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Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Prez Nik keeps the Cyprob guessing game going

AFTER the tantrums in Istanbul and the subsequent 10-day sulk, Prez Nik was all sweetness and light at the meeting he had with his Limassol buddy Mustafa on Wednesday. This was what our moles at the UN reported and it was confirmed by Nik himself at the presidential palace after his return from what he described as a “creative meeting during which we looked into the methodology.”

Having the methodology to deal with, he was not too bothered that his new idea for a ‘triptych’, which he unveiled the day before, was ignored. His ingenious idea would involve putting issues of the talks into three categories – one would include the issues on which there were ‘understandings’ between the two leaders, the second would have ‘convergences’ and the third ‘disagreements’.

His suggestion prompted a rare, sensible comment by DIKO, which asked how it was possible after a year of talks not to know on which subjects there was agreement.

Perhaps it was an attempt to slow down the talks by introducing this bureaucratic exercise with great potential for more disagreements. You could just see Nik and Mustafa arguing for days in which category the property issue should be placed and the Prez suggesting that a fourth category was created to place issues that they could not agree in which of the three categories to place.

Our prez must consider ‘three’ his lucky number because after the diplomatic threesomes (a.k.a. tripartite alliances) he tried to introduce the number to the talks with the triptych. Now we are waiting for him to voice support for a tri-zonal, tri-communal federation.

SUCH a move could push the settlement beyond the supposed end target of the end of year, which appears to have become Nik’s objective. Our prez engages in so much theatre nobody really knows when he is being serious and when he is taking us for a ride, when the anger is real or just an act.

On the Cyprob his performance has been quite magnificent, keeping everyone guessing whether he is committed to a settlement or just playing for time, waiting until the next presidential elections are close enough to make a dramatic exit from the talks, blaming UN traps and Turkish intransigence for the failure.

Nobody would be able to accuse him of not having tried to solve the problem, the hard-liners would have nothing to criticise him about as he would have saved the Republic from the threat of the virgin birth and he would seek re-election as the candidate that turned the economy around and put it back on the growth path.

In this way he would also steal the thunder from potential rival candidates such as Dr Eleni, Junior and Lillikas, who would have nothing to campaign for if the prospect of an unfair and unjust settlement ceased to exist. Their hard-line pseudo-patriotism would have no target if the Cyprob settlement ceases to be an option.

They could promise to build up the National Guard and liberate Kyrenia militarily, but not even the naive Cypriot voter would buy that.

THIS MAY sound far-fetched, but there have been signs. For instance, there may have been more to Nik’s wobbly in Istanbul than we have been told. The speculation is that the UN had wanted to arrange a meeting of both leaders with the Secretary-General so that Ban Ki-moon could secure a commitment on taking the talks to the next level.

Not wanting to make such a commitment Nik had his tantrum about the presence of Akinci and accused the UN of deceiving him. This theory became more plausible after foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides’ meeting with Ban in New York on Wednesday.

Kasoulides, taking a break from his campaigning for the election of Andreas Mavroyiannis to the post of president of the UN General Assembly, said Ban wanted to put his stamp on the settlement preferably by chairing a meeting between the two leaders. Ban told Kasoulides he wanted an agreement between the two leaders before his term was over at the end of 2016.

Kasoulides’ evasiveness, which he relayed to hacks, was undoubtedly the government’s position. He told Ban, “of course he was welcome (to chair a meeting), but we must find the right time, when the level of understanding between the two will be mature so that it would be a productive meeting and not fail as in the case of Greentree.”

Greentree was the meeting in the US comrade Tof attended with his three nos – to arbitration, time-frames and an international conference – and inevitably ended in failure. If Ban wants to be in charge of a successful meeting he may have to ask the UN to allow him a third term because the right time is not going to be any time soon. It could take years before the level of understanding reaches the required maturity.

Kassoulides and Ban this week
Kassoulides and Ban this week

BAN’S suggestion of a meeting before the end of his term is an indication that the UN wants to push the two sides towards a deal, because it may fear that Nik is playing games. There is an unofficial time-frame and although the two amigos agreed to intensify the talks in the coming weeks it is very difficult see a breakthrough.

