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Tales from the coffeeshop: Presidential TV debate was a welcome surprise

coffeeshop thursday's tv debate between the three main candidates
Thursday's TV debate between the three main candidates

COULD it have been a brave disregard for their personal safety that made the two so-called independent candidates turn down the proposal of the police command to provide them with a security detail, that was approved by the council of ministers?

It is not the kind of easy-going approach to personal security you would normally expect from timid, career civil servants with fear of any risk in their DNA. Yet Andreas Mavroyiannis and Nikos Christodoulides both informed the chief of police, ‘thanks, but no thanks’ last Monday.

The chief, Stelios Papatheodorou, was baffled by their response, as when he had informed them three days earlier that they would be provided with police bodyguards, neither objected to the idea. The mistake was that the matter had been made public and it sparked an outcry by the social media mob which crucified the candidates for wanting cops.

In the end the candidates were brave enough to put their lives at risk by going without a security detail, but not brave enough to defy the social media mob, which represents a respectable number of votes.

 

THIS must have been a major setback to the Christodoulides camp as this would deprive it of a chauffeurs’ pool to run its errands during the campaign in which Mrs Christdoulides is also very actively involved.

Who will be picking up the kids from their expensive private school paid for by the taxpayer, and taking them to their afternoon activities come September, when the election campaign intensifies and the couple will need to devote every minute of the day to it?

When Christodoulides was foreign minister the cops from his security detail would drive to Limassol once or twice a week to bring back shopping supplies from his father-in-law’s supermarket. They would also pick up the kids from school, sometimes taking them to the foreign ministry, until it was time to drive them to their afternoon activities.

All this appears to have escaped the notice of the ever-vigilant auditor-general, who had publicly shamed a former commissioner for using a government car for private purposes. She had committed the cardinal sin of standing up to Odysseas in public, something Christodoulides would never dream of doing.

 

THE DECISION to offer a security detail to just two of the presidential candidates was based on a risk assessment carried out by the police committee that deals with this issue. Had the committee carried out risk assessments for the other eight presidential candidates (the Disy and Elam candidates already have cops) or had it decided they were not worth protecting?

It would be interesting to know why Mavroyiannis and Christodoulides needed a security detail, but candidates like Colocassides, Demetriades, Christofides, Eliades, etc did not. Had the force received information that Averof would hire a hit squad to eliminate his main rivals or had the chief decided that the terrorist groups active in Cyprus would only target the first-class independent candidates?

The police could not propose security details for the second-class, independent candidates, whom it classed as no-hopers, and therefore not in danger from the Averof hit squads. And they all have grown-up kids that do not need to be picked up from school and taken to afternoon activities by police chauffeurs while their parents are on the campaign trail.

 

THE FIRST presidential election debate, broadcast by the CyBC on Thursday night, proved a pleasant surprise, as it was much more entertaining than anyone could have realistically hoped for.

Credit should go to the two civil servants, who waived their right to police protection, as they were at each other’s throat, exchanging accusations about the respective roles they played in the collapse of the peace process and in paving the way for the two-state solution.

Mavroyiannis accused Christodoulides of adopting a negative role, undermining his advice to Prez Nik to seize the opportunity for a breakthrough at talks and urging the Prez to walk out. You should have resigned if the Prez ignored your advice and felt he made a bad decision, countered Christodoulides, self-righteously.

At one point, after Nik made a decision regarding the talks that Christodoulides did not approve of, the latter called Mavroyiannis and told him, “I cannot exhaust my political capital on betraying my country.” He did not resign, however, because that would have exhausted his political capital even faster than betraying the country.

Instead, he sulked and, in protest, refused to speak publicly for several days, even though he was then the government spokesman, said Mavroyiannis.

 

NONE of this was left unanswered by the Diko candidate, even though he was bit shaken by the Akel candidate’s offensive. His inexperience of public debates and of being challenged showed. So far in his career he only engaged in monologues of platitudes and answered questions to journalists that were in thrall to him and never challenged him.

