Cyprus Mail
OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: The halloumification of the Cyprob

Our establishment was not told whether halloumi or hellim was on the menu during the groundbreaking lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker, given that it was a touchy subject

By Patroclos

OUR FOREIGN ministry has always been staffed by self-regarding civil servants that think their work is much more important than that of any other ministry, because they deal with the Cyprob, the country’s number one concern.

It is not even as if they have been very successful in their administering of the Cyprob as events of the last 41 years have shown, but the ministry’s mandarins, over the years, have developed a talent for presenting minor procedural achievements as major triumphs of our foreign policy.

They gloat, for instance, if they prevent a Turkish Cypriot official, on a visit abroad, from meeting a minister of a foreign government or addressing some international forum, claiming that they were preventing the recognition/upgrading of the pseudo-state.

This myth has been exposed in recent years as Turkish Cypriot politicians have been having meetings with top-ranking representatives of foreign governments and of the EU without the pseudo-state being recognised, but our patriotic diplomats refuse to give up their noble efforts.

 

ANOTHER area in which they have excelled is in changing resolutions about the Cyprob issued by international organisations, like the UN, the Council of Europe, the International Maritime Organisation etc.

When they manage to change the place of a comma or have a couple of words removed from a draft resolution text, it is presented as a success; if they manage to change a phrase it is a major triumph of our diplomacy.

This is as exciting and meaningful as foreign ministry work gets, as Kyproulla is not a major power to engage in real, big-boy diplomacy. It is also one of the reasons the foreign ministry has always had its own hard-line agenda on the Cyprob, unaffected by the president’s line.

Its employees need the Cyprob, as much as Junior, Lillikas and Sizopoulos, in order to think they are doing nationally valuable work and feel more important than their colleagues of the same rank at the ministry of agriculture dealing with crop fertilisers.

Without the Cyprob they will have no great diplomatic battles to fight in the defence of the Republic, their work will become as tediously boring as it is at the ministry of agriculture and their excessive self-esteem would be dealt a much-needed blow.

 

GOVERNMENT spokesman Nicos Christodoulides is a product of the foreign ministry, where he had been working before being taken to the presidential palace by his namesake, and it shows. That he had bash-patriotic Paphite genes and worked under the father of all rejectionists ambassador Tasos Tzionis made him the model foreign ministry employee.

Christodoulides is proof that you can take a man out of the foreign ministry but you cannot take the foreign ministry out of the man. So when EU foreign policy chief Fedreica Mogherini was scheduled to visit Kyproulla, he had the idea that she should be prevented from meeting Mustafa Akinci, because this would be a form of recognition. Prez Nik was not too enthusiastic about the idea and the meeting went ahead on Friday.

It was not the first time he had tried to stop Mogherini meeting Akinci. When Akinci visited Brussels a few weeks ago, the patriotic Paphite had again tried to stop such a meeting from taking place, after finding out that his boss had been consulted by Mogherini’s office and given his go-ahead.

His heroic diplomatic efforts to have it cancelled failed, which must have caused great disappointment at the ministry of pseudo-state affairs and to his wife, who also worked under Tzionis and is said to wear the rejectionist trousers in the family.

 

THE HALLOUMI deal reached during the visit, 10 days-ago, of the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and hailed as a major breakthrough, was not what it seemed. Despite the smiles and back-slapping when it was announced, the pettiness of the haggling that preceded it, reportedly, caused great frustration to Juncker.

The reason for the haggling was that our foreign ministry officials kept raising objections about the arrangements proposed for certifying the protected designation of origin. The objections were, predictably, recognition related – the recognised Republic had to do the certifying because anything less would be tantamount to recognition of our stupidity.

Even on the compromise that the certifying would be done by a foreign-based company the foreign ministry had to object. It was unheard of for a foreign company to be sending certification documents to the EU as this was the job of the member state, it argued. In the end it was agreed that the company would send the documents to Kyproulla government and it would post them to the EU. The de-recognition of the Republic was averted by the quick-thinking foreign ministry officials who came to our rescue once again.

Juncker was not impressed. “If you need three days to agree on halloumi, how are you ever going to reach a settlement,” he asked. Nobody told him that our foreign ministry had to be cautious because it saw the risk of the halloumification of the Cyprob.

 

THERE must be some progress in the talks because the members of the bash-patriotic brotherhood deafened us with their hysterical rants against prez Nik. Their attacks on poor old Nik are becoming more abusive by the day, even though they were badly let down by the Turks, who celebrated the 41st anniversary of the invasion without making any inflammatory public statements that would inspire their rhetoric.

