Cyprus Mail
Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Hairdressers and the loose federation

Nik assured the Morphites that he would never agree to a settlement that did not secure the return of Morphou

THE GOVERNMENT was obliged to put a positive spin on the UNSG’s report that was released on Monday, because Prez Nik felt he had to appease his pro-settlement supporters that no longer believe he has any intention of reaching a deal.

This thankless task fell primarily to his spokesman Prodromos Prodromou, who declared the government’s “full satisfaction” with the report as it mentioned many important things and especially the point that efforts and consultation aimed at the resumption of negotiations were continuing.

The objective of the government was avoiding a deadlock and it was achieved, for now, but the news that the UNSG’s envoy Jane Holl Lute will continue consultations was not the triumph that the government presented. After all, the report did not exactly identify any reason for optimism in relation to the new consultations while listing a host of examples of the bad faith shown in the reporting period.

This was of no concern to the fully satisfied Prodromou. “The procedure remains alive and this constitutes an answer to all those that were predicting the end,” he said. The UNSG noted the “readiness and willingness of the President of the Republic and our side” to engage in talks, thus “dismissing the fears being expressed in Nicosia that the President had not convinced (about his commitment to engage in talks).”

What had he convinced about? That after the failure of Lute’s first round of consultations to achieve anything, she should give it another shot? He did not convince of his readiness and willingness to engage in talks, because if he had there would not be another round of consultations to establish whether the UNSG should bother.

 

THE ONLY thing Prez Nik has really convinced about is that nobody should take seriously anything he says about the Cyprob. In fact I am beginning to wonder if there are still people out there that believe anything he says.

He wants to continue talks from where they left off in Crans-Montana, but does not accept the Guterres framework, having amended it on his own and claimed it to be the only one on the table. He expresses eagerness to return to the negotiating table but sets a host of conditions that he knows the Turks would never accept. The UNSG sends an envoy to help resume the talks and she concludes there are no grounds for a resumption, despite Nik’s alleged eagerness.

Now he has decided that he does not want a federal state with the many powers he had insisted on and agreed to during the negotiations (comrade Tof had agreed to 21 federal bodies which Nik increased to 28, including a federal body for hairdressers) and has started plugging a loose federation with the central state having as few powers as possible, or even a confederation.

Last week he indirectly confessed that he did not really know very much about federation, which he had been negotiating for three years and had been the subject of talks for 40 years, and suggested that we should have a seminar to find out more about it.

“It would be good to organise a seminar to examine issues of federation and confederation by experts on the subject.”

As long as the seminar is well prepared and it is not subject to suffocating time-frames or arbitration it will be very useful. It might also be a good idea to invite Mustafa Akinci and Holl Lute. This could be followed by a seminar on partition and the two-state solution.

 

IT WAS DISY chief Averof Neophytou who first mocked the idea of having a body regulating hairdressers in the federal government which was a proposal by our side. It was a pretty ludicrous idea, but a metrios drinking customer of our establishment had a convincing theory of how this came about.

In the north there is apparently a huge number of hairdressing salons. Because of the big number many of them are open all hours of the day in order to make ends meet. In the north, our customer said, you can have a haircut at 11pm on any day because there are always open hairdressers.

The association of Greek Cypriot hairdressers, which has an expertise in restrictive practices – in the south you still can’t get a haircut on a Thursday – was afraid that its members would be faced with unfair competition from the anarchic hairdressing situation in the north in the event of settlement and moaned to the government about this.

The government, therefore decided to place hairdressing under the authority of the federal government so that restrictions could be placed on the opening hours of Turkish Cypriot hairdressers’ and thus protect those in the south from the unfair competition.

This is why Greek Cypriot hairdressers are fanatically opposed to Prez Nik’s latest proposal for a loose a federation.

 

PREZ NIK, being a Limassolian was one of the targets of the Morphou mayor Victoras Hadjiavraam’s speech at last weekend’s annual anti-occupation march by Morphites. The mayor attacked the complacency and inaction of all those that opposed the settlement because the remaining half of Cyprus was getting richer.

