Cyprus Mail
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Tales from the Coffeeshop: How to explain Nik’s Putin pandering?

President Nicos Anastasiades and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow in February

By Patroclos

SEVERAL regulars at our establishment have been wondering whether Prez Nik’s daughters have left the family law office, now their father has nothing to do with it any longer, and opened a PR firm which landed a multi-million contract to handle the publicity of Vladimir Putin.

Watching and hearing Nik acting like Putin’s personal PR man in this week’s triumphant visit to Mother Russia, you might have thought that, being the good father that he is, he has been helping his daughters’ new business get off the ground. Only a PR man, making big bucks, would have willingly made such a complete fool of himself, publicly flattering a ruthless tyrant.

Yet the truth is that the prez’s daughters have not opened a PR business and Nik had no financial or personal incentive to grovel to Putin in the embarrassing way we all witnessed on our TV screens. Did he feel so grateful and honoured for receiving an invitation to Moscow from the great leader that he considered it appropriate to behave like the over-awed ambassador of the satellite republic of Arslikhan?

As Nik told everyone, Putin was a “leader of integrity”. He expressed “limitless respect for President Putin, who knows all about the problems for Cyprus (an ironic dig at the evil West), but did not ask for anything that would put us in a difficult position either with our partners in the EU or our allies across the Atlantic.”

Why would he ask for anything else Nik? He was satisfied that he got a naive leader of an EU member state – even as unimportant as Kyproulla – to visit Russia at a time when the EU is supposedly united against his aggression and expansionism in eastern Ukraine.

Nik does not think deeply enough to realise that he was being used just so this “leader of integrity” could score a small victory over the EU.

WE ALSO heard about Russia’s principled stand on the Cyprob for the zillionth time and were informed by Nik about the “mutual understanding” between the two countries which supported “each other on all issues but primarily on the Cyprus issue, the economy and the Ukrainian crisis.”

Does this mean we supported the invasion and annexation of Crimea? If we did, we should not have been going on about the Turkish occupation for the last 40 years because someone might accuse us of having the double standards we love to accuse the Yanks and Brits of displaying when they do not take a stand on principle on the Cyprob, like Mother Russia does.

As for the war in eastern Ukraine, Russia has nothing to do with it according to our prez, and the EU was unfair to impose sanctions just because “it suspected Russia was encouraging the separatists.” Putin may have provided the separatists with tanks, missiles, heavy artillery and military training, but to claim that he was encouraging them when none of the EU leaders had actually heard him doing so was grossly unfair.

At least Putin has Nik in the EU to look after his interests. “We contributed so that the sanctions were milder,” our prez bragged at a news conference he gave at Tass news agency on Thursday. And in case any of our EU partners suspected Nik of acting like a Russian agent he decided to come clean, declaring: “Cyprus is the most trustworthy voice for Russia inside the EU.”

THIS WAS no idle talk aimed at pleasing his primarily Russian audience. A few months ago he had invited a group of political correspondents to the presidential palace to give them a briefing about the political situation and win them over.

One of the hacks accused him of turning his back on Mother Russia and unquestioningly backing EU sanctions. The prez took great offence and said this was an unfair charge. He explained that our representatives at the EU forwarded every document relating to Russia to Moscow as soon as it was issued in Brussels.

He also told the hacks that this bit of information was off the record, someone who was there told the Coffeeshop.

It seems Cyprus is also the most trustworthy set of ears for Russia inside the EU as well. And to think he was impressed because Putin did not ask for anything that would put us in a difficult position with our EU partners. We are giving him such a good service it would have been a bit rude to have asked for anything else, especially from such a leader of integrity.

HAVING rejected the PR company theory as a reason for the loony statements made by Nik during the Russia visit, we decided to explore other possible explanations.

Politis columnist, Costas Constantinou wrote on Friday, that he hoped the prez had been drinking. “I do not know if the president drank too much on the trip to Moscow,” he wrote. “It is one of the rare occasions that I hoped he had. Because if he had not been drinking or was drinking just a little and said all the things he said, then I will start worrying for the future.”

Could he have been obliged to drink vodka, which did not agree with him (Scotch is his preferred beverage) and affected his thought process? I doubt it, because seasoned drinkers can handle all types of alcohol.

Another explanation was that he decided to follow the Makarios diplomacy of the sixties and seventies, when the deluded and naive Archbishop simplistically thought he could play off the East against the West and we ended up losing half of Kyproulla to the Turks as a result.

