OUR RULERS, wasted no time turning into little dictators again, after the surge in coronavirus cases, adopting the authoritarian tone as they talked down to us, told us off and threatened us with a range of punishments from fines to business closures.
It will be €300 if you are caught without a face masks in supermarkets, banks, bakeries, shops, churches etc. Cops, according to two shopkeepers, were out in numbers on Saturday morning to enforce the ‘zero-tolerance’ announced by the government and fine offenders. I am sure the cops will get plenty of help from the army of coronavirus fanatics among us acting as volunteer informers.
Prez Nik had the opportunity display his authoritarian streak, warning that “non-compliance (with the mask decree) would lead to unwelcome decisions involving stricter measures in order to protect the health of citizens, with, however, dangerous economic consequences.” In short, if you ignore our decrees, we will happily take measures that will increase poverty and deprivation.
What does he care, the dangerous economic consequences he threatened will not affect his standard of living or his family’s. Waiters, shop assistants can starve while he protects the health of citizens.
THE MASK decrees were decided at a meeting of Nik and his scientific advisory team, but everyone knew these would come, as a day earlier Greece had announced the mandatory use of masks indoors. Why does he need an advisory team when he always adopts Greece’s decisions 24 hours later?
The only decision we had not copied was to allow British tourists to fly in without a health certificate, which Greece did a few weeks ago and we made a complete hash of that as well. The first Brits arrived on Saturday, when the UK was moved to category B countries and therefore do not have to self-isolate for 14 days.
The Cyprus Mail was inundated with questions and queries from prospective visitors from the UK, about the NHS health certificate, testing, children’s status etc, because our authorities’ announcements were not very helpful, confusing instead of providing clear information.
A helpline desk was opened on Saturday, the first day Brits were due to arrive, because there was nobody in the government with the brains to think that it might have been more helpful to open this a week earlier, before people actually flew in.
ALL THE HOOPS we made the Brits jump through to get to Kyproulla, gave the impression that we were doing them a very big favour, reluctantly allowing them come on holiday to our beautiful island. Somehow our wise rulers forgot that we were desperate for tourist arrivals to give our floundering economy a much-needed boost.
I would not be surprised if on arrival they are each given a personal letter from Prez Nik welcoming them to the island and threatening to send them home on the first available flight if they ignored the health safety measures. The policy of threats should not be restricted only to us locals.
It is a pity the Brits started arriving Saturday, the day after the biggest spike in cases for months which meant we can’t blame them. And the panic-stricken Covid fanatics cannot accuse the government of causing the spike by opening the country to the Brits.
They could accuse the authorities, however, of extremely lax security at Limassol marina, where people from category C countries, completely ignored the 14-day isolation rule, jumped off their yachts and went into town, which has seen by far the biggest surge in cases.
After the event there will be action, the health minister, announcing daily checks by police on people from category C countries in self-isolation.
APART from the surge in coronavirus cases, Prez Nik also had to deal with a double-betrayal by our mother-countries. First, Greece’s foreign minister Nikos Dendias announced that “the Cyprus Republic does not need us… the Cyprus Republic is an independent state,” to explain his government’s decision to enter dialogue with Turkey, on the very day Ankara issued a Navtex covering a sea area in the Cypriot EEZ.
The second blow arrived from Mother Russia, even though we would never have known if we relied on what government spokesman KK said about Thursday’s telephone conversation between our Prez and President Putin, that lasted 45 minutes. Αccording to KK, Nik told Putin about Turkey’s unlawful actions and unreasonable demand and, thanked him for Russia’s unwavering support to the Republic. Putin promised to urge President Erdogan to stop Turkey’s illegal activities, said KK.
The real content of the telephone conversation was revealed by Phil on Friday. Changes dictated by Russia would be made to the double taxation treaty, making Kyproulla a less attractive tax jurisdiction for Russian companies. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will be in Kyproulla early September, presumably for the signing of the new tax treaty, and not to carry out a detailed review of developments in the Med as KK informed us.
KYPROULLA is at risk of becoming a motherless child. And the two Niks will be on their own in seeking EU sanctions against Turkey now that Greece, fed up of pandering to its spoiled kids, has abandoned us and opted for dialogue with Turkey.
