YOU READ it here first that Prez Nik had not given up on the possibility of a third term. This claim, as I admitted at the time, was not based on any concrete evidence I obtained but on gut feeling. Since then, however, the circumstantial evidence file has been building.
Our Nik has been behaving in the last year or so as if he were preparing for an election – attending every event he is invited to (with First Lady in tow, which is also a pointer), constantly boasting about his government’s achievements, inviting every pressure group with a problem to the presidential palace for a meeting, and feigning an interest in the Cyprob.
More concrete evidence surfaced recently. Our establishment has learned that he contacted the attorney-general, Giorgos Savvides, to ask his opinion regarding the possibility of standing again. Savvides told him that a third term was not possible under the provision introduced to the constitution a few years ago. The constitution would have to be amended for him to go for a third term.
The bad news did not cause Nik to give up his quest for a third term. Within a few days, he had taken the unprecedented step of inviting Ethnarch Junior to the presidential palace for a private lunch, fueling speculation he was trying to sweet-talk him to get Diko to vote for the amendment to the constitution.
THIRD TERM dreams could also have been the reason for Nik’s retreat on the Dr Petros Agathangelou appointment to the HIO board. The public outcry and the relentless media attacks over the appointment of someone seen as the Gesy Antichrist would have been very costly for someone who had set his eyes on the elections.
Of course, the Prez could not be seen to back down, especially after saying the appointment was irrevocable. He wanted a face-saving way out, and, for days, he pressured the Chamber of Commerce (Keve), which had proposed Agathangelou, to withdraw its proposal. It made the government look stupid, after the cabinet approved the appointment and it was published in official gazette, but it limited Nik’s embarrassment.
A day after receiving Keve’s letter, withdrawing the proposal, the cabinet met and cancelled the appointment of the Antichrist. It was all Keve’s fault, while Nik could proudly say he respected the will of the lynch mob. Meanwhile, health minister Michalis Hadjipantela, who had suggested Agathangelou’s appointment as a Keve representative on the HIO board, decided to deal with monkeypox.
TO BE FAIR to Hadjipantela, he was concerned about the inadequate supervision the HIO board, controlled by Akelites, was exercising over Gesy finances and wanted to appoint people that would question decisions and shake up board members – who saw themselves as public benefactors with taxpayer’s money – out of their smugness.
Why would the Prez not be prepared to go ahead with a board shake-up, which would have benefited Gesy if he would be leaving office in a few months? Why is he placing his personal popularity above the best interests of Gesy when he is on the way out?
Meanwhile, the chairman of the HIO board, Thomas Antoniou, who had threatened to resign if Agathangelou took his seat on the board, may have to do so anyway, over a conflict of interest – his wife is registered as a Gesy health provider.
The auditor-general will investigate the issue of conflict of interest, because the body with authority to do so – the Committee for the Investigation of Conflict of Interest – is not as honest, as clever, as capable and as publicity mad as Odysseas.
CONFLICT of interest was the theoretical reason given for opposing Agathangelou’s appointment. No doctor could sit on the HIO board, apparently, even if they do not work with Gesy, we were told. Unions that have Gesy doctors and nurses as their members and own pharmacies that are Gesy providers, on the other hand, are represented.
AG Savvides took a rather pathetic stance, blaming his office’s advice to the government – that there would be no issue of conflict of interest in appointing Agathangelou – on one of his minions. A minion at the AG’s office prepared the advice, so the boss could on not account be held responsible for it! This was a valuable lesson on how to avoid responsibility for all top state officials – just blame your underlings or Keve if you’re the prez.
Was the advice given to Nik about a seeking third term prepared by one of the AG’s underlings, as well. I would love to see Nik’s facing if he is ever told the underling got it wrong.
I WAS very pleased to see that in the last 10 days key members of our negotiating team, by some unexplained miracle, collectively grew some Cyprob balls and discovered the courage to publicly rubbish the narrative served by Prez Nik about the collapse of the Cyprus talks.
Admittedly, it took five years to grow the balls and they are not much use now that Nik and Nikos have all but signed over the north to the Turks, but they might prove useful to Andreas Mavroyiannis, as a presidential candidate. Mavroyiannis who publicly reaffirmed all the myths served by Prez Nik about Crans-Montana for the previous five years, 10 days ago on TV, finally spoke about the opportunities spurned by Nik and Nikos.
He was followed by the Akel Cyprob specialist and member of the negotiating team, Toumazos Tselepis, and on Friday by bigshot lawyer Polys Polyviou, also a member of the negotiating team, who informed us that “we lost two great opportunities” in 2016 (Mont Pelerin) and 2017 (Crans-Montana). They all confirmed the intransigent Turks were prepared to abolish the Treaty of Guarantee and right of intervention as well as withdraw the occupation troops.
This is all academic now, but at least it exposes Prez Nik’s post-truth narrative. Ten days ago, the guy was saying that he did everything that was humanly possible to avert the collapse at Crans-Montana – not according to the bold members of his negotiating team.
YOU HAVE to admire the heart-warming initiative, undertaken by candidate Christodoulides when he was foreign minister, establishing Ministry and Foreign of Affairs and Friends (MFA and Friends) Group, which was aimed at improving the ministry’s relations with foreign diplomatic missions based in Cyprus.
He (more likely his wife) also set up another heart-warming group, the Cyprus Association of Women Diplomats and Wives of Diplomats which was given an annual budget of €2,000 taken from the budget for the Cyprob enlightenment.
The MFA and Friends, an example of Christodoulides embarrassingly superficial approach to foreign policy, meanwhile, was set up take part in the 2019 Cyprus Marathon and subsequently took part in a marathon in a different town every year. It also took money from the Cyprob enlightenment fund to pay for the “preparation, promotion and participation of the team in the marathons.”
Money was spent on “printing for shirts, creation of advertising hoardings, meals, dinners and receptions, transport costs for the team and photographs.) It goes without saying that most photographs featured the well-known marathon runner Nikos Christodoulides.
THE BANK of Cyprus paid a cool €99 million in compensation to get rid of 550 employees, under the union-sanctioned voluntary exit scheme. The average pay-off was 180 grand. The reduction in staff would reduce the bank’s labour costs by €37 million a year, which means the expense would be covered in three years.
This prompted the union Etyk, which is currently in dispute about compensation packages with Hellenic Bank, to issue a statement in which it waxed lyrical about how beneficial the voluntary exit scheme was to the bank and how its financial figures would improve next year as a result. If only Hellenic realised what was in its interest, the union said in its statement.
Nobody informed Etyk that if the cost of exit scheme was 50 instead of a 100 million the bank’s figures would be much better and that a €90,000 average pay-off would still have been considered extremely generous.
AFTER a two-year break because of the pandemic, I was happy to learn that “Kokkinochoria’s largest cultural and artistic event returns dynamically.” Even the cultural wastelands of Kokkinochoria need an artistic event, every so often, to raise the spirits of its inhabitants.
I am talking about the Eighth Pancyprian Potato Festival which was held at the Avgorou community stadium on Saturday night. Described by the organisers as “the ultimate entertainment and gastronomy destination of this summer,” it was honoured by the presence of finance minister, Constantinos Petrides, a great potato-lover himself.
Listening to one of the organisers, whose name I missed, on the radio on Saturday morning, I learned that the humble potato has many other uses apart from being fried/roasted/boiled and eaten. It can be made into facial cream, raki and, believe it or not, ice cream.
The radio show guest said that potato ice cream would be served at the festival. The host, I am afraid, did not have the curiosity to ask whether this ice cream would actually be made from potatoes or just be potato-flavoured.