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Tales from the Coffeeshop: And in the 11th year he rested

ΠτΔ – eγκαίνια νέου γηπέδου Λεμεσο
Prez Nik marked his 10 Years of Creation on Friday with a tour of Limassol where he inaugurated the new football stadium

FOLLOWING the activities of Prez Nik in the last few weeks, you could easily have been fooled into thinking that he was campaigning for re-election. He is out and about every day, opening new establishments, addressing gatherings, making statements to hacks and boasting about the achievements of his 10-year rule.

He thrives on public adoration and approval. He loves having ordinary folk gathered round him, being the centre of attention and effortlessly charming the loyal mob with his banter and street wit. He realises that his gig has only three months left and is making the most of it.

Come March, the invites will dry up, the public adulation will stop and only his police bodyguards will be flattering and humouring him. How he will cope without the attention and adulation that he has enjoyed for 10 years remains to be seen, but for now his only concern is legacy-building.

 

ON FRIDAY he was in Limassol where he laid the foundation stone for a new wing at a technical school, cut the ribbon at a professional training institute for school leavers, unveiled new buildings at the technical university Tepak and inaugurated the new football stadium.

During his rule he had overseen 79 projects costing close to half a billion euro in Limassol turning it into a modern European city, with upgraded infrastructure and services, “a reference city, centre of civilisation, education, social activity and economic lung for the country.”

It was not only Limassol that benefited from the 10 Years of Creation. “Nobody today recognises the Paphos of 2013. It is a completely new town. Nobody ignores what has happened in Nicosia, a revitalised Nicosia, and same for Larnaca,” he said. And in the 11th year he rested.

But before his well-deserved rest, in the two and a bit months he has left, he said he will tour the country to highlight what is often, through the passing of time, forgotten by some.  And nobody will be allowed to forget the 10 Years of creation.

 

IN THE LAST couple of weeks Nik even found time to visit leaders of big countries, not just to show off his high standing on the world political stage, but also to prove that he was tirelessly working for the resumption of Cyprob talks.

He visited President Macron and then Chancellor Scholz, asking both to use the power and influence of their countries to help efforts for a resumption of the talks. In the five years since he walked out of the Crans-Montana talks, he was happy to do nothing for the resumption of the talks, apart from occasionally pay lip service to it. Now, a couple of months before leaving office, he is campaigning for the resumption of talks.

Why was he bothering, knowing there was zero chance of this happening, especially as he was not seeking re-election? Probably because his Cyprob legacy is a bit disappointing. In his efforts to prevent Kyproulla becoming a Turkish protectorate, he ensured half of it became a province of Turkey.

Being 200 per cent sure nobody in the world would bother lifting their little finger for the resumption of talks, Nik had decided to seek their help. People must not forget that, until his last day in office he was doing everything in his power to solve the Cyprob, including walking out of talks that were perilously close to a deal.

 

SPEAKING at a gathering of hoteliers on Tuesday, at which he heaped lavish praise on his government’s tourism policy, Nik also referred to the new flights announced to and from Kyproulla the previous day by Ryanair and Swiss Air until it was pointed out to him that it was  Wizz Air and not Swiss Air.

The Wizz Air representative who addressed the conference after the prez, said “we are going to have take the president on a promotional flight because we obviously need to improve our branding.” After 10 years of flying on private jets, Nik might decline the offer.

 

THE STATE broadcaster came under a lot of stick at the legislature on Thursday, accused of being a government mouthpiece that was invariably biased. There were times its journalists were creating opinions about issues without actually presenting the facts, said Greens deputy Alexandra Attalides, suggesting that its duty should be to inform rather than push a certain line.

Nobody mentioned its Mother Russia bias, which has been a marginally more restrained since the invasion of Ukraine, but has certainly not disappeared. Its Moscow correspondent, Thanasis Avgerinos covers the news like a Kremlin spokesman. The hilarious thing was that he was hired as a replacement of a guy called Liatsos, who was considered too biased even by Rik standards.

After Ukrainian forces entered Kherson, Avgerinos reported on a Greek TV channel on a “triumphant retreat by Russians from Kherson – Ukrainians in despair.”

It is for this kind of journalistic excellence Rik has an annual payroll of €24m, which is two thirds of its €37m budget. In the 10 years of Nik’s enlightened rule, its annual budget has increased by more than €10m. Its increased government bias has been well-rewarded.

 

HALF of Kyproulla’s bishops will be standing in next month’s elections for archbishop. It is quite a big field, although reports suggest that Limassol bishop Athanasios, is way ahead in the opinion polls, his army of zealots having been campaigning for him long before the passing of Chrys II.

I have to admit that I know nothing about what any of them stands for faith-wise nor do I have any interest. I shall not be voting in the elections, but if I were, I would go for the oldest candidate, because an archbishop, unlike a president, is for life and you do not want a guy in charge of the church for 40 years, regardless of how holy he is.

Also, I think it would be a mistake to vote for a guy that has never been seen smiling in public, like Athanasios. I have been searching for a picture of him, even with the slightest hint of a smile on his face but have still to find one.

 

I WONDER where the archbishop candidates stand on the government’s ‘groundbreaking’ gender identity bill which justice minister Stephie Dracou presented to the legislature on Wednesday. The bill makes gender change a mere bureaucratic procedure.

Anyone over 16 will be able to apply to the state to change the registered gender data in official documents. This can be done only twice according to the bill. You cannot change gender a third time according to the law, which bans married people from changing gender, for unknown reasons.

While the bill deals with the state’s recognition of gender change, what happens with changing rooms at gyms and swimming pools. Will a man who has changed gender be allowed to use the women’s changing room? And what about the prisons? If a male convict changes gender will she be transferred to the women’s wing of the prison? Prison life could be great fun for some.

 

THE NATIONAL Popular Front (Elam) was the only party to take a stand against the groundbreaking bill. It made clear its “direct and intense disagreement” and said it will vote against it. In an angry statement it said:

“At a time, a huge demographic problem exists, every bill which leads to the dissolution of the institution of the family, goes against the nature of people, essentially constitutes a new form of genocide of Hellenism. The State was obliged to support the structure of the family and not demolish it at the altar of progressiveness.”

Genocide of Hellenism, why? Hellenism survived 400 years of Ottoman rule and it is now being threatened by legalised gender change?

 

IN ORDER to silence critics accusing him of relying on platitudes, presidential candidate Nikos Christodoulides issued “’41 specific proposals for the regrouping of the state”. They may have been specific, but they were not very practical. My favourite was the one about participatory democracy, which surpassed his normal standards of superficiality.

“The strengthening of public dialogue and the adoption of the institution of participatory democracy, in which, through advisory, non-binding referenda, with the use of technology, the government heeds society in the formulation of government policy.”

If the referenda are non-binding how will the government heed society? Will there be a referendum every time the government decides to formulate a policy and will we be given options of what policy we prefer? We cannot advise the state simply with a yes or no.

 

IT SEEMS that if you want a high-quality meal, the place to go to is Limassol. Phil, in association with Greek magazine Athinorama, named the 25 best restaurants of Kyproulla and 13 of them were located in Limassol, eight of which were restaurants within hotels.

We, in Nicosia, are deprived of top-quality nosh, only four restaurants making the list. Larnaca had three and so did the Paphos district, none of which were located in the smart city. I am surprised Prez Nik did not mention Limassol as a ‘centre of gastronomic excellence’ when he was praising the city on Friday.

I suppose we in Nicosia should take comfort from the fact our kebab shops are infinitely better than Limassol’s.

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