Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Welcome to our foreclosures-free zone… for now

We’re feeling left out and desperately seeking the attention of the Russian ambassador to tell us off as well

By Patroclos

AS THE long-playing foreclosures pantomime that we have been watching for the last month was not over at the time of writing this yesterday, we decided to declare our establishment a foreclosures bill-free zone, for the first time in weeks.

We are certain that not many customers will be writing in to complain about this omission as we are perfectly aware that our continual references to the bill, over the weeks, would have bored and annoyed them. Writing about it every week is tedious and soul-destroying and I would be ecstatic never to have to write another sentence containing the word foreclosures.

However, knowing what the losers in the legislature are capable of, I cannot really make any promises that the Coffeeshop will remain a foreclosures-free zone in the coming weeks. We can only pray that everything will have been sorted today, and the protectors of the poor and vulnerable members of our society will find another worthy cause that would allow them to market their compassion and social sensitivity.

But I would not bet on this happening, because I suspect the foreclosures bill will not lose its exploitation value overnight.


MAKIS Keravnos’ reign at Hellenic Bank came to an end, after a nine-year stint, on Monday when the bank announced that he would be stepping down as CEO, “following mutual decision and consent”. What the bank’s announcement omitted to mention was the size of the pay-off given to Keravnos in order for him leave his job by mutual consent.

There was no way the foreign investors, who had put hundreds of millions into the bank and controlled 45 per cent of the shareholding, would have left their investment at the mercy of an apprentice banker who had got the job because he had good relations with the Church and the backing of the Central Bank governor of the time – Ttooulis Ttoouli.

Only in Kyproulla could a man, with zero banking experience, zero experience of senior management and zero experience of the private sector, wake up one morning and take over as the CEO of a bank. The Church had hired an apprentice banker and an apprentice chief executive to run Hellenic, in the hope that he would learn banking on the job. The main qualification he brought to the job was a boundless arrogance.

Interestingly, before being appointed, while still serving as finance minister, he had settled a tax dispute between the State and the Church which was rather favourable to the latter. But gone are the days when Church called the shots at Hellenic and the contraction of the priests’ shareholding meant that their chosen one’s day were numbered, by mutual consent of course.


MEDIA economics pundit Archbishop Chrys, did not buy the nonsense about mutual consent, indirectly admitting that Keravnos was pushed out. A day before his departure was officially announced Chrys, rather sadly, said, “those who have the majority wish to exercise it.”

He lamented the fact that the Cypriot banks had fallen into foreign hands, saying that it was “the incompetence of many” that had caused this. Was this an admission that Keravnos had been an incompetent CEO? He mentioned nothing about the incompetence of those who had appointed a man, who knew nothing about banking, in charge of the bank. (Then again, experienced bankers had been in charge of Laiki and look what happened to that bank).

The only reason the Archbishop was opposed to foreign ownership of the banks was “because there remains an unresolved national problem, and Cypriot banks are a necessity, now more than ever.” In fact, the national problem may have been the reason Keravnos was appointed in the first place – he may have known nothing about running a bank, but on the Cyprus problem he was an uncompromising, hard-liner.


APART from the national problem there was another benefit to Cypriot ownership of the banks, said the pundit in black robes. Local owners focused on helping the Cypriot people, said Chrys. “The difference between us, once majority shareholders in Hellenic Bank, and the foreign ownership is this: we tried to serve our people and did not work for profits.”


THERE is one vacancy that the departed CEO of Hellenic could apply for although the pay would be just a fraction of what the bank was paying him – Commissioner for Public Reform.

After the departure of Irena Georgiades from the post – to become chairperson of Hellenic – three months ago the government has been struggling to find anyone to replace her. It had apparently approached two retired, senior public employees but both showed no interest. The offer I made, a couple of months ago, to take on the post has been ignored.

This must be the first public post that nobody wants. Normally, when there is a vacant public post there are hundreds of people brown-nosing politicians, offering their wives and begging media help in order to land the job. But nobody wants to be Commissioner of Public Reform, because they do not want to be abused by Glafcos Hadjiklamouris and his henchmen who will fight every attempt to curtail public servants’ privileges.

Everyone in Kyproulla hankering after a public post, apart from the money, social status and publicity want an easy life – to do as little work as possible and be loved by the people they deal with. The Commissioner of public reform would not only have to work, but as a reward would be hated by 40,000 public parasites.


MOST commissioners’ jobs do not involve any work at all. Take for instance the job of Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, which was recently vacated by Kate Clerides. This is a job for which you are paid close to €90,000 a year plus state car, to do next to nothing.

This post has been reserved for someone who had always been very good at doing nothing – Fotis Fotiou, who was obliged to step down as defence minister (another state job that involved minimal work) when DIKO left the government. Ever since then, prez Nik has been looking for another state post to offer Fotiou, even considering creating a new post for him – head of the national security committee.

Commissioner of Humanitarian Affairs is the ideal post for a liability like Fotiou. In this post he would have very little to do but still feel important and cause no damage to the government as he had done as defence minister.


