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Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Only Brazil win can end World Cup curse on Cyprus

Research has shown that Brazil's World Cup victory in 2002 gave the Cyprob talks a temporary boost

By Patroclos

WE ARE extremely sad to report that prospects for a speedy settlement of the Cyprob have taken a big nosedive, as the public laments over the complete lack of progress in the talks by the representatives of both sides have made evident.

The deadlock in the talks is the only thing the two sides have been able to agree on in the last few weeks, although there is disagreement over who is to blame. It is a pity that the deadlock cannot be the settlement because we would have been organising the signing ceremony by now.

Instead we have been hearing the representatives of both sides making ominous statements about the other side’s unconstructive positions at the talks. The TCs are accusing the GCs of submitting “extreme proposals” and of wanting to treat them as a minority, while the GCs have been complaining because the TCs did not want EU involvement and were refusing to table proposals on all issues.

Both sides can play the blame-game very skillfully because they have decades of experience in this diplomatic sport which, for some unknown reasons, is under-valued and unappreciated by most foreigners. The killjoy foreigners should however stop blaming the natives for the latest impasse, because it is not their fault.

TALKS have ground to a halt because of the Curse of the World Cup. Before customers start accusing Patroclos of having a screw loose, I would like to inform them that researchers at the Institute of Nonsensical Statistics and Demographics (no connection to Yiannakis Matsis’ institute), have found incontrovertible proof of the World Cup curse.

Meticulous research has shown that Cyprob talks always ground to halt in a World Cup year. In 2006, with the Ethnarch in power, talks began between Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev that were deadlocked before they started. In 2010, Dervis Eroglu was elected pseudo-president and despite the Tof-Talat convergences talks ended in deadlock.

We were not surprised in the least that the talk about the latest deadlock began on Thursday, the day of the opening game of the 2014 World Cup. In fact the Institute had been saying the talks that began in February were doomed to failure because of the curse, but nobody took it seriously, dismissing its researchers as attention-seeking loonies.

But the loonies were right all along, the World Cup has a direct influence on the Cyprob.

THE INFLUENCE is not only restricted to the year the competition is held in, but also the winner. For instance, researchers found that when Italy wins the World Cup, there is not a chance in a million there will be any progress in the Cyprob, which is understandable given the negative, defensive tactics the Italians traditionally employ.

In 1934 and 1938, there was no Cyprob but think of the two other times Italy became World Champions. In 1982, Spy Kyp was president and together with the Denktator they were both resorting to diplomatic catenaccio, their objective being not to concede a goal. Like Italy, they took no risks.

It was exactly the same in 2006, when Italy won the final on penalties. We had the Ethnarch, resorting to the kind of defensive, negative tactics which guaranteed stalemate, completely nullifying Talat’s attempts at creating progress opportunities. Tassos was the spiritual son of Helenio Herrera, the inventor of catenaccio, but we have not yet decided whether Prez Nik is of the same philosophy, but with better PR.

THE WORLD Cup curse is broken only when Brazil wins the World Cup. When this happens, the chances of Cyprob agreement are automatically given a boost, even though it has been proved it is never enough for the leaders to actually sign a peace deal.

In 1958, 1962 and 1970, the Cyprob had not developed into its current form. But in 1994, when Brazil were crowned champions there was great Cyprob progress even though the Denktator was persisting with his defensive tactics. And then in 2002, the last time Brazil won the World Cup, the first version of the Annan plan was submitted and even the Ethnarch promised he would sign it if he were elected president. He was, and he didn’t, but that is another story.

What is important to bear in mind now is that Brazil are playing at home and they are the bookmakers’ favourites to win the World Cup, so there is still hope that Cyprob deadlock will be broken. Unless of course Italy, fanatically supported by Junior and Lillikas, confound the pundits and win on July 13.

FOREIGN minister Ioannis Kasoulides also indulged in some football talk, a couple of weeks ago, in a ‘public consultation’ about the role of Kyproulla’s diplomatic missions in the age of the offside trap or something like that.

He said: “We should keep trying to upgrade the importance of our state, both inside and outside the EU and thus be in a position to be more assertive in our national cause.” I just hope that once we have upgraded our importance to regional power and strategic ally of the US, we stop trying because if we upgrade to superpower we will make too many enemies.

He explained his ambitious plan with a football analogy. He said the role of the “foreign ministry was not just that of goalkeeper” and added: “By focusing on not conceding a goal you do not win a match; you must use the whole team in order to win the match.”

The foreign minister obviously knows very little about football. By not conceding a goal you still have a chance of winning the match on penalties and a very good chance if you have the foreign ministry as your goalkeeper.

