Cyprus Mail
Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the coffeeshop: Courageous defiance or plain teenage silliness?

The teenager was caught on the school's CCTV

THE TEENAGE boy who took down a Turkish flag from a primary school in Lysi last Sunday has caused great confusion in our society, which did not know whether to treat him as a national hero and award him a Makarios medal or as a naughty little kid in need of a good spanking for his stupidity.

Was the removal of the occupier’s flag from the school grounds a courageous act of defiance that asserted youth’s commitment to liberation or the deed of a mischievous teenager, who was bored of the church service he was forced to attend by his parents and sneaked off to have some mindless fun?

It was also reported he entered the school after breaking a window and stole a picture of Rauf Denktash, presumably hanging on a classroom wall. Stealing a picture of the Denktator is a new act of national resistance, or national silliness, not having been thought of by any other freedom fighter before, not even Dr Madsakis.

The kid’s action was discovered several days later by the headmaster of the school (whom Phil put in inverted commas, in its report, indicating he was a pseudo-headmaster), who checked the CCTV video when he saw the Turkish flag was not on its pole and saw the black-clad teenager removing it.

The identity of the youth has been kept under wraps for his protection because the possibility of some nutcase Turkish Cypriot nationalist wanting to exact revenge for the disrespect shown to the flag could not be ruled out. There was therefore no interview of the teen hero on Sigma TV.

 

ELAM led the praise for the flag removal, as “it constitutes an act of national resistance,” at a time when “fighting spirit has been replaced by servility and resistance has been replaced by surrender.”

Solidarity praised the act as heroic even though it admitted not knowing whether it was “impulsive, rushed or planned.” It was however concerned about the safety of the boy and urged the state to offer him security as he “is obviously in danger from the ruthless regime.” Dr Theocharous stopped short of offering one of her own police guards to protect him.

In an untypical show of restraint, Solidarity said it did not want a repeat of such actions, as the “Turks would be fully ready next time to execute in cold blood the youths.”

While Disy and Diko sat on the fence, the nerdy member of the Diko executive Chrysis Pantelides expressed his admiration for the 16-year-old whose “action was brave, fearless and risky against the symbol of the occupying country in an occupied hamlet. Bravo.”

You wouldn’t get any Diko member undertaking such brave and fearless action, not even if it guaranteed a full-time job at Cyta as a reward because their liberation struggle prohibits any actions against symbols of the occupying country.

 

THE RESPONSE of the Turkish Cypriot regime was as pathetic as you would expect. On Thursday a pseudo court issued an arrest warrant for the Greek Cypriot teenager (did the court know his name or was it an anonymous warrant) while the office Kudret Ozersay said it had contacted Unficyp to ask for the return of the flag and Rauf’s photo.

Earlier, the Turkish Cypriot side had written to the bicommunal technical committee for crime and criminality asking that the case of 16-year-old was investigated by the Greek Cypriot police. The letter said that for the good climate to be preserved between the two sides such cases had to be dealt with decisively.

As the Turkish Cypriots do not do irony, we can only assume they were being serious in demanding the Cyprus police arrest the teenager and bring him in for questioning. They were unintentionally ironic in suggesting that such an action would preserve the good climate.

Maybe the regime was merely trying to appease the fanatics on its own side by showing it was doing something about the matter. On Saturday, it was reported that the Lysi refugees had been in contact with Unficyp with a view to returning the flag and the picture of Rauf. It was not very heroic of them but they did not want to be barred from returning to their village church.

At least they did not offer to surrender the 16-year-old to the Turks. As for the teenager, his action had one positive outcome – his parents will never again force him to go to a church service in Lysi with them.

Lute shaking on it with the two leaders during her latest visit

GOOD NEWS on the Cyprob. The UNSG’s envoy Jane Holl Lute has written to both leaders thanking them for their commitment to agreeing terms of reference and expressing her wish to arrange another meeting with them as soon as possible.

