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OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Getting ready for a new bromance  

Dark suits are definitely a sign that all is not right yet between Erdogan and Putin

SOME of Mother Russia’s devoted children remained in denial after watching the great Erdogan-Putin love-in, broadcast from Saint Petersburg, on their TV screens.

Even after reading all the agency reports about the plan for Turkish Stream pipeline, the construction of the nuclear power station in Akkuyu, the resumption of chartered flights and the re-assertion of the Russia-Turkey commitment to trade reaching €100 billion, they still saw signs that relations had not been mended.

All the media that act as Russia’s cheerleaders found some imaginary negative points to highlight and justify the doubts they subsequently expressed about the official restoration of good relations. The most imaginative of the lot was one Demetris Liatsos, the Moscow correspondent of our Russia-worshipping state broadcaster CyBC.

Liatsos, who is more pro-Moscow than the spokesperson of the Russian foreign ministry, and could never be accused of filing an unbiased report, informed CyBC television viewers on Wednesday night, he had been told by “some in Russia” that the fact the two presidents wore dark colour suits, “despite the 30 degrees in Saint Petersburg” was indicative of the climate at the meeting.

Liatsos’ reliable sources had told him if the climate had been better, lighter- coloured suits and ties would have been worn. Erdogan might even have gone in Bermuda shorts, polo shirt and flip-flops while Putin would have greeted him in a white suit and pink shirt.

EQUALLY important for Liatsos was the restraint shown by Putin, whom he described as the “patriarch of diplomatic language.” Despite the “triumphal reports in the Turkish media” the meeting did not go so well, we were authoritatively informed and told that Erdogan’s continual efforts “to procure Putin’s sympathy” by referring to him as “my good friend” did not work, after Turkey’s “stab in the back” of last year.

The other positive, according to Liatsos, was that there was very little chance of the two countries reaching an agreement on Syria, as Erdogan could not possibly satisfy the conditions set by Putin who wanted Turkey to close its borders with Syria, join the war against ISIS and recognise the Assad government. The break-up of the new bromance is only a matter of time.

STATE news agency Tass, also known as CNA, asked for the views of the Russia-worshipping former foreign minister Erato Kozakou Markoulli, in its effort to play down the significance of the St Petersburg meeting. She did not mention the colour of the suits, but like Liatsos she identified great enthusiasm for the agreement only on the part of Erdogan, giving Mother Russia the benefit of the doubt.

“I believe Russia is monitoring and will continue to monitor very carefully the developments in this relationship, knowing that Turkey is using this warming of relations for tactical reasons,” she told Tass. Russia knew “the approach of Turkey could be tactical in order to secure some things in exchange, mainly for the EU.” She also highlighted the big differences on the Syrian issue, implying thus, that there was still hope the agreement would collapse.

The good news is that, according to Markoulli’s objective analysis the agreement would not affect Russia’s stance on the Cyprob. There were “strengthened Russia-Turkey relations in the past but we did not see a change, not only because Russia has a position of principle on the Cyprus issue, but also because this stance serves its interests, especially political.”

THE QUESTION she did not answer, because the respectful Tass never asked was whether her unwavering support of Mother Russia was a position of principle or because this stance also served her interests. Markoulli is a director of RCB, a local subsidiary of one of Russia’s biggest state banks and collects a very respectable annual fee for the services she provides.

I am certain her undying loyalty to Mother Russia is not influenced by the lucrative directorship she has, but it would have been right for her to mention this before every time she told us how wonderful and principled Russia was on the Cyprob. And perhaps she could also mention that she was hoping to be AKEL’s presidential candidate in the next elections, for which Moscow’s consent might be required.

Her presidential ambitions are no joke. A few months ago it was reported she tried to arrange meetings in Washington, using her prospective presidential candidacy as justification. The Yanks, to their credit, snubbed her, dealing a blow to her efforts to build a presidential profile.

THE OTHER Russia champion, Phil expressed its doubts about the Russia-Turkey love-in through columnist Andreas Bimbishis, who said that from the picture sent by international news agencies, “it was not difficult for someone to notice that the two sides had not succeeded in overcoming the coldness between them.”

He added: “The facial expressions and gestures are those actions that, most times, give the real picture, which artfully some may try to hide behind a statement or some words. The awkwardness on stage showed that Russia and Turkey still have a long way to go before they reached the stage at which relations were a year ago.”

Although he forgot to mention the colour of their suits, he was optimistic that there was a long road ahead before we saw “the two men standing relaxed in front of the TV cameras and embracing.”

SENER LEVENT, the Turkish Cypriot cheerleader of Mother Russia, and a Politis columnist, assured us that Putin and Erdogan could never agree on a Cyprus settlement, because “Russia would not do something that went against Greek Cypriot positions.” Russia “had never accepted the idea of two separate states,” he wrote on Wednesday.

Levent does not sit on the board of RCB, but he is one of those Soviet-educated communists who, like most Akelites has transferred his blind devotion from the Soviet Union to Putin’s Russia while maintaining his Cold War hatred of the West.

