Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: No closure on foreclosures

So heartening that such a wealthy man is showing such sensitivity to the poor and downtrodden

By Patrolcos

WE HAD planned not to write anything about the foreclosures bill about which we have heard enough to last a couple of lifetimes in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, there’s no escape – it’s everywhere.

In our Coffeeshop we have put up notices clearly stating that ‘Talk about the foreclosures bill is strictly prohibited’, but the customers have been provocatively disregarding them. The management considered adding a warning that people who did not comply would be asked to leave the premises, but decided against it. Would be bad for business in these difficult times.

The other night I went to the cinema to escape this tedious debate, but before the start of the main feature I suffered a mild panic attack, terrified that Ethnarch Junior was about to appear on the big screen to inform us that he was having sleepless nights thinking that his fellow citizens would be thrown out of their homes. It did not happen and I calmed down.

Things are bound to get worse in the coming week because the bill will be discussed at the House finance committee, which is chaired by Junior, the self-appointed protector of those people not repaying their bank loans. He has become the new Mother Teresa of Cypriot politics. There is hope, seeing a man, still young, and from such a fabulously wealthy family, showing such sensitivity to the plight of those less fortunate than himself.


OTHER politicians, not as socially sensitive and compassionate as Junior, have also been using the bill to pose as the defenders of home-owners that have fallen on hard times. Opportunities for the politicians and the parties to exhibit their brave resistance to the evil designs of foreigners are never allowed to pass unexploited.

The foreclosures bill is the new Annan plan, to which our heroic politicians are determined to respond with a ‘resounding no’, if the unrealistic amendments they have been proposing are not added to it. The bravest of the brave, the commies of AKEL, to be on the safe side, have said they would reject the bill anyway because no amount of amendments could make it acceptable.

Our hopeless, loser politicians have developed quite a skill at demonising proposals so they can subsequently reject them and appear as saviours of the people. By uttering a heroic ‘no’ to the foreclosures bill, which they presented as a plot by the banks and sanctioned by the heartless Troikans to take the houses of all the poor people in Kyproulla, they will also be acting as the saviours of the big developers that owe many hundreds of millions to the banks, but that is another matter.

It is the poor people that our politicians want to protect and it is unfortunate that the big developers would also benefit it.


THE ONLY reason we brought up the bill, was because it has inspired a show of the Cypriot cunning and craftiness.

A report in yesterday’s Politis claimed that the government would make an attempt to delay the enforcement of the foreclosures bill until the end of the year. By then, the insolvency bill, which under certain conditions would protect the primary residence, would be ready.

This genius plan would allow us to satisfy the condition set by the Troika – approval of the bill by the end of August – for the release of the next installment of the financial assistance while also preventing any foreclosures until January. The government could tell the Troika that it kept its side of the bargain and argue that it had never promised to implement the bill.

The government, according to the report, is in consultation with the political parties which had come up with the wily idea of approving the bill but not implementing it. And come January we could suspend its implementation for another six months and not tell the Troikans about it.

The Troikans have not yet been asked for their views, but it is unlikely they would be conned so easily. A report in Friday’s Phil quoted Troika sources as saying that the lenders will not discuss any amendments to the foreclosures bill.

This makes approval without amendments but with postponement of implementation the ideal compromise solution that would keep everyone happy, including the poor old, big developers.


YOU ALMOST felt some sympathy for the chairman of the EAC, Othonas Theodoulou hearing him defend the authority’s decision to impose interest charges on bills that are not paid on time. Delayed payments amount to €60 million apparently.

Of course, the politicians and journalists were collectively outraged by the authority’s lack of compassion for people who were unable to pay their bills on time. Even the EAC unions came out against the measure, attacking their board for its harsh decision, although they did not offer to donate a percentage of their wages every month to cover the interest their hard-up, fellow citizens would be obliged to pay.

In the past, politicians had also demanded that the EAC did not cut off the electricity supply of those who did not pay their bill, because it would be wrong to leave homes of ‘vulnerable’ individuals without electricity. Soon nobody will be obliged to pay for anything in Kyproulla, on the grounds that the vulnerable members of our society must be protected.


