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Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Elections the last thing on the president’s mind

Memories of times long gone: President Anastasiades officially opens ....... a road

THE ELECTIONS might be the last thing on Prez Nik’s mind, as the government spokesman who never lies has assured us, but this has not stopped him from campaigning for his re-election.

On Friday he took a posse of ministers (seven plus his spokesman who is a Paphite) to the European Capital of Culture and Road Works in order to attend the opening ceremony of the reconstructed Tomb of the Kings avenue. His desire for re-election has become so intense he is now wasting his working day opening roads.

This was the sort of thing presidents exploited in the sixties and seventies, when Kyproulla had no decent roads, and every time a new one was completed, there had to be an opening ceremony. You would have thought we have moved on from those early days of the Republic, and that a new road in a town is no longer a big deal in our asphalt jungle.

For Nik, however, every road is important especially in a town that electorally is a stronghold of the rejectionists of Diko and Edek. Now that Nik has also become a rejectionist, his campaign team decided it was a good time to visit Paphos and remind the voters of all the money his government had spent on infrastructure projects there and the €40 million more it will spend this year.

He even brought up the construction of the Paphos-Polis highway that voters of the district have been demanding for years. The project had not been abandoned he said, but would be looked at as soon as state funds allowed, as long as he was re-elected of course.

A FEW DAYS earlier, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis was sent to Paphos by his boss to do some election campaign groundwork, targeting the farmer vote. Nik must have decided it would have been a bit cheap to make promises to the farmers as well on Friday, so he delegated the campaign job to his minister.

Kouyialis went to the water development department and gave instructions to staff there to announce the start of works on every project requested by the district’s communities on the department’s agenda. Asked whether the funds existed for all these projects, he told department staff that this was not their concern.

They would have to announce all the projects and at a later date – after the elections presumably – protesting communities could be informed that the funds had not been found. It was a pretty, low-down act, which I doubt Kouyialis had undertaken on his own initiative. He was probably executing orders from his boss, at a moment when he was not thinking about the elections, which are last thing on his mind.

STAYING on the subject of the elections, Coffeeshop customers were discussing whether the government would go ahead with the privatisation of Cyta after the Supreme Court ruled the Dikhead law banning its privatisation was unconstitutional.

Of course, the government had abandoned privatisation plans a long time ago after the third or fourth proposal made by Haris Georgiades to the Cyta unions, which are in charge of such matters, envisaging turning the authority into a state-owned company in which a strategic investor would hold a minority stake.

The unions rejected the proposal, based on the insane assumption that an investor would pour in millions into a company controlled by Diko and the unions. The debate was ended by a neo-liberal, skettos drinker who pointed out that with elections on the horizon there was more chance of Prez Nik re-nationalising the Limassol port than privatising Cyta.

SUPERSTAR auditor-general Odysseas targeted another government minister last week – his fourth – in his untiring drive for self-aggrandisement. Diminutive communications minister Marios Demetriades was his latest target, with Odysseas accusing him of interfering in the drafting of the terms and conditions of the agreement for the privatisation of Limassol port.

What Demetriades had done was declared “unacceptable” by the holier than thou Odysseas during a House committee meeting, sending Akelites that opposed privatisation into raptures. The communists demanded an investigation by the attorney-general regarding the committing of criminal offences and called on the minister to resign for interfering in the work of our incorruptible civil servants.

A very cozy relationship has developed between Akel and Odysseas. His attack on Haris over the Savia issue was launched after a complaint by commie deputy, making me wonder whether our superstar auditor might be interested in standing as the Akel candidate in the presidential elections. The commies have still not found a candidate and, from what I hear, Odysseas could be persuaded to stand, as long as the correct procedures were followed for his selection.

LAST Sunday Politis carried a feature about the houses of the presidential candidates. It featured Lillikas’ nouveau riche mansion, which has been the subject of photo-features in several lifestyle rags. We Cypriots love to flaunt our wealth and there is no better way to do this than with a palatial house big enough to sleep five families because everyone can see it.

