Cyprus Mail
Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Brit-bashing bandwagon rolls into town

Duncan’s comment allowed Nik to put his super-patriotic helmet on and head for the diplomatic trenches. Here he’s raising the EEZ issue of Turkey’s violation of international law in Cyprus’ EEZ with representatives of the network of the presidents of the supreme judicial courts of the EU, who were fortuitously in town

THE DESTABILISATION of the Eastern Mediterranean was not a matter of concern only to Cyprus, but would have repercussions that would also affect Britain, Prez Nik, reportedly said in his letter of protest to Britain’s PM Teresa May, according to a speculative report in Saturday’s Phil.

The “general climate of the letter” was in line with the position taken by our foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides who pointed out that Britain “should be two and three times careful when referring,” to Turkey’s actions and “the sovereign rights of the Republic,” reported the paper.

It added that, in the letter, the Prez noted Turkey’s violations and would “underline that all these issues and disputing (of our sovereignty) adversely affect British interests.” Nik would also “underline the positive stance taken by the Cyprus Republic towards Britain with regard to Brexit.”

We do not know how accurate the report is, considering it was unclear on whether the letter to May had actually been written. Had the Prez discussed with the Phil journalist what he planned to write, or had Christodoulides, who regularly feeds him with information, given him a sneak preview of the “general climate of the letter”?

IT IS A ‘thank-you’ letter that Nik should really be sending May, because the statement made by Minister for Europe, Sir Alan Duncan was God-send for the government. It allowed it to deflect attention away from the much bigger issue – the government’s failure to stop the Turkish drillship Fatih from engaging in exploratory drilling in the Cypriot EEZ.

The government seized the opportunity offered by Duncan’s unacceptable statement about the “disputed sovereignty” to turn public attention away from its boastful rhetoric about its energy plans that were safeguarded by strategic alliances with neighbouring countries and the US.

The reality though, was that these strategic allies, with the exception of Greece and Egypt, avoided getting involved in the matter. Russia avoided mention of Turkey in its statement about the Fatih’s presence in our EEZ, the US State Department referred to “an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its EEZ”, while the government of our strategic ally Israel, with which we will build the East Med pipeline, washed its hands of the situation.

All the government’s multi-dimensional diplomacy and tripartite alliances achieved, was to secure verbal condemnation of Turkey’s actions by top EU officials, Federica Mogherini and Donald Tusk. Calls for EU sanctions against Turkey fell on deaf ears, the government misleadingly claiming the matter would be discussed at a European Council in the future.

 

UNDER the circumstances, Duncan’s comment allowed Nik to put his super-patriotic helmet on and head for the diplomatic trenches, in order to heroically repel the latest attack of British duplicity and rally the troops. Prez Nik could do his ‘furious president ranting and raving against the enemies of Republic’ routine.

There is no easier target for this routine than the British government we all love to hate. First Nik claimed that Duncan would be ticked off by his PM because his “whole position does not reflect the correct policy that should be followed by Britain, regarding all the interests it has in Cyprus.” This did not happen, with the same position being repeated the following day.

By Friday everyone jumped on the Brit-bashing bandwagon, with political parties demanding that we raised the issue of the bases. It was an “imperative to raise the issue of the British Bases,” said Diko, while Yiorkos Lillikas eloquently said the “time has come to open the chapter of the closure of the bases.”

Nik found us a new enemy, everyone was happy to embrace, so we could forget that the Turks were preparing to embark on exploratory drilling, 60 km from the Paphos coast and our government could not stop this, despite all the alliances – strategic, tripartite, holy and unholy – it had forged.

 

FROM the day the Fatih entered the Cypriot EEZ, our FM Nicos Christodoulides took a leading role in defending the sovereign rights of the Republic. He has not been very successful, because he makes promises he cannot deliver. He did not even secure a public statement of support from his French counterpart when he visited Paris.

On Monday, we were informed, he will be meeting the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier who will be on a one-day visit to Kyproulla. He will inform Barnier about the illegal actions of Turkey in the Cypriot EEZ and the need for discussion of collective EU reaction to the Turkish provocations.

Barnier is touring EU member states to inform them about Brexit and is not an official with a role or a say in how the EU should respond to Turkey’s actions. Christodoulides still felt it would be good for his image to show that he is taking up our cause with every high-profile EU official he meets.

