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Tales from the Coffeeshop: Russia’s resounding ‘nyet’ leaves bitter taste

As the old saying goes: when life gives you lemons...

By Patroclos

MOTHER Russia did not show any motherly love towards impoverished Kyproulla when it slapped its embargo on agricultural and food imports from the EU. Why would she, considering Kyproulla betrayed her, “identifying,” as Haravghi lamented on Wednesday, “to an absolute degree with the policies of the EU and US against Russia.”

Despite the “understanding publicly expressed by the Russian side for the Cyprus government, the fact that Cyprus products have not been exempted from the embargo, says a lot,” concluded the paper’s leader article on Wednesday. The lament was not restricted to the losses for the citrus fruit, fish farming and vegetable sectors, but extended to the “possible loss for good of a huge market, by Cyprus standards.”

And this was not the worst of it, the paper also worked in a Cyprob angle to its weepy editorial, to give the loss of fish, parsley and lemon sales a more patriotic dimension. The distraught editorial hack wrote:

“For Cyprus the blow is much bigger than the economic aspect. The blow relates to the political relations with Russia, which, as a member of the UN Security Council held positions of principle and supported the Cyprus case. Without this support, perhaps the Cyprus entity might not have existed at this moment…”

The Anastasiades government was squarely to blame for the betrayal of our mum, aligning itself completely with the EU and US from the start of the Ukrainian crisis, “once again turning its back on this country and disregarding Russian support for the Cypriot struggle.”

The lament finished with a sense of foreboding. “The price of this one-sided foreign policy will not be paid just by the farmers, but it will be paid very expensively by the Cypriot people.”

Was it implying that the Cyprus entity would cease to exist in the future without the devoted and principled maternal support?

WE DO NOT share Haravghi’s doom and gloom, because we know that a mother will always forgive her children’s bad behaviour and welcome them back into her warm embrace. Surely Mother Russia will not exhibit any vindictiveness towards her errant Kyproulla.

This slavish gratitude to Russia for her “support for the Cypriot struggle”, for holding “positions of principle” and for her “support for the Cyprus case” are a bit difficult to understand. What has this unwavering support for the Cypriot struggle ever achieved?

It is exactly 40 years since the dividing line was carved by the Turks and nothing has changed since then. Are we grateful because Russia helped us maintain the status quo for 40 years? At least the nasty Yanks and the West have tried to help us find a settlement ending the division, something our mother has never done.

Perhaps the high price, Haravghi fears we would pay, by losing Mother Russia’s support for principles is, God forbid, the end of the 40-year status quo.

 

THE LOSSES to farmers from the embargo are estimated to be €13.5 million even though government sources reckon it is half this amount. Exaggerating the cost has two purposes – it will allow us to claim bigger compensation from the EU and make claims to victimhood by the farmers and AKEL more believable.

The head of the AKEL farmers’ union Panicos Chambas accused the government of downplaying the big consequences of the embargo and offered a stat to back his self-pitying – proportionally, by population, Kyproulla was the worst-hit by the embargo, which would affect 2,500 families.

Chambas also worked in the obligatory Cyprob angle to his moaning. There was a danger that Russia would start importing Turkish Cypriot products, “baptised as Turkish.” Does Chambas not know that Muslims do not go for baptisms, not even for vegetables? Anyway, the Russians could adhere to their principles and refuse to accept the pseudo-lemons of the north.

 

OUR GOVERNMENT, to its credit, has been pro-active. The spokesman announced on Wednesday that it had submitted a request to the EU for an urgent meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries ministerial council to assess the negative effects of the embargo.

There was a meeting of the council on Thursday, a day after the spokesman’s request but it discussed the effects of drought on EU countries; it is not only Cypriot farmers who demand compensation from the EU.

However Tass news agency reported that the earliest the council of minister could discuss the embargo was September 5, but our government was pressing for the meeting to be brought forward, presumably because the speedy compensation of our farmers was a matter of the utmost theatrical urgency.

Agriculture minister Nicos Kouyialis publicly pooh-poohed Chambas exaggerations, saying that the consequences of the embargo for us were smaller than other countries of the European south. By September 5, farming unions could play with the stats a bit more and consequences for us could become much bigger.

 

AFTER the foreclosures bill-inspired theatre of courageous defiance and patriotic grandstanding, staged on Monday and Tuesday at the legislature, the politicians and the parties went silent. We have heard nothing from them since, as if they had given up their noble crusade to protect the poor from the ruthless banks.

They all appear to have lost their voice after Tuesday’s session – until then they were issuing three announcements a day against the bill – at which the Central Bank governor and finance minister explained the catastrophic consequences for the economy of not approving the bill. Suddenly they realised that the price of their heroic resistance to the Troika’s nasty efforts to have people kicked out of their homes, might be a bit too high, and they could not even claim that they had not been warned.

The super-heroic negativity used for the Cyprob could not be employed for the foreclosures bill, because the cost would not just be the maintenance of the status quo. The practical consequences of a resounding ‘no’ to the bill would be evident immediately and our freedom-fighter politicians would not be able to blame anyone else for new disaster.

