The lavish praise heaped on Mother Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov during his visit to the heatwave island on Tuesday by our awe-struck government, politicians, parties and media was embarrassingly over the top.
Had he arrived as the liberator of Kyrenia and Famagusta, the adulation would have been justified, but this is a guy represents a government that has been one of the Turkish tyrant’s biggest supporters, the only country that has never condemned, not even mildly, Turkey’s unlawful actions in our EEZ.
Yet all the parties, with the notable exception of Disy, issued fawning statements about Russia’s ‘diachroniki’ (no accurate translation, but would suggest ‘throughout the ages’) ‘friendship’, ‘principled stand on the Cyprob,’ and ‘support at the UN’, and all called for strengthening of relations, bolstering of diplomatic ties and upgrading of bilateral relations.
This was an imperative at a time, they all said in one voice, when Turkey was “escalating its illegal aggressive actions,” a period when “Cyprus is surrounded by Turkish ships and Turkey is threatening the whole of Hellenism with war.”
What are parties trying to tell us? Once, we upgrade bilateral relations would Russia, which has not officially uttered the mildest negative word about Turkey’s illegal aggressive actions, Moscow would get its warships to chase away the Turkish ships from our EEZ?
TURKEY is Russia’s closest ally in the East Med, sells billions of dollars’ worth of gas to it – now it is also selling ballistic missiles to it – so why would it piss off such a good customer and ally for the sake of an inconsequential country from which it has nothing to gain, economically, politically or strategically?
I bet none of the party leaders that were all invited to the Russian embassy for lunch with Lavrov, dared ask him this question. It would have been a bit rude, given Russia’s ‘diachroniki’ support for Kyproulla and its just cause.
Anyway, the question was answered by Ambassador Osadchiy, on social media, some 10 days ago, when he informed us that Russia is a friendly country towards Cyprus, “for the sake of friendship itself,” and not because of its interests, which was the only reason the US was friendly.
The Russians filmed every single leader entering the embassy building and sitting down to dinner with Lavrov. The film was broadcast extensively so the natives could see how their leaders all ran to the embassy to pay their respects to Lavrov, who told them that “nobody should impose any recipes to the Cypriot sides and nobody should impose artificial time-frames.”
This is the ‘diachroniki’ principled stand on the Cypob, a recipe for never reaching a settlement.
PREZ NIK also bestowed on Lavrov the Grand Cross of the Order of Makarios III, because “his personal contribution, as foreign minister, is priceless, as is his contribution to the continuous development of historic relations between the two countries….”
I asked a retired ambassador why on earth we were awarding a medal to Lavrov, and he was taken aback by my effrontery. Did you not know that Lavrov, just a few months after being appointed foreign minister, got the Russian permanent representative at the UN to veto the resolution by which the UN Security Council would guarantee the implementation of the Annan plan, he told me.
So, he helped our efforts not to have Famagusta returned when it was offered to us, I told the former ambassador. That deserves a medal. And it was not the first time Russia helped us reject an offer of the return of Famagusta. In 1978, the Soviet ambassador to Nicosia ordered Akel and Spy Kyp to reject the offer of the return of the fenced area of the town, because it was part of an imperialist plan.
NO MEDAL will be given to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who arrived on an impromptu visit on Saturday evening for three hours, on his way back home from Doha, where he attended the opening ceremony of the Afghanistan peace talks. Pompeo has never been known for his diachroniki opposition to the return of Famagusta.
The visit, which is really a stopover, was announced Friday morning and everyone was guessing what Pompeo would be doing here. Not Phil which said on its front page that “Pompeo rushes to declare his presence.” Phil, which has traditionally overplayed the importance of Kyproulla, said “it is a given that the US Secretary of State wants to give a response to the recent visit by Sergey Lavrov to Cyprus.”
Apart from this Washington wanted “to make a comeback in the eastern Mediterranean and send the message that the US is present in the region. A message that has as its recipients Russia and China, the presence of which in the East Med, as is well-known, strongly bothers Washington.”
