Cyprus Mail
OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

A tough week for Nik and a dinner in Berlin he might not digest

Prez Nik told the Pope that the secret ingredient in the silver conifers could detect wifi hackers anywhere in the Vatican

NOTHING seems to be going well for Prez Nik these days. Just when the noise surrounding the passports business had died down, the Israeli spy van appeared from nowhere to give the ethical commies of Akel another weapon for its vilification-of-Nik campaign that has been going extremely well, gaining new momentum every week.

I bet even the comrades are surprised by the success of their vicious anti-Nik effort, which has been playing non-stop since the start of October when it was revealed that he was using a private Boeing 737, provided by a Saudi businessman friend of his, for his travels abroad.

Odysseas had undertaken to investigate the private plane travel and when his findings are made public it could extend the bad publicity for Nik into the New Year. Of course, Odysseas might find no wrongdoing or irregularity, as had happened in his other two investigations into the activities of Nik – Ryan Air and Pera Pedhi.

A whitewash would bitterly disappoint the comrades, who have very good relations with our country’s leading anti-corruption crusader and regularly back his alleged clean-up initiatives. It was a bit surprising, in fact, that the fearless Odysseas had not volunteered to investigate the spy van and left the whole matter to the cops.

Now, what sort of investigation would the cops carry out, considering the force had used the services of the company, which operated the spy van, is another matter.


THE SPY VAN, which was imported as a meteorological vehicle but is reportedly equipped with technology capable of hacking smart phones and intercepting electronic communications, was according to its owner, WiSpear, only active in Kyproulla for field tests and demonstration purposes, in the knowledge of the authorities.

This was contradicted by the admission of the police chief that the force had used the services of WiSpear, which nevertheless claimed it was a victim of a “witch-hunt”, just like President Trump. It is surprising our own Prez has not used the witch-hunt line yet, given the mercilessly vicious attacks he has had to endure in the last couple of months.

He chose a smarter approach for dealing with the latest onslaught, inviting comrade Andros to his office last Friday to give him explanations about the van, a move that had the desired effect as there were no indignant announcements from Akel in the last 24 hours.

Politis newspaper, on the other hand, which was not invited for a special briefing at the palace carried on writing about the matter, claiming on Saturday WiSpear had fooled the customs about the purpose the van would be used.


DISY CHIEF Averof Neophytou was linked by reports to the company of the spy van on Wednesday, the implication being that he was involved in the whole affair. He made it clear that he had never any contact with the WiSpear director and former intelligence officer in the Israeli army, Tal Dilian.

He had met the Israeli businessman Shahak Avni, who is chairman of the Jewish community, the Israeli’s company CIS had installed the security systems at Disy headquarters, but that was all. What was the fuss about and why had Averof been singled out for links with the spy van?

There is a gossip circulating that the source of the story about Averof was the presidential palace rumour mill that has been working at full throttle recently. It is based on another bit of gossip that Nik’s love-hate relationship with Averof is currently going through a hate phase.


WHAT a pity that Mr and Mrs Prez’s visit to the Pope was completely overshadowed by all this spy van nonsense. So much so that hardly any media attention was given to the good news that Pope Francis had accepted an invitation to visit Kyproulla next year, when we will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of our independence.

He will not, however, be the first Pontiff to visit our sacred shores as Pope Benedict was here in 2010. Nik is the third successive prez to be granted an audience with a Pope, both Tassos and comrade Tof, both with their wives, having enjoyed the hospitality of the Vatican in the past.

The meeting, Nik said, was “particularly significant” as the Pontiff, “with particular interest, not only listened to, but also knew and understood the difficulties caused as a result of the invasion and occupation and the illegal activities of Turkey.”

He did not say whether Pope Francis supported the abolition of guarantees and the right of intervention or called for the withdrawal of all Muslim troops from the island.


WHILE in the Vatican, the Prez issued a written statement, expressing sadness at a statement made by the Turkish foreign minister who set conditions for the resumption of the peace process. He said that “under threats and conditions set by Turkey, not only is the necessary positive climate not created, but the effort being made by the UNSG is contaminated.”

A shame, because a few days earlier, Nik had announced that he would go to Monday’s meeting in Berlin with the UNSG Antonio Guterres and Mustafa Akinci “in a good mood”. We can only pray that his mood will not be affected and remain good in spite of the contamination of the UNSG’s effort.


MYSTERY surrounds Monday’s meeting with Guterres. Press reports have been talking about an “open agenda”, while a few days ago, our foreign minister said he expected the terms of reference to be locked in Berlin, paving the ways for the informal five-party meeting Turkey had been demanding, that could open the way for a new deadlock.

Part of the reason for the lack of information is the secretiveness with which the UNSG’s envoy Jane Holl Lute has been carrying out the job of failing to secure an agreement on the terms of reference. Not even the office of the UNSG’s Special Representative in Cyprus is kept informed about what Lute has been discussing with the two leaders or secret of her failure.

In his report about Kyproulla to the Security Council, Guterres made the following apocryphal remark. “The people of Cyprus deserve to know that this time is different.” He gave no clue why it is different this time, but it is worth noting the report was written before Turkey had contaminated his peace effort. The difference is unrelated to the contamination of his effort.


FRESH and revitalised from his ten-day visit to China with a big parliamentary delegation, House President Demetris Syllouris came up with a bullet-proof formula for never solving the Cyprob. Last weekend, he said: “We will never accept a settlement that will not allow the return of all refugees, without exception, to their houses.” As for the refugees that have no houses in the occupied area to return to, we will demand that houses are built for them by Turkey as part of the settlement.


AS PART of a clampdown on reservists not showing up for National Guard duty, the army is now making new demands of Greek Cypriots living abroad. In order to receive a ‘living abroad’ certificate from a Cypriot consulate or embassy in their country of residence, you need to provide a rental contract and a utility bill in your name as well as a work contract.

This is classic bureaucracy because any male could be living at a friend’s house and doing casual work that does not involve being given a contract; he may be travelling around, doing casual work and sleeping in hostels, because not every Cypriot male wants to become a public employee. Would he be considered a deserter if he does not have the documentation and be arrested as soon as he returns to Kyproulla?


A DEMONSTRATION of union might was given at the CyBC last week. The general manager, Michalis Maratheftis, resigned for personal reasons, claiming his cycle at the corporation had been completed even though he had another three years to run on his contract. He also said he had offers from elsewhere that he was looking at.

The reality is that he had crossed a union boss by transferring him to the Public Information Office, which had asked for the services of an experienced film director. The director never showed up at the PIO, having been given sick leave, and his transfer has since been rescinded by the interior ministry, reports said.

It was an embarrassing episode for Maratheftis, but he showed excessive sensitivity to resign. People in public posts are made fools of by the unions all the time without ever considering resigning.

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