Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: From victimhood to moaner-hood

If a picture paints a thousand words... Downer with Prez Nick earlier on Friday

By Patroclos

WE MEDIA folk have always loved to blow things out of proportion so it was inevitable that we would make so much out of the spell of cold weather that hit our martyred shores, presenting a bit of snowfall and low temperatures like a natural disaster, another ordeal for our long-suffering people.

True, we are not accustomed to this type of weather and temperatures were about 20 centigrade only a week ago, but it was just a bit cold for three days we had not entered an Ice Age 4. It was the weather they have in northern European countries for three to four months every year.

The CyBC with its network of island-wide reporters kept Trito radio audiences updated regularly about the snow, informing us on Wednesday morning about every village, in every district that a few flakes of snow had fallen – from Vavtsinia to Klirou.

“Snow even in Lythrodontas” announced the Wednesday morning presenter and arranged to get an eye-witness report from the CyBC’s very own snow correspondent in the village. “It stopped snowing now,” the snow correspondent reported when he finally went on air, which was a shame because we were all eagerly waiting to hear a full account of how the snow-flakes were falling in Lythrodontas.


ON THURSDAY morning the pancyprian moaning and crying began. Some 30 villages had been left without electricity because of problems at EAC sub-stations while overnight snow-fall meant that many roads could not be used.

Trito gave air-time to the moaning villagers, who railed on against the EAC which had failed to restore their power supply in the night. It did not matter that the snow had blocked the access of the Authority’s crews to sub-stations to carry out the repair work, because it was unacceptable for them to have no electricity for 12 hours. Why were police helicopters not used?

The blame was then shifted to the state. “What sort of state do we have that cannot clean our roads,” an indignant from Kakopetria asked. Another was seething because he had been left without milk as a result of the state’s failure to clean the roads.

TV stations, which like to make things even more dramatic found a few old people to tell them that they had run out of medicine and were in despair. We are fast becoming nation of professional moaners. From victimhood we have graduated to moaner-hood, because we live in an era of entitlement.


THE AUTHORITIES handled the situation pretty well. The roads were cleared, electricity supply was eventually restored and the villagers were able to get their milk and medicines by Friday.

By yesterday it was a beautiful sunny day and only our Olympian moaners, the farmers were still whinging, seeking pity and state compensation for the destruction of their crops by the cold.

State services might not have the equipment to deal promptly with snowfall and blocked roads but this is not Finland. This is Kyproulla and it would be a bit wasteful to invest in snow-clearing equipment that we would use once every 10 or 20 years, when it snowed in the hills, so villagers would not be left without milk for one day.

But there were some good guys as well. The mayor of Spilia was on Trito on Friday morning, informing listeners that the village had no water for three days because the pipes had frozen, that streets were still blocked because they were too narrow for snow-clearing trucks, but twice made it clear that he was not complaining, just stating the facts. A hero who, I am happy to report, showed the indomitable, true Cypriot spirit of the mountain villages, exemplified by the late Melis of Troodos, is not dead.

And he was not the only one. An elderly gentleman, interviewed in the snow outside Lefkara municipality, smilingly boasted he had eaten six loukanika, five pastourma, drank a ‘potsa of ooiski’ and was about to visit the mayor, whom he expected to offer him some zivania. It was before lunch-time. Not all is lost.


THE BASH patriotic camp was far from impressed with the Estragosha (S-300) extravaganza held in Crete on Friday as it opened old wounds, reminding them of the brief period in the late nineties when they believed the deployment of surface-to-air ballistic missiles would turn Kyproulla into a military power.

Alas, it all ended in humiliation with the Clerides government, which had ordered the Estragoshas at cost of 200 million Cy-pounds, eventually chickening out – the Turks had threatened to take them out if they were deployed – and not taking delivery of them.

They were taken to Crete in March 1999, abruptly ending the national euphoria that was fuelled by film footage of them being launched, on all the TV stations’ news broadcasts every night, for months after the contract with the Russians had been signed.

To save face, we wasted some more millions purchasing TOR-M1missiles for our air cover. This was a wiser choice as it had the approval of Turkey.


FOURTEEN-AND-A-HALF years after their delivery to Crete, Greece finally decided to try an Estragosha out and they invited our defence minister Fotis Fotiou to attend the minute-long event.

Fotiou was very impressed with what he saw and said: “It is really with feelings of pride that today I watched this spectacular trial launch of a spectacular weapon system.” The missiles were “a strong card for the protection of the national air space of Greece and Cyprus,” the minister concluded.

The eloquent spokesman of bash-patriotism Lazarus was having none of it. A day earlier he had written his column: “The Immediate termination of the exile of the S-300 missiles and their urgent deployment in Cyprus” was what the defence minister should have been working on.

I have an even better idea, even though it is unlikely to meet with Lazarus’ approval. We should sell the exiled missiles at a bargain price to an African dictator or some country with unfriendly neighbours, as we desperately need the cash. I see no reason why Greece which screwed our banking system and economy big-time, should benefit from this spectacular weapon system for free.


OUR STATE may be bankrupt but our all-devouring, self-serving, ruling elite still refuses to give the hapless taxpayer a break. For five months deputies have been trying to reduce the number of limos provided to officials of the bankrupt state with zero success.

