PREZ NIK was in mischief-making mood, taking a leaf out of the Donald Trump book, on Wednesday night when he gave two examples of fake news that he had been the victim of as he addressed the journalists’ awards ceremony organised annually by Tass News Agency.
One example he gave was that “Anastasiades dyes his hair – big lie.” We do not know who he was referring to even though I must confess the Coffeeshop has carried speculation on whether Nik dyes his hair on several occasions without ever arriving at a definite conclusion.
Our establishment said that if he did have his hair coloured, his hairdresser did an excellent job as the presidential mane looked pretty natural, even though the lack of grey hairs seemed rather unnatural for a man in his seventies whose twin brother’s hair is white.
Stung by the accusation of disseminating fake news, we asked several barbers for their opinion. A stylist in a top Nicosia hair salon said he believed it was dyed because if you looked carefully at his hair in bright light you could see an auburn tinge, which results from regular dying.
A veteran Syrian barber we consulted had a different theory that we had never explored. He said that Nik did not dye his hair claiming he wore an expertly-crafted wig, one that is so well-made almost nobody could tell it was a wig.
What led him to his conclusion?
He gave several reasons. Nik’s hair is always the exact same length, creating the impression that he never had hair-cut; the couple of white hairs he has are in exactly the same position, and there is no sign that his hair is thinning on any part of his head, which goes against the rules of ageing.
These views are not shared by the Coffeeshop which does not want to be accused of spreading fake news about fake hair.
HIS OTHER example of fake news did not really qualify as such. “They say Anastasiades is drinking his tea, meaning that I am having alcohol. But this is what happens, I never denied it.”
The use of the word ‘tea’ is better described as a euphemism because hacks choose a less offensive way to refer to the Prez’s well-known drinking habit. Everyone knows that ‘tea’ is code language for Scotch, his favourite beverage, so it cannot qualify as fake news.
The way Nik spoke about this you’d think he took offence that hacks were suggesting he drank tea, which is not a very manly drink. Perhaps this is why he referred to it as fake news – he interpreted it as a dastardly journalistic attempt to diminish his manliness among the public.
IN THE SERIOUS part of his speech, the Prez advertised his commitment to free speech and his government’s “wish for journalists to perform their duties without restrictions and interventions”.
He added: “I have never interfered, and since taking over the presidency of the state no journalist could protest that I made any intervention over any criticism, no matter how tough and unjustified it may have been. It is our obligation to listen to you and improve ourselves accordingly.”
This was another Trump trait displayed by our Prez on Wednesday night – rewriting reality (which may be wrongly taken as a euphemism for telling lies). I know at least one newspaper boss who has felt the full force of Nik’s uncontrollable rage and foul language over something written by the paper’s lead columnist.
In another case, Nik, who never interferes, secured the termination of the services of Alithia’s excellent weekly columnist Theodoros Theodorou because he regularly questioned the Prez Cyprob policies and censured his transformation into a hard line rejectionist. Theodorou always used rational arguments and never resorted to offensive language.
The champion of free speech that never interferes in the work of hacks, however, could not tolerate having his Cyprob theatre pulled apart in a pro-Disy paper and had a word with the proprietor who informed Theodorou that he would no longer have his articles published in Alithia. Theodorou now writes for Kathimerini, which has yet to receive a phone call from the non-interfering Prez.
THE PILLAR of peace and stability of the eastern Mediterranean region is expanding the reach of its threesome diplomacy and political influence beyond the Med, thanks to its visionary foreign minister of added value Nikos Christodoulides.
On Tuesday he unveiled another trilateral alliance, this time with Armenia, whose foreign minister, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, was in Nicosia for the obligatory cordial handshakes and smiles before the cameras that Christodoulides is so good at. Greece’s Giorgos Katrougalos was also present at the meeting that took place at the presidential palace so it could have more significance.
The trilateral summit, the first one that does not involve energy cooperation, will take place in Armenia in January. Next stop of the threesome train will not be Azerbaijan.
IT IS NOT only threesome diplomacy that Christodoulides is pursuing in order to expand Kyproulla’s world influence. Speaking at the conference of university rectors on Monday – reported by Phil – “he referred to the modern forms of diplomacy that could promote the comparative advantages of the country, explaining that these were economic diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and educational diplomacy.”
