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OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: As honest as the day is long

Panicos Demetriades, the latest in President Anastasiades' growing list of liars

WELCOME back Dr Panicos Demetriades. His book about the economic meltdown, A Diary of the Euro Crisis in Cyprus, which could have been more appropriately titled ‘Don’t blame me, I was just a visiting professor,’ breathed some passion into political debate that has been lifeless since the death of the Cyprob. Sadly, it only lasted a couple of days.

In those couple of days, however, accusations were flying all over the place before Prez Nik eventually ended the fun by declaring Dr Panicos a liar and accusing him of resorting to falsehoods. He was primarily referring to the former governor’s assertion that Nik was fully aware that a haircut of deposits was inevitable, even when he was pledging that he would never allow it to happen.

The Prez is making a habit of declaring anyone a liar whose version of events are different from his. After the hapless Espen Barth Eide was officially named a ‘liar’ by our Prez, who always speaks the absolute truth, it was Dr Panicos’ turn to be publicly shamed for his falsehoods.

Nik has anointed himself the custodian of the absolute truth and issues certificates of dishonesty to anyone who doubts his word is gospel. It is a totalitarian attitude, indicating that he may be returning to his Fuhrer persona of the past when he hurled ashtrays at anyone who questioned him or, God forbid, lied in his presence.

Before anyone says that he had given a public pledge never to allow the haircut of deposits, it must be stressed this was not a lie. It was a failure to keep his word, which is very different.


THREE weeks ago, writing about the UNSG’s draft report to the UN Security Council on the Cyprob fiasco in Switzerland, our establishment wondered how Nik would react, given that it did not endorse his truthful explanation for the collapse – Turkish intransigence. Instead, it blamed the two sides for lacking the political will for an agreement. It was a diplomatic way of saying Nik and Mustafa were intransigent.

We speculated: “Will he publicly declare Antonio Guterres a liar, as he did Eide, or will he get Greece’s foreign minister Nicos Kotzias to accuse the UNSG of being a lobbyist for Turkey? He may go for the more diplomatic approach, making it known that Guterres’ biased and untrue report had been drafted by the Turk-loving liar Eide.”

Once the report was finalised and submitted to the Security Council, Nik spoke, opting for the more diplomatic approach. The report did not provide an accurate version of events, he said because the UNSG was “misinformed”.

Difficult to understand how Guterres could have been misinformed, considering he was present at the last supper and personally witnessed the collapse of the talks. It must be the truth though, because this was what our prez said, and only a liar would disagree.


DR PANICOS’ book also featured bits of a telephone conversation he had with the Prez, regarding the appointment of the new board members of the Bank of Cyprus who were chosen by Disy and the government in consultation with large law firms, two unions and other parties.

Nik, according to Panicos, had called him to make sure the governor approved of the directors hand-picked by the government. One of them was Russian oligarch, former KGB man, friend of Putin and client of the Anastasiades law firm, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, who became a major shareholder of the bank after his huge deposits were bailed in.

Warning him not to contemplate rejecting any of the people proposed as directors, Nik told Dr Panicos: “Ime I megalyteri poutana tis politikis,” which translates into “I am the biggest whore in politics.” He reportedly added, “You will not fool me; nobody has managed that,” before reminding him again of his qualities.

“Den ime mono I megalyteri poutana tis politikis, ime ke I megalyteri patrona,” which the good doctor translated as “I am not just the biggest whore in politics, I am also the biggest pimp.” Here I will disagree with the doctor’s translation of ‘patrona’ as ‘pimp’. ‘Patrona’ is feminine gender in Greek and should translate as ‘madam’, whereas ‘pimp’ is invariably used in reference to male procurers.

Dr Panicos explained that in Greek these vulgarities were used metaphorically to “convey pride or achievement in one’s line of business”. He was not entirely accurate. When someone says he is a ‘poutana’ he is boasting that he is smart, cunning, streetwise, duplicitous and ruthless. A ‘patrona’ is all these things at higher level of nastiness.

In Kyproulla culture, the whore with a heart of gold does not exist.


THE MARCH to power of Nicolas 2018 was given another boost last Sunday when the Partridge Party and the Lillikas party defectors known as the Autonomous Platform announced they would be backing his candidacy.

Perdikis’ Greens had a Pancyprian conference, attended by fewer than 50 members, 83 per cent of whom voted in favour of backing Junior. The decision was taken only after the Perdikis party had received a 36-page letter from Junior, listing his commitment to pursuing hundreds of measures demanded by the Greens.

The letter was not made public so we do not know whether Nicolas pledged to love turtles, talk to trees, become a vegetarian, use recycled paper, buy a hybrid limo and appoint a dog as a minister.

What we do know, because Perdikis announced it on the radio, was that as soon as he was elected, Junior would compensate the bank bondholders and the depositors of Laiki who lost all their uninsured deposits and set up a fund that would ensure the banks do not repossess people’s houses, as well as help people that took bank loans in Swiss francs.