He also complained about refugees watching others exploiting their properties while the land in the free areas had seen its value increase geometrically. He had a point, given that Limassol is on the way to becoming the Dubai of the Mediterranean enjoying unprecedented prosperity.

Nik did not take the bait, but assure the Morphites that he would never agree to a settlement that did not secure the return of Morphou. The gullible Morphites cheered this pledge, not realising that this would provide Nik with yet another excuse to avoid a settlement and safeguard growth and prosperity of Limassol.

 

KYPROULLA society has generally been in awe of doctors and treats them with slavish respect it shows to no other profession, not even politicians. Doctors are guaranteed social status and maximum respect as soon as they qualify and set foot n Kyproulla.

Most of them lap it up, their air of superiority and unbreakable self-confidence evident as soon as they walk into a room. In the old days, doctors even had a green sticker on the back window of their car, advertising their exalted profession.

But this awe is fading fast as a consequence of the Gesy bickering, with private doctors increasingly being dismissed by people as greedy and self-serving professionals, hell-bent on scuppering the national health scheme, Gesy, to protect their financial interests and carry on engaging in tax evasion.

The media have been full of outraged reports about the money demands of doctors, claiming they want to earn 300 and 400 grand, annually to join Gesy. Much of the pay exaggeration is propaganda, trying to cover up the de-incentivised, Soviet reward system the state wants to impose on private doctors, who would earn much less per visit if they joined the scheme at the rates proposed by the government.

Would teachers have agreed to take a permanent pay cut for the sake of public education, as everyone is now demanding of the doctors who have become an easy target for the populists of all political persuasions and envious journalists?

 

FORMER health minister, Giorgos Pamborides, who is nursing serious political ambitions, seems to relish engaging in doctor-bashing. What makes his moral outrage expressed on social media so enjoyable is that the guy is a lawyer, not a profession noted for its public-spiritedness and disregard for money.

Ten days ago, when the dispute over pay first appeared in the news, he posted a comment saying: “The bad thing is not 50-60 pampered tax evaders. It is that they have the backing of politicians that support them and deprive people of free healthcare so that the few become richer. Every day people die for the system to be maintained.”

Classic populism from a man posing as the big champion of Gesy, to which he was so committed he did not hang around as health minister to fight those wanting to deprive people of free healthcare and thus make sure it would be implemented. Prez Nik did not want him to leave the ministry so why did Pamborides quit his post after the last elections?

Why had he chosen to return to his law practice rather than sticking around as minister, fighting the medical tax evaders, dismantling the system, which was the reason that “every day people die,” and ushering in free healthcare for everyone?

 

THE ABUSE of the money-grabbing, tax-evading, self-serving doctors, by Pamborides, who engaged in an exchange of comment by the former Tof minister, Andreas Demetriou that felt it was not just the few that were getting rich.

“Those that are getting rich are many – not few. The system is multi-faceted and distributed politically and geographically,” said Demetriou, to which Pamborides responded poetically: “I know them. I have seen them one by one and all together. I saw them go wild and contract… worms and multi-coloured reptiles and mainly iridescent.”

Were the doctors the worms and reptiles or the politicians that would help block Gesy? Pamborides did not elaborate nor did he inform us which member of the animal kingdom he likened moralising lawyers to. I will refrain from making any suggestions for fear of the libel laws.

Despite all this colourful sermonising the question why the Gesy zealot Pamborides decided to return to his law practice instead of staying at the ministry to see the health scheme implemented remains. We can only speculate that he chose to return to his practice because he would be making five or 10 times as much money as he earned as a minister.

He took a big pay cut to serve as minister for two-and-a-half years, but may have not been prepared to do it for longer than that. If this is the case it seems a bit hypocritical having a go at doctors because they refuse to agree to a permanent reduction of their earnings for the sake of Gesy, a sacrifice some lawyers were not prepared to make.

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