INTERESTINGLY, the Commissioner for Volunteerism (yes, there is such a state job) Yiannis Yiannaki, unencumbered by the spirit of volunteerism he is supposed to serve, has been pressuring the government to raise his wage which at 30 grand is only half what the Commissioner for Equality (yes, we have one of those as well) is paid and just a third what Fotiou would be receiving for dealing with non-existent humanitarian affairs.

I think the Commissioner of Volunteerism should be receiving no pay for his work to set a good example and encourage people to do volunteer work.


THE EMBASSY of the expanding Russian Federation sent a strongly-worded letter to Politis describing an article by columnist Costas Constantinou, as “completely unacceptable” and urging him “to avoid unfounded accusations and fantasies and not to give us absurd and worthless recommendations”.

It also said it had noted that “the thirst for accusations and fantasies is a common characteristic of Mr C. Constantinou and Mr M. Drousiotis”. Most readers would have guessed by now that the Embassy was complaining because the columnist, a few days earlier, had the nerve to criticise its announcement/letter attacking Drousiotis and his book.

Constantinou described the announcement as “blatant intervention” in another country’s affairs and reminded Ambassador Osadchiy that in Cyprus there was freedom of expression, in stark contrast to Russia where the media were suppressed and journalists had been murdered. If the ambassador did not approve of this he should return to his country or ask to be posted to Minsk which was run by a Moscow-approved dictator, he wrote.

It was not surprising that the embassy, for decades accustomed to being worshipped by naive Cypriots, took great offence, accusing Constantinou of “anti-Russian rage and of overstepping every acceptable moral boundary.” The letter also adopted a didactic tone, telling the writer that “democracy does not mean the freedom to insult all those who disagree with him when he has not other arguments.”

This was a touch hypocritical, considering the embassy had used this tactic in its letter about the book, insulting Drousiotis because it disagreed with him and had no other arguments.


OUR ESTABLISHMENT is considering writing a letter of complaint to the Russian ambassador, because he never wrote to us to tell us off for all what was written last Sunday. Was this because he does not take our establishment seriously or because the output was not as offensive as that of Politis?

Admittedly, we did not tell him to go back home nor did we bring up the freedom of expression practised in Russia, but we did say that Osadchiy was “behaving like some Soviet overlord posted in the DDR or Bulgaria during the time of the Warsaw Pact, issuing instructions to errant locals…” Why did he not take offence? Should we have mentioned that ridiculous embroidered, military jacket he wears at official functions instead?

We will leave our bitterness for being so provocatively ignored aside and focus on how right we were to describe him as a Soviet overlord. The letter to Politis giving lessons on democracy, freedom and correct behaviour showed that our assertion was neither an unsubstantiated claim nor a fantasy.


WE HAVE heard from two completely different sources that the attack on Drousiotis, although presented as a Russian embassy document had been written by an Akelite, which would make a lot of sense if it were true.

It would explain all the nonsensical sermonising about “the scientific methodology of historical research and the principles of historical study and impartiality,” as well as the reference to the forged letter, supposedly written by the NATO General Secrteray Joseph Luns in July 1974, which had been used by our House of Representatives as conclusive proof that the coup and invasion were a NATO-US conspiracy.

Once again, the embassy advertised its hypocrisy by substantiating its claim of NATO-US involvement with a document that only a moron would think was authentic. And this was in an announcement slamming an author for allegedly not substantiating his claims. Only a dim-witted Akelite, well-versed in the scientific methodology of historical research, could have been responsible of such commendable double standards.


THE DUD document – an allegedly top secret letter from NATO chief Joseph Luns to the US Secretary of Defence – about which we wrote in July last year, featured such appallingly bad English it could only have been a shoddy Photoshop job that could not have fooled anyone with half a brain.

The two line letter featured the following line: “We agreed with Mr Sisco for supporting the Turkish army during the landing, as well as, in the violent expulsion of Makarios.”

It fooled our deputies and journalists who, despite having a whole brain, saw this as triumphant confirmation of their anti-West prejudice and gut feeling that NATO and the US had orchestrated the coup and invasion of ’74. These certainties were shattered a couple of weeks ago by UK-based researcher Fanoulla Argyrou.

Ms Argyrou wrote to NATO in Brussels, asking its archives department to confirm the authenticity of the letter. The response from a NATO archivist was that “the document is not considered authentic. The evaluation was based on a number of criteria, including the signature and the codes which were not compatible with NATO coding.”

In an article in Simerini, in which Ms Argyrou dropped her bombshell, she noted that the NATO ‘document’ that the House Committee on the Cyprus file, used to place the responsibility for the coup and Turkish invasion on NATO “is not genuine document of the organisation.”


THE RESEARCHER wrote to EDEK former deputy Marinos Sizopoulos, who had been the chairman of the committee in charge of the Cyprus file investigation, to break the bad news to him.

Ms Argyrou naively believed that Sizopoulos needed to know the truth about the document included in the House investigation file, especially as she had heard him citing it on radio shows as conclusive proof of NATO’s sinister role in the coup and the invasion.

Sizopoulos told her that the document and many others had been obtained from a Greek source, he did not name, and asked “why had NATO not reacted” when it was publicised? He also said that it was possible “Luns did not leave a copy at NATO.”

If Luns did not leave a copy of the damning document at NATO, where did Sizopoulos’ Greek source find it? Had it burgled Luns’ house?

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