Cars, after all, ceased being a convincing symbol of wealth since EU membership open the doors to the importation of relatively cheap, second-hand, luxury vehicles from the UK. They just do not have the ‘look how rich I am’ impact of a massive house built on five plots of expensive land. The paper also featured the under construction three-storey house in Limassol of one of Prez Nik’s daughters, and gave details of its hotel-type dimensions.
This provoked a call of complaint from Nik personally, and he had a point as his daughter was not a presidential candidate and like every Cypriot it was her human right to not-so-discreetly show off her wealth.

The other candidate’s house featured was that of Junior, under construction on a hill in Archangelos overlooking Nicosia. This was also massive, which seemed rather pointless as everyone knows how fabulously wealthy the boy is and he has no need to remind us, especially now that he is running for president and will want the common people to think he is one of them.

JUNIOR run into a spot of trouble on Wednesday morning on a TV show as he was unable to suppress his colossal arrogance in an exchange with the presenter, who had the nerve to remind the prince after he had gone on an anti-Akel rant that in 2008 Diko voted for comrade Tof.

In response, an irritated Junior, condescendingly told the mild-mannered presenter, Stavros Kyprianou that he was “using sound-bites on order from someone”. When Kyprianou protested, the arrogant rich kid insisted, “I know you have orders to repeat certain questions,” before accusing him of “not operating objectively”.

His performance was attacked on social media while the journalists’ union issued a statement censuring his “offensive” behaviour, prompting Junior to tweet a message not of apology but praising his courage. He said: “I have the courage to admit that my wording to @stavrosrik yesterday was unfortunate. On no account do I doubt his integrity.”

You have to admire the boy’s ability to turn his pitiful behaviour into an advertisement of his alleged courage as well as his ability to lie. Three separate times he doubted Kyprianou’s integrity on the telly.

THE UNLIKEABLE Junior is one of the main arguments Nik is using to back his own candidacy. He often asks people, ‘would you rather have Nicolas as president?’ It is a difficult question to answer, but if Odysseas stands we will vote for him as the lesser of four evils even though he would be the Akel candidate and his house is not as big as Lillikas’, Junior’s and the prez’s daughter’s.

“THREATENS with war Cyprus and oil companies,” said a headline in Wednesday’s Phil, referring of course to Turkey. You would have thought such devastating news would have been announced with a big banner headline across the front page. It is not every day that the Turks threaten Kyproulla and oil companies with war.

Yet this earth-shattering story was printed under a small headline in a column of news in brief in the bottom half of the front page. It consisted of one paragraph and referred readers to the full story on page six. Is a war threat against our country so inconsequential that it is buried on page six? Or perhaps the paper was aware that its headline was a bit of a misleading exaggeration.

“Ankara is threatening with war, through the UN, the Cyprus Republic and the oil giants ENI and TOTAL,” the story said, referring to a letter sent to the UN by Turkey, in which Ankara lays claim to Block 6 of our EEZ, arguing that part of it was in its continental shelf. The letter consists of legal arguments and it required a big leap of the imagination to interpret it as a war threat. But when the Turks are involved, big leaps of the imagination are considered a national duty by Phil.

PREZ NIK has officially defected to the rejectionist camp ahead of the elections. This was confirmed last week when he publicly adopted the rhetoric of Junior and Lillikas. He said: “Before and above everything I want to make it very clear that we are not working for, or our struggle must not be for any solution… it is with great concern I watch some being in a hurry to accept everything…” He concluded thus: “I will say no more.” The truth is there is no more to say. He has said everything he needed to say. Like Junior and Lillikas he wants a solution with the right content, not just any solution put together in a hurry, under the pressure of suffocating time-frames. Moscow must have finally persuaded him that ‘any solution’ is not in the interest of Mother Russia, which has always taken a principled stand against a settlement.

A FEW weeks ago the ball-busting, bank bondholders demanded that the state offer them psychological support to help them get through the trauma of having lost all the money they had invested in bank bonds. Our Coffeeshop is considering also asking for psychological support from the state for its many customers that believed Nik was going to work for a Cyprob settlement. It does not matter that even the best psychological support can never be a remedy to stupidity.

Follow Patroclos on Twitter @Coffeeshop1991

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