AFTER the collapse of the international conference in Geneva, it became obvious to anyone without a brain that Prez Nik had given up on the Cyprob so he could focus on the issue of top national importance – his re-election.
It was not just that there were some small signs of the change in priority, but his actions screamed his true intentions. Not only did he increase his public appearances, accepting invitations to every social event he was asked to attend, but a host of interest groups arrived at the presidential palace for meetings with him.
He posed as the caring and benevolent leader, sympathetic to the plight of all interest groups, making promises to them or giving big pay rises, as in the case of the nurses. As for the talks, he set two objectives – the collapse of the process and the blame to be put on the Turks.
Ideally, he wanted the talks to continue aimlessly until the elections, so he could pledge to deliver a settlement if re-elected, but knew the Turks were not dumb enough to be strung along by him.
The only option was a prolonged deadlock caused by the always dependable, Turkish intransigence, which Greek Cypriots would buy as easily as they would buy a kilo of cut-price tomatoes. Fooling the EU and Yanks might be more difficult but the devious, scheming Nik would find a way.
A GOLDEN opportunity was given to him by a Turkish official that brought up the four freedoms, the crafty Nik grabbed it (maybe he sent the Turk a thank-you note) and has held on to it with both hands ever since.
With this he could fool the dumb EU bosses, as he simplistically claimed that acceptance of the demand would open the door of the EU to 70 million Turks. He drew a thick red line and told us that this was an issue for the EU, hoping the Commission would take a stand in support of his position.
He wrote to Jean-Claude Juncker, but never received a written reply, the Commission, considering the alleged danger of Kyproulla and the EU’s being invaded by 70 million Turks as a bit of a joke. In fact, he was told the Commission, after legal advice saw no problem with the equal treatment of Turks and Greeks in Kyproulla, but has kept this response a carefully-guarded secret, persisting with the red line.
New red lines have been drawn in the meantime as back-up. The rotating presidency, which he verbally agreed to in the meetings with Akinci, is a no-go and so is the consent of at least one TC to decisions by the federal state. Plenty more will arise, now that Turkey’s referendum is over and that can no longer be blamed for the lack of progress.
THE Elam amendment, regarding the commemoration of the 1950 enosis referendum at schools, was a godsend for the wily Nik, as it was used as an excuse by Akinci not to attend the talks. Akinci wanted it revoked in order to return to the table.
This perfectly suited Nik – talks were interrupted for two months and he was not to blame – and it was a big surprise that he allowed Disy to draft the bill that would revoke the Elam amendment and allow talks to resume. Before the bill was finally passed, he was publicly urging his former buddy, Mustafa to return to the talks, thus demonstrating his alleged desire for a settlement.
The bill was passed and the talks resumed but Nik was in for another shock. Mustafa, fearing the devious Nik wanted talks that went nowhere until the elections, made it clear that the process had to be completed by the end of June. A suffocating deadline threw into disarray Nik’s strategic, time-wasting plan, so he has reverted to the scheme for a deadlocked process that would be blamed on the Turks.
The scheme was given a boost by Turkey’s Navtex and the announcement that its seismic survey vessel Barbaros would be in the sea south of the Karpas. Nik spent most of Thursday evening’s meeting with Mustafa complaining about the Barbaros and demanding that the Navtex was withdrawn.
The two-month Navtex does not come into effect until April 30, so he has a week to decide whether he will use the presence of the Barbaros to throw a patriotic tantrum and furiously quit the talks, as he had done three years ago. The other option would be to use our navy to stop the violation of our sovereignty.
SUSPICIONS that the devious Nik has another dastardly scheme up his sleeve are growing. On Friday a CM journalist asked government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides whether Nik had signed the Disy bill that would revoke the enosis amendment, but received no answer. Christodoulides referred him to the secretary of the Council of Ministers who, could not be reached.
Why was Nik delaying signing the bill? Was he considering not signing it, in order to make Akinci quit the talks again? This would not be a very smart move as he would take much of the blame for a talks’ breakdown and be seen as a manipulative and untrustworthy operator.
Another explanation was that he was waiting for something, such as an opinion from the attorney-general about the constitutionality of the Disy law. Unconfirmed info is that Costas Clerides has looked at the law and found it unconstitutional, but if he announced this, he would have to explain why he studied this specific law.
If he said he studied the law of his own volition, nobody would believe him because the legislature passes hundreds of laws, which the AG never looks at. And why would he choose to look at a monumentally trivial law about special days observed by schools? This was not exactly a major constitutional matter.
The AG only looks at laws referred to him by the president. But if he said the prez had referred this trivial law to him (and we do not know that he had) Nik would go down in history as a bigger political con-artist than Spy Kyp.
WERE we naive or plain stupid, believing that Nik was actually interested in finding a settlement? Is he such a consummate actor that he fooled everyone? While his acting skills are unrivalled, was he playing theatre all this time?
