Cyprus Mail
Opinion

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Prez Nik saved from state hospital by well-wishers and self appointed experts

Prez Nik

OUR THOUGHTS are with our president who not only has to undergo a serious heart operation in a faraway, foreign land on Thursday, but on his sick-bed he will live with the fear of being visited by those charmless leading members of the Cyprus-US lobby.

Meeting those self-important nobodies is enough to make a healthy man ill let alone a man recovering from heart surgery. Hopefully they will be kept out of Nik’s room because if they are allowed in and they start taking about the shortage of Cyprob enlightenment funds he might need another operation.

On the plus side, there would still be much fewer undesirable well-wishers queuing up to see him at his Manhattan hospital than there would have been if he had the operation at American Medical Center in Nicosia as he had originally planned.

Nik, unlike his two predecessors who showed little faith in Cypriot surgeons and travelled abroad for operations, was perfectly happy to have the operation done in Kyproulla and had even made arrangements to be admitted to the American Medical Center.

But suddenly he had a change of heart (sorry about that), inviting public criticism about not trusting Cypriot hospitals and wanting better healthcare than was available to ordinary citizens of Kyproulla. He had made the right decision to start with – one which would have earned him public plaudits for setting a good example – and then he ruined it by changing his mind.

I HEAR that it was not entirely his fault. He was perfectly happy to be operated on in Kyproulla – the surgeons at the Center successfully perform some 50 operations of this type per year – but then all the hangers-on, courtiers and experts started telling him that this was not a good idea and that the president should go to a recognised, top hospital.

Among people urging him to go abroad, apart from his rich friends, were doctors from other private hospitals that could not allow a competitor to receive the mega-positive publicity of having been chosen by the prez for his heart surgery. It would be bad for business.

State hospital doctors – not motivated by business interests – also bad-mouthed the Center to Nik because they could not handle the idea that the prez had not put his trust in a state hospital. This decision may have been influenced by fears that the surgeons and nurses might go on strike on the day he would have had his operation – or they could have opened him up and threatened not to finish the operation unless he agreed to doctors’ demands for higher overtime pay.

In the end Nik, who was not in the best of shape to ignore the scare stories, yielded to the pressure from well-wishers and self-appointed experts, buying into the myth that the prez of Kyproulla had to go the best hospital in world for his operation.

THE DECISION was announced on Tuesday, sparking a bout of speculation about the cost of going to the US and the hospital bills. Why would the taxpayer have to pay for Nik and his entourage to go abroad when ordinary Cypriots would have the same operation here?

On Wednesday the government issued another announcement informing us that Nik would be paying for everything himself, in the hope of silencing his critics. Even if he had hoped to pass the medical costs onto the taxpayer, Nik realised that the political cost would be too high and opted to pick up the bill himself.

This may have won him some brownie points but it also had a minus side as it reminded people that he has quite a lot of moollah in his bank account to be paying the air fares and hotel accommodation of his entourage plus the hospital bills. Such an exhibition of his personal wealth is not something that would endear him to the cash-strapped, impoverished voters who queue up for hours at state hospitals.

NIK is not the first prez to go abroad for surgery that could have been performed on the island that once entertained ambitions of becoming a regional medical centre, with a specialisation in organ transplants. The ambition died when the transplants were taken over by a state hospital.

The late Ethnarch Tassos frequently flew to a hospital in the US for check-ups and treatment, even though he was very secretive about the condition of his health and he always paid the bill himself. Comrade Tof, in contrast, being a communist ideologue could not possibly deprive the taxpayer of the pleasure of paying his medical bills.

The comrade had two major operations before becoming prez – heart surgery and a kidney transplant – and both were performed at a London hospital by British surgeons. Both could have been performed in Kyproulla, at a much lower cost, by Cypriot surgeons but Tof did not trust our union-controlled state hospitals.

There was, after all, the risk that he would be operated on by a surgeon who received his training at a Soviet university and got a job at the hospital because of being an AKEL member.

THE ONLY prez that was happy to go under the knife in a Cypriot medical establishment was the late sea wolf Glafcos Clerides even though he used a private clinic.

When he was to have his first operation as president, friends had found a renowned surgeon to cut him up. However, when he was told that the surgeon could not come to the island to perform the operation and he would have to go to a hospital abroad, he immediately rejected the idea.

He had reasoned that if he went abroad he would have been away for a month, during which time the House President would be performing his duties. House president at the time was the late Spy Kyp, who would be acting president. The old sea-wolf decided that leaving a proven nut-case in charge of the mad-house for a month was too high a price to pay for receiving the best healthcare available. He was a true patriot.

US ambassador John Koenig
US ambassador John Koenig

FIRST we had the Russian ambassador heaping abuse on a Cypriot hack because he did not approve of the contents of a book the latter wrote about Russia’s relations with Kyproulla, and now the US ambassador John Koenig has decided to go down the same path.

