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Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Regional centre for co-operation and stability arises

You there! You want to co-operate? Prez Nik in Cairo on Saturday

KYPROULLA has finally found a niche for its regional centre pretensions. Having failed to become a regional centre for healthcare, education, banking, organ transplants, advanced technology, energy, golf and Chinese products, we are now pursuing the idea of becoming a regional centre for co-operation and stability.

The great thing is that this requires minimal planning or work. In fact to become a regional centre for stability we do not have to do anything at all; for co-operation we need to sign some agreements with a couple of neighbouring countries about joint search and rescue operations, tourism and cultural exchanges, which usually involve meetings of committees that do nothing.

Yesterday’s summit in Cairo was an example of this regional co-operation that we have been successfully pursuing. Any country in the region that wants co-operation and stability just has to pick up the phone and call the foreign ministry of the regional centre or write requesting an application form.

It might be a good idea for the governments of Syria and Iraq to apply as the regional centre could provide them with some stability.

BEING a regional centre of co-operation and stability does not mean we will disband the National Guard. On the contrary, last week we held an air, land and sea military exercise in which Greece and Israel also participated.
Greek air force C-130 planes dropped parachutists while Israeli fighter jets also took part, reported several newspapers, which noted that the defence ministry had kept the exercise a low-key affair, although the government spokesman confirmed it had taken place. This was because the government did not want to raise the tension that was caused by the provocations of the Barbaros.

But one newspaper’s defence correspondent read great significance into the exercise. “It sent a clear message to Ankara, underlining the isolation of Turkey, which does not just have Greece and Cyprus in front of it, but also Israel and Egypt, which in different ways are co-operating on many levels with the Cyprus Republic.”

WE DO NOT want to be party-poopers, but from what our establishment has heard the main reason Israeli jets participated was not to so they would be ready to defend Kyproulla in the event of Turkish attack, but so they could try to break the codes used by the Russian-made TOR M1 missiles – by the National Guard targeting the jets with the missile system.

The defence correspondent might also have been disappointed to hear that Greece is not so committed to his fantasy front against Turkey either. When Greek PM Antonis Samaras was asked about reviving the Unified Defence Dogma between Greece and Cyprus in an interview on Sigma TV, broadcast Thursday night, he responded with some impressive platitudes about “the creation of new defence capabilities for Cyprus,” the EU creating “favourable margins for Cyprus,” and of course the “shift in international relations in our surrounding area which has a role to play.”

The answer was an object lesson in the art of evasion, the PM not mentioning the word dogma once in his response. To his credit, he did not offer false hopes, stressing that “Greece is and will remain by the side of Cyprus,” but without the myth of a dogma.

DOGMA zealot Lazaros Mavros who hosts the most patriotically correct radio show on the airwaves could not hide his bitter disappointment over Samaras’ refusal to do for the dead dogma what Jesus had done for the presenter’s namesake 2,000 years ago.

The heart-broken Lazaros had received a sneak preview of the interview and shared his sadness with his listeners before it was broadcast. However in his newspaper column, he has put all his faith in our surrogate mother Russia preparing a Christmas shopping list for Prez Nik to take with him to Moscow’s meeting with President Putin, when it happens.

He urged Nik to visit Moscow as soon as possible and hand Putin a list of military hardware that we needed. His wish-list included S400 missiles, which presumably are an upgrade of the estragoshas we bought 15 years ago and sent to Crete, SU-35 fighter jets that would be stationed at the Paphos air-base, submarines, corvettes and patrol-boats.

As our defence budget could just about buy us a few hundred air-rifles, Lazaros is hoping the weaponry will be a Christmas present from Mother Russia, delivered by Putin dressed as Father Christmas.

THERE IS some substance to the madness. After the Russian ambassador Stansilav Osadchiy met Prez Nik, 10 days ago, and conveyed Putin’s invitation to visit Moscow, Phil reported that a defence agreement would be signed. This agreement would primarily concern facilities that would be offered by the Republic to Russia and discussions were already at an advanced stage, the paper reported.

Its source could only have been the Russian embassy because government sources were telling a very different story. The Russians had asked for military facilities (this could be the reason Lazaros wrote about SU-35 fighters in Paphos), but the government ruled this out. The defence agreement that would be signed between Nik and Vlad would be an update of an old one regarding the maintenance and supply of parts for military equipment by Russia.

According to a skettos-drinking customer, the Russians had hoped to persuade Nik to grant them military facilities now that he was desperate for Moscow’s support and under domestic pressure to seek Putin’s help regarding the EEZ. This was why Osadchiy proposed the meeting with Putin took place within two weeks. Conditions had created an opportunity to secure the facilities mother Russia wanted in the Mediterranean and Moscow felt it could lose this opportunity if it delayed making the deal.

However, now that the government has ruled this out, it would not be a surprised if Putin loses his desire to see Nik and the invitation to Moscow is politely put back a few of years.

