Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Damn those back-stabbing usual suspects

Andreas Mavroyiannis

EVERYONE was trying to explain the reasons for the saintly Andreas Mavroyiannis’ narrow defeat in last Monday’s election for the president of the UN General Assembly. It was a close-run contest (90 to 94 votes), described as an honourable result for Kyproulla by his campaign chief, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides

Kasoulides’ conclusion was that “we really gave a very big fight,” before explaining what he meant. “To lose by four votes proves that the result could have gone in any direction, it proves that Cyprus has great prestige in the framework of the UN General Assembly, that is among the member-states of the United Nations. It was a very good exercise in diplomacy.”

One reason given back here for the defeat was that Mavroyiannis had spent only a limited amount of time in New York lobbying for votes, because he was stuck in Kyproulla for the negotiations. That he travelled all over the world seeking support was not mentioned and nor were his frequent visits to the Big Apple, all at the taxpayer’s expense.

His buddy, our permanent rep at the UN Nicos Emiliou had a public dig at the US, UK and some Scandinavian countries for backing the Fiji candidate Peter Thompson. It was a bit rich coming from a loyal servant of our anti-West, foreign ministry which does little else than criticise these countries for being pro-Turkish, while regularly placing our country’s “great prestige” at the service of Vladimir Putin.

Mavroyiannis also served in our foreign ministry, for many years, which may have been handicap for his candidacy, but he should not complain because without the ministry’s money he would not have been able to fund his campaign.

HOW DID Emiliou know the UK and US had backed Thompson, considering the voting was secret? He was just dutifully displaying his anti-West prejudice because he, reportedly, had secured written assurance of support from Mavroyiannis from 120 countries, 30 of which had failed to keep their word. Why had he singled out only the Yanks, Brits and Scandinavians that accounted for only five votes for special blame?

As one skettos drinking customer informs me, it is common practice for countries to make promises they do not keep at the UN. When, a few years back, Australia was campaigning for a seat on the UN Security Council, its permanent representative Richard Butler had assurances he would be backed by the majority of countries but eventually lost to India.

The brash Butler, who may have lost because of his unpopularity or because Australia did not enjoy the same great prestige as Kyproulla at the UN, said at the time. “I always knew there were liars at the UN and now I know how many.”

 

SEMI-OFFICIAL mouthpiece of the foreign ministry Phil, meanwhile, conspiratorially reported that “many games were played out” at the UN and of course there could only have been one country behind them – perfidious Albion.

Under the headline, “Usual suspects act!” the paper authoritatively reported that “the driving force, in the shaping of the result, were the British,” quoting nobody and not even having a by-line on its story. Was Emiliou its source, or had it shifted into its default position – if in doubt blame the Brits, because everyone will believe it.

It did not mention a second usual suspect even though its headline said there was more than one – unless it was referring to back-stabbing Brits in general rather than duplicitous Britain.

IT IS POSSIBLE – this is just speculation and in no way intended to acquit the back-stabbing usual suspects – the Yanks and Brits worked for Mavroyiannis’ defeat so as to deprive Prez Nik of a plausible excuse for slowing down the talks.

With his chief negotiator gone, he could legitimately have asked for a few months for consultations with the party leaders, the unions, the Greek government to find a new person that would also need a few months’ time to get up to speed. The usual suspects, keen on pushing for the unfair, unjust settlement did not allow this to happen.

What should worry us is that if the Yanks and Brits wanted Mavroyiannis to stay on as negotiator, he cannot be the right man to defend our national interests. Worse still, Turkey made no fuss about our candidate and did nothing to undermine his candidacy, raising fears that Ankara might even like the guy.

 

A SOURCE in the know suggested another reason for our narrow defeat. He claimed that the crude campaigning in New York may have also been to blame. Apparently, Mavroyiannis had too many parties in New York (one was fancy-dress and attended by our first lady) and hosted too many dinners at expensive Manhattan restaurants as part of his campaign.

His guests, permanent reps at the UN or members of UN missions, may have felt uncomfortable being expected to vote for him in exchange for the lavish hospitality, funded by the Cypriot taxpayer, but felt obliged to inform Emiliou, in writing, that they would back Mavroyiannis’ candidacy. A small white lie was the least they could do as an expression of their gratitude for the wining and dining.

 

THE PROODEFTIKI (Progressive) Movement of Students – an AKEL-controlled union – has accused the education ministry of “calculated anti-communist propaganda” with regard to one of the questions in the history exam for university entry.

