Cyprus Mail
Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Prez Nik getting ready for another ‘loose’ TV show

Jane Holl Lute and Prez Nik at last Tuesday’s meeting at the presidential palace. As the cliché goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

WE ARE all waiting anxiously for Tuesday night when Prez Nik will unveil his latest Cyprob delaying tactic to TV audiences. The Prez will address the people, explaining his recent epiphany about loose federation, or to put it more scientifically, decentralised power in a federal system as a stepping stone to partition, and then answer questions.

I hear he has already started rehearsing for Tuesday’s performance, engaging in intensive eyebrow-raising exercises as he does wanting anyone to doubt the seriousness of his latest proposal, which makes a mockery of his alleged commitment to the Guterres framework that envisaged a federal government with many powers.

This was last year, when Nik’s priority was the scrapping of guarantees, intervention rights and the presence of Turkish troops. Security and guarantees cannot delay the negotiations adequately so he has come up with the need to re-negotiate the powers of the central government that might require a few years to agree with the other side.

He came up with the idea of the loose federation before he knew the UNSG’s envoy Jane Holl Lute would hand him a new opportunity for filibustering. At their meeting on Tuesday, she informed him that the two sides had to agree the terms of reference for a new process, an arrangement with huge potential for foot-dragging.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou looked so pleased announcing this, you would have thought Lute set a December 2022 deadline for the terms of reference to be agreed.

IS THERE some grand plan behind the Prez’s antics or is his only purpose to keep things moving along slowly, without the danger of anything ever happening upsetting his treasured status quo?

Nobody can say with any certainty, even though Nik, like all populists, has consistently shown a preference for dealing with the short-term and not worrying about anything beyond a four-week horizon. Then again, there may be a plan for the two-state solution, which he had discussed on more than one occasion with Turkey’s foreign minister.

If he succeeds in persuading Mustafa Akinci that in a loose federation the issuing of passports to rich foreigners will not be one of the central government’s powers, but would remain under the authority of the Nicos Anastasiades law office, he would go for a federal settlement.

If he fails to convince Mustafa about this, he may have a new epiphany and arrange to address the public to explain that the creation of two states would be the only workable settlement, as it would not endanger the future of the citizenship-by-investment scheme.

 

WHILE our establishment was closed, the deposed leader of Diko and former House President Marios Garoyian announced his return to active politics with a new political party known as Dimokratiki Parataxi (DiPa) that will draw its support from dissident dikheads.

DiPa aims to attract “those rational citizens who do not believe in confrontations, rejectionism or fanaticism and the growing discord, division and hatred”. My question is how many of the tiny number of rational citizens we have, would join a party made up of former dikheads, led by a self-serving windbag that could not lead a starving man to a plate of food.

The big question is who is funding DiPa, because Garoyian is not the sort of guy who would pay for a party out of the hard-earned cash he receives in allowances from the taxpayer every month for having served as House president. And we will not be paying for him to have police guards as party leader, because he already has some, again thanks to his stint as House president.

 

I WOULD REALLY like to know who thought up the procedure for isometric passports at Larnaca airport which, in contrast, to the rest of the civilised world does not speed up going through passport control. In fact we have introduced an automated system of passport control that slows down the process of going through immigration, which could be a world first.

The first thing you encounter at the Larnaca Airport departure area, before going through the security check, is about a dozen shiny machines which scan the page of your passport with the personal details, take your photo and then print a piece of paper with everything on it.

You then go to the immigration cop in the cubicle and give him this piece of paper so he can allow you through after a perfunctory inspection of the piece of paper. My piece of paper had a big ‘X’ across it, which informed the cop, as I was told, not that I was on the stop list but that I had lost my ID card at some time in the not too distant past.

There was only one cubicle checking these slips of paper so there was a queue, waiting to go through, whereas for non-EU nationals, who did not have the privilege of using the scanning machines there were several open cubicles with shorter queues.

Flying into Larnaca you are faced with the same machines, and you have to go through the same scanning process and the queue at the single cubicle for EU nationals was three times as long as the those at the many cubicles for passengers deprived of the right to scan their passport.

 

ASKED what was the point of these machines, when immigration officers are still in place to check the pieces of paper with your pic and details, an officer explained, “they have them in all the airports in Europe.”

But in the airports of Europe they use the automated controls in order to have fewer officials – after your passport is checked by the machine, immigration control is over – and to reduce waiting times for passengers.

At Larnaca airport, the machines have done the exact opposite. Not only has the time of going through passport control increased because you have to be checked by both machine and man, with only one cubicle serving the scanned passengers, but now there is more staff employed because there are permanent minders at the machines helping people with their scanning.

In Kyproulla, we have ensured that automation means more bureaucracy and more jobs. Another question is what does immigration do with all the slips of paper that passengers hand in to the cop at the cubicle and are put in a drawer. Are they filed (more public sector jobs generated thanks to automation), sent for recycling or thrown in the airport rubbish bins?

 

THE HAPPINESS of not having to listen to the self-righteous sermons of the teaching union bosses every time you switched on a radio or television did not last very long. The insufferable bores were back on the air-waves this week, posing as victims of injustice because the government had cut the two days they were on strike in September from their pay.

Poed boss Filios Fylaktou was on the radio on Tuesday, saying the union had written to the education ministry to question whether the pay cuts were lawful. He told the radio show that “it was not about the money.” Teachers never protest about money, but only about high principles such as doing as little work as possible.

The injustice, according to Fylaktou’s faultless logic, was that the unions “were pushed to take strike measures” by the government. In other words, the teachers should not have been denied their pay for the two-day strike that was clearly the fault of the government.

On Saturday, the general secretary of Poed, Charis Charalambous announced that legal action would be taken against the government over the pay cuts, repeating that “wages are not the issue.” The issue was “to stop the illegality and arbitrariness of the employer.” Was Poed suggesting that the government should have entered negotiations with the teaching unions before cutting wages?

If the court rules in favour of the teachers, we should brace ourselves for much longer strikes in the future.

 

ON THURSDAY, Fylaktou was on another morning radio show, although he was not talking about the martyrdom of the poor teachers. His union was part of the Social Alliance for the Implementation of Gesy, which has been attacking anyone who dares to express the slightest doubt about the introduction of the national health scheme.

The Social Alliance has thrown up a new media star – the president of the Pancyprian Federation of Associations of Patients and Friends Marios Kouloumas. He is on most current affairs shows on TV attacking doctors for their reluctance to join Gesy and, posing as a victim because a few doctors criticised him on social media.

Kouloumas is a Gesy zealot, the number of whom has grown geometrically in recent weeks and includes politicians, unionists and other worthy do-gooders. These zealots now operate as the Gesy police putting in their place all the doubters.

 

CUSTOMS officials were so proud of the success they had at the Ayios Dhometios checkpoint on Wednesday they issued an announcement to inform the public. They had caught a koupa smuggler trying to bring 200 frozen koupes to the free areas. The pseudo-koupes were found in the boot of his car by an alert customs official, were confiscated and destroyed.

Costas Constantinou wondered on his radio show on Thursday afternoon if there was a protocol for the destruction of koupes, which the customs officials followed. Did customs officers jump on them to squash them, he asked.

The answer was provided by Christos Christou, a customs official, speaking to the Cyprus Mail. “The food was placed in a bin and a sort of potion was poured over them to make them inedible,” he said. The ‘potion protocol’ is only applied to foodstuffs. In the case of liquids there is another protocol as a customer of our establishment, caught at the checkpoint with three small bottles of ayran, found out. In his presence, the customs of officials opened the bottles of ayran and emptied them into a filthy bucket.

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