Cyprus Mail
Tales from the Coffeeshop

Cyprob wolves in sheep’s clothing

The other Cyprob wolf in sheep’s clothing, silk-tongued foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides, pictured here with the EU's Federica Mogherini

THE DECISION issued by the administrative court, ruling the cuts to pensions of public employees when the state was bankrupt were unconstitutional, is a perfect illustration that in Kyproulla we have rule of law. Our problem is there is also rule of idiotic law, which should come as no surprise when you see the quality of most of our elected lawmakers.

The administrative court examined the appeal of 170 cheapskate pensioners that felt they were the victims of grave injustice, because the state, which was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2012 and was bailed out by international lenders the following year, imposed cuts on their pensions.

The cuts were progressive, the biggest being 14.5 per on pensions above €4,000 per month. Our normal state pays pensions four times the average wage to people that contribute nothing to the economy and contributed nothing towards these pensions when they were working, but that is another issue.

Last week’s ruling, was based on an earlier decision by the full bench of the Supreme Court that “the pension given after the completion of the pensionable years of service constitutes a crystallised property right.”

But even if it is a property, is there any property that cannot lose some of its value over the years? Does it say in the constitution that the property of the retired parasites has to keep going up in value, as is normally the case? And if a pensioner has a property right over his pension why can’t he sell it or rent it and why do his offspring not inherit it when he dies?

What rule of law do we have if a person cannot fully exercise his property rights?

 

I AM SURE that the Supreme Court judges were not thinking about their own pensions when they issued this ruling, on which the administrative court based its decision upholding the appeals of the selfish, money-grabbing pensioners who could not make a small contribution to help the collapsing state that gave them an enviable standard of living.

If the state went bankrupt, their property rights would have been cut by 70 per cent and what would the Supreme and administrative courts have ruled then? Is it a case of an idiotic provision of the constitution or an idiotic interpretation of it, which forbids a bankrupt state from reducing state pensions? There are plenty of other countries that cut pensions, when the state ran out of money, without this being deemed unlawful.

Reports suggest that the 2012 law that cut the pensions did not satisfy the conditions set by the constitution for such cuts to be imposed, which might indicate that the state legal service did a bad job in drafting the bill. It would have been too much to expect our lawmakers to notice any weaknesses in the bill, given that they might not even have read it before approving it.

 

THE GOOD news is that the ruling on the appeals filed by the public parasites’ union Pasydy and individual parasites claiming the pay cuts imposed in the public sector in 2012 were unconstitutional is expected in 2019 and we should all be prepared for the worse.

It would be a triumph of absurdity if the court ruled that the pay cuts were unlawful as it be would protecting the people whose big wages had played a big part in bankrupting the state. But these things are to be expected in a country in which the rights and privileges of public parasites are written in stone and are considered on a par with Ten Commandments. Our wise judges could rule that the pay-cuts were unlawful, implying that the state should have filed for bankruptcy rather than cut the wages of the parasites to stay afloat, and land the taxpayer with a huge bill.

According to figures in Politis, the annual cuts to parasite pay and pensions were in the region of €250 million, which means that over the five years they were in force the total would be about €1.25 billion. The judges will decide whether the taxpayer would be served with this bill, but knowing how sensitive they are to the feelings of poor public parasites, they will probably order the state to pay interest as well.

 

A FEW months ago, when our negotiator and media darling Andreas Mavroyiannis started making public speeches in favour of a settlement, informing us that the Cyprob would enter a new era if there was no deal and warning that Unficyp would withdraw, we were all wondering what had possessed him.

What had turned this committed, foreign ministry hardliner that had served rejectionist presidents like Tassos and Nik so loyally, into a pro-solution dove arguing that we should try secure a deal before the window of opportunity closed completely? Had he been bitten by pro-solution insect or was he presenting his pro-solution credentials to Akel in the hope he would be its presidential candidate in 2023?

His transformation may have been career-motivated, which is as good a reason as any for supporting Kyproulla becoming a protectorate of Turkey. Mavroyiannis, I am informed has applied to the EU for the post of Head of Delegation of the European Union at the UN in New York, which was recently advertised.

His prospects of landing this dream-job would probably be given a boost if he publicly appeared to be pro-solution, as this would go down well in Brussels. Would his transformation fool the High Representative of Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, under whose authority the head of the EU delegation would be? She was at Crans-Montana when Mavroyiannis was helping Nik lead the talks to collapse, because of Turkish intransigence.

We hope the new career path opened for the pro-solution Mavroyiannis is crowned in success, as long as we do not have to pay for it as we had to for his campaign to get elected president of the UN General Assembly, because it would good for Kyproulla.

