Cyprus Mail
Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: The spoils of buffer zone and party wars

File photo: a farmer in the Deneia area

LAST WEEKEND six Greek Cypriot farmers went to do one of the things farmers do in fields in the buffer zone close to Deneia village and were ordered to leave by Turkish soldiers who arrived a little later because they allegedly had no permits.
This was covered by TV cameras invited to cover the anticipated incident, which turned out to be a spectacular non-event, the farmers getting on their tractors and returning to Deneia. They were supposed to make another attempt to go to their fields on Tuesday but for some reason did not do so, depriving TV audiences of more excitement.
According to the Cyprus foreign ministry spokesman, there had been two or three similar incidents before last weekend and the ministry made representations to Unficyp, “reporting the illegal actions of the occupation army and the harassment of the farmers and asking for its immediate intervention for the restoration of the farmers’ rights and safety.”
The pseudo foreign ministry, meanwhile, said it had contacted the Turkish military, which informed it that no such incidents had occurred. There was no tension between farmers and the Turkish troops and reports were “news propaganda”. Media in the north did report, however, that GCs had violated the buffer zone even though the latter claimed they had permits issued by Unficyp in 2014.
Who is telling the truth? Both. The Cyprob allows both sides to claim the monopoly on the truth even if the version of the one contradicts the other. We Greek Cypriots have the edge because pseudo-officials can only speak the pseudo-truth, not to mention that we have a prez that never lies.

THE MUKHTAR of Deneia Christakis Panayiotou had explained what the CyBC reported as a “surge of the Turkish provocation with vindictive disposition.”
According to the mukhtar, the Turks were pissed off and were retaliating because Unficyp had not permitted TCs to travel to the mosque in Deneia 10 days earlier through the buffer zone, insisting that they use the Astromeritis checkpoint.
The TC media reports claimed the GCs were trying to exploit the ban on the use of the road running through the buffer zone and create tension. Last weekend they violated the buffer zone by driving close to the north’s border and shouting slogans the reports said, without elaborating. What were the slogans? ‘Ha, ha, you can’t use the buffer zone road’?
The pseudo foreign ministry issued an announcement on Wednesday backing the media version, accusing the GCs of “planned provocations to create tension.” It urged our government to stop using the Deneia farmers as “propaganda tools,” claiming 11 farmers had gone right up to the ‘TRNC border’, thus “violating the buffer zone.”
Unficyp refused to take sides, adhering to the principle that both sides were telling the truth. Its spokesman merely expressed concern that “this incident will undermine peace and stability in the buffer zone,” which was a lie. In the last few years, Unficyp was reportedly called to respond to more than 1,000 similar incidents annually.
If 1,000 pathetically trivial incidents every year have not undermined peace and stability in the buffer zone (it is safe to say that we were never even close to the brink of war) how could a single incident in Deneia do so?

ANOTHER theory, which I find hard to believe, is that the incident was orchestrated by the great brains at our foreign ministry in order to strengthen the government’s case against the withdrawal of Unficyp, a real possibility.
We never heard the foreign ministry making a fuss about the 999 similar incidents that were reported to Unficyp this year. Why in the case of Deneia did foreign ministry officials go to the village to confer with the farmers and issue announcements about the violation of the farmers’ rights? Why were the TV cameras also invited while the other 999 incidents were ignored?
What shoots down this theory is that it is difficult to believe our self-important foreign ministry mandarins would be so stupid to believe that the UN Security Council would be persuaded to renew the Unficyp mandate so that Greek Cypriot farmers could “have unhindered access to and cultivation of their fields in a climate of full security.”
Without some farmer blood being spilled and a couple of tractors being blown up by missiles, followed by a mobilisation of National Guard reservists, it is doubtful the Security Council would take into account the Deneia farmers’ bickering with Turkish troops, when discussing the future of Unficyp.
The foreign ministry may need to find a couple of farmers willing to become martyrs for Unficyp renewal cause.