Mavroyiannis was insulting the Prez by claiming he was doing whatever Christodoulides was telling him, implying that Nik had no will of his own. The only way for truth to come out was to ask Nik to say what had gone on at the talks, said the new Makarios. As we all know, the truth always shines when Prez Nik speaks.

Averof sat back, looking like a man that just won the Lotto. Another televised debate like this and he would cancel the hit squad contract.

 

PREZ NIK, struck by Covid, was unable to attend the presidential palace gathering for the anniversary of the Turkish invasion. His last speech for the occasion, delivered by finance minister Constantinos Petrides, read like a catalogue of excuses for bringing the country to the waiting room of partition.

His conscience was at peace, he said, because he did everything that was humanly possible, not only to find a settlement of the Cyprus problem, but also to avert the collapse at Crans-Montana. The truth always shines when Nik speaks, but on this occasion, it was a bit dimmed.

How did he avert the collapse of Crans-Montana by walking out? Was it not humanly possible to stay and carry on talking, given that his negotiator Mavroyiannis insisted the two sides were just a whisker away from a settlement? He also used a pretext to walk out of Mont Pellerin, when it was perfectly humanly possible to have stayed and bashed out a deal, which, according to Mavroyiannis was on the cards.

Walking out of talks when you are on the verge of a breakthrough, on the advice of someone looking after his political capital, is very humanly possible when you are Nik.

 

KYPROULLA was given a mention in the Russian Federation foreign ministry’s report on the violation of the right of Russian citizens in foreign countries. There were “recorded demonstrations of discrimination of Russian citizens in Cyprus both in everyday life and on websites”.

It added: “The nationalistic-minded representatives of the Ukrainian expatriate community and Ukrainian refugees predominantly display Aggression towards Russians,” who are presumably not nationalistic-minded but can still stage demos supporting their country’s brutal invasion.

The report also pointed out that “instances of Russophobia in educational institutions were established. There were also recorded incidents with bullying of Russian-speaking children, including those from mixed families, by their classmates.”

The Russian foreign ministry’s sensitivity seems a bit far-fetched considering the murderous aggression it has been displaying towards Ukrainians. The report is yet another example of the principled position Russia always takes on international affairs, including the Cyprob.

 

AFTER the PDO, another historic agreement on halloumi was recorded on Friday among the suppliers of all types of milk and the cheese producers.

There were two groups of cattle-farmers, seven groups of sheep and goat farmers and the cheese producers at the meeting, chaired by the agriculture minister, Costas Kadis, that in effect decided to completely rewrite the specs of the PDO approved last year by the European Commission.

Kadis will propose the amendment of the specs on shape and size (it can be folded, burger shaped, grated, in blocks, slices and in cubes) while the moisture content will increase. The sheep and goat milk content will be 10 per cent for some months, and 25 per cent other months until the sides agree on a final percentage.

Earlier, the agriculture ministry had changed the specs on the breeds of sheep and goats as well as on their fodder. The changes will be labelled of “minor significance” when submitted to the Commission (even though they are pretty major), because otherwise they would not be accepted.

We have made a mockery of the PDO concept and must have reinforced the Brussels’ view that we are a member-state that cannot be taken seriously.

 

NOBODY can say what the outcome of the stand-off over the appointment of Dr Petros Agathangelou, the president of the Cyprus Medical Association, to the board of the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) will be. Will Prez Nik take the humiliating decision of giving in to the public pressure or will he fight it out?

We have at least been entertained by the stance of the chairman of the HIO board, Thomas Antoniou, who has been threatening to resign if Agathangelou is appointed, but does not really want to step down. The fact is that Agathangelou has been appointed but the resignation threat has not been carried out. The latest excuse is that Antoniou has not yet received a formal letter from the president informing him of the appointment.

He will be praying the post office will take its time to deliver his mail, in the hope Nik backs down by then.

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