Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Will the foreigners please take over the country too?

Marios Garoyian could become the focus of discussions

By Patrolcos

I OFTEN wonder what we would do if we didn’t have the Turks to bully and intimidate us whenever they get bored of just being intransigent.

Well actually, not that often, because I do have a life, but I caught myself thinking about this on more than one occasion in the last week after the Turks issued the maritime advisory (known as NAVTEX) about carrying out seismic explorations in our Exclusive Economic Zone and we flew into a collective fit of rage about the latest violation of our sovereign rights.

Journalists, politicians and the rest of guardians of the national interest, fed up of beating their breasts over the foreclosures law and primary residences, greeted the latest display of Turkish bullying with a big sigh of relief as it enabled them to drop the uninspiring memorandum and focus on their beloved Cyprob and related subjects once again.

Getting worked up over Turkish arrogance and indignantly demanding that the rest of the world intervenes to put the Turks in their place is our favourite activity, which we refuse to give up despite the fact that nobody ever intervenes. At best, a statement, urging restraint, is issued by foreign governments. This allows us to get worked up about the world’s lack of principles (with the notable exception of Mother Russia, which according to local folklore always takes a principled stand that even the Turkey approves of).

In the last week the unrelenting doom and gloom caused by the recession was forgotten as everyone’s spirits were lifted by the new declaration of a war of words on Turkey.

 

EVENTS like these inspire the imagination of the uber-nationalist newspapers to go wild. On Monday Simerini reported on its front page that “Ankara blatantly invades with an armada of its war(sic) navy in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus with the apparent aim to put obstacles to the exploration and drilling for hydrocarbons, harassing exploration ships.”

And in Nicosia, the paper wrote, “the government appears not to understand the extent of Turkish aggressiveness and restricts itself to a soulless statement by the government spokesman about the possibility of the talks being affected.”

What did the paper want the spokesman to say that had soul? Announce plans to declare war over an invasion by a Turkish armada that existed only in its reporter’s imagination? On Tuesday Simerini forgot about the invasion and reported there was a Turkish frigate monitoring the drilling in plot 9 but from outside Cyprus’ EEZ.

The invading armada had disappeared, probably sunk by missiles fired by the National Guard’s submarines.

 

THE INVASION might not have taken place, but on Wednesday Simerini screamed on its front page that “Turkey imposed a naval blockade”. It reported that “Turkish vessels are roaming our seas undisturbed, monitoring every move and, in effect our southern shores are blocked, with the danger of a heated incident, with unforeseeable consequences, taking place.”

The heated incident could be triggered if the warships we do not have tried to get through the Turkish blockade that was another figment of the paper’s fertile imagination.

I do not know who is in charge of Simerini’s fictional front page, but his metaphors are even weaker than his facts. Thursday’s front page headline said: “Diplomatic poker on the Cyprus problem chessboard.”

 

PREZ Nik, who had to be seen taking a tough line, let it be known through his soulless spokesman that he was considering withdrawing from the peace talks and called a National Council meeting with the party leaders to discuss a plan of action.

After Tuesday’s meeting, everyone was celebrating and waxing lyrical about the unanimous decisions taken by the party leadership for dealing with the crisis. The news that Nik would be taking action approved by Perdikis, Lillikas and Junior, was no cause for celebration, but for packing your bags and emigrating.

In the end no such drastic action was needed because the unanimous decisions were pretty lame, of the type our politicians have been taking for 40 years without as much as provoking a shrug from the Turks by way of reaction.

The prez would be withdrawing from the talks and there would be no meetings between the negotiators either. In this way we would be punishing the Turks by preventing them exercising their intransigence. The next day Nik met the UN special advisor Espen Barth Eide and talked Cyprob, indicating that his withdrawal from the talks was a bit half-hearted.

 

OTHER actions agreed to be taken were the freezing of Turkey’s accession negotiations, legal action against the Turkish company carrying out explorations, the sending of deputies on enlightenment missions abroad (this will be very popular among our freeloader politicians) and the Prez writing a letter to President Obama.

The government would also consider a recourse to the UN Security Council. No decision was taken on this because a resolution condemning Turkey was far from guaranteed. But the most important decision taken by the National Council last Tuesday was that our prez would seek a meeting with President Putin in the coming week.

When we are in trouble we always turn to mother Russia. In March 2013, when the Eurogroup was turning the screw on us, Nik also asked for an urgent meeting with Putin to seek his help. Nineteen months later the prez is still waiting for a date.

 

SPEAKING of mother Russia and Putin, forgotten man Marios Garoyian, in his effort to re-build his shattered political career, made an amazing revelation a few days ago, explaining why he had voted against the first Eurogroup decision in 2013 which proposed a levy of between six and 10 per cent on all bank deposits.

Although he agreed this would have been much better for Kyproulla than the second Eurogrop decision, he rejected it because “the top leadership of Russia had sent a message that if we touched the Russian Commercial Bank (RCB), then we would have seen a reaction that we had never seen before.” He added that it was “a clear message to all of us”, that deposits in RCB, which is controlled by the Russian state, could not be touched.

Our patriotic deputies obeyed Mother Russia’s instructions paving the way for a decision that was much worse for the country and its citizens.

Garoyian gave a demonstration of his patriotism, in explaining why he had put Russian interests above those of his country. “Someone had to evaluate what it would have meant for Cyprus, in that difficult period, to jeopardise its relations with Russia, a country that supported us when our other so-called allies had abandoned us. I took this decision because I did not want to put at risk Cyprus’ relations with Russia.”