MEP AND modern-day Amazon Eleni Theocharous had Turkey on the ropes landing one blow after the other at the latest session of the Joint EU-Turkey parliamentary committee. The fearless Eleni argued against the upgrading of the EU’s customs union with Turkey, which was occupying Cyprus; sanctions would have been more appropriate she maintained.

She also brought up the violations of our EEZ by the Barbaros but on this she spoke more like a poetess than an Amazon. “In Cyprus waters we have a war because of the activities of the Turkish war navy inside the Cypriot EEZ.” First Phil called the incursion of the Barbaros an invasion, Simerini upgraded it to an occupation, but Eleni has outdone them both by calling it a war. As there is a war should not the brave Amazon be on the frontline treating the wounded instead of talking nonsense in Brussels?

ANOTHER female heroine appeared last week defending our national interests abroad and joining the pantheon of 21st century Kyproulla heroes. The president of the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company Toula Onoufriou threw a wobbly at an energy conference in Tel Aviv when she saw that the pseudo foreign minister Ozdil Nami was participating and immediately put the uppity Turk in his place.

Before reading her presentation Onoufriou had a little rant against Nami, saying she was “shocked” by the presence of “a so-called official from a pseudo-state which is the result of the ongoing occupation and invasion of Cyprus by Turkey.”

The invitation to Nami was “unacceptable and provocative” she told CyBC radio the following day recounting her heroics. She also had a go at the organisers, whose action went against the spirit of co-operation between Cyprus and Israel, she said and they apologised to her. Many participants approached her and congratulated her for her stand, said Toula, who sounded very pleased with her bravery.

DEPUTIES might be brave enough to take on the Troika and the Eurogroup but they would not dare touch the privileges of a few dozen timid, self-serving state officials. Having made a big fuss about the state limos provided to officials they showed remarkable spinelessness by deciding not to do anything about it, passing the buck to the government.

The government came up with a pathetic proposal, which was approved by the House on Thursday, whereby some 30 officials would be entitled to state cars 24/7 while the remaining 70 would be allowed to use a state car only for official business. But the law will come into effect in January 2016, giving the 70 traumatised officials time to grieve and come to terms with the sad loss of their much-loved privilege.

The CyBC's Kenevezou
The CyBC’s Kenevezou

AMONG those who would have a state car 24/7 are former presidents of the House. Why? A president of the House is just a deputy who chairs the meetings of the plenum. Former DIKO chief Marios Garoyian was president of the House for three years and we have to provide him with a state limo and chauffeur for as long as he is breathing. Why?
Dr Faustus stepped down as president of the House in 1991 and he still has a state car. He had a hand in the law entitling former House presidents to a state limo and chauffeur for life. In Kyproulla we are good at making laws that cover individual needs.

The law approved on Thursday includes the deputy Attorney-General in the list of those eligible for a state limo 24/7. Rikkos Erotokritou is the only deputy official offered this privilege. The reason – he lives in Limassol and has to drive to Nicosia and back every day so the law has been adapted to his personal needs. In this way the taxpayer picks up his petrol bill and provides him with a chauffeur as well, so he does not have to drive.
If his home was in Athens we would have passed a law providing him with a private jet and pilot to fly him home every day.

IN THE END Prez Nik did not hold the meeting at the presidential palace to help resolve the pay dispute between the management of CyBC and the corporation’s overpaid news presenter Emilia Kenevezou. After the negative publicity he received for intervening in the matter Nik decided he would be better off not helping her keep her salary.

On her return from holiday Emilia was handed a letter giving her eight weeks’ notice. She was informed she could stay in her job if she accepted a 25 per cent pay cut, reducing her earnings from 6 grand a month to €4,500, and agreed to increase her weekly working hours from 23 to 37-and-a-half.

This is known as constructive dismissal. But with Nik fearing the political cost of helping her out, her only hope of preserving her old salary and working hours is for the legislature to pass a law prohibiting the reduction of the salary of female news presenters with straight black hair, attitude and a surname that begins with ‘K’.

APART from tampering with her contract, removing the provision about conflict of interest, Governor Crystal had also tampered with the pay provision, thus netting herself 10 grand a year more than her predecessor. It was cheap and greedy behaviour – as if 182 grand a year was not enough – but exactly what you would expect from a career public parasite that is close friends with parasite leader Glafkos Hadjiklamouris.

The government has been trying to find a way to resolve the issue, as the finance minister values his co-operation with Crystal and does not want her to go. The matter would go away if her estranged husband’s law office stopped representing Andreas Vgenopoulos or her daughter stopped working at her dad’s office. But it would appear that things will not be settled very easily. The rumours are that her ex will not give up representing Vgen and her daughter has refused to quit her job in order to help her mum out of this tricky situation.

How sad it would be if Crystal was forced to resign because her loving daughter wants to carry on defending the man who bankrupted Laiki.

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