THERE is something very fishy about the government’s repeated assertions that the European Commission did not consider the Turkish demand for the four freedoms a bilateral issue between Cyprus and Turkey but a matter concerning the whole of the EU.
Strangely we have never heard a member of the commission, not even a lowly spokesman say such a thing publicly. The source of this information has been the government spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides, who has also claimed that several EU leaders agreed with the government’s position (that it is a matter concerning the whole EU) without bothering to name them.
After Prez Nik’s meeting with Commission Prez Jean-Claude Junker on March 9, state news agency Tass quoted a “representative of the European Commission” saying that Juncker told Anastasiades that Turkey’s demand for the four freedoms “was a question concerning the whole of the EU”. Peculiarly, the “representative” was not named.
Tass also reported “Juncker agreed with the President of the Republic that the unacceptable Turkish demand for the four freedoms was not a bilateral issue, but an issue for the whole of Europe. The demand could on no account be accepted.” A couple of hours later Tass filed another report, clarifying that it was only the Republic that said the demand was unacceptable.
The source of the misinformation that was corrected could only have been Nik, via his obedient and loyal spokesman, as he was the only person at the meeting with Juncker. As for the unnamed “representative” quoted by Tass, he has still to be identified, if he exists.
WHEN the Turks had first brought up the four freedoms for Turkish citizens – one of the convergences agreed by comrade Tof and comrade Talat – last month, Prez Nik drew a thick red line declaring this could never be accepted. To strengthen his case he argued that the EU would not agree to it because it would open the gates to 70 million Turks to enter Europe.
He therefore wrote a letter to Juncker and the heads of several other EU governments, informing them of this unacceptable demand in the hope they would agree with his position and offer their support. It is over month and we have not yet heard if he received a reply.
It would be a bit suspicious – and downright rude – if a month after receiving Nik’s letter Juncker had still not replied. Unless there was a reply, which did not satisfy Nik and he kept it a secret. If Juncker had written and said Turkey’s demand could not be accepted by the EU it would have been in all the newspapers. Nik would be boasting at every opportunity that he had been vindicated and have a strong reason to bail out from the talks for good.
But Turkey’s demand allows him to quit the talks for good, only if the EU objected to it as well. Otherwise the scheming Nik would be blamed for the collapse of the talks, which he does not want, after fooling everyone into thinking he wanted a settlement for so long.
AS SCHEMING Nik probably did not receive the answer he wanted from the commission, his next objective was to keep this a secret, hence the misinformation given to Tass about his meeting with Juncker and the comments of the “representative of the Commission”.
The only danger of the beans being spilt was posed by Espen Barth Eide, who was scheduled to meet Juncker last Thursday and would have asked for the commission’s position on the four freedoms and whether it was a deal breaker.
One way was to prevent Eide from discussing the matter at Thursday’s meeting and he received several messages from the government telling him that the issue of the four freedoms was none of his business and that he should not raise it at his meeting with Juncker.
The matter was raised at the meeting but neither the commission nor Eide have said what was discussed. Of course Tass news agency found out exactly, this time not from a “representative of the commission” but from “diplomatic sources” who had presumably bugged the meeting room.
These objective, “diplomatic sources”, according to Tass, repeated the government’s unsubstantiated claim that “even countries with friendly ties with Ankara, emphatically reject any discussion of the Turkish demand.” However the diplomat did not say that the commission or Juncker rejected it. Only what was stipulated by Turkey’s custom union with the EU could be accepted, but freedom of movement and settlement “was out of the question”, the diplomatic sources said.
THE WEEK before Eide’s visit to Brussels the government had used the front page of Phil to discredit him and destroy his credibility, with reports (attributed to nobody which meant it was the government spokesman) claiming he wanted to introduce arbitration (a lie) and was working for a quick settlement (a bad thing?) to further his political ambitions in Norway.
But the most low-down leak was that he would be going to Brussels to lobby for the EU’s acceptance of Turkey’s demand for the four freedoms. How could he do this when even countries with friendly ties with Turkey rejected this demand and the commission considered it an issued affecting the whole EU?
Phil’s Brussels correspondent, in his report on Friday, said that during his meeting in Brussels Eide asked for “discounts on the four freedoms for Turkish citizens”, explaining this would be a bilateral arrangement, not affecting the rest of the EU, and found a positive response.
So when the government’s misinformation about the EU’s alleged rejection of Turkey demand is eventually exposed, Nik can blame Eide for supposedly persuading the commission to change its position, throw a theatrical tantrum about the Norwegian’s bias and quit the talks, if they have resumed by then.
When it comes to petty political scheming Nik is the true heir of the great Spy Kyp.
THE MAN who executes the devious schemes of the Prez, spokesman Christodoulides, appears to have used his trip to the US with Nik last week as rehearsal for the role of foreign minister, which he obviously covets, and some general self-aggrandisement.
He stayed in the US after his boss left for a series of contacts in New York and Washington with lowly US officials, representatives of think-tanks, expats etc. His schedule of meetings got a lot of publicity in the media which want to keep him happy, but predictably nobody asked what business the government spokesman had playing the foreign minister, meeting US government officials and attending the 25th March reception at the White House.
