned out so well for Prez Nik in the last few weeks he must be thinking that someone up there really likes him. All he could have wished for, apart from standing for re-election unopposed or regaining his lost youth, materialised without him having to lift a finger, everyone appearing to be working for him.
He must feel indebted to Elam for the enosis referendum amendment that set everything in motion, to the opposition parties that approved it, to his former buddy Mustafa for making such a big fuss about it and to Turkey for sanctioning Akinci’s no-show at Thursday’s talks.
He has now barricaded himself on the moral high ground posing as a zealous supporter of a settlement anxiously waiting for Mustafa to return to the negotiating table. He has been enthusiastically engaging in the blame-game, which he insists he shuns, while the rejectionists have no grounds to attack him.
Not only are the talks on the brink of collapse because of Mustafa, but Turkey’s intransigence has been exposed to the world by smooth operator Nik who has managed to become untouchable – a modern-day Greek Cypriot hero that might even do his people the big favour of standing for re-election.
WITH the talks in limbo, the untouchable will have no distractions as he pursues his drive for re-election which began several weeks ago, according to our super-grass at the presidential palace. Since returning from the conference in Geneva in mid-January Nik has had only one thing on his mind – next February’s presidential elections – showing no interest at all in the Cyprob.
The talks have stagnated at all levels, Nik, reportedly, having abandoned his constructive spirit and adopting a tough line that would prevent progress. The new approach was evident before the enosis referendum amendment of two weeks ago, but had been dismissed as just another of this many mood swings. It was not as subsequent events indicated.
The announcement issued by the national council after the reaction of the Turkish Cypriots and his subsequent storming out of the meeting with Akinci and Espen Barth Eide and slamming the door – for a fag as he disingenuously claimed subsequently – indicated that he was not too keen on salvaging the process because he had more important things to deal with.
Akinci may have been a bit too charitable in saying that “Mr Anastasiades’ brain has been split into two parts, one part thinks about the settlement and the other about the elections.” The part that thinks about the settlement appears to have stopped functioning.
WHICH part of Akinci’s brain accounted for his farcical over-reaction to the enosis referendum amendment? This remains a mystery, but the suspicion is that it is the part that seeks vacuous moral victories at all costs.
By digging in his heels and demanding a full public retraction in order to carry on negotiating he has given Nik a very easy victory in the rampant blame-game. This victory took the dimensions of a triumph when Akinci announced on Wednesday he would not go to the scheduled meeting with Nik, showing the world that it was the Turkish side that was putting the peace process at risk.
Nik the showman made the most of this, announcing he was keen on resuming the talks and made a public plea to Akinci to return to the negotiating table. He probably decided he needed a break from the election campaign. But his old buddy was not playing ball.
On Tuesday he is scheduled to fly to Pakistan to attend a conference of Islamic states, thus offering additional proof that he is not as committed to a settlement as our Nik.
THE CAMPAIGNING for re-election took Nik to Limassol port last weekend to persuade lorry drivers to call off the strike that was threatening the economy. The lorry drivers were protesting about the big delays they were experiencing in collecting containers since Eurogate took over the running of the cargo section.
After a couple of meetings he left the port as our saviour, the lorry drivers agreeing to call off their action for a month and the company agreeing to bring in more staff and speed up procedures. This was an embarrassment for his diminutive transport minister Marios Demetriades who had been visiting the port every day, before Nik’s arrival, without being able to resolve the dispute.
The minister nevertheless came up with a great response to the justified calls for his resignation. “I do not abandon the ship during a storm. The easy way out is for someone to leave. Leaving is not an issue. The issue is to fight for something you believe is right so that you benefit your country…” Only a true Dikhead could present holding on to a public post as a heroic act of patriotic selflessness.
THE LOUDEST calls for Demetriades’ resignation came from Ethnarch Junior, the leader of the party of selfless public service. This was because Demetriades had been appointed a minister on the recommendation of Junior’s predecessor – Marios Garoyian – and refused to leave his post when Diko left the government alliance. “The easy way out is for someone to leave,” Demetriades must have said at the time.
Junior also started his campaign for the presidential elections at Limassol port. He went there on Tuesday and presided over a meeting attended by the deputy port-master, managers from Eurogate, representatives of the Limassol Chamber of Commerce, union officials and other interested parties. He was probably told to go there by the communications advisors hired by his mother with a brief to make Junior appear presidential.
WILL HE now also call a meeting of the farming unions as Nik had done on Wednesday as part of the election campaign? Nik played host to the farmers who demanded that the government did not close down SGOs that were costing the taxpayer many millions every year to operate while contributing nothing to the economy.
They wanted the ridiculous Potato Marketing Board, the Grains Commission and the Organisation of Agricultural Insurance (OGA) to be kept going despite the government having agreed with international lenders to close them down. OGA is a classic example of a totally useless organisation as its budget for 2017 shows.
It will collect insurance cover from the farmers amounting to €2.2m while its total operation costs (primarily wages and pensions) will be €2.5m. It will need another 300 grand to operate, without being able to settle a single claim. From 2000 to 2016, the state and farmers paid €180m for agricultural insurance of which €52 million was used to pay the salaries and pensions of OGA. This is state-sponsored pimping.
But because we have elections in a year, our prez told the farmers none of these useless, money-wasting organisations would be closed down.
THIS WAS not the only election campaigning conducted by the prez in the last seven days. Having solved the problems of Limassol port at the weekend, on Monday he called a meeting to discuss the problems faced by the Athalassa psychiatric hospital. There had been reports in the press that the hospital had no hot water for over a week.
After the meeting it was announced that he had given instructions for a new psychiatric hospital to be built. True, giving orders for the water-heating system to be fixed would not have been very newsworthy but it would be a hell of a lot cheaper. Junior is also expected to call a meeting to discuss the hot water problem at the Athalassa hospital sometime this week.
STAYING on the issue of the presidential election’s two potential candidates, on Friday another spoke at a seminar in Limassol on the subject of ‘Cyprus on the path of the strategy for circular economy.’
I refer to MEPs Dr Eleni Theocharous, who has made clear her plans to stand as the national salvation candidate, and Akel’s Takis Hadjigeorgiou who has high hopes of being his party’s candidate. The narcissistic Hadjigeorgiou has not been as forthright as Dr Eleni, but speaking on a radio show on Wednesday morning avoided giving an answer when asked if he might be a candidate.
Our establishment had reported months ago that Takis had presidential ambitions, when it noted that his articles on the Cyprob had become less pro-settlement than they had been. As the circular economy teaches us, a pro settlement politician needs to be recycled as a moderate hardliner if he is to have a chance of becoming president.
Nobody would want Takis to end up on the rubbish tip when recycling would enable him to take his political career to the next level and help save the planet at the same time.
I SAW on Twitter a request for a comment from Patroclos about the laws and regulations about smoking in public places that were passed by the legislature on Friday. Unfortunately I am unable to oblige because I did not follow the proceedings nor have I had a chance to read what was passed, even though I suspect our deputies would have tried to keep the ‘pro-smoking in public places’ lobby happy as it represents a lot of votes.
And do not forget to follow Patroclos @Coffeeshop1991on Twitter