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OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Threats, however silly, will always work in Kyproulla

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THE BANK of Cyprus has set up a Real Estate Management Unit (Remu) for dealing with all the properties it has repossessed from companies and individuals with NPLs. The unit has also set up a website on which it lists some of the properties that are up for sale.

Looking at prices being quoted, you get the impression the bank is going to have difficulty selling many of these properties even at half its asking price. The most expensive property is outside Limassol, close to Saint Raphael Hotel, a few yards from the beach.

According to the Remu website it has of a total area of 454 square metres, five bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, on a plot of 1,095 square metres and the gardens are big enough to host Gatsby-style parties. There is also a pool and an unfinished basement. Architecturally it would never win any awards as the aesthetics are of a developer targeting buyers with lots of money to launder and no class.

The asking price for the “luxurious villa, part of The Residence development, located in Saint Raphael, one of the most prestigious areas in Cyprus,” is a bargain €9.7 million. If the bank finds anyone to part with that kind of money for a house that is part of a development, overlooking a public beach, I would be very surprised, even if Cypriot citizenship is given to all the members of his extended family including his in-laws.

AS A RESULT of the fight to reduce its NPLs the B of C has ended up owning almost all the island’s golf courses that were set up by developers to sell holiday villas. Having sold the villas, the developers had no other assets to offer the bank to pay-off their loans, or at least make them serviceable.

So do not be surprised if membership of a golf course is being offered as a bonus on the bank’s credit card schemes. At present there are no plans of to rename the B of C as Bank of Golf or Golf of Cyprus as this might cause confusion on the London Stock Exchange.

Etyk union meanwhile is set to demand a membership for life at one golf course for every bank employee when the collective agreement is next up for approval.

THOUSANDS of people braved the bitter evening cold of the Saturday before last to attend the opening ceremony for Paphos’ stint as the European Capital of Culture. Had they known that they would have been subjected to the very Cypriot type of torture reserved for official occasions half of them would probably not have turned up.

On that freezing evening they had to endure 45 minutes of colossally boring speeches before the actual show, which was impressive by all accounts, started. They had to listen to the head of the organising committee, the mayor, Cyprus’ European Commisioner Christos Stylianides and finally the education minister reading the message of Prez Nik who was abroad.

Completely free of the slightest hint of humour or lightness, the speeches all had the same theme – the building of cultural bridges – which was a bit ironic considering the Paphos municipality’s record on building is pretty appalling. The unfinished roadworks caused long queues on Saturday evening as people tried to get to the ceremony.

Many speakers, carried away by the occasion, referred to Paphos as some multi-cultural town that welcomed everyone, which was bit far-fetched, given the tribal mentality of Paphites.

Mayor Phedonos’ claim about the town’s “acceptance of other cultures and diversity, demonstrating the importance of an open society” was more a reflection of his whishes than of Paphos reality. At least he was careful to say it was an “ancient cradle of civilization” and avoided making staking such a claim for current times.

A PAPHITE customer of our establishment, displaying his tribal mentality, put off a positive spin on the roadworks in the European Capital of Culture, with the following post on his Facebook page: “Proud to say that Paphos, my hometown, became the European Capital of Culture on Jan 28. I was at the opening ceremony in the freezing outdoors on Saturday evening. Many British expats were grumbling about the many roadworks disrupting traffic on all the roads to the venue. None seemed to realise that we Paphites are at the cutting edge of the art world and that the roadworks were post-modern art installations, rather like Tracy Emin’s bed.”

Leading the way: striking students on Thursday
Leading the way: striking students on Thursday

YOU KNOW there is something really messed up with your society when parents start copying their kids’ behaviour. Last week the confederation of parents’ associations issued an announcement threatening to make their kids boycott school because they disagreed with the education ministry’s plan to introduce exams twice a year at public schools.

The farcical union of the school-kids known as Psem, which our education minister, insanely, consults about education policy, had already announced a walk-out from schools on Thursday in an attempt to prevent the legislature from discussing the bill and regulations that would introduce twice-yearly exams.

The confederation also wanted the bill to be withdrawn to allow consultations about the matter with the minister. Parents also wanted to be treated like experts on educational matters by the minister, just like their teenage kids. And if they were not, they threatened to close schools in protest as well. On Wednesday night some adults in the confederation prevailed and the threat was withdrawn.

