IT TOOK our government some 24 hours before it said anything about the EEZ agreement signed by Greece and Egypt on Thursday, suggesting that Nicosia had been kept in the dark by Athens and was as surprised as the rest of us by the announcement.
The deal made a mockery of the joint energy plans our government has been peddling, and its grandiose policy of energy alliances, that our self-promoting foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides assured us had given great strategic significance to our Kyproulla.
Instead we have seen Greece putting into practice the declaration by its foreign minister Nikos Dendias that “the Cyprus Republic does not need us… the Cyprus Republic is an independent state.” You cannot blame Greece for distancing itself from our government, the energy policies of which are designed to sound good to the public but lead nowhere.
On Friday afternoon, Tass news agency reported that Christodoulides had a telephone conversation with Dendias who “briefed him in detail about all the provisions of the agreement signed by Greece and Egypt”. At last the government could say something about the deal.
He also made a typically cliched statement to Tass, informing us the “agreement emphatically proves and sends the message in every direction that agreements delineating sea zones are put together through negotiations, in good faith, as envisaged by international law….”
We can confirm that the message was received everywhere, and the world will be better place as a result.
NOBODY has dared mention it, and I might be completely wrong, but I cannot help thinking that last Sunday’s decision by the health ministry to move Greece from Category A countries to Category B was an act of vindictiveness by Prez Nik and his sidekick Nicos sparked by the Mitsotakis government’s decision to turn its back on their sanctions-seeking policy.
Greece had opted for dialogue with Turkey, despite its continuing violations of the Cypriot EEZ, Dendias telling the Cyprus Republic that it was on its own. This must have caused the Prez to see red, as it would weaken his case for EU sanctions against Turkey, which if imposed would have been a safeguard against the resumption of Cyprob talks that he has no desire for.
The epidemiologists advising the government had been divided over whether Greece should be moved to Category B, suggesting that someone in the government needed to take the decision. As it was Greece and there were political implications, no minister would have taken the responsibility of deciding. It could only have been the Prez’s call, who of course hid behind the scientific team.
Category B meant that people arriving from Greece would need Covid-19 tests, but worse still it led many Cypriots to cancel holidays in Greece, according to local travel agents. That’ll teach the Greek government not to follow Nik’s and Nikos’ patriotic, dead-end diktats for dealing with the Turks.
THE ULTRA-PATRIOTIC Solidarnosc movement of Dr Eleni Theocharous expressed serious misgivings about Greece’s ‘epidemiological downgrading’ which was done “in a rush and without the correct and full evaluation of epidemiological data”.
In the same announcement, Solidarnosc also revealed the reason for the spike in infections in Limassol. According to its information, “a big mass of illegal immigrants and agents of Erdogan, without any checks, came through the ‘holes’ in the ceasefire line and descended on Limassol and they are the reason for the surge of the epidemic in this town.”
Its revelation was based on a correct and full evaluation of the epidemiological data collected from the illegals. Erdogan’s agents were carrying agent’s ID.
OUR RUSSIAN friends are really turning the screw on the double taxation treaty President Putin has decided to change so that he can stop the flow of billions of euros out of the country to Cyprus-based Russian companies. Last Monday, Russia’s finance ministry surprised Nicosia by issuing a statement accusing our government of refusing to negotiate and that it would denounce the treaty.
The Russians had grown impatient because our government had wanted the meeting of technocrats from the two countries in the third week of August, as our chief negotiator would not be able to attend before then, and were putting on pressure to bring it forward. The threat to denounce the treaty had this objective.
The meeting will now be held on Monday and Tuesday, with the finance minister taking a delegation to Moscow. Why the rush, considering the outcome is a foregone conclusion? “We have made so many proposals, and they have rejected all of them,” said a senior source at the finance ministry, who complained about the “incredible arrogance” of the Russian officials.
It is not only on the Cyprob that the Russian always take a principled stand.
WITH OUR do-gooder foreign minister having failed to arrange for Cypriot students doing army service this year not to have to pay the increased tuition fees that will be charged by UK universities from September 2021, Prez Nik has come to the rescue.
On Friday Nik met a delegation of the students that will be obliged to pay more than double the fees they would have paid if they entered this year and told them he would personally intervene to help. What he would do he did not say, although the only plausible option would be to defer the army service of the 500 male students, something that has been ruled out by the education minister.
With 500 fewer national guardsmen, apparently, we would hand over a big military advantage to Turkey. An alternative would be for Nik to hire 500 unemployed men to serve in the place of the students so that our army is not weakened; the parents of the conscripts would be happy and the inalienable right of Cypriots to study at a UK university is safeguarded.
THE SURGE of Covid-19 cases had at least one positive effect. It allowed the return of Professor Leontios Kostrikkis to media stardom. He had disappeared from our television and radio stations for over a month creating a big void in our lives. We had grown accustomed to seeing and hearing him every day. It appears he missed the public limelight even more than we missed him if his appearances in the media in the last week were anything to go by. He was everywhere, seeing it as his duty to fill the void his absence had created.
A CUSTOMER who is a hotel manager at a big Larnaca hotel was livid last Sunday and sent us the following text. “Tonight, I had a guest coming to the hotel who was booked to stay for seven nights. He had arrived from Iraq via Dubai. As Iraq is in Category C and he is obliged to stay in quarantine for 14 days, why did they let him through at the airport? The man had no idea about having to quarantine or anything else. He wanted to go to the hotel restaurant to eat in the evening. We could not let him in, so he left and went somewhere else to eat. And these idiots in authority blame the people for what is happening.”
HERE is the third 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.
“In the afternoon, under the cover of trees we were safe and watched the bombing as if it were a film. That is until one aircraft did its dive and headed in our general direction, at which point we did the right thing – we aimed and fired at it and we rejoiced at seeing smoke coming from the plane. It was the next bit we didn’t like. Its nose pointed towards us and we had a very quick decision to make – shoot at it again or abandon the gun and run for cover. As you may have guessed by my writing this, we ran like we had never ran before, as far away as we could. The plane never spotted us and we saw it fly lower and lower, and to this day I like to think we shot it down.
“By nightfall, somehow we got word that we should go to the Nicosia airport to protect it from the expected attack on Day 2. I couldn’t feel happier at hearing the news. My father drove to the airport with my mother who brought me sandwiches, just like the ones you took on school excursions, while the fighting and bombing was taking place. He also brought me cigarettes even though, he was a committed anti-smoker, realising that it was not smoking that would kill me. His explanation for coming was laconic. ‘I was told you were at the airport so we came.’
“We were told to sleep at the far side of the airport and I have to relate a disgraceful episode. Halfway through a sleepless night, on the back of truck in which an anti-aircraft gun was fixed, the whole unit jumped up from a noise in the distance – the unmistakable sounds of aircraft engines closing in. Panic gripped and I am not sure who said ‘fire’ but everyone did. Rifles, semi-automatics, machine guns, we all blasted the dark sky in the direction we though the noise was coming from. As it got closer and closer, we kept firing and it took a while before someone yelled ‘stop, it’s ours’.
“The plane flew over us and only later did we find out that it was carrying Greek commandos that were killed. I cannot say whether other battalions or units fired at it, but we were the last one by the airport, so we probably had a lot to do with it. It was an example of the amateurish way in which the island was defended. When my parents arrived at the airport in the morning to see me, my father looked very worried, and it was not because I was a smoker.”
Next week: the battle for the airport and ‘How I came to love the UN’