The most banal explanation is probably the most accurate. He had cancelled a planned visit to Kyproulla in January so he decided to make up for it by stopping for a few hours while he was in the neighbourhood. A meeting with a national hero like Prez Nik might also win his boss a few hundred Greek votes in November’s elections.
LAST SUNDAY, Dr Eleni’s Solidarnosc issued a fire and brimstone statement lambasting the education minister Prodromos Prodromou, for referring to army service on television as “losing two years of our lives,” and demanding his immediate resignation. It said:
“It is an anti-Greek, unpatriotic and extreme Disy position, not the words of an intellectual man who leads the minister of education… Lost time is not service in the National Guard. Lost time is that spent wandering ideologically according to where wind blew all these years, being paid by the state for an assortment of posts and contributing nothing… if he thinks serving your country -when it is flames, threatened from every direction by Turkey – is a waste of time he does not deserve to lead the ministry …..”
On Monday, Solidarnosc issued another statement, in which it said: “Yesterday’s announcement by mistake, contained a ‘hostile’ phrase directed against the honourable minister of education. We sincerely apologise, it was not our intention, as Solidarity never engages in personal attacks.” We can only speculate that Dr Eleni issued the apology, because she is godmother to Prodromou’s youngest child. It renews my faith in humanity when a fanatic like Dr Eleni can place friendship above her patriotic mission.
ALTHOUGH he is not godfather to any of my children, I have to admit feeling great deal of sympathy for Prodromou’s plight. Education minister is without a doubt the worst post in the government as it has to deal with the island’s most militant, entitled, bullying unions, confederations of parents clueless about education, student organisation that think they should have a say and president that wants to keep everyone happy.
It is a lose-lose situation, whichever way you look at it. This summer PP also had to deal with parents of some 500 boys who would miss out on the last year of the low tuition fees charged by UK universities, because they would have to do their army service. The parents organised themselves into the ‘Platform Equality-Justice’ and have been pestering PP and the government, acting as if attending a UK university is a birth-right that their sons had been denied by conscription.
Prez Nik, who aims to please everyone, decided to give the kids a deferral so they could go to university this year, while the taxpayer will pick up the bill. The government will hire 200 privates on contract at a cost of €4 million, to help parents, who are essentially well-off to be able to send their kids to UK universities, to pay the lower fees.
Meanwhile, there are poor kids at universities abroad who have to work to support themselves and receive nothing from the taxpayer or their parents who haven’t organised themselves in a justice-equality platform.
I HAVE always liked Nicosia mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis, whom I have known since he was five and count him among the good guys. But in the last couple of weeks every time I am in my car, stuck in a big queue, knowing I would take five times as long as usual to reach my destination in Nicosia I hate him with a passion usually reserved for men with ponytails.
I find myself yearning for another lockdown, during which I could drive to work in five minutes instead of the 30 I usually need now. I dread to think what the roads will be like from Monday when schools open and afternoon private lessons start as well. It would be faster to walk to most places but you had to be mad to walk in 40 degrees and 90% humidity.
And I blame my friend Constantinos for the chock-a-block roads of Nicosia that are turning drivers into nervous wrecks. With the road works currently in progress in the capital, there is traffic congestion all day on all roads and it is about to get worse. When the works are completed our quality of life will improve, he says. I just hope I do not kill myself before then.
OUR ILLUSTRIOUS, resourceful, self-promoting foreign minister has found a new form of diplomacy to pursue, I am pleased to report. After accountancy diplomacy, gender diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and economic diplomacy (apologies if I have forgotten any) he is exploring another form of diplomacy. At a meeting Christodoulides had with the new Greens leader Charalambos Theopemptou, Christodoulides there was “a constructive exchange of views and ideas, and examination of the prospects of undertaking together initiatives for promoting climate diplomacy.” It is enough to turn you into a climate change denier.