Phil, the mouthpiece of negativity tried to inspire them the next day with a front page story slamming Akinci for saying the “the invasion had to take place” and “justifying the Turkish raid with old style arguments.” Phil, on the other hand, is perfectly entitled to justify its campaigning against a settlement with old style arguments of the type that all Turkish Cypriot leaders are as bad as each other.

On Friday, the paper led with another negative story about the nasty Akinci’s “Bombardment of revelations” about the talks fuelling the fear and loathing of Junior and the rest of the prophets of doom.

Phil’s clear anti-settlement stance poses a great dilemma for Prez Nik who has realised that if he signs a deal he will never make the list of great Cypriots, compiled by the paper’s owner Nicos Pattichis when the great man decides to update it. All his schmoozing of Pattichis at the greatness ceremony would have gone to waste.

On the plus side, he is still on course for sainthood, as on Thursday he briefed the Holy Synod about the progress of the talks and was reportedly given the thumbs up by the men in black.

 

THERE are times you wonder whether there is anyone with a brain employed at the police force. The issuing of a search warrant for the house of Petros Evdokas and the confiscation of his PCs because he had posted a spoof resignation letter, supposedly by the former health minister Philippos Patsalis, on his Indymedia web-site, would suggest the lack of a brain is the main requirement to become a cop.

Evdokas, an unreconstructed hippy, who campaigns for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use among other things, had written the letter in which Patsalis gave as the reason for his resignation prez Nik’s refusal to allow the use of cannabis to ease the suffering of people with cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Because the self-important and humourless Patsalis complained about the letter to the police the cops immediately secured a search warrant and raided the poor guy’s house. It was not even as if the letter said Patsalis was resigning because Nik did not let him smoke pot at Council of Ministers meetings (joke).

Had there been a cop with a brain, he would have told Patsalis this was a joke letter and to ignore rather than waste the police’s and the courts’ time. He may have even advised him to go home, light a nice fat joint, chill and forget about it.

I am only joking – I know that Patsalis has never touched the stuff in his life and is vehemently opposed to its use either for medicinal or recreational purposes.

 

TROUBLE has flared again at the English School the board of which seems to be keeping the flame of bi-communal strife alive. In the latest incident a teacher, zealously campaigning for rapprochement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots at the school, filed a complaint to the ombudswoman claiming he was being persecuted by the school for his views.

The board, which is not renowned for its commitment to rapprochement, claims there was an investigation against the teacher after a complaint was filed against him by a female colleague and he was not being persecuted. Our mole on the board informs us that there was bad blood between the teacher and chairwoman who always disapproved of the former’s advanced multicultural views as they did not sit well with her nationalism.

I suspect the board has not speeded up the investigation of the complaint – it was filed 20 months ago – because it is afraid of a backlash from the teachers’ union of which the Turk-loving teacher is an active and militant member.

 

WE DID not hear the former Central Bank governor Athanasios Orphanides, during his many television appearances, say anything about the Bank of Cyprus’ sale of its 80 per cent stake in the Russian bank Uniastrum for a paltry €7m. Orphanides was the governor who gave the go-ahead to the transaction in 2008, never questioning the wisdom of the move or the grossly inflated, €400 million price.

The deal was done at the time the world banking system was wobbling and after Orphanides’ subordinates at the Central Bank had reported Uniastrum had “a bad record and did not follow prudent banking practices”. And Orphanides was smart enough to know that Russian banking was still at the Wild West stage of operation. Yet the infallible governor allowed this insane investment to go through. With this on his record, he really has a nerve pontificating about everyone’s mistakes.

 

NEGOTIATOR Andreas Mavroyiannis is back from his taxpayer-financed globe-trotting and complained to a mutual acquaintance that our establishment’s mildly critical comments of him could undermine his efforts to get elected President of the UN General Assembly (Asia). It is very flattering that he thinks our provincial establishment has the power to influence international elections for such an important post, when until recently it could not even influence the elections for the committee of our street’s neighbourhood watch.

I was also told it was wrong to complain about taxpayer funds being used for his election campaign because if he wins it would be a big honour for Kyproulla. So, from now on, I urge the government to spend as much cash as it can afford to get Mavroyiannis elected, because the feelgood factor for the country of having a Cypriot in such a prestigious international post is incalculable.

 

 

 

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