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Tales from the Coffeeshop: Keeping the negativity in the family

Flavour of the week Dr Angelos Syrigos waxing lyrical about Tassos, and partition

THE ETHNARCH must have been smiling up in heaven, assuming the Almighty forgives liars so there could be some politicians and lawyers in the mix up there, after hearing the speech by assistant professor Dr Angelos Syrigos at last Sunday’s church memorial service to honour the 8th anniversary of his passing.

Syrigos waxed lyrical about the wisdom of the former president and lamented the fact that he was not around to guide us now that his negativity was needed more than ever. “For the dilemmas that are created at this phase, the advice that Tassos Papadopoulos would have had to give us, if he was still among us, would have been valuable and unique.”

I would not question the adjective ‘valuable’ because it is entirely subjective, but ‘unique’? He would have been advising us exactly the same thing as his son and the rest of the miserable prophets of doom have been saying: not to agree to a settlement because partition is a small price to pay for maintaining our glorious republic (of which Junior must be the president of one day soon, just like his dad).

The wise leader must have looked down proudly on his son and heir for using the memorial service to promote the family’s partition message. Junior might behave like a spoiled kid sometimes, but a smart spoiled kid that knows exactly what he has to do to keep hold of his favourite plaything – the Cyprob.


THE ASSISTANT professor’s memorial speech argued for exactly this. The annexation of the north by Turkey would be “undoubtedly a sad development, which would confirm the reality we have been living on the island since 1974.”

Then he made his big revelation. “Turkey is occupying Cyprus and this is who the Greek Cypriots are negotiating with. A possible annexation would lead us to look at this reality in the face.” And after we looked at this reality in the face what would happen? We would elect Junior president so he could negotiate aimlessly with Turkey?

Dr Syrigos, who was wrongly accused of supporting Turkey’s annexation of the north, also offered us some advice. “To avert unfavourable developments, even the possibility of annexation, it would be good, to avoid, in every way, arriving at a referendum. It would be bad, for a second time, to reject a settlement plan, as is certain to happen. We must stop the procedure before then.”

But why would it be so bad to reject a settlement plan for the second time? Could it be because we want to keep the Cyprob alive so that Junior and his comrades could carry on kidding everyone that they want a settlement?


THE MEMORIAL speech sparked much debate, with even Prez Nik joining the fun. In an interview with Yiannis Kareklas, the retired CyBC news boss now working for Sigma TV, he spoke of “visitors from Greece giving lessons in patriotism.”

He also said: “I want to make an appeal: those visiting Cyprus from Greece – not the Greek government – should realise that it is not their village, their township, their region that is under occupation.”

Some papers also had a dig at Dr Syrigos, reporting that he was an advisor of Greece’s foreign minister Nikos Kotzias that made a lot of sense even though it was untrue. Kotzias took to Twitter to deny the story and claim it was “fascism to credit me with the views of the excellent academic A. Syrigos a member of the New Democracy governments.”

Dr Syrigos also denied any links with Kotzias, and complained that his words had been distorted. “first it was made out that I supported annexation, then that I was in favour of partition and now that I am an advisor of Kotzias,” he complained to the Athens News Agency. He just supports a policy that would lead to partition and annexation, which is completely different.


AS HE IS flavour of the week, we cannot omit to mention Dr Syrigos’ subtle offer of hope, voiced in an interview with a Greek publication. While he did not know for sure whether conditions would be better for a settlement in one or two years’ time, one pre-requisite would be the “discovery of richer sources of hydrocarbons in the Cypriot EEZ, which would help the Greek Cypriot side change the balance of power.”

I am no academic, which may be the reason why I can’t figure out how the balance of power would change if we found loads of natural gas. Would we suddenly buy 100 fighter jets and hire 100,000 privates to beef up the National Guard? Then there is the issue of the Turks preventing oil companies from drilling for hydrocarbons, which is almost a certainty if there is no settlement.

Being a smart academic, Syrigos must know something we do not. He must be banking on Junior becoming president in one or two years. With such a brave leader the balance of power will shift in our favour automatically and the Turkey would be offering to return Kyrenia in order to get a deal.