Fortunately Nik is too impulsive and hot-headed to have a foreign policy plan or a diplomatic strategy. He has shown that he prefers to shape policy on a day-to-day basis, according to how he feels and what the public is demanding.

THE PUTIN-pandering and public worship of Mother Russia was, to an extent, aimed at the domestic audience. For months party leaders and media pundits had been urging Nik to abandon his ‘one-dimensional’ pro-Western foreign policy and strengthen relations with Russia.

AKEL argued he had to pursue a ‘multi-dimensional’ foreign policy – which really meant that Nik should abandon the imperialist West and suck up to the virtuous and principled Putin – and this demand was soon repeated by all the opposition parties. Nik’s foreign policy, as we said, is shaped by public demand.

He fully satisfied the media and the parties all of which issued statements praising his crazy antics in Russia and the restoring of relations with Russia. AKEL was in triumphant mood, saying that the trip signalled the end to the unacceptable dogma that Kyproulla “belongs to the West” and the abandonment of the “one-dimensional character of our foreign policy”.

All the parties adopted the commie rhetoric, DIKO welcoming “the multi-dimensional foreign policy being exercised as it would work in the interests of the country” (the full backing of AKEL and DIKO is proof that Nik’s policy is bad for the country).

It is amazing how the commies of AKEL impose their anti-Western agenda and all parties follow suit. What is amusing is that Nik’s foreign policy will remain one-dimensional now that he has jumped into bed with Putin because the West will probably want nothing to do with him. But that is what AKEL and the Akelites of the other parties always wanted.

ANOTHER plausible explanation for Nik’s Russia antics was that he wanted to get his own back on the US and the EU for their failure to stop, or at least condemn, the violations of the Cypriot EEZ by Turkey. We still remember his angry TV outburst in which he accused everyone of deceiving him from the UN Secretary-General to the US ambassador, whom he stopped speaking to.

The prez felt he had been shafted, especially by the Yanks who had told him they would persuade Turkey not to issue another navtex, so he decided to get even. In retaliation he decided to shaft the West by publicly offering his allegiance to the despised Putin. He is too hot-headed to care about the consequences, satisfied that he got his own back.

It is not very statesman-like way to behave but our prez, to his credit, has never had any such pretension. He is Limassol lawyer from the school of hard knocks who follows the rule of the street – you shaft me, I will shaft you at the first opportunity. It is not the cleverest way to conduct foreign policy, especially when the adversary you think you have shafted is the most powerful country in the world, but Nik doesn’t care because he is from Limassol, the birthplace of tough alpha males.

THE BIG irony is that despite the multi-dimensional brown-nosing of Putin, Kyproulla got nothing in exchange. Nik may have been given a couple of personal gifts but we got nothing, not even a couple of words mildly censuring “Turkey’s invasion of our EEZ”.

The position taken by the Russian Federation on the violations last year was as pro-Turkish as that of the Yanks and the Brits, but we let it pass. We were however informed that during their meeting on Wednesday, Putin showed an interest in the invasion by the Turkish ship Barbaros and the government spokesman showed him pictures of the ship’s invasion that he had on his mobile phone.

“Putin examined the picture for quite some time and asked questions,” a suitably impressed Phil reported. I bet no EU leader has ever asked to see mobile phone pictures of the Barbaros.

MOSCOW’S local cheerleaders all reported that on his arrival in Moscow Nik received a ‘present’ from Russia. The Duma had voted through the restructuring of the €2.5 billion loan that comrade Tof had secured from Russia in 2011.

The repayment period was extended from 2018 to 2022 and the interest was reduced from 4.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent, which is still higher than what the Troika is charging for the money it had lent us. What none of the reports mentioned was that the restructuring was negotiated and agreed back in 2013, just after the haircut, by the European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn.

But if this was mentioned it would have diminished the value of the present.

SORRY if we have bored you by taking up the whole shop dealing with Nik in Russian wonderland, but we promise to resume normal services next week. Sadly we have run out of space to carry out a preview of the EDEK leadership elections that take place today.

It is just as well, because the build-up has been as boring as the speeches of its outgoing leader Omirou. All I can say is that there are two candidates and that one of them, Marinos Sizopoulos, has the backing of the party’s president for life and beyond, Dr Faustus. This is a very good reason to vote for the other guy, Varnavas, who might not dazzle with his in intelligence and wit, but at least he is not from the narcissistic wing of the party.

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