FROM time to time I exchange a word with other columnists embedded in this irrational society. More or less we hit similar points concerning the ills of Cypriot economy, politics and society: clientelism, incompetence, corruption, materialism, and money addiction, mediocrities in positions of power resulting in lack of vision and in the end lack of leadership.
In almost all walks of public life the above ‘qualities’ are what the Cypriot citizen has to live with. Vede, for example, the editorial in last Sunday’s issue of ‘Down Town’ (Phileleftheros Publishing Group), which, in a single glossy page, young columnist Thanasis Fotiou portrays the almost complete decadence of Cyprus society, economy and politics.
He wonders: “what is going wrong? Are we as the people to blame? Who/what is to blame? The mediocre leaders that we are ‘happy’ to keep? Our lack of vision? Our temperament which is prone to evil-doing and corruption? Our attitude centred on the notion ‘I could not care less’? Which one of those? Or all together?” The columnist rightly observes our homeland is too small to be unmanageable. It should have a paradise on earth.
Nevertheless, the Republic of Cyprus hit rock bottom in just two generations since independence in 1960. The economic miracle that followed the Turkish invasion and occupation of a third of the territory and the loss of seventy per cent of the GDP (1974) ended in bankruptcy with the closure of two of the main banks (Laiki and Cooperative Bank) and one of the highest unemployment rates in the Eurozone. Compare for example the Czech Republic, which emerged also out of a two generations long totalitarian communist rule. However, Prague joined the EU at the same time as the RoC in the 2004 round of expansion. Yet, the Czechs, unlike the corruption-prone Cypriots, have achieved today almost full employment. The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic stood at 2.2 per cent at the end of 2019. In the areas controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus today unemployment is five times more. Moreover, Lilliputian Cyprus boasts:
- a) twelve per cent of its households unable to pay their utility bills- a record that lands us the sixth place of disgrace in the European Union league and,
- b) two hundred and sixty thousand people, roughly a quarter of the total population, edging below poverty line.
What an abominable record!
This gloom and doom message is passed on via the editorial in ‘Down Town’, the par excellence lifestyle magazine of the island. Ironically, the same magazine deems it necessary to feed its readers with another kind of food for thought very different to the superb editorial: the lavish extravagant lifestyle of world celebrities (some of them of Greek origin). Hence, the main reportage under the title ‘Celebrities Snap Shot’ features the ‘Glamorous Wedding costing $6.5 million’ between Stavros Niarchos and Dasha Zhukova at the exclusive Swiss ski resort of St Moritz. The Russo-Greek celebrities’ wedding report is embellished with more than twenty colourful photos of haute couture dresses and Swiss Alps top resort glamour and pomposity. What purpose does the publishing, one exactly after the other, of these diverse articles serve is unclear. Definitely a sharp contrast in the spirit and style of publishing.
However, the use of Greeklish (Ο Γκλαμ Γάμος: The Glamorous Wedding) points clearly to the direction of one more level of decadence in contemporary Greek (and Cypriot) public life. The unconventional and nasty, to say the least, use of English abbreviated words for description purposes instead of time-honoured Greek words (πολυτέλεια in this case: a word deriving from ancient Greek).