Perhaps, France will adopt us now that it is in conflict with the Turks and President Macron has become our Nik’s best buddy, the visit to Paris, 10 days ago showed. Macron not only labelled Turkey’s violations of our EEZ ‘unacceptable’ but also called for sanctions. So there is hope of him signing adoption papers soon, because Kyproulla needs a mother.
IN THE INTERVIEW, in which Dendias gave us the bad news, he also said: “The Cyprus Republic does not need us at all. My colleague Mr Christodoulides is a very capable minister, President Anastasiades is a highly experienced politician….”
Was he being ironic about Christodoulides or should we take his words at face value? I suspect it was the latter, because he does have capabilities, such as self-promotion, ruthless pursuit of his ambition, telling people what they want to hear and many more that I cannot list here.
HE MAY have resigned, but his legacy lives on. I refer to former AG Costas Clerides, who stepped down last month, but on Friday we were once again reminded of his supreme talent for losing big cases. The criminal court threw out the case he had brought against the corrupt former Central Bank governor Ttooulis Tooulis and several others because of abuse of legal process. It was not the first time a case brought by Clerides was thrown out by the court for abuse of legal process. There was a positive to all this – it allowed Ttooulis, who had done time for tax evasion, to declare that he had been exonerated.
ON FRIDAY, Kyproulla became the only EU member-state not to approve CETA, the trade and economic agreement between the EU and Canada, which needed ratification by all national parliaments. All parties except Disy voted against the ratification of the treaty which took decades to complete, because, among other things it did not protect the halloumi trademark. One deputy accused the government of protecting the Yeroskipu loukoumi in the agreement instead of halloumi. We have no witnessed the halloumification of the EU-Canada trade agreement.
HERE is the second part of the account of the experiences of the 19-year-old National Guardsman, serving as a sergeant at an artillery unit in Athalassa (known as 189MPP), in 1974. Today’s instalment is based on his recollection of events on July 20, 1974.
“On this morning, many, many years ago, Major Gotsis gathered us all at 4.30am that having seen off the traitor of Hellenism, Makarios, we would now get the chance to crush the nasty Turks. Boy, I was thrilled to hear this. My anti-aircraft unit of five soldiers, of which I was in charge as the sergeant, was sent back to the Kalisperas traffic lights. “To put things in perspective, we had two target shooting training sessions, during our initial training using WWII MK4 rifles. As for anti-aircraft gun training, in my case, at least, it consisted of zero days, zero hours, zero minutes and zero seconds. We had one training session, shooting at a balloon attached to a helicopter, moving very slowly, but alas they had ran out of ammunition by the time it was my turn to use the gun. Our national guard was indeed battle-ready.
“It was a beautify July morning, the only thing spoiling it was that about 5.30am was that we could see a large flock of crows flying in the distance, over the Kyrenia mountain range. I just couldn’t believe what the other guys in my unit were saying, that we were seeing Turkish planes dropping parachutists. As we also heard a couple of very big explosions, I changed my mind and decided to return to base.
“As we were turning into Athalassa I saw my father’s car coming to the lights to find me.”
“WITHIN minutes of going back to base, the Turks paid us a long and loving visit, dropping bombs like it was confetti at some big wedding event. I did what every brave Cypriot boy would have done in the circumstances. I knelt down in the midst of all the bombing and prayed. Nothing else was going to save us so I gave it a go. Sure, I recovered enough, after being sworn at by fellow soldier for doing nothing to defend the country, like shooting at those planes, that would have been as effective as a fart. Did not see one plane go down that morning.
“When the morning bombing session was over every battalion (184,185,187,195) apart from mine (189) had lost soldiers. Not one dead and don’t believe a word about Turkish pilots being great. We were sitting ducks and they missed us, bless them. Either that or my prayers worked well. I choose the prayers, because it makes me think I saved my battalion. By now, Major Gotsis and the two other Greek officers under his command were nowhere to be seen. They somehow were assigned elsewhere but forgot to tell us.
“We headed for the woods behind Athalassa where we stayed until the afternoon round of bombing began.”
To be continued next week