DISY chief Averof Neophytou also set an unofficial time-frame in a TV interview last week. He said there had to be an agreement by March 2017 because after this the presidential election campaign would begin and there would be no chance of a deal. Prez Nik, I suspect, will make a theatrical exit from the talks before then.

THE GLORIOUSLY ineffective organisation of US-based expats PSEKA (International Committee ‘Justice for Cyprus’) had its 32nd annual conference in Washington last week.

Its members, who are still living in the Spy Kyp era of fiery Cyprob rhetoric and still selling themselves to the mugs in Kyproulla as big players in US politics who could turn any US administration against the Turks (something they have failed to do for 32 years), invited representatives of the two US presidential candidates to their conference.

Donlad Trump’s representative, Congressman Tom Marino, said he did not know much about the Kyproulla problem and that Trump’s foreign policy was still being formulated. He told PSEKA’s big-wigs they could meet with Trump after the elections to see what he could do.

This did not satisfy the self-important President of PSEKA Phillip Christopher who told Marino Cypriot expats would vote for the candidate who will make the “most specific and powerful commitments,” presumably on the Cyprob. If he wanted the support of the mighty Cypriot lobby, Marino should arrange a meeting of Trump with its leadership, the big-shot Christopher told him. Trump would ignore PSEKA at his own peril.

MEANWHILE Prez Nik tried to give his friend David Cameron a helping hand ahead of the Brexit referendum by urging UK-based Cypriots to vote in favour of Britain staying in the EU. Perhaps Dave promised Nik Britain would be less pro-Turkish in exchange for the British Cypriot votes in the referendum.

It was strange that Nik decided to take such a stance only a few days after the Brexiteers had used the prospect of Turkey joining the EU as a compelling reason for voting to leave. Surely we should be backing the camp that bad mouths the Turks.

Turtle lover George Perdikis
Turtle lover George Perdikis

ON HEARING the ridiculous 12-point plan for the House announced by its new president Demetris Syllouris, the insufferably self-righteous turtle-lover Perdikis seized the opportunity to advertise his moral superiority. One of Syllouris’ points was that he would introduce a dress code at the House.

Perdikis immediately wrote to Syllouris telling him that much more important than the dress code was the introduction of a “code of correct behaviour for deputies, both inside and outside the legislature.” He made sure his pathetic letter was given to the press, but disappointingly it did not make any mention of what Perdikis considered correct behaviour and what punitive measures would be taken against deputies that violated the code.

Would the code ban farting at House committees or stop deputies picking their nose and putting the snot under their chair? These, I hear, are very common practices inside the legislature. As for outside the legislature, would the code ban extra-marital affairs, dope-smoking or eating ambelopoulia?

If Perdikis ever gets round to drafting this code, I would advise him not to set very high standards because most deputies are not as morally perfect as him. As punishment, I would suggest any violator of the code would be spanked on the bottom by Irini Charalambidou dressed as a dominatrix.

THE BALL-BUSTER bondholders have found another injustice against them to moan about. In a letter sent to the health minister they demanded the ministry appoint “a government psychologist and psychiatrist in every town to offer free treatment to all our members and their spouses that need psychological support, irrespective of whether they are entitled to free healthcare or not.”

They also wanted any drugs prescribed by the psychiatrist to be given to them free of charge. Of course, the ministry never responded to their absurd letter, giving them another excuse to moan. They have not yet set a date for a violent demonstration outside the health ministry, but I would urge the minister to show some sympathy to their demand because I think they have proved they need a few screws tightened. Even if it is at the taxpayer’s expense, it would be worth it.

ETHNARCH Junior gave a good illustration of his school playground politics when he lashed out against Prez Nik’s interference in the election of House president. He said: “As the president chooses to have such an involvement in the affairs of the legislature, he should not complain when the legislature would want to have an involvement in the affairs of the executive.” Nik has been warned – Junior will start rehearsing his role as president from now.

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