 

THIS was why after Tuesday, Ethnarch Junior, who been on radio and television attacking the bill with the level of intensity and madness that he last deployed against the Annan plan, disappeared from the airwaves. He no longer wanted to tell us that the consequences of approving bill would be much worse than the consequences of not approving it.

He may have gone on holiday, or his economics advisor may have told him that his sound-bite was pretty dumb, and should avoid repeating it. Rumours were also circulating that DIKO could approve the bill if the government prepared legislation that would supposedly offer greater protection to primary residences and small businesses.

This meant that poor old finance ministry civil servants had to call off their holidays, according to one press report, to prepare a pointless, accompanying, bill that would supposedly address Junior’s deeply-felt concerns and allow him to support the foreclosures bill. Our politicians need an excuse to act responsibly, even though they never need one to act irresponsibly.

The bill being prepared is the face-saving excuse, because the Troika had made it clear that it would not agree to any changes to the foreclosures bill.

 

THE COMMIES of AKEL were in such a rut over the bill, you almost felt sorry for. They had been banging on for weeks that, on principle, they would vote against the bill. They had been hoping that the bill would be passed with DIKO and DISY votes and they could pose as the champions of resistance to the Troika.

When it transpired that DIKO would vote against as well, the comrades started panicking and fell silent. There were no more fiery announcements against the foreclosures bill and Akelite spokesmen stayed off the airwaves. The populists of DIKO were threatening to ruin the commies’ resistance fiesta by deciding they would be as heroically opportunistic as AKEL.

The atheist commies – whose government had accepted the drafting of foreclosures legislation in the memorandum agreed by Tof – will now be praying that Junior makes an about turn on the bill, because they know the consequences of its rejection would be devastating. But they could not possibly back the bill after the brave fight they put up against it, in the hope that other parties would act responsibly.

 

SOMEONE had to work in the Cyprob angle into the foreclosures bill and during the debate of the bill. This noble task was undertaken by the deputy of the Alliance of Lillikas, Nicos Koutsou. Koutsou expressed grave concerns that if the bill was passed, banks would become owners of many properties that they would try to sell causing prices to plummet.

The Turks would then come and buy all these houses at dirt cheap prices, warned Koutsou, expressing the certainty that this would happen. Even when it was pointed out by another deputy that Turks don’t buy Greek Cypriot houses, they just take them, he was not convinced – rejecting the bill was a matter of national survival, he insisted.

 

THE ZEUS group also slipped into Annan plan mode on the foreclosures, having a dig at the American billionaire Wilbur Ross who would be investing some €400 million in the Bank of Cyprus, if the happy bunny fails to block the capital issue later this month.

According to the Zeus-owned Simerini, Ross had a meeting with Prez Nik and allegedly threatened not to make his investment if the foreclosures bill was not passed. He reportedly demanded a commitment for Nik that the bill would be approved. How the intrepid Simerini reporter could have known what was said in a 15-minute courtesy call only she can say.

The source of the story could only have been someone from the happy bunny camp if not the happy bunny himself, who is doing everything he can to stop the capital issue that would bring his ludicrous chairmanship to an end.

The report, quoting sources close to the board, also made an issue of the fact that the mean and nasty, foreclosure-supporting Wilbur would take control of the board, the implication being that he would not be as nice to people with NPLs as the socially caring bunny.

 

FINANCE minister Harris Georgiades tried to put the record straight telling the House that during his meeting with Wilbur, the Yank never mentioned the foreclosures bill. Only a Russian director of the BoC had ever asked him to get the bill passed ASAP.

This did not stop Simerini’s columnists from using the report to have a go at Wilbur, who is a leading candidate for entry into Kyproulla’s Hall of Infamy. So strident is the paper’s opposition to the foreclosures bill, you’d think the Zeus Group had NPLs.

 

CITING private conversations of the prez to sell a lie is a bit of a cop-out, but the cunning Yiorkos Lillikas recently resorted to this technique in order to support the myth that he had not asked for a police guard.

He claimed that in a private meeting Prez Nik informed him that he would arrange two policemen to protect him, because he had heard of an incident that posed a security risk to Yiorkos. His fairytale is quite impressive, especially as he knows Nik will not issue an announcement to say that Lillikas was being economical with the actualite.

As if Nik had nothing else to think about other than Lillikas’ need for police bodyguards. And what was the incident that troubled the prez so much that he immediately decided that the uppity Paphite must have two cops to chauffeur him around? Had he been a target of pro-Annan plan terrorists supporting the foreclosures bill?

 

MARIOS Garoyian, former DIKO leader and former president of the House, has been trying to save the taxpayer some money, but has been completely ignored by the government.

“For a year now, I have been waiting for a response to my request for a car of less horse-power,” he said. His state limo is currently a 4-litre, petrol guzzler, and Garoyian does not want to burden the taxpayer with a big bill.

His concern for public finances, however, is not so deep that he would offer not to take the 3 grand a month for secretarial services he has no need for, as he is also receiving a grand a month for secretarial services as a deputy. The 3 grand, which is tax free because it is an allowance, will be paid to him for the rest of his life because he made the big sacrifice for his country to serve it as House president.

The state limo and police chauffeurs are also for the rest of his life as a mark of our appreciation for his service to the country.

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