I can’t help thinking that her gratitude to Nik and Mustafa has more to do with their contribution in keeping her well-paid job going. Lute was supposed to have visited a few times in order to establish whether the two sides were prepared to return to negotiations and set up the resumption of the peace process. After a year of visits, she has failed to do either so why is she persisting?

She even turned on the charm for the cameras at the informal reception she gave for the two leaders 10 days ago, perhaps sensing that her mediation could turn into a long-term job. As long as she keeps the two leaders happy with the search for an agreement on the terms of reference ticking along at a leisurely pace the UNSG will have no reason to terminate her services.

 

ALL SIGNS are that the Cyprob is returning to the 1970s era so we need a full-time mediator to visit occasionally and make sure that the process is moving along without getting anywhere. And the Cyprus government will be playing its part in this return to the Spy Kyp era.

Prez Nik’s attendance at the UN General Assembly later this month has been billed as major event by the government. And after his meeting with Greece’s PM Kyriacos Mitsotakis in Athens on Tuesday, we were informed that Cyprus and Greece were preparing co-ordinated actions for countering Turkish provocations, during contacts on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

We are even considering appealing to the UN Security Council to report Turkey’s plans to open the fenced area of Famagusta. But what emphatically shows we have returned to the Spy Kyp era is the anti-occupation rally held in Dherynia on Saturday night with Prez Nik in the Spy Kyp role as the main speaker.

“Mass presence would constitute a loud response to Turkey’s scheming for Famagusta,” said an Akel announcement urging its sheep to attend.

 

THE ALLEGATIONS about the theft of Nik’s law office documents that were supposedly the source of the OCCRP report have been dropped. One question that the intrepid reporters who made the allegations failed to ask was why the documents from Nik’s law office were being kept at the presidential palace?

Had he not said that he had cut his links with the office that bears his name and had nothing to do with it since becoming president? It seems very strange that he would keep important documents of an office he had nothing to do with at the presidential palace.

Yesterday’s man: Christos Stylianides

SEVERAL reasons were given for the Prez’s decision to replace Commissioner Christos Stylianides. One was that they had fallen out over Nik’s volte face on the Cyprob, with Stylianides remaining committed to a federal settlement. Another was that Stylianides had not effectively defended the government when it was being criticised by the Commission for its golden passports scheme.

There was another reason for his removal that was never made public. He refused to pass on European Commission documents to the government. This was discussed at a meeting of our Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides with the hawkish head honchos of his ministry, all of whom agreed that Stylianides was letting down the government.

Needless to say that as a Commissioner, Stylianides was answerable to the European Commission and not the Cyprus government and would have been violating the rules if he gave Commission documents to Nicosia. The big question was why did the Cyprus foreign ministry want to have access to Commission documents?

 

NOT CONTENT with introducing cultural, economic and accounting diplomacy, our saintly foreign minister has now decided to promote sexual equality in his foreign policy. He had recruited gender equality activist Josie Christodoulou as an unpaid advisor for the “incorporation of the dimension of gender in foreign policy” but it turned out there was so much work to be done that she will be made a full-time advisor, on 42 grand a year.

Strangely, Christodoulou had originally been working for the justice ministry which is in charge of the government’s policies on promoting sexual equality and related issues. Why did Christodoulides suddenly decide that she was needed at the foreign ministry? Is he planning on introducing feminist diplomacy as well as part of his ministry’s multi-faceted foreign policy?

If he is, I bet he did not mention it to the Saudi Arabian foreign minister Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, who visited Kyproulla on Wednesday, in what Christodoulides described, rather predictably, as a “very significant” visit.

 

OUR ALLEGED tolerance and multi-culturalism that surfaced over the headscarf incident last weekend did not last very long. The parents’ association of the Pallouriotissa gymnasium have been protesting that the school had been turned into a ‘ghetto’, accusing the education ministry of sending all the foreign students there. They claim that 60 per cent of students were non-Greek speakers and threatened to close down the school if nothing was done by the ministry. It seems that foreign students have to wear headscarves for parents to show tolerance towards them.

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