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OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Refining the art of nuisance diplomacy

ΠτΔ – aποκαλυπτήρια Μνημείου Αγνοο
Prez Nik put on his angry face on Saturday after being taken over by a Turk-bashing mood in the last couple days

PREZ NIK has been taken over by a Turk-bashing mood in the last couple days, reinforcing my unjustified suspicion that he is considering seeking a third term.

On Saturday morning the director of his press office, issued a statement saying the Prez, at the European Council in Brussels, would inform heads of state about “Turkey’s new provocations in the Famagusta area and ask his fellow leaders to call on Turkey show self-restraint.”

On the agenda of the extraordinary summit would be Ukraine, the world energy crisis, European defence and security as well as EU food security in the light of the war in Ukraine. The latest provocation by the Turks in Varosha, which consists of opening up a new stretch of beach and placing sunbeds on it is not on the agenda, but Prez Nik will make sure his fellow leaders are informed about.

Will they call on Erdogan to remove the sunbeds? We shall see.

 

LATER on Saturday, he addressed a gathering in Limassol, during which he fired a broadside against the international community, for treating Turkey as “a pampered child for the sake of their interests.” What Nik wanted was for the “UN, our European family, the EU, but also the international community, more broadly, to make Turkey accountable for its actions.”

They took action against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and talk about “war crimes similar to those committed by Turkey in Cyprus,” said Nik. Kyproulla was as much a sovereign state as Ukraine and we also were victims of the “same barbaric invasion by a more powerful state using the same pretexts.” He did not address the paradox of how the country that always took a principled stand on the Cyprob, never displaying the appalling double standards of the West, was behaving in the same barbaric way as Turkey.

Nik vowed to continue our nuisance diplomacy until the hypocritical world paid us attention. “We will not stop, persisting with projecting to the EU, to the UNSG, from every international forum, that the time has finally come, to realise that international law will prevail, when we all respect it indiscriminately.”

 

WHILE Nik was engaging in the fun Turk-bashing, his foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides had sent a letter to the Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, with our side’s proposed confidence-building measures. A similar set of proposals had been sent to the UN a year ago, but came to nothing.

The timing for sending these proposals seems entirely wrong. Erdogan has gone wild threatening Nato, the EU, Greece. He is unlikely to be open to the idea of handing over Varosha to the UN – one of the CBMs we are proposing – at a time when he is making claims on Greek islands in the Aegean. The only CBM Erdogan would agree to now is handing over Paphos to him and he might remove the sunbeds from the Famagusta beach as an act goodwill.

 

THE GOVERNMENT has wasted another €100 million in a colossally futile attempt to help households deal with soaring inflation. For the vulnerable households that will receive one-off cash handouts, depending on the number of children, the relief offered would last for a month, after which it would be back to the bad old times.

The reality is that there is nothing the government can do to control the rising prices, which are imported from abroad, and protect people’s disposable income. We are all screwed, the low-income earners more than the rest.

Among the measures announced by the government on Friday were increased subsidies for the installation of photovoltaics, which would ensure paid lower electricity bills. The subsidies were also targeted, with the biggest subsidy – close to €1,000 per KW – being for low-income households. How a family that can just about afford to feed and clothe itself, be able to pay for the installation of PVs, even with a big subsidy, is a question the finance ministry technocrats who drafted the measures, failed to address.

 

THE DIPLOMATIC academy set up at the foreign ministry last year, when it was being run by Nicos Christodoulides and his Missus, lost its director Tasos Tzionis, who has resigned.

Tzionis, a retired ambassador of the ultra- hardline school, to whom the couple feel deeply indebted for helping both their ministry careers along in their early stages, was repaid last summer by being appointed director of the Diplomatic Academy that Christodoulides set up to create more Cyprob hawks.

The resignation was the result of a showdown, between Tzionis and foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, during which the former had demanded offices for the academy in the foreign ministry building and two or three experienced diplomats to work for him.

With offices in the foreign ministry building Tzionis may have hoped to meddle in the ministry’s affairs and resume exercising his hawkish influence over staff. There was no space available he was told and there were no diplomats to spare. Kasoulides was already facing complaints about staff shortages and taking diplomats out of the service to work as teachers at the academy was out of the question.

With Kasoulides refusing to budge, Tzionis, who had never made these demands when his protege was in charge of the ministry, threatened to resign and Kasoulides simply told him to go ahead, which he did. As Shakespeare said, ‘all’s well that ends well.’

 

AFTER her humiliating demotion to head of the foreign ministry’s crisis management centre, the other half of Mr Karseras, according to colleagues, has been in a permanent sulk, unable to cope with her downgraded role.

This is understandable considering that during her hubby’s reign she was the empress of the foreign ministry, being given the post of Acting Head of the General Secretariat of European Affairs in a blatant case of conjugal rusfeti, and turning it into a super-ministry, lording it over all the ministries which she prevented having direct contact with the European Commission.

Anyone would feel hurt and embarrassed being moved from such a powerful post to the crisis management centre, having to look after Cypriots caught in war zones and manage mundane consular matters. Was she still sulking 10 days ago, when she made the briefest possible appearance at the Argonaftis, multinational civil/military exercise?

Her brief appearance only on the first day of the four-day exercise, despite the exercise being under the authority of her new department at the foreign ministry, was the subject of much chatter among the many diplomats present. They understood she had no time to waste watching air and sea drills when she had a presidential campaign to run, during office hours.

 

IN BUSINESS, the mouthpiece of the IMH group continues its campaign to secure another term for the Central Bank governor Constantinos Herodotou. This has nothing to do with the fact that the Central Bank, under Herodotou, had given quite a bit of business to IMH, most recently events for the visit of ECB President Christine Lagarde.

Nor does the campaigning have anything to do with the fact that the governor and the IMH owner are members of the English School old boys’ cabal. Herodotou, is quite simply the best man for the job, as he oversaw the closure of RCB and branches of Lebanese banks without depositors being affected and any reverberations for the local banking system. The magazine just cannot conceal its admiration for the man, which is totally sincere.

“In the end, the choice of Herodotou, as head of the Central Bank appears to have been one of the most successful of the Anastasiades government,” the magazine authoritatively concluded.

 

LAST WEEK’S item reporting the departure of the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Stanislav Osadchiy, who also had the role of paternalistic overlord of Kyproulla, was confirmed by the embassy. In its invitation for the reception to mark Russia Day, guests are informed that they would be able “to say farewell” to the ambassador. “Goodbye and good riddance” might be more appropriate for the scheming ambassador with the epaulettes, who was constantly meddling in our affairs and telling us what is in our interest.

 

MY FRIEND, Constantinos Christofides, former rector of Cyprus University, will be announcing his presidential candidacy on Sunday. The choice of day for such an important announcement, I must say, was unfortunate. May 29 is the day of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, but while this happened 569 years ago, for some voters the date remains significant. I just hope his choice of day will not cost him the presidency.

 

SPEAKING of the presidential elections, the independent candidate who copied chunks of his inaugural campaign speech from the 2007 inaugural campaign speech of Ioannis Kasoulides, had an interview to Phil last Sunday. The questions were asked by his semi-official spokesman that is also the paper’s political correspondent, Andreas Bimbishis.

Not surprisingly, Bimbishis did not ask the candidate why he had copied Kasoulides’ speech, which was what everyone was talking about at the time. I suspect the candidate told him not to ask such a question, because whatever the Paphite answered would have been ridiculed.

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