He should urge Barnier to get tougher on Britain in retaliation for its position on our EEZ. The only problem is we do not know what would be the worse punishment for the Brits – a no deal Brexit or preventing them leaving the EU?

On Friday our Tass news agency reported the tireless Christodoulides had a telephone conversation with President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, whom he briefed about the situation.

 

CORRUPTION fighter Odysseas did not approve of Akel’s bill proposal that envisages a six-year term for the auditor-general and attorney-general and a maximum of two terms in the post. Such an arrangement would weaken the auditor-general’s independence he told Phil.

Was the morally unimpeachable Odysseas suggesting that if he was auditor-general for only six years he would be less independent than he is now that he is in the post for life? He seems blind to the danger of complacency, arrogance, arbitrariness and authoritarianism infecting the behaviour of someone that is given a powerful public post for life and is constitutionally untouchable.

Asked if he agreed that such a law would have retroactive force, he said no, explaining that it would only apply to those that were appointed after the constitutional changes were made. Odysseas is therefore safe. He can carry on his crusade against corruption without his independence ever being diminished by the need to pander to politicians.

 

IT IS GOOD that the bill, if approved, would also apply to the attorney-general. If Costas Clerides was not retiring soon, there would be a strong case for having him replaced given how the list of failed prosecution cases, related to the collapse of the banking sector, keeps getting longer.

Another failure was added to the list last week when the Limassol criminal court ruled there was no prima facie evidence for a trial in the case of the irregular granting of loans worth €12 million by the Ayia Fyla co-op. All four defendants, two co-op employees and two co-op customers were acquitted, after a hearing that last two years.

Someone should carry out an investigation to establish the reasons why the AG’s office loses so many cases. He could not blame the relations of the Supreme Court judges with the Polyviou law office this time. The court blamed deficient investigation by the police and their irregular questioning procedure, but were the prosecutors not receiving guidelines from the AG’s office?

If the independent Odysseas was not such a good friend of Clerides, he may have investigated how many millions of euros of the taxpayer’s money have been wasted by the AG’s office in failed prosecution cases.

 

MEANWHILE the case of the former governor of the Central Bank Christodoulos Christodoulou, who is facing charges of bribery and corruption, continues. It has been dragging on for some time now, Christodoulou and his team of lawyers, entertaining hopes he will be acquitted. Can you blame them, considering the record of prosecution failure of the AG’s office?

 

NEXT WEEK we will be voting in the European Parliament elections. For a while, the campaign had been dominated by Akel’s Turkish Cypriot candidate, Niazi Kizilyurek, whom Disy accused of telling his Turkish Cypriot audiences things that undermined the Republic.

This sparked a major row between the two parties which made the campaign a bit more interesting, but things eventually calmed down. Last Sunday, however the daughter of Glafcos Clerides, Kate, decided to take stand announcing that she disagreed with Disy leadership’s stance and wanted to differentiate her position “for reasons of conscience.”

She then engaged in gushing praise for Kizilyurek, an insufferably pompous, self-regarding, self-promoting, humourless academic at the University of Cyprus. “The patriotism of Mr Kizilyurek and his love for the whole of Cyprus cannot be doubted by those who have read his books,” said Kate Clerides. “If he is elected, he will take a position for the benefit of all Cypriots, with an understanding for the sensitivities of all Cypriots.”

Given that the overwhelming majority of Cypriots have not read any of Kizilyurek’s books are they entitled to doubt his patriotism? And if he loves the whole of Cyprus does this mean he loves the pseudo-state as well? And the British Bases?

 

SEVERAL moderate, Disy-voting customers have announced that they would be voting for Kizilyurek in order to punish Disy for including the loony nationalist Dr Eleni Stavrou in its ballot paper. I doubt there are too many Disy followers that feel this way, but if there are my advice is to vote for the Animal Party. Having Kizilyurek on its ballot paper offers an additional compelling reason – if one were needed – for not voting for Akel. Our establishment does not oppose Kizilyurek because he is a Turkish Cypriot, but because he is too much of a ‘Cypriot Cypriot’, always looking after number one.

 

PREZ NIK is in danger of suffocating on his arrogance. In an attack on Akel the other day, he said: “I am sorry to speak in this way and express myself in strict fashion, but the zeros cannot talk about the excellent, or those that excelled, claiming they are already with them.” He should be sorry for speaking in this way, because makes zero sense, even though I suspect the ‘zeros’ are Akelites and ‘excellent’ are his supporters.


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