He also said there were thoughts of establishing a “diplomatic academy” which would not only train Cypriots but also “colleagues from the Middle East and the Gulf”. What will the diplomatic academy teach them? Will it have courses on preventing unrecognised pseudo-states from participating in international forums, on techniques for ensuring a state is not downgraded, discussion groups on the political significance of a national cheese or workshops on threesome diplomacy?
Christodoulides’ efforts to make Kyproulla great and expand its world influence never stop. Earlier in the week, he signed a “strategic cooperation agreement” with SELK, the professional body of certified accountants. In what way was the cooperation agreement ‘strategic’? Was it so it would sound more important and have added value?
An announcement issued by SELK, said the “Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Wednesday,” and it was “the first organisation that forges such an agreement with the Department of Economic Diplomacy of the Foreign Ministry.” Christodoulides’ diplomatic academy can also have a course on profit and loss diplomacy, funded by his new strategic partner SELK.
GIORGOS Pamborides, the former health minister who bailed out of the government after Nik’s re-election in 2018, rather than stay and handle the implementation of Gesy, seems to have commenced building his profile as a prospective presidential candidate.
Phil last Sunday dedicated a whole page to an interview with Pamborides, who attacked the Disy leadership for the poor results in the European elections, claiming that “today’s lamentable picture, unfortunately fully confirms my fears of last year.”
And what were his fears? “The leadership of the party is in obvious disharmony with the people of Disy. And the worst thing is that it does not seem to understand it. In the six years that the current leadership (Averof) has been at the helm of the party it has not been able to keep Disy on the tracks laid out by the historical leadership.”
Of course, for the hawkish Pamborides, the legacy of the historical leadership (Clerides) was Gesy and not the bizonal, bicommunal federation, which he avoided mentioning in the interview, because he is not a fan. He would adopt a more aggressive approach towards Turkey which he would punish via the EU and Nato for its violations of the Cypriot EEZ and hire top international lawyers to counter Turkey’s baseless arguments.
The one question the interviewer forgot to ask Pamborides was whether he would try to become Disy chief first or go directly for the presidency.
THREE member-states of the UN Security Council – UK, US and Russia – held cocktail parties at their embassies in Nicosia in the last week and at all of them respect for the Cypriot EEZ featured prominently in the speeches of their ambassadors.
We should note that Russia’s ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy, in keeping with this foreign ministry’s policy, avoided mentioning the word Turkey in his speech about the EEZ. “Drilling can take place by any country within its EEZ according to the rules of international law,” he said and added: “This is fully applied by the Cyprus Republic which is an officially recognised state by the international community and according to international law has sovereign rights in its EEZ.”
His failure to mention the violations of our EEZ by Turkey was perfectly in keeping with Russia’s principled stance on the Cyprob.
THE REAL big surprise was Prez Nik’s presence at the Queen’s Birthday Party bash thrown by the British High Commission, despite the recent comments by Britain’s Minister of State for Europe, Sir Alan Duncan, who repeatedly said the Cypriot EEZ was under dispute, not to mention the UK’s permanently unprincipled stand on the Cyprob.
Our more patriotic foreign minister did not attend, even though all the top brass of his ministry were present. Nik had obviously forgiven Britain for its duplicity. In his speech he said he had received a letter from former PM Theresa May on May 26 in which she “clearly expressed the UK’s full support and tangible solidarity with Cyprus and opposed Turkey’s planned drilling activities and fully recognised the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit the natural resources.”
Did she actually write this, or was Nik re-inventing reality?
THE MUSIC at the Queen’s bash was not played by some army band, but by a rock band which was a first. So when the rock band started playing the Greek national anthem in an electric-guitar style, Nik exchanged perplexed looks with former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides who was standing close to him.
The Brits did to the Greek national anthem what Jimi Hendrix did to Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock, even though I doubt there was a recording of the former. One embassy official saw the positive side of the electric national anthem. “At least the Turkish Cypriots did not walk out as they always do, because they did not recognise it was the Greek national anthem being played.”