A NEW WORD has been added to the vocabulary of the Cyprob – de-recognition. According to Akel’s Cyprob expert, Toumazos Tsielepis, “our side is absolutely justified in not accepting de-recognition of the Cyprus Republic before a settlement, because we want the continuation of the state.”

He said this to defend the demand of for the presence of the Cyprus Republic at the international conference in Geneva, which has become the latest cause célèbre of the Greek Cypriot side. Tselepis acknowledged that each side “on the specific issue has a red line, but not red like the ones we hear from balconies and pulpits – these are fire-red.”

So if the republic is not present at the Geneva conference, it would be de-recognised according to Tselepis. What would this de-recognition mean? Would the republic become a pseudo-state on January 12, because it would not be represented at the Geneva conference, and subsequently be kicked out of the UN and the EU?

Until recently, the danger posed to the republic was “downgrading” but now we will have to live with the fear of “de-recognition.”


ANOTHER demand regarding the Geneva conference, made by those who want to delay the agreement of a settlement until the balance of power shifts in our favour, is presence of all five permanent members of UN Security Council.

This is another Tassos legacy. While still president he had declared that he would no longer agree to peace initiatives by the Yanks and Brits, in the name of the UN. He said that he would demand that all the Security Council permanent five would have to be involved, so if the Yanks came up with the proposal he would tell them: “Have you asked the Chinese, have you asked the Russians, have you asked France, first, if they agreed?”

Now we are demanding that the representatives of all five would be in Geneva so Prez Nik would be able to tell Espen Barth Eide, “have you asked the Chinese if they agree to the non-return of Morphou?” There is another reason for this demand – it allows the rejectionists to hope that if things were not going well and a deal was imminent, Mother Russia, which is not very keen on a deal, would throw a spanner in the works.


THINGS might not be as simple we think on this issue. While some representatives of the five have expressed the readiness to participate in conference – out of politeness because they had been asked – none of them has shown any great desire to be in Geneva. For this to happen, they would need to tell the UN Secretary-General that they want to be there and so far none of them has done this. But even if one country does not agree, the idea is a non-starter. Not for the first time, we are making a huge fuss, fighting among ourselves over something that ain’t gonna happen. As Tassos would have said, “Have you asked the Chinese?” And, by the way, has anyone asked Tselepis if a Security Council presence was a “fire-red line”.


PRIM AND PROPER Diko deputy Christiana Erotokritou was put on the spot by a radio show presenter, a few days ago, when she was asked to comment about a lie that her party leader had been peddling regarding the talks. Junior had claimed there was a 20 per cent limit on the number of Greek Cypriots that would be able to settle in the TC constituent state and that the Prez had lied in saying there was no limit.

On the show was negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis who said there was no limit, but explained that only 20 per cent would have the right to vote. Asked how she responded to this by the presenter, Erotokritou came up with a clever answer. “It is not my job to validate and confirm what Mr Anastasiades agrees at the talks,” she said. Her job, like her leader’s, is to misinform the public, a job they have both been performing extremely well.


OUR BISHOPS have requested that Prez Nik meet with with Holy Synod so he could brief its members about the talks. The Synod held an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday to discuss the Cyprob.

It said that “after an exhaustive discussion, all the Synod’s members expressed the deepest concern and their intense worries, over everything that is seeing the light of publicity regarding the imminent new round of talks in Geneva.”

Archbishop Chrys has been given the responsibility of asking Nik to attend a Synod meeting to brief the bishops and take questions from every one of them. The holy men also decided to invite other politicians “to hear their views with the aim of forming a comprehensive picture, before taking a stand.”

They have a nerve, implying that they could not trust Nik and had to speak to other politicians as well. If I were Nik I would tell them to go to hell.


OUR SINCERE apologies for today’s single-issue Coffeeshop which I am certain will have bored some of our regulars senseless. Do not miss our fun-packed Coffeeshop Xmas Special on Christmas Day in which Patroclos will try his hardest not to come across as a Grinch, even at the risk of being de-recognised by customers.

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