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Tales from the Coffeeshop: Eternal gratitude for Russia’s principled stand

Not best pleased with the Cypriot media, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova

I MUST admit that I foolishly suffered an ego boost when I read the tweets by the spokeswoman of the Russian foreign ministry Maria Zakharova who expressed “surprise” at the “anti-Russia insinuations” by the Cyprus media in relation to the Cyprob peace talks.

Did this mean she read the Coffeeshop and more importantly took it so seriously she felt obliged to respond to it?

When I overcame my momentary bout of self-importance, I surmised that she had been briefed by the Russian embassy which was concerned that the “anti-Russia insinuations” were not only restricted to our establishment and the columns of the Cyprus Mail, but had started appearing in other publications as well. I accepted that if the Coffeeshop were the only source of the insinuations she would not have bothered.

Zakharova sent several Cyprob-related tweets on Thursday, claiming “Anti-Russia insinuations are a smokescreen” and “we are surprised by the anti-Russia comments in the Cyprus media following the #Cyprus settlement talks.”

The source of the problem was an excellent article posted on the authoritative Brussels-based news website Politico Europe that argued, very convincingly, that Russia was opposed to a Cyprus settlement because her interests were served by the maintenance of the status quo. The article was reproduced by some of the Cyprus media dealing a blow to Mother Russia’s sacred cow status. If Moscow did not try to crush the dissenting voices, there was a danger that more dumb natives would start questioning the myth about its principled position on the Cyprob.


APART from the tweets, Zakharova also gave a briefing to hacks in Moscow about her disappointment with the Cypriot media. Imagine, if the Yank or Brit spokespersons issued statements or tweets whenever the Cyprus press wrote critical articles about their respective governments in relation to the Cyprob, they would have no time for anything else.

The US and UK are obviously not as sensitive to criticism as Mother Russia which had been accustomed for decades to glowing write-ups in the Cyprus press presenting her, even during the days of the Soviet empire, as the most virtuous and principled country in the world that acted as the guardian angel of the Greek Cypriots.

In her briefing, a copy of which our establishment has obtained, she said: “We have reacted with dismay to comments by some Cypriot media outlets in the context of the recent conference on a Cyprus political settlement. For example some stories claim that Russia is allegedly trying to prevent the island’s re-unification…

“We clearly see the discontent of certain pro-US and pro-UK political circles with the principled Russian stand implying that ready-made prescriptions and artificial haste should not be imposed on the parties to the Cypriot conflict to quickly achieve a resolution to the Cypriot issue at any cost.”

The italicised bit is very similar to the arguments used against the peace process by our very own rejectionist politicians and hacks who in stark contrast to Zakharova do not want a settlement.


“CLAIMS about any Russian attempts to block, obstruct or hamper the negotiating process are not backed by fact and are unreasonable,” said Zakharova. So why is it then that every time her foreign minister or her ambassador in Kyproulla talk, they always focus on the reason why Greek Cypriots should not accept a settlement?

And why are all the fanatically, pro-Putin websites hosting articles by individuals who viciously attack Prez Nik accusing him of being corrupt and treacherous because of his commitment to a settlement that is invariably presented as a crime against democracy?

We have written about these websites and about Dimitris Konstantakopoulos, a shameless cheerleader of the Putin regime and campaigner against the West, who writes rabid anti-settlement articles in all of them. His anti-settlement rant titled “Building totalitarianism in Europe – the last coup of Victoria Nuland,” was posted on three Russia-funded websites and now has appeared on a fourth – Voltairenet which features articles such as “The Nato Campaign against freedom of expression” and “The confession of the criminal John Kerry.”

It is quite unbelievable that Putin’s disciples feel they can pontificate about freedom of expression and totalitarianism in Europe.


ZAKHAROVA’S biggest concern was that criticism of Russia would not help the peace process. “We believe that anti-Russia comments by a number of media outlets do not benefit this process and do not meet the interests of the Cypriots themselves,” she said before putting a little pressure on our government.

“We hope that the Cypriot authorities will respond accordingly.” I am certain she was not suggesting that our government should respond in the way Russian authorities do when they disapprove of what a journalist writes or do not like the reporting of a media outlet.

But to be on the safe side, we would like to state unequivocally that Mother Russia fully supports the Cyprus peace process, any claim to the contrary is totally unfounded. She cares deeply about the interests of Cypriots and we are eternally grateful for her principled stand.

Incidentally, on Friday, the day after Zakharova’s comments government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides met ambassador Osadchiy to discuss the anti-Russia comments. After the meeting he responded as Zakharova had commanded. He repeated Prez Nik’s plea to everyone, “to be particularly careful when making evaluations that do not reflect reality.” Christodoulides is a master of the bland and meaningless statement, which was exactly what was needed in this case.