 

THE OTHER Cyprob wolf in sheep’s clothing, silk-tongued foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides, was at the House last Wednesday to present his ministry’s budget that gave him an opportunity to explain the “three pillars” on which foreign policy is based.

Two of these pillars involved creating two secretariats, which, put crudely, means more jobs for Prez Nik to distribute among his loyal followers. First, there will be a secretariat, already approved by the cabinet, dealing with the trilateral agreements the Prez has been forging. And of course an under-secretary will have to be appointed in charge.

The other pillar was Kyproulla’s more active participation in the EU and there was a study under way for the establishment of an EU secretariat, which would coordinate all departments dealing with EU affairs. The secretariat will also need an under-secretary and staff.

The third pillar will create jobs for the boys in Nik’s third term, as Makarios IV said, “we have started discussing with countries in the region the establishment in Cyprus (Kyproulla) in four to six years, of a regional security and cooperation organisation for the eastern Mediterranean.”

All these pillars, the devout, churchgoing minister said, with his customary earnestness, served the ultimate goal of reaching a solution to the Cyprob. God permits lying for the national interest.

 

ALL THIS must have been music to the ears of Christodoulides’ fellow Paphite Yiorkos Lillikas, who had told friends that he was expecting to be appointed to an important foreign ministry-related post. He deserved some reward for splitting the rejectionist vote in the last presidential elections and excluding Nicolas 2018 from the run-off.

We will not be surprised if Lillikas is appointed under-secretary for the pillar of trilateral cooperations. It would be something to cheer him up as he is in political dead-end. His party, the Alliance of Lillikas, is going nowhere fast, having fallen out with all the other in-betweeners and two of its three deputies having defected.

The Alliance is falling apart and, as a good captain, Yiorkos has decided to leave the sinking ship before the rats have even departed. With Nicolas having entered a pact with the government two weeks ago, Prez Nik, will soon be anointed the undisputed leader of the rejectionists.

 

SPEAKING of our Prez, he seems to be trying too hard to persuade us that he is committed to a settlement, but not “any settlement” as the unpatriotic camp had been demanding. Every public speech he makes is dedicated to telling us that he was doing his best for a solution, but the stance of Turkey was destroying all prospects.

To quote Shakespeare, it is a case of “the lady doth protest too much methinks.” He might not be a lady, but he sure as hell protests too much. He has become quite tiresome protesting in every public speech that his critics were wrong to doubt his commitment to a settlement. Does he think repetition would wear people down and make them believe him?

This method has not been working which was probably why he asked his velvet-tongued foreign minister to help out. Makarios IV was on the radio on Friday morning, to argue the government’s case, with his usual soft-spoken, earnestness and mock-innocence.

Nik’s spokesman Prodromos Prodromou is too honest and brash to fool people and cannot hide his rejectionist mindset anywhere near as well as the earnest Christodoulides.

 

IN ONE of the speeches laying into his critics, the Prez said he hoped “everyone will realise, at some point, that at last, above and beyond, our cornershops (mikromagaza) there is the big vision which is none other than the survival of our country.”

It was a bit rich coming from a man, whose own cornershop has done so well out of his presidency. Of course, his metaphor was referring to political parties and not family law offices, which brings us to a story that came to our attention recently.

A young lawyer, the son of a former Disy deputy and minister, had a wealthy Saudi Arab client, and arranged a meeting for him with Prez Nik. He thought this was a good way to impress his client. The problem was that the Saudi was so impressed he decided to become a client of the Prez’s law office.

 

ANTI-CORRUPTION super-hero Odysseas, revealed another Cyprus Cooperative Bank-related scandal through his mouthpiece Phil. Odysseas was checking the money spent on CCB business cards and found that in January the CEO Nicholas Hadjiyiannis had spent €380 on a business lunch in Athens’s fashionable Kolonaki area with some accountants.

“Is it reasonable to spend €380, by Mr Hadjiyiannis, on a business lunch and also leave a €20 tip from the money of Cypriot taxpayer,” asked the outraged Odysseas, who said he would investigate all the company card expenses. Has publicity-mad Odysseas run out of things to attract attention that he is making an issue out of a €20 tip?

For the record, the CCB cost the taxpayer some €8 billion and I think it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that Hadjiyiannis’ business lunch expenses played no part in the bank’s collapse.

What Odysseas should be asking is why Hadjiyiannis, who proved a dismal failure as CEO of the CCB is still getting a salary of 200 grand a year, working for the company that has inherited all the bank’s NPLs? Hadjiyiannis had proved, as CEO of the bank, that he was not very good at reducing NPLs.

Unless of course a 200k salary, like a pension, is a property right.

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