The reason is that they are coming under pressure from cheap, money-grabbing officials refusing to surrender this privilege and claiming their position justified a car. These are the mega-parasites of Kyproulla who believe they have a God-given right never to pay for petrol, new tyres or a mechanic’s bill, even after their employer has gone bust.

After five months of consultations, deputies were supposed to approve new regulations reducing the number of officials eligible to limos, at Thursday’s session of the House, but they were unable to come to a decision because they were receiving letters from assorted mega-parasites demanding that they were included in the list of those eligible.

You’d expect people on 70 to 90 grand a year, to have a bit more class than to beg deputies to help them keep their limo when there is poverty and despair all round them. Deputies decided to take the issue back to the House in the new year, but I suspect the new law would be approved when it snows in Lythrodontas again.


THE PERMANENT Secretaries were initially going to lose the limo privilege but persuaded the government that this would be an injustice for the mega-parasite class.

This prompted the head of the European Programmes, Co-ordination and Development, who is of mega-parasite rank to write demanding that if perm secs were getting a limo so should he.

The government then asked for the director of the president’s office to be given a car, while Disy agreed to the request for a limo for the chief registrar of the Supreme Court. What self-respecting bankrupt state does not offer a limo to the chief registrar of its Supreme Court, for Heaven’s sake? We might be poor but we are not a pseudo-state.


WHEN it comes to scrounging from the state, our bash-patriots, who are supposed to be interested in nobler things than personal gain, are at the front of the queue. The new head of secret service KYP, retired National Guard General Andreas Pentaras, wrote to the House president informing him that he should be entitled to a limo.

The reason – the secret services were being upgraded by law which among its provisions stipulates that the head of KYP would enjoy the same benefits as the Chief of Police. And if the Chief of Police has a chauffeur-driven limo so should the Chief of KYP.

Our mega-parasites are not just self-interested and greedy, they are also rather childish. I bet KYP was upgraded at the demand of the self-regarding Pentaras, because I cannot think of any rational reason for the government to bother with such a thing.


THE PARTY that took the hardest line on the limos was Edek, whose socialists wanted to cut the list down to the bare minimum, as long as former presidents of House were entitled to a limo. As good socialists they were defending the inalienable right of their superannuated honorary president for life Dr Faustus Lyssarides, who was president of the House in the eighties, to keep his limo, and police chauffeurs.

Meanwhile, another former president of the House and bash-patriot Marios Garoyian, now just another Diko deputy, still has a chauffeur-driven limo paid for by the taxpayer and also gets two a grand a month allowance for a secretary he has no need for. I read that as deputy he is also being paid €650 monthly transport allowance and €1,000 per month allowance for secretarial services.

On the allowances he is getting a mega-parasite of Garoyian’s magnitude could employ three secretaries, or six part-time, and help reduce unemployment.


REGULARS, who were thinking that they might get to the end, without having to read anything about the self-styled destroyer of the banking sector, Professor Panicos, were wrong. We have to mention the complex-ridden Governor’s latest effort to make the survival of his hated Bank of Cyprus even more difficult.

The Professor, who appears to have made it his life’s objective to close down the BoC (he was probably turned down for a car loan and developed a psychosis) has now decided to turn the screw on the bank by forcing it to lower its ELA drawings, thus further reducing its low liquidity.

This is the same guy who has been encouraging people not to repay their loans to the struggling banks, by telling hacks that the banks would have to write off a part of loans in order to help customers make repayments.

It is becoming clearer every day that the professor, whose ultra-strict definition of NPLs was labelled foolish by the CEO of the BoC, will not rest until he makes sure that the banking sector and the BoC in particular has no chance of recovery.


WHY IS the ultra-strictness with which the professor treats Cypriot banks not extended to foreign banks? The Federal Bank of the Middle East was violating the capital controls imposed by the Central Bank for seven whole months, but he and his officials who were aware of it from day one, did absolutely nothing.

He wrote to the bank threatening penalties only after the CBC board was informed about the violations and forced him to take action. Was he doing a favour to the husband of his Akelite PA, Malcolm Williams, who is an advisor of FBME?

Interestingly his PA, Eleni Markadji and Williams repeatedly took out for dinner Hal Hirsch, the head honcho of Alvarez & Marsal, the company that Panicos chose to investigate, to restructure the BoC, as well as to sell its operations in Greece for peanuts. Why was Hirsch dining out with a guy who had an interest in seeing the BoC fail and made no secret of his wish to see it close down?


We went to press before there was any news about the joint declaration. Although there were rumours that an agreement was imminent we felt it would be premature to start celebrating, given how a disagreement over a comma has been known to lead to deadlock.

All indications were that there would be a breakthrough – Big Bad Al cancelled his departure on Friday while on his way to the airport, Turkey’s foreign minister arrived yesterday on an illegal visit to the north without our police arresting him and Prez Nik called an urgent meeting of the party leaders. But by 17.30 yesterday no announcement had been made.

This is why we will leave you with a statement made by the government spokesman last Monday, which says it all. “Everyone knows from experience that on the Cyprus issue one can be very close and yet at the same time be very far from an agreement. Even a single word can change everything.”

This was a serious comment, but it needs some special kind of nutcases on both sides to allow a single word to change everything




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