The question apparently asked students to explain how the world recession of 1920-1932 contributed to the elimination of parliamentary democracy and liberalism and gave way to the rise of totalitarian regimes in Europe. It advised students to use terms such as “consequences of economic recession, Communist Party, socialism, fascism/fascist ideology, nationalism, National Socialist Party.”

Proodeftiki saw a sinister attempt by the ministry “to lead, suggest and impose the identification and equating of fascism and Nazism with communism.” To prove the point, it added: “The candidate gets full marks if he equates fascism and Nazism with communism and shows that communism and socialist ideas led to the emergence of totalitarian regimes.”

So if a Proodeftiki student wrote the Soviet Union was a model liberal democracy and remembered to mention Stalin’s big contribution to the spread of democratic ideals in Eastern Europe he would get a zero, and quite rightly.

 

A COLUMNIST in Haravghi, with the name of Toxotis (Archer) could not suppress his outrage at the ministry’s distortion of history and decided to send some arrows in its direction. He wrote on Monday:

“What can one say faced with this monument of anachronistic hysteria? What can one say when brainless people urge students to identify communism with fascism? And what would the millions of dead communists, who fell in battles for the defence of democracy against the Nazis, say? Only one word is appropriate – disgrace.”

I would qualify as one of the brainless people according to Toxotis’ criteria, but how brainy is it to claim that the communists were defending democracy in WWII after they had installed ruthless totalitarian regimes in half the countries Europe? Only the brainy, progressive Akelite students can answer our query.

SPEAKING of brainy Akelites, party chief Andros Kyprianou came up with a very original suggestion after a meeting with China’s ambassador Liu Xinsheng last Monday. To give this routine meeting some news value, Andros said he had asked “for the upgrading of the role of China, so we can ensure the basic principles of a Cyprus settlement would be preserved.”

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, “China has an important role to play in the efforts being made for a settlement,” said the dull and dim Andros. But did Andros ask the Chinese ambassador if he wanted his country to play any role in the Cyprob, let alone an upgraded and important one?

The way our politicians speak, you’d think there is a long queue of countries begging us to give them an upgraded role in the Cyprob talks. In the comments attributed to Liu Xinsheng in the CNA report, nowhere does he as much as hint he wants, or would accept, an upgraded role for China in the talks. However, Andros is determined to upgrade this role, even if it is against China’s wishes and our government is forced to issue an ultimatum.

 

STAYING on diplomatic issues, there was only one question being asked at the reception for the Queen’s birthday party that was held last Wednesday at the British High Commissioner’s residence: what was reason for the very sudden departure of High Commissioner Ric Todd, a few days before the reception?

The gossip-mongers were having a great evening, whispering scurrilous rumours which cannot be repeated in the pages of a family newspaper. Todd’s predecessor, the popular (no irony intended) Matthew Kidd was brought back to host the reception.

Kidd, I am told, was the only diplomat meeting the the new Foreign Office policy criteria for Cyprus, which stipulates that the High Commissioner’s surname must end in double ‘d’. It is MI6 code for duplicitous diplomacy.

IT IS NOT only Andros that is engaging in upgrading efforts. Cytavision has sent out a letter informing subscribers that from July 1st “we are introducing a new upgraded package of adult channels.” This would include “the well-known in Greece Sirina TV, the world famous channels Hustler HD, Redlight and Private TV,” the letter said.

And as a sweetener, “in July, subscribers of existing adult channels can enjoy the upgraded content of the new package at no extra cost.” What constitutes upgraded content in porn films? Is the acting, dialogue, story-line or the camera-work of higher quality?  Upgrading porn is only marginally less ridiculous than upgrading the role of China in the Cyprob.

 

I AM SURPRISED the unions and the parties have not used the availability of TV porn as another compelling argument against the privatisation of Cyta. If the ‘national wealth’ was sold off, the private company, that will disgracefully base all its decisions on profit, could stop showing porn because it might be economically unviable.

Speaking of SGOs, the auditor-general, identified another example of how these workers’ co-operatives are plundering the national wealth. All the offspring of the grossly overpaid EAC employees are entitled to interest-free loans for their university education. Another worker’s conquest that privatisation would threaten.

 

OUR COURTS are not very efficient and seem to be going out of their way to prove correct the saying that justice delayed is no justice at all.

A case of wrongful dismissal was filed by a sacked employee at the labour court in 2005. However, the employer filed an appeal (it takes two years for the Supreme Court to give a number to the case) and the labour court had been waiting for the appeal to be heard before it could proceed. A few weeks ago the appeal was to be heard, but the case was cancelled because the plaintiff had passed away.

There was another case in which the elderly lawyers of both sides had died when the appeal was finally scheduled to be heard. So if you do not want your case to be heard, there is a solution – appeal.

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