Koenig’s target was the Washington-based columnist and anti-US crusader Michalis Ignatiou whose moralistic sermon is published in Phil every Sunday. Koenig tweeted the following two weeks ago, presumably after reading Ig’s column: “Morning, Michael. Do you have any real sources in DC? U never name any and you get so much wrong. Just askin’.”

This was a much more low-key interference than Stanislav Osadchiy’s bombastic tirade, which featured a 2,000-word statement suggesting the prez sack the hack who was working for the presidency at the time. Koenig’s attack was gentler as the Yanks respect free speech more than the Ruskies, and he did not ask Phil to sack Ig for constantly writing bad things about our strategic partner.

Regular customers will remember that the holier than thou Ig, back in 2004, had promised to write a book that would expose all the Greek Cypriots that had allegedly received bribes from the US in order to support the A-plan. Ten years later, his eagerly-awaited book has still not been published. Now we know why – his DC sources, real and imaginary, let him down.

THERE WAS a response in last Sunday’s Phil that was a testament to Ig’s comical self-importance. Of course he had sources in DC, but “there is no journalist who respects ethics and himself that would reveal his sources,” he wrote, adding that “in the US divulging sources means journalistic death.”

Even when you have no sources it is unethical (and practically a bit difficult) to reveal them, but that is just a theoretical point.

Meanwhile, Ig, who takes himself much too seriously, had to mention that he was being persecuted by the US. “As regards the ambassador I have this to say: In contrast to his predecessors (Schliger, Urbancic and others) who were asking through telegrams to have my journalist’s credentials withdrawn, he is confronting me publicly. Of course it is too early to know his secret thoughts about me.”

Ambassador Koenig, our establishment appeals to you to inform us what your secret thoughts are about Michalis Ignatiou and why you chose to confront him publicly, instead of just asking to have his credentials withdrawn? Were you following the instructions of the Secretary of State, the CIA or President Obama?

CONGRATULATIONS to minister of communications and works Marios Demetriades for his comment lampooning Prez Nik’s former special advisor for aviation matters Christos Petrou. Petrou resigned a couple of weeks ago and in his resignation lament mentioned that the minister deigned to see him just once at a cafe at 7am. The next day Demetriades posted on Facebook the following: “Good morning, this morning at 7.15 I have a meeting at Starbucks.”

“Just look at the level of the ministers of our state,” responded the former advisor whose high level advice for the salvation of Cyprus Airways nobody took seriously.

WE MAY have not extracted a cubic foot of natural gas yet, but our commerce minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis is already talking and acting like a Sheikh. On Tuesday he announced we would be selling natural gas to Egypt by 2018 via a pipeline from the Aphrodite field.

On Thursday Sheikh el-Lakkotrypis announced that he had found an even bigger market for the gas we had not found yet. Cyprus could become an alternative source of natural gas for Europe, he told a meeting, and he was promoting the possibility of creating a gas pipeline linking the eastern Mediterranean to continental Europe. At this rate it will not be very long before our Sheikh closes down all the competing gas producers and establishes a world monopoly for Kyproulla. All that remains now is to find the gas.

PUBLICITY-MAD Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides was everywhere in the last week as he handed his annual

Odysseas Michaelides
Odysseas Michaelides

report for 2013 to Prez Nik. Odysseas, despite his weakness for publicity, is proving a very capable shit-stirrer.

He has stirred the merde at the CTO and more recently at the Paphos Sewage Board. The arrests of Mayor Vergas and several other Paphites in connection with the latter case were partly thanks to the work of Odysseas. Vergas, who has been implicated in a host of scams, held a news conference on Monday to announce that he had no intention of resigning.

Incredibly, many Paphite, DIKO supporters gathered outside the hotel at which he gave his defiant news conference to voice their support for their mayor. For the Paphite mob his innocence was indisputable, because he was a Paphite and a DIKO member – a combination for saintliness in this backward part of Kyproulla.

POOR Prez Nik was shown no mercy or compassion by the opposition parties after it was revealed that his law office – which, as we all know, he has had absolutely nothing to do with since becoming president – represented Ryanair that was bidding to take over Cyprus Airways.

He issued a statement Friday giving the facts and calling on the Attorney-General, Auditor-General and the chairman of the House Ethics Committee to carry out investigations of all allegations. “If from the investigations, it is established that there was in any way, any interference by me or my former law office in the decisions taken, I will immediately resign as president.” It was a bit extreme a denial – the sort of denial made by someone who thinks people would not believe him if he did not take an absolute stand.

Nik left Kyproulla last night but he did not fly with Ryanair because the flight connections were not convenient.



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