Three ministers accompanied the prez to New York for last Tuesday’s investment conference in New York but they all returned to Kyproulla, while Christodoulides who is just the spokesman, with the responsibility of spinning the news and misinforming the public, conducted all subsequent contacts on behalf of the government.
In what capacity would he have met officials of Exxon Mobil on Tuesday? Is this a rehearsal for the role of energy minister or did the government need to misinform the Exxon Mobil guys and the Prez could not trust Lakkotrypis to do it competently?
THE FEUD between auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides and interior minister Socratis Hasikos has taken a new twist in the last few days with the former doing his best to screw the latter as part of his ministerial persecution auditing duties.
Odysseas issued his report about the renting of office space for the Civil Aviation Authority in the building owned by a company in which Hasikos is the 60 per cent shareholder and the main ‘irregularity’ he found was that in the invitation of interest the authority had asked for 84 parking spaces, but Hasikos’ company provided only 54.
He was informed however by the central agency handling rentals for state services that the desirable number of parking spaces is requested but it does not mean that buildings are found to meet the requirement. Another ‘irregularity’ he found was that the rental contract was signed by the company’s manager and not the owner. Now that is a scandal.
And to underline his vindictiveness Odysseas impartially proposed the agency did not renew the contract for the office space in Hasikos’ building, but initiated procedures to rent new premises. This may have been a case of abuse of power, but as we said last week, the auditor-general can do whatever he wants, because he is answerable only to God.
ODYSSEAS’ misunderstanding of his job responsibilities was illustrated at the legislature again on Thursday, when he told deputies that the state should build its own offices rather than lease or buy from third parties. This seems more like dictating government policy than auditing. He also had a go at the central state agency handling rentals as it had dared to question his Hasikos accusations, saying it did not have uniform criteria for rental contracts.
Interestingly, his investigation about the monthly cash handout to Perdikis by the state in lieu of a police chauffeur was factual, contained no value judgments, nor any proposal to the government, which showed he can do a professional report when investigating his mates.
LAST WEEK we reported how Kathimerini publisher and Prez’s buddy Demetris Lottides had used Perdikis and Odysseas to get his own back on Hasikos, but did not mention the real cause for his animosity towards the minister.
The Greek company that publishes Kathimerini and which is in partnership with Lottides for the Cyprus edition of the paper also own the Supersports FM radio station in Greece. The rights to use the Supersports FM name and output in Cyprus were bought by Hasikos’ media group many years ago, but Lottides had been demanding that the Greek company transferred the rights to him, as he was a partner.
Hasikos refused to oblige as he had signed a contract for the broadcast rights and has been subjected to this dirty war by proxy. Lottides has now also recruited his buddy Prez Nik in his war against Hasikos, the prez openly accusing his minister of being ineffective in his job.
POLITICAL correctness reared its ugly and humourless head at the EU last week after the head of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s remark that the countries of the south “cannot spend all the money on booze and women and then ask for help”.
He was speaking metaphorically, but there was an outcry from the great and the good of the EU, the Portuguese PM demanding Dijsselbloem’s resignation, while a Spanish MEP described his remark “a racist and male-chauvinist insult to the southern countries, and their women”.
Even politically correct Akelites were outraged, their spokesman Stef Stef labelling the remarks unacceptable and offensive and asking if the government’s failure to take a stand was because it agreed with them. Did they not hear that the spokesman was in the US playing the foreign and energy minister? Surely they did not expect the Prez to make a statement about booze and women.
THE MOST over the top response was by Syriza MP Sia Anagnostopoulou, who once worked at the University of Cyprus as lecturer. In a post on her Facebook page signed “whore of the South”, the humourless, earnest Greek MP said Dijsselbloem was a sexist. She made the following plea: “I call on the ‘whores’ of the south to expose the ugly face of neo-liberalism (this is what it’s about) to expose the undemocratic face of neo-liberal Europe.” I fail to see any logic in what she says, but I will denounce neo-liberalism now if it opposes spending money on booze and women.
The late, great George Best, when asked how he blew his fortune said: “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.”
SOME politicians still have a sense of humour. Speaking at Brown University in the US on Monday, Britain’s former PM David Cameron made a quip about the White House allegations that GCHQ (Britain’s intelligence and security organisation) was monitoring Donald Trump’s telephone conversations. Cameron told his audience that as an ex-prime minister, at least he did not have to listen to Donald Trump’s wiretapped conversations any more. Fearing that some members of his audience would have no sense of humour, he immediately added: “Just to be clear, that’s a joke.”
In Tales from the Coffeeshop (11/12/16), commenting on the well known case of the monk and his parents’ action against the Bishop of Limassol and others, we expressed the view that the only ones who will gain from this pathetically ridiculous civil case are inevitably the lawyers, especially the lawyer representing the family, Christos Clerides, whose services do not come cheap and that he should have advised the parents that it was the human right of their son to choose as he liked. We apologise to Mr Christos Clerides and withdraw the above comments unreservedly.
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