SPEAKING of protecting vulnerable people, we did not find out if independent deputy Zacharias Koulias’ suggestion for protecting the primary car from repossession was included in any of the parties’ proposed amendments to the foreclosures bill. They included protection of the premises of small to medium businesses (that is 95 per cent of businesses in Kyproulla) and so they should have considered that there are people who conduct their work from a car. Apart from taxi-drivers there are sandwich vans, lokoumades vans etc.


YOU HAVE to admire the determination and never-say-die spirit being exhibited by the unhappy bunny chairman of the Bank of Cyprus Christis Hassapis. He may have suffered a few setbacks in his valiant efforts to prevent his bank from raising the capital it desperately needs to pass the autumn stress tests it would undergo, but he refuses to give up.

Last Sunday he visited Archbishop Chrys to persuade him to oppose the BoC capital issue that would be voted on at an EGM at the end of the month. Hassapis, for whom keeping his chairmanship is the mother of all priorities, told Chrys that the bank could survive without the €1 billion capital investment by Yank business interests.

I do not know what else he told the business analyst of the cloth, but he won him over. Immediately after the meeting Chrys called a top Nicosia lawyer who controls about 10 per cent of the shareholding of the BoC on behalf of his Russian clients and urged him to vote against the capital issue at the EGM.

Hassapis has gone from being a ridiculous figure we could all have a good laugh at, to being a ridiculous figure that could destroy everything, in order to hold on to his chairmanship. He is no longer a joke, he is a public danger.


THE GOVERNOR of the Central Bank Chrystalla Geoghadji would be squarely to blame if Hassapis manages to block the capital issue. She could have axed him whenever she wanted but was too weak and nice to take such a decision. Like so many of our ineffective state officials and politicians, she wants to be loved.

So, rather than take the personal responsibility of declaring him unfit to chair a bank board – a decision nobody would have questioned – she passed the responsibility to the board of the Central Bank, putting the decision to the vote. The board voted against him being axed by one vote, allowing him to carry on pursuing his devious schemes to ensure the BoC fails the stress test.


COMRADE Tof had a frightening experience during a recent social outing. He was a guest at a wedding party and while he was serving himself at the buffet his face suddenly turned red, his mouth was open and his eyes looked like they were ready to pop out. People who saw him thought he was having a heart attack or a stroke and went to help.

It soon became obvious that it was nothing serious. The comrade, standing near the sushi dishes, had taken a dollop of wasabi to try, presumably thinking it was avocado dip or pistachio paste.


WE HEAR that the Yanks have not given up on their efforts to get the former UN Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pasco-e involved in the Cyprus deadlock talks. The Yanks originally planned to have brash bruiser Pasco-e, detested by Kyproulla’s bash-patriotic hardliners, appointed as Big Bad Al’s replacement, but the idea received little support in Nicosia.

Now the US has come up with a plan B. It is considering appointing Pasco-e as a US special envoy to Kyproulla. There had been such envoys in the past – Ledsky, Beattie – but well before the referendum the Americans decided it was a complete waste of time, as everything their envoys proposed was rubbished by the press and politicians, who saw it as a US plot against Kyproulla.


MEGA-PATRIOTIC MEP, Eleni Theocharous lost the libel suit she had filed against Politis for an article by Loucas Charalambous, in which he wrote that she did not have the looks to work in harem. La Theocharous also had to pay the legal costs, the judge ruling that as a public figure she was obliged to accept criticism even if it was harsh.

Commenting on an interview given by Theocharous, in which she courageously said that suicide would be preferable to being forced into the harem of Ali Pasha, Charalambous wrote that she was in no danger of such a fate. Harem girls were usually the prettiest of the Ottoman empire, he had written and added:

“For obvious reasons, it was impossible for Mrs Theocharous to set foot in a harem. At best she could have been used as cleaner in the eunuchs’ quarters.”

I have a complaint to make to Theocharous. A week before Charalambous’ article the Coffeeshop had written, “She is old enough to accept that she is not harem material and would not have got into a third-rate harem, even if the chief eunuch was her uncle,” but it is still waiting for a libel suit. I have a good mind to report her to the European Parliament for blatant discrimination.


WE WERE saddened to hear that the delectable, delightful Delia Velculescu, who was definitely harem material in her youth, would no longer be visiting the sunshine isle to make sure we are implementing the adjustment programme. The IMF’s Chief of Mission for Cyprus has been transferred to another service and will be replaced by Mark Lewis, an American who, I hear, is neither delightful nor delectable and certainly not harem material.


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