Another pledge he reportedly made was the he would pass a law banning the privatisation of any state assets such as SGOs. If he keeps these promises, we are certain to relive the Tof presidency.


WHERE would the money for compensating all these people come from, considering the total deposits lost in the Laiki bankruptcy alone amounted to €5 billion, Perdikis was asked, by Katerina Eliadi on Politis radio.

The populist Perdikis replied that the amount was incorrect, “because we are not talking about all Laiki depositors, we could not compensate capitalist Russians who were friends of the previous government.” He would “restrict compensation to Cypriot depositors… there are lawful ways of doing this,” but he did not elaborate, even though he said Cypriots’ deposits amounted to only €2 billion, which was manageable.

As for the foreigners, Perdikis said they should consider all the years “we were supporting them so some could make money and lead us to total destruction.” Many had already been compensated for the haircut by being issued Cypriot citizenship, which the government was generously distributing, he said.


HAVING excluded filthy rich foreigners, he still had to explain where the two to three billion needed to compensate the Cypriots would come from. “The money will be cut from the profits of the plutocracy.”

Would Junior increase taxes on businesses? No, he said, but the practice of giving billions in incentives to the wealthy by this government, will stop and the money used for compensation. Who were these plutocrats being handed billions by the government? They were all sitting in the front rows during the official announcement of Prez Nik’s candidacy last weekend, said the commie Green who surely should be backing the Akelite candidate and not a mega-wealthy plutocrat like Junior.

As if to underline his complete ignorance of economics and how an economy works, Perdikis insisted the money for compensation was available, angrily asking: “We have had 3.5 per cent growth, where did that money go, who has taken this wealth?” It must have been those greedy capitalist foreigners.


BILLIONAIRE Russian Dmitry Rybolovlev, the owner of AS Monaco and one-time major shareholder of the B of C, was the subject of a long feature in Town and Country magazine about his major dispute with a Swiss art dealer who he accused of ripping him off.

Kyproulla of course got a mention. Tania Rappo, who had very close ties with Rybolovlev and his wife before the couple divorced, told the magazine that the Russian plutocrat, who is worth about $8 billion, had once said to her: “There are three places in the world I can do whatever I want. One is Cyprus, one is Skorpios (the island formerly owned by Aristotle Onassis), and the other is Monaco.”

Rappo also told the magazine that he had his wife, Elena, “arrested to scare her into dropping her lawsuits (filed in several countries) in pursuit of her ex-husband’s money.” Mrs Rybolovlev was indeed arrested in Kyproulla on arrival at Larnaca airport in relation to allegations about some jewellery, but was in custody only briefly.

Meanwhile, in Monaco, the justice minister Phillip Narmino was arrested last month on allegations that he had been receiving bribes and gifts from Rybolovlev, who is now left with only two places in the world where he can do whatever he wants. It is a good thing we in Kyproulla would rather die than take a bribe.


SUPER-PATRIOTISM is not exclusive to the foreign ministry. Other government departments show the same level of dedication to the national cause, as a Turkish Cypriot single mother recently found out.

She went to a government department in the Republic to register her new-born child, but the bureaucrat refused to do so because she refused to give the name of the father. No amount of pleading could convince the official to register the baby. The reason? The father might be an illegal Turkish settler, in which case the kid could not become a Cypriot citizen. We cannot give citizenship to a pseudo-child.

This is not the only idiocy displayed by our authorities. Apparently, they will register the child of a Turkish Cypriot and a Turk, as long as proof is provided that the marriage ceremony took place in Turkey. If the couple married in the north, registration is denied because the Turk is regarded an illegal immigrant, not to mention that it was a pseudo marriage and by recognising it would constitute upgrading the pseudo-state.


POOR old Harris Georgiades has been forced to make a 180-degree turn on the pay rises demanded by unions in the broader public sector. A couple of weeks ago, he responded with an ‘absolutely not’ to the unions’ demand for two per cent pay rises.

On Friday, after meeting representatives of Peo and Sek unions the hapless Harris agreed to enter negotiations that will be completed by May, for pay rises of up to two per cent. In exchange, the unions called off the one-day strike planned for this week.

I suspect Prez Nik ordered the ministerial volte-face, because three months before elections, you simply cannot say ‘no’ to the unions.


AT THIS rate, it would come as no be surprise if in the next few weeks Nik also promises to compensate the bondholders and the Laiki depositors, as he cannot leave Nicolas 2018 to sweep up all their votes.

This would be another volte-face, as only last weekend he said “I am not making promises bereft of content so that I will liked through populism,” in a reference to bondholders and depositors. He added: “We must face the problems through pragmatism,” he added because fiscal discipline was necessary.

Even if, as the election day approaches, he does promise to compensate bondholders and Laiki depositors, it would be nothing different to what he did before the last election. Back then, in the 100+1 proposals of his manifesto, he promised to give the bondholders interest-paying government bonds in exchange for their worthless bank bonds. In other words, with Nik the economy is safer because he is more consistent when it comes to going back on vote-buying election promises than Junior.

Our prez never lies, but he can always be relied on not to keep his promises.

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