It could be that when it came to the crunch, when he had to take the big tough decisions, he found that he did not have the cojones and that he was just another weak leader interested only in extending his tenancy at the presidential palace.
Another explanation might be that he was the subject of blackmail by forces opposed to a settlement. The former KGB spy John Helmer, now working as a pro-Putin hack, had repeatedly alleged in articles posted in Russia Insider that Nik was being blackmailed into accepting a settlement by the Yanks and, specifically, by under-secretary of State Victoria Nuland. This claim was repeated in a host of Russian-financed news web-sites by Greek and Cypriot hacks, even after Nuland stopped working for the State Department.
In the last couple of months, with the talks in deadlock and the prospects of a deal fast disappearing neither Helmer nor any of the other Putin scribes have written anything about Nik. Helmer has even stopped writing about the court case involving Russian plutocrat Leonid Lebedev, a client of Nik’s law office, and the alleged personal involvement of Nik in his client’s shady dealings. This came across as blackmail journalism, especially, as it was written by a former KGB agent, and it stopped as soon as it became clear Nik was not remotely interested in a Cyprus deal.
ONE OF the hacks that repeated the Nuland blackmail myth was rewarded for his efforts with an act of Nik-sponsored rusfeti. I refer to Washington-based, political moralist and anti-settlement preacher, Michalis Ignatiou who managed to get his niece a job at the presidential palace, helping with Nik’s speeches.
Ignatiou’s niece is a literature teacher, who was hired on a special contract by the foreign ministry, and sent to the presidential palace, supposedly, to help Nik’s speech-writing team. Palace staff who had asked why the niece of such a hostile hack was hired, were told that it was a rusfeti for Ignatiou’s family which was Disy-supporting. They did not notice that Ig no longer criticises Nik, in his Sunday column in Phil, but offers him wise advice and moral guidance.
IT WOULD not be a surprise if the goodie-two-shoes spokesman Christodoulides arranged this rusfeti as he is on very good terms with fellow rejectionist Ig. The truth is he is on good terms with all hacks as this ensures he always gets the positive press he yearns for and helps his unrelenting self-promotion.
The guy tips off the television stations about his public engagements so they can send camera crews and film him making his bland statements. But what he did yesterday seemed a bit cheap. He attended a funeral in Paphos, after which he made a statement to the press, because the self-promotion never stops, not even for funerals.
He did not even say anything new, repeating exactly what he had said on Friday about the Turkish Navtex. A few weeks ago we speculated that he was eyeing the foreign minister’s job, but given his behaviour I suspect he has set his sights higher than that.
SPEAKING of rusfeti we cannot forget to mention the secondment of finance ministry employee savvy Savia Orphanidou to the European Investment Bank. This was made a big issue by auditor-general Odysseas who turned it into a public feud with the finance minister who had sanctioned the Savia move.
Odysseas, in his typical psycho fashion, laid into Harris and would not give up. His objection was that Savia held a post at Disy, before the 2015 law permitting civil servants to hold party posts was passed. Subsequently she held the Disy post without seeking clearance from the Public Service Commission as the 2015 law stipulated.
Harris accused Odysseas of singling out Savia, a failed Disy candidate in the last parliamentary elections, when countless civil servants were guilty of the same offence. He had a point but it did not wash with the pure and clean Odysseas, who demands that everyone obeys his orders.
On Friday, he called Tass news agency to complain that he had still not received a response from Harris about the case and a long report was filed about the matter. How dare Harris keep the great man waiting?
OUR FOREIGN ministry recorded another major triumph as part of its age-old policy to prevent the upgrading of the pseudo-state. In the early hours of Monday it prevented a folklore dance troupe of Serbian children from crossing to the north to take part in a pseudo dance festival dedicated to the children of the world.
The 13 kids that were not even teenagers were kept at the airport for 24 hours until a plane arrived to take them back home. The permanent secretary of the foreign ministry Alexandros Zenon claimed that the children were not denied entry, which they were, but were advised that crossing north would violate UN resolutions. Do airport cops stop Israelis and Russians who arrive at Larnaca and head north, because they would violate UN resolutions?
And what UN resolutions would the 10-12-year-olds have violated? Picking on children, who came here to have some fun, and keeping them holed up in the airport for 24 hours was another victory for the complex-ridden, pseudo-patriots of the foreign ministry.
APRIL 21, is considered a dark day for Hellenism because on this day in 1967 the colonels took power in Greece and set up the junta that ruled the country for seven years. This day, however, is also the birthday of the Coffeeshop, which on Friday celebrated its 26th year.
We were hoping that Elam would pass an amendment in the House, for schools to mark the anniversary of our establishment’s opening, because it was an occasion of national, social and economic significance, but the Disy bill has put paid to our hopes. Our only hope now is that Nik will not sign the unconstitutional Disy bill.
Follow Patroclos on Twitter @Coffeeshop1991