MEANWHILE Greece’s foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, who has close ties with Moscow, ever since he was a member of Greek communist party, went on the offensive last Monday after a meeting in Brussels.

Responding to reports that he had disrupted the Geneva conference and that he would not be participating when it was re-convened because the UN Secretary-General did not want him there, he said these allegations were the “despicable and paid publications of the dirty press”. We shall see whether he is right about this in the not too distant future.

Being a true Stalinist, he had to claim that his critics had been bribed to write the reports about him. It is a very common practice for Stalinists to accuse their critics or rivals of being in someone’s pay, but it was a bit rich of Kotzias to resort to this method.

This was the guy who back in the eighties had written a book extolling the virtues of the cruel, repressive Jaruzelski regime in Poland and his excuse for writing it (revealed not so long ago) was that he was following Party instructions.


AYIOS MAKARIOS day on Thursday and the president of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos, proud owner of the key of Morphou, flew in to speak at an “event in memory and honour of Ethnarch Makarios III”.

This year marks 40 years since the death of Makarios (and of Elvis Presley, who died 13 days after the ethnarch) so the Archbishop Makarios III Foundation will be organising special events to mark his memory.

The first, an exhibition of Cyprus painting from the 13th century, titled Maniera Cypria was opened on Thursday by Pavlopoulos, after the “event in memory and honour” which was held at the same venue – the hall of the Cultural Centre of the Archbishop Makarios III Foundation. And this, believe it or not, is situated on a street named after the great man.

The worshipping of Makarios, treated like a saint when living, remained at hysterical levels until a decade after his death but gradually faded and is completely out of fashion nowadays. Even Phil, which for years treated him as a deity, has now forgotten him. Now, there is just a small clique of elderly devotees at the foundation trying to keep his memory alive, as if we could ever forget him given the number of streets, squares, avenues, hospitals, stadiums, nurseries, etc named after him.


THE FOUNDATION has succeeded, however, in preserving the myth of Mak as a great and infallible leader who had done only good for his country. The facts of course tell a completely different story. He may have been a hugely popular and charismatic leader but if he is judged on achievements rather than popularity, he was an emphatic failure.

First he set Enosis as his goal, but failed spectacularly to realise it; in 1960 he agreed to a bi-communal, independent state and oversaw its collapse three year later; after that he ruled the country as a despot suffering from delusions of grandeur; and then 1974 happened.

When he died in 1977 the Cyprus Republic had lost one third of its territory on which there were 40,000 Turkish troops and almost a third of its population were refugees – not exactly a plus point on Mak’s CV. We blamed the foreigners for all our woes, but a more objective look at Mak’s record – he failed to achieve anything he set out to – would suggest he was a bit of a disaster for poor old Kyproulla rather than the great statesman claimed by his devoted followers.


THERE was a lot of nonsense spoken at the memorial event, with the current archbishop, as expected, taking the lead. “An assertive policy (on Cyprob) would be the best memorial for the first president of the republic,” said Chrys the Second before revealing that he knew what Mak was thinking up in the heavens.

“We are certain that if Ethnarch Makarios lived a few years longer he would have withdrawn federation (as a compromise for a settlement),” he said. Unfortunately, Mak’s spirit which he contacted through a well-known Romanian medium (not though a Ouija board as some believed) did not inform him what type of settlement he wanted. Hopefully he will get this info at the next séance.

President Pavlopoulos, the honorary citizen of Morphou, said there could not be a settlement with guarantees and Turkish troops. “As Hellenism, as Greece and Cyprus, we do not have the right to accept a settlement with occupation troops, not only for Greece and Cyprus, but for Europe.” We will reject the settlement for Europe’s sake.


FORMER health minister and Diko cadre Christos Patsalides spoke at the opening of the Maniera Cypria exhibition, in his role as president of the organisation Cultural Capital of Europe Paphos 2017. The joke of Paphos as cultural capital of Europe begins on Saturday.

Patsalides was happy that the exhibition was part of the cultural capital events and said that “Paphos, despite being a small town, creates a bridge of cultural significance between east and west.” His gave a free rein to his delusions adding:

“The activities will project the cultural elements that make up the basis of contemporary European civilisation and there will be activities that highlight how we co-exist and create contemporary European civilisation.”

I always thought Paphos and civilisation were mutually exclusive, but I was wrong. This was because I had failed to spot the cultural elements or the bridge of cultural significance whenever I visited this cradle of contemporary European civilisation.

Follow Patroclos on Twitter. I have set a target of one million followers by March and so far have not even reached 200. @Coffeeshop1991

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