IN 2014, soon after claiming the Dikhead throne, Ethnarch Junior decided to renounce the alliance his predecessor had agreed with Prez Nik and took Diko out of the government because he disagreed with its handling of the Cyprob. He believed that Nik would go for a settlement and wanted to have nothing to do with him.
Now that Nik has become as committed to a settlement as Junior’s late dad, the Diko leader has no qualms about entering some type of alliance with the government. On Wednesday he had a meeting with Nik at which they discussed Diko’s co-operation with the government. Junior agreed to back the 2019 state budget in the legislature as well as certain reform bills.
In return, Nik would implement three of the many madcap economic proposals that were included in Junior’s election manifesto, that people rejected so emphatically last February the poor kid did not even finish as runner-up candidate. The three proposals – total cost €100m – are a testament to the madhouse economics promoted by Junior and their main objective is to give him a ‘caring’ profile and present him as being sensitive to the needs of the poorer classes.
The unholy alliance that will also improve Junior’s image will be financed by the taxpayer. Hopefully opinion polls will not show a boost in his ratings because he might demand the government spends another €100m on the deserving classes to stay in the alliance.

Averoff has joined the school of madhouse economics

DISY CHIEF Averof, the only party leader with a brain when it came to economics, appears to have joined the school of madhouse economics embraced by his colleagues for the sake of Junior. On Thursday he spoke about the three measures, misleadingly christening them a ‘social package’ when in fact they were a ‘wasting the taxpayer’s money package’.
The first measure involved an increase in the lowest monthly pensions by €50, which is not a bad thing if the funds are available. The second is a cut of the fuel consumption tax by 5 cents, which will benefit the people with big petrol-guzzling cars rather than the low-income groups that Junior wants to help so badly.
The third is an insane bill that would have won comfortably if there ever was a Nobel prize for madhouse economics. It was inspired by the criminally scandalous Estia scheme, which uses the taxpayer’s money to help people refusing to repay their bank loans. The Diko scheme will subsidise the repayments of vulnerable house-owners that were repaying their loans, as long as they satisfied the Estia criteria.
Someone is taking us for a ride here. Surely the main criterion for joining the Estia Scheme is refusal to repay your loan, which reliable borrowers failed to do. So they do not satisfy the criterion of being cheats. Also, Estia is not for the vulnerable house-owners Junior’s scheme supposedly wants to help.
It is for people with over 100 grand worth of assets, an annual income of up to €60,000 and house worth up to €350,000.

THERE is some logic to Junior’s plan. A society that rewards the cheats that do not honour the contracts they signed and do not pay their loans might be accused of championing dishonesty. But rewarding those that repay their house loans is insane. Is Diko now planning to reward everyone that obeys the law and honours their contractual obligations?
Why not also reward vulnerable people that are promptly repaying their business loans? And what about those that have already repaid their loans? Why are they being discriminated against by the law? Surely they deserve some reward.
Averof, who has bitterly disappointed the tiny club of Kyproulla neo-liberals that believed he was one of us, tried to find an excuse for the scheme, claiming it would help reliable borrowers “that shouldn’t feel like idiots.” This just leaves all the people who repaid their loans without any state help feeling like idiots.

The biggest loser Tassos Papadopoulos

“IN THE Cyprus problem, they all failed, apart from Tassos Papadopoulos,” said Junior a few days ago. If Tassos had not failed how had he succeeded? I won’t go into philosophical discourse, but I have to say I found this statement grossly unfair to Prez Nik, who has also been a resounding success according to Junior’s logic.

Nik has also been to international conferences on Kyproulla and left without signing anything, blaming Turkish intransigence. He has also been as good as Tassos at participating in negotiations that lead nowhere, has shown the same skill at avoiding entering a second peace process after ensuring the failure of the first and has turned public opinion against a deal.

If Junior was objective he would concede that in the Cyprob, Nik was as big a success as Tassos. Incidentally how had Comrade Tof and Coffeeshop hero Spy Kyp failed? Like Tassos and Nik they also made sure not a single refugee returned to their home and that the Turkish occupation army stayed in Kyproulla, harassing our farmers with fields in the buffer zone.

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