 

ANYONE with half a brain – admittedly there are not a lot of them around and Garoyian is certainly not one of them – would have realised that Mother Russia had not only abandoned us in that difficult period, but it also openly blackmailed us and we gave into to blackmail just to safeguard our master-servant relations with Moscow.

But for our wise politicians and hacks Mother Russia can do no wrong. Even this week, when Moscow issued a lukewarm statement about Turkey’s NAVTEX, that blamed both sides for the dispute, hacks and politicians were thanking their Moscow masters for once again standing by our side.

The statement was anything but supportive to our side as it concluded that “unilateral actions, the show of force are unacceptable, and entail risks of deterioration of the situation…” Turkey has been describing our drilling for oil as “unilateral action” and Russia was referring to the Greek Cypriots when it mentioned this in its statement; “show of force” referred to the Turks.

But this was presented as a triumph for our side by our papers and politicians who felt obliged to engage in the time-honoured, public Russia worship.

The above statement was made by a Russian deputy minister after meeting Nik’s special envoy Sotos Zakheos. Interestingly, Zakheos is an executive director of the Russian Commercial Bank, so it is unclear whether his loyalties are with the Republic or his employer the Russian state that pays him a princely monthly salary.

 

THE OFFICIAL statement, made by the spokesman of the Russian foreign ministry, was hushed up by our government so as not to disappoint us, because it urged both sides to avoid steps related to the EEZ (like drilling for gas) that would “cause damage to the negotiations process”.

The release of this statement would have devastated the Moscow-worshippers of Phil who claimed on its front page on Friday that “Moscow tells them (the Turks) off.” In an inside page the headline read “Russian ‘cannons’ on Turkey”, which makes as little sense in Greek as it does in English.

Russia “positioned itself in a very clear way on the developments” and issued “the strongest statement about what was happening in the Cyprus EEZ”. Phil’s hacks just love Mother Russia and will always champion it. Garoyian’s unflattering revelations were not carried by the paper.

This love affair stretches back to the days of the Soviet Union as the paper’s feature covering events it reported in the past perfectly illustrates. On September 11, 1964 it wrote that “Soviet warships, equipped with missiles sailed into the Mediterranean to repel any attack against Cyprus.” And two days later, it said “Russian paratroopers were ordered to be ready for immediate action.”

It is amazing that the paper is not embarrassed to remind current readers that it had published such crap. Maybe this was meant as a subtle warning that its reports about Russia should always be taken with a sack of salt.

 

THE CHAIRMAN of Bank of Cyprus Christis Hassapis must have turned into a very unhappy bunny when he read the list of people the new shareholders were nominating as candidates for the board to be voted in on November 20.

He has a little over a month left to enjoy the Kyproulla dream which involves a political party taking you from obscurity and making you a local celebrity by appointing you to a high profile public post you have no right to be in. He valiantly tried to hold on to the post, even attempting to scupper the capital issue but failed, so come December he will return to the painfully dull life of being a nobody again, known as the Kyproulla nightmare.

Nobody will shed a tear for the unhappy bunny as his proposed replacement, Josef Ackermann, is a high profile banker, who reached the top of the profession – he was CEO of Deutsche Bank – on his ability, without any assistance from unions or political parties. I suspect the B of C will be better off with a banker as its chairman.

 

ETHNARCH Junior could not suppress his rage however, speaking on radio about the candidates of the new B of C board, going on a rant about the government wanting to take control of the bank. As if it is possible the wily Wilbur Ross, who sunk 400 million euros into the bank would risk his investment by allowing clueless politicians to call the shots.

The immature Junior, who also had a dig at foreigners taking over the bank, was angry because his koumbaros Marinos Gialelis, whom he had appointed to the board last year, like the happy bunny was set for the chop. Only the clients of the president’s law office were kept on the board he moaned, referring to the Russian vice chairman of the bank.

He should have been happy that mother Russia would have at least one director to keep a check on the nasty Yanks, who might even want a settlement of the Cyprob in order to improve the bank’s profitability.

I think it is great that foreigners will be running the bank. Hopefully we will soon be able to hand over the running of the country to foreigners as well.

 

WE HAVE not heard if Prez Nik has held the meeting that was to resolve the pressing issue of CyBC TV news-reader Emilia Kenevezou’s salary. The CyBC board wanted to cut it but Kenevezou appealed to Nik, who stepped in as mediator.

However Emilia has been doing her best to prove that she has a great political mind and thus does not deserve to have her six grand a month salary cut. Presenting a chat show about Islamic State on Tuesday night, she reprimanded her guests for referring to it as ‘Islamic State’. “I do not like the term Islamic State; I prefer to call them jihadists,” she pompously declared and tried to correct a guest who refused to use the term ‘jihadist’ subsequently.

“But this is what they call themselves,” the guest protested, ignoring Emilia’s decree.

 

HAS HONDURAS left Central America and become part of Europe. This is what you would have thought reading the match schedule of the Cyprus national side for the Euro 2016 qualifying round, on the Cyprus Football Association’s website.

According to the website, on Sunday, November 16, Cyprus are at home to Honduras and will play them away in June 2015. Is this possible? Of course not – on these dates Cyprus will be playing Andorra, which some idiot at the CFA must have thought is called Honduras in English.

 

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