STAYING on football matters, we would like to ask the British High Commission whether it was by accident or design that it chose the day when England are playing Uruguay in crunch World Cup match to hold the Queen’s Birthday Party?

And will there be a big screen showing the football in the gardens of the residence so that football fans will be able to honour Liz without missing the footie? The England match is not on until 10pm when the party will be over, but there must be guests wanting to watch Colombia v Cote d’Ivoire which is on at 7.

I do not think there is any danger of the football sparking hooligan behavior among the well-heeled guests.

THIS is the embassy cocktail season and last Wednesday the Ambassador of the Russian Federation gave a party to celebrate his country’s National Day.

By sheer coincidence, on the same night and at the same time, there was a launch of Makarios Drousiotis’ book entitled The Invasion and the Big Powers. The main premise of the book is that during the Turkish invasion, the Soviet Union had openly sided with Turkey, giving it unwavering diplomatic support.

The Soviets never condemned the Turkish invasion, preferring to target all their official statements at the Greek officers who staged the coup. However, the Kremlin’s close ties with Archbishop Makarios and having its satellite AKEL repeat its anti-West, anti-NATO propaganda locally, we ended up believing that the Soviet Union was our most reliable and loyal supporter in that period. The book emphatically debunks this AKEL fairytale.

The Soviet Union may have collapsed but the myth remains, our political establishment now considering the Russian Federation Kyproulla’s most dependable ally, despite the lack of any evidence to support this joke.

It was therefore inevitable that in his speech at the cocktail party Prez Nik spoke about the “robustness of relations between our countries”, and thanked Russia for its long-standing support in efforts to solve the Cyprob. Long standing, might be a bit of an exaggeration as Russia supports the Cyprob peace efforts only when Costa Rica wins the World Cup.

MEMBERS of our government elite refuse to give up their inalienable right to a state limo. We still remember the fuss many state officials made when the legislature voted to restrict those entitled to a state car to just 11 officials.

I suspect it was as a result of this pressure that the finance ministry prepared a list of 94 officials plus five former presidents of the House or the Republic, the first lady and the widow of Spy Kyp as being entitled to a state limo. These include officials such as our representative on the Committee of Missing Persons, the general managers of CyBC, Tass, CTO, KOAP (Cyprus Organisation of Agriculture Payments), KOAG (Cyprus Organisation for Land Development and dozens of other ridiculous state organisations.

Of all these time-serving placemen only one had the decency not to exercise this privilege in these impoverished times – the president of the Supreme Court. The rest of the members of our so-called ruling elite refuse to surrender the state car privilege as they showed when the legislature tried to abolish the privilege.

You’d expect the leading members of our society to have a little class. Expecting the bankrupt state to provide them with a car and pay their petrol is just cheap and undignified (our officials restrict dignified behaviour only on the Cyprob which does not affect their pocket). But these greedy, self-serving peasants have re-defined the meaning of the classless society.

PERHAPS I am too old-fashioned and a bit of a sexist, but I was quite surprised to hear that the new governor of the Central Bank, Chrystalla Georghadji is often seen at the beautician in the afternoons treating herself to a pedicure or a manicure or having her legs waxed.

I know many women do this, but she is the governor of the Central Bank and she should be at her office in the afternoons trying to tackle the mountain of problems facing the banking sector. She should be way too busy to have time for leisurely pedicures, manicures and facials in the afternoon.

As the female skettos drinker (our establishment is liberal enough to serve female customers) informed us the other day, “it just seems weird to sit next to the Central Bank governor to have a pedicure.”

EVEN more surprising than the governor’s afternoon visits to the beautician, was the announcement, three days ago, that super-businessman Nicos Shacolas would be stepping down as the chairman of Cyprus Trading Corporation, Ermes and Woolworth and handing over the running of the companies to his son and heir Marios.

A pioneering entrepreneur, Shacolas, who must be in his eighties, built a big business empire in the last 30 years, thanks to easy bank credit. But like all autocratic business bosses, Shacolas is not leaving his businesses quite yet. He said he would be stepping down in September, unless of course something important happens that might force him to stay on for a little longer.

BEFORE we bid farewell to our readers we would like to share another piece of Cyprus-related football trivia, especially after World Champions Spain’s humiliating 5-1 defeat by the Netherlands on Friday night. Did you know that the Spanish national football team only wins international competitions when Kyproulla has a communist president? Euros in 2008 and 2012 and the World Cup in 2010, so I would not bet on Spain winning this World Cup.

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