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Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the coffeeshop: Fighting for space on the moral high ground

Stoking he national hobby of moral outrage: Sizopoulos

PISS-ARTISTS like me, who have to write a substantial amount of words every week, are often stressed and anxious because there is nothing to write about. To be more precise, there is nothing to write about that I haven’t written about dozens of time before and exhausted all the possible angles and takes on it.

It was looking like that sort of week until Botox pioneer and EDEK chief Dr Marinos Sizopoulos decided to release details of the minutes from two National Council meetings in order to show people the outrageous concession prez Nik had made at the talks and hopefully win a few votes because opinion polls were indicating his party would flop on an epic scale in the May parliamentary elections.

If I was at his news conference I would have jumped on the socialist dermatologist and kissed him for his welcome revelations, which despite their tedious childishness offered a lifeline. I thought of calling him to thank him instead but I did not have his mobile number.

I also considered booking an appointment for Botox treatment at his clinic so I could express my gratitude to him in person but I was told that he has all but given up his medical practice in order to focus on saving the nation. Preventing an unfair and unjust federal settlement takes precedence over dealing with people’s wrinkles and rashes.
So if you are reading this, which I very much doubt, thank-you doctor.

SIZOPOULOS’ publicity stunt, about which he had warned hacks on the Party beat in advance, triggered the usual hysteria of moral outrage that is our national hobby.

Everyone was fighting for a place on the moral high ground by mouthing the familiar adjectives – unacceptable, provocative, indescribable, irresponsible – starting with the spiller of the beans himself, who said he felt he had the “responsibility and duty to inform the Cypriot public about what was going on behind their backs.”

Prez Nik was morally outraged but would not follow Sizo on the “downward spiral,” leaving it to his spokesmen to do this. Sizo’s action was “unacceptable and undermining of our efforts for a viable settlement,” the presidential palace said, also accusing the EDEK chief of giving a “distorted interpretation” of the minutes which “constitutes an indescribable action.”

DISY was “grieving for the disappointment caused to citizens” while AKEL felt it was an “impetuous act”. The opposition parties were more open-minded, as transparency was a good thing, but feared Nik would use what happened as an excuse not to give leaders information about the talks.

Serious columnists, meanwhile, felt moral outrage because everyone was taking a stand on Sizo’s act rather than the substance of the issue which was the content of the minutes.

EDEKITES have traditionally posed as the squeaky clean guardians of political morality and claimed a local monopoly on the truth. This, together with their much-advertised idealism and purity of motives are the legacy of the party’s honorary president for eternity Dr Faustus, who spoke more like a preacher than politician in his prime.

Faustus talked like the spokesman of higher moral authority the other mortals had no access to. This monopoly of the truth was evident in the comments by Sizo’s sidekick and party vice-president Costis Efstathiou – another dour socialist do-gooder I wanted to kiss this week – who told us about the “systematic and organised misinformation of the public” with regard to what Nik “discusses and agrees behind their back.”

“The truth never harmed anyone,” declared the unsmiling Costis, who, in his public appearances shows all the charm and lightness of a Soviet communist official. But speaking the truth about the dangers facing your country is not something to smile about and Costis promised his party’s shedding of light on the talks would continue.
He told a morning radio show on Friday that more excerpts from the classified National Council minutes would be released by the Party of the Truth.

Picture was taken by a Nicosia estate agent  who came across the sign when checking a property this week. Should the property owner not have written his warning in Greek as well just in case the dog does not read English.
Picture was taken by a Nicosia estate agent who came across the sign when checking a property this week. Should the property owner not have written his warning in Greek as well just in case the dog does not read English.

ONE TRUTH that Costis did not mention on the radio show was that the continuation of the revelations would depend on whether the party’s childish publicity-seeking antics were successful in attracting support. If opinion polls showed that the revelations failed to arrest the decline in EDEK’s share of the vote, the party might look for other ways, equally truth-serving, of rallying support.

Maybe the morally irreproachable socialists will tell us the truth about the deal EDEK had with Libya’s Gaddafi regime back in the ’70s and early ’80s, thanks to which significant amounts of money ended up in the party coffers.

MUSTAFA Akinci is going out of his way to prove that he does not belong to Kyproulla’s tiny group of sensible and level-headed politicians. But it seems that, like the rest of his colleagues on both sides of the divide, he cannot resist an opportunity for moral posturing.

He also mounted his high horse and complained about the divulging of the National Council minutes at Friday’s meeting with Nik. The crazy goings-on on our side is none of his business and he was not exactly helping his friend Nik by meddling in what was a Greek Cypriot affair and putting added pressure on him.