In the same article he showed he has still to overcome the Soviet brainwashing he received as a university education. He reported that Henry Kissinger, “who visited Russia a few weeks ago, tried to persuade Putin on the issue of two separate states in Cyprus. Putin does not support this.”

You have to be a special kind moron to believe Levent knew what was discussed between Putin and Kissinger, assuming there had even been such a meeting? And an even bigger moron, preferably Soviet-educated, to believe that with all the major problems in the world, Kissinger would have even mentioned Cyprus, number 3,000 on his priority list, at a meeting with Putin.

A FEW weeks ago, Levent had written that he was told, by someone who had overheard two Turkish soldiers speaking just after the Turkish invasions that Greek Cypriot prisoners were being taken to Turkey and buried alive. There was a big outcry and Greek Cypriot authorities dealing with the issue of the missing persons to made public statements and promised to investigate Levent’s claims.

Intoxicated by the attention his story received, Levent came up with a similar one a week or two later. This time, he reported that someone had told him Greek Cypriot prisoners were being thrown down a cliff from Buffavento castle in 1974. This time nobody commented, suspecting Levent’s reports are more fiction than fact.

Even his Kissinger revelation was ignored despite the abundance of Kissinger-haters in the Greek Cypriot media.

SPEAKING of intellectually-challenged, Soviet-educated, commies, we should mention the congratulatory message sent by comrade Tof to Fidel Castro on the occasion of the Cuban’s 90th birthday. Tof was so proud of his brown-nosing of Fidel he released the message so we could all read it and remember what a Stalinist simpleton he is (as if we could ever forget).

“The creative implementation of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism in your country has turned the Cuban revolution into an island of freedom, a lighthouse that lights up and inspires the people of Latin America and the Caribbean in the struggles of democracy and progress,” he wrote and added:

“Without exaggeration, the Cuban revolution is a work of world-historic significance and constitutes the second world-historic event after the Great October Socialist Revolution. It is a fact that history vindicates you. We, the Cyprus communists and not only, all the people of Cyprus that are fighting against the Turkish occupation and imperialist intrigues, have been tasting, throughout time, the nectar of solidarity of the Cuban people.”

And the third world-historic event after these two was the election of Tof as president of Kyproulla. We are still tasting, the nectar of his Marxist-Leninist policies that made us all poorer.

THE LAST time the Olympics were staged, four years ago, Tof was still president. The Troika had arrived a month before the Games had begun and drafted its proposals for the assistance programme. Tof put the Troika proposals in his drawer, informed nobody about them and pissed off to London with his wife to watch the Olympics. He continued to ignore their existence after his return from the Olympics until the Troika started agitating for a response. This was the Marxist-Leninist doctrine for dealing with state bankruptcy.

POLITICAL debate in Kyproulla appears to have taken on a new form. It is being dictated by the bash-patriotic Phil which acts as the conductor and our politicians accepting the role of members of the orchestra. Phil writes the story, in its inimitable self-righteous style and then the politicians issue announcements of make public statements about the story.

This has been going on for some time now, especially with regard to the Cyprob but it has become more frequent recently. Public debate of the last few weeks has been inspired by Phil stories. First we had the report about the passenger traffic at Ercan airport, then the story about the cops ignoring the Interpol message about an underworld hit and last week the story about the use of the Turkish airline Pegasus to fly Greek Cypriot students from Istanbul to Trabzon.

Phil’s first violin is Giorgos Perdikis, who immediately gives a moral sermon based on the story, repeatedly plugging the paper in the process. DIKO is the second violin, EDEK the wind (bag) section and Lillikas the horns.

MOST of these stories are leaked letters from sources that want to have a debate on specific issues. For instance, the police story was leaked by someone in the force that wanted to embarrass the cop chief and justice minister, who were taking action against cops suspected of corruption.

All members of the orchestra conscientiously picked up the story, which was confirmed by the cop chief and highlighted what a dangerous, mix incompetence with corruption could be, and demanded the resignation of the hapless minister. Apparently the police were tipped off by Serbian Interpol about plans of an assassination in Kyproulla, but instead of calling Interpol for more information our cops called the prospective hitman.

The big question was where did our incompetent cops find the telephone number of the hitman? It could not have been in the yellow pages, under ‘hitmen.’

THE PEGASUS story – a letter from the foreign ministry censuring the education ministry which arranged the trip – could have been leaked to Phil, by anyone of the many fanatics employed by our foreign ministry, which has given itself the responsibility of policing patriotic and national purity.

The letter reprimanded the education ministry for using an airline that flew to the illegal airport in the north, ignoring the fact that the alternative would have been Turkish Airlines which also flew to the illegal airport. It was a non-story, but once Phil published it, it also started conducting the patriotic orchestra.

To be fair, our hero Odysseas had also written to the education ministry complaining about the use of Pegasus but he also raised even more ludicrous patriotic objections, making the foreign ministry’s mujahedeen seem moderate by comparison. Odysseas complained that the travel agent used the word ‘Istanbul’ instead of ‘Constantinoupolis’ on the tickets. This was not surprising considering the tickets were written in English.

Odysseas should quit his office and join the foreign ministry. Such Olympic petty-mindedness, masquerading as patriotism is greatly valued there.

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