But the kids’ and their parents’ childish threat to close schools achieved a result. Our brave deputies gave in to the demand of the parents-kids axis and put off the scheduled vote on the bill for a week. It was a good lesson for the children and their immature parents to learn – threats, however silly, always work in Kyproulla.

SPEAKING of educational matters, our good friend the rector of Cyprus University Constantinos Christofides is certain to cause mass indignation among teaching union bosses when they find out about his latest act of provocation.

A student from a private school applied for a place at the UCy with five A* grades in her A-levels and the top mark ever scored in an advanced maths exam by a Cypriot student. He was so impressed that he gave instructions for the student to be accepted to the university aware that this would land him in trouble not only with union protectors of mediocrity but also the law.

The worse that could happen is that the university would be sued for violating the law that stipulated that only students passing the pancyprian entry exams could be accepted into the university. His reasoning is that even if the university was taken to court, no judge would rule that it was wrong to accept an exceptional student. I would not bet on it, considering even the president of the Supreme Court publicly displays a union mentality.

Homicide detective Perdikis
Homicide detective Perdikis

DEAR OLD Phil never misses an opportunity to poison the climate and encourage hostility towards the Turks. It will run any story that it believes would boost the existing suspicion and animosity between the two communities.

Yesterday its website carried a story given to it by the closet Elamite with supposed environmental sensitivities, Perdikis, about the alleged murders of 12 Greek Cypriots in the Karpas between 1976 and 1999.

“Information, among other things, alleges that Turkish settlers murdered elderly Greek Cypriot enclaved that were living on their own with the aim of taking their houses,” the paper reported. The families of these people want the files on these 12 to be de-classified so that “the names of the 12 that were killed in the occupied area could be included in the list of the dead of the Turkish invasion.”

Perdikis demanded that the foreign minister inform the legislature “whether he intended to satisfy the demand of the relatives of the murdered enclaved.”

Perdikis, who apart from an environmentalist is also a homicide detective, seemed to have conclusive proof that the 12 had been murdered.

At the end of Phil’s story, an excerpt from a letter by the permanent secretary of the foreign ministry Alexandros Zenonos casts doubts on the murder theory. “There is no specific list of murdered enclaved in the archives of the foreign ministry but a variety of information for each case that came from different sources.”

I think detective Perdikis should go public with his evidence, which Phil will be more than happy to make public.

OUR GOOD friend Alithia columnist Alecos Constantinides had a great piece about the super-patriotic journalists of Phil last Monday. He took issue with one such hack’s reference to supporters of a settlement as the “submissive front”, given that the Cyprus Weekly which also belongs to the Phil media group, “could be described, without exaggeration, as the most submissive paper distributed in Cyprus.”

In a recent issue, he wrote, “the Weekly condemned the rejectionists that accompanied President Anastasiades to Geneva and spent their hours in massage rooms and the rest of their time were working to undermine rather than support our side’s efforts for a settlement.”

There was another article in the same issue of the Weekly, “seething with boundless submissiveness,” wrote Constantinides, before giving the following advice to the defiant columnists of Phil:

“The virus of submissiveness is worse than the Aids virus as it is more contagious and more dangerous. And from the moment one part of the media group has contracted the virus the whole group is in danger together with all the defiant columnists. The immune system of the defiant writers is threatened by the virus that has crept into the group and if measures are not taken immediately, tomorrow might be too late.”

ALTHOUGH the US border with Mexico is 3,100 km long President Donald Trump has said that the wall he wants to build to keep Mexicans out would be 1,600 km because natural obstacles would take care of the rest. He claimed the cost of the wall would come to about 12 billion bucks.

If we were to build a wall along the dividing line, as some rejectionists regularly propose in private conversations, the cost would be about a tenth of that, as the Green Line is 180km long – about $1.2 billion. When you consider that in the event of a settlement we would need about €10 billion in property compensations, you do not have to be an economist to conclude that partition is a more economical option.

And it would give plenty of work to the cement factory and dozens of building contractors with NPLs. We could even call it Trump Wall.

And do not forget to follow Patroclos @Coffeeshop1991 on Twitter.

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