Nik tried to stop him in his tracks during the talks, but when he returned to the north Mustafa felt obliged to voice his moral outrage in his briefing of hacks. There is no politician, north or south, who would pass an opportunity for access to the overcrowded moral high ground.

It is because they know we Cypriots, Greek and Turkish, are characterised by our high moral standards and impeccable ethical standards?

WILL THE government stick to its guns and refuse to give in to the state hospital nurses that go on indefinite strike on Tuesday? If it were to listen to the shameless populists of the opposition parties it would have given the nurses all the money they were asking for and everyone would be praising ‘social dialogue and consensus,’ a euphemism for obeying union diktats.

The parties have unanimously blamed the government for the indefinite strike for not engaging in ‘dialogue.’ What dialogue can there be when one side demands more money and the other says it has no money to give? What a dialogue would achieve none of the parties have spelt out even though everyone knows that what they mean is the government should agree to put the nurses on higher entry salaries that would cost the taxpayer and extra €40 million a year.

AKEL’s sweet-tongued Stalinist Stefanos Stefanou, comrade Tof’s devoted disciple, wants an “intensive, substantive dialogue” that would “find solutions that would benefit the health sector and citizens who are subjected to long waiting lists at under-staffed state hospitals.”

As an experienced propagandist, comrade Stefanos omitted to mention that the solutions he wants would benefit only nurses that would see their pay increase by at least 50 per cent overnight.

The health sector would be deprived of €40m it could have spent on new equipment and more nurses, while citizens would still be waiting for a year for an operation.

THAT OTHER cheap populist Yiorkos Lillikas even arranged a meeting with the nurses’ union PASYNO in the hope of winning a few more votes for the May elections. The government was “exclusively responsible for the strike,” decreed the Paphos populist and accused it of “arbitrariness and lacking any desire for constructive dialogue.”

Of course he had to mention the need for dialogue before offering an argument that made no sense. “A precondition for implementation of the national health system was the solution of the problems facing hospitals and in particular staffing, so that public hospitals could compete on an equal footing with the private sector,” he said.

How would public hospitals compete with the private sector if they put all their nursing staff, who are currently paid higher wages than their private clinic counterparts, on even higher wages? If Lillikas has the answer to this he should be proposed for the Nobel Prize for economics.

A COUPLE of weeks ago we wondered whether the Bank of Cyprus CEO John Hourican had gone native

Gone native: BoC's Hourican
Gone native: BoC’s Hourican

and the answer seems to be ‘yes’ as he has been dealing with the bank employees’ union ETYK like a populist Cypriot politician.

He had agreed to a voluntary redundancy scheme in the bank’s drive to cut 250 jobs. Giving employees the right to decide if they would retire is a very Cypriot practice, which, oddly Hourican has adopted. Of course the retirement scheme offered proved a flop as only about 30 bank employees signed up for it.

Last week he sent a circular to staff telling them that tough decisions had to be taken regarding job cuts but rather than send redundancy letters he announced an improved retirement scheme. The bank would carry on offering health cover to departed employees for 10 years, pay their life insurance for 10 years and keep interest on their loans at the low levels offered to staff, over and above the generous compensation.

This is what happens when you enter a constructive dialogue with the union to solve the business’ problems – you end up carrying on paying the redundancy volunteers for 10 years after they leave. You’d think the B of C is a political party the way Hourican is pandering to ETYK.

AKEL Deputy Panikos Stavrianos who showed his sensitive macho side a couple of weeks ago by insisting at a House committee discussing human trafficking that a man who pays for sex services is also a victim felt he had been misunderstood. He issued a statement last Tuesday showing what a right-on, new man he really is.
“I never implied – and could never equate – that a victim of exploitation, of human trafficking, is in same boat as the ‘customer’… One more time I clarify that I never equated, or would it be possible to equate the trafficking victim to the ‘customer’. It would be incompatible with my personal and professional identity, and my leftist ideology.”

His clarification was issued on Woman’s Day and he used the occasion to “express my huge appreciation and gratitude to the woman, the daughter, the mother, the sister, the worker, the farmer, the Syrian mothers and the mothers of the whole world.”
Was it because of his leftist ideology he forgot to include mother-in-laws in his list?

WE MAY occasionally criticise the government but yesterday’s issuing of 12 arrest warrants, including one for the Larnaca mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis, in connection with scams at the waste management plants are to be commended.

This government has investigated and prosecuted more public officials and party apparatchiks in its three years in power than all the previous governments put together. And it is not as if our politicians and officials were less corrupt and crooked in the 53 years before Nik came to office.

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