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OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Sustainability: coming for your BBQ

Defence minister Michalis Giorgallas (left), we are happy to see, nurses the same delusions of adequacy regarding the National Guard as all his predecessors
Defence minister Michalis Giorgallas (left), we are happy to see, nurses the same delusions of adequacy regarding the National Guard as all his predecessors

MOKAS, which is known in English as the ‘Unit for Combating Money Laundering,’ is one of those state organs that was set up for the sake of appearances, never really justifying the reason for its existence.

Under its recently-retired director, Eva Papakyriacou who had been in the job for close to 20 years, Mokas did not exactly distinguish itself by clamping down on any money-laundering cases or exposing cases of serious fraud. It had been reduced to a paper-shuffling entity that exchanged correspondence with foreign agencies.

Its unwillingness to engage with anything that what was going on in Kyproulla was illustrated some ten days ago when its dubious role in the Al Jazeera video was exposed by Politis. The paper carried an article on how the lawyer, Andreas Pittadjis, who appeared in the video, had reported to Mokas, in writing, what had been said with the undercover Al Jazeera journos posing as ‘representatives of an investor’ immediately after he met them in October 2019. He also reported his suspicions to the Bar Association.

He informed Mokas that he met with representatives of a man facing a criminal sentence in China, wanting a Cyprus passport. The unit replied a few days later that it appointed an investigator to look into what he reported as there were grounds for an investigation. Was there an investigation?

 

A YEAR later, in October 2020, after Mokas had been informed that the ‘representatives of the investor’ were journalists (a week before the screening of the damning video), it wrote to Pittadjis to inform him that his report of a year earlier “does not fall within the authorities of the unit.”

A whole year after the lawyer’s suspicions were reported to it and it said it would appoint and investigator, it informed him that the matter “does not fall within the authorities of the unit.” This just does not make any sense, unless there was someone behind this decision by Mokas to hang the lawyer out to dry.

Could it have been our ex-prez, who would have been more than happy to see attention about the golden passports, which he was at the centre of, deflected away from him. Pittadjis may have spoken rather foolishly in the bits of the video Al Jazeera chose to show in its documentary, as did ex-president of the House Demetris Syllouris, but had they done anything to justify bringing criminal charges against them?

Should not the fact that Pittadjis reported his suspicions to Mokas, a year before the video was shown not have counted for anything? In fact, the authorities have kept mum about this minor detail.

 

THERE was another passport-related case brought by the authorities against a Larnaca law firm, which was thrown out of court a few months ago.

The firm had reported to CySEC that it had been approached by a foreign national seeking a passport and had run checks on him that raised suspicions. It provided CySEC with all the information it collected and this was subsequently used by the authorities to bring charges against the firm.

This use of fall-guys, creating the impression that the authorities were dealing with golden passports irregularities, was pure theatre, staged to appease public opinion and, more importantly, shift attention away from the main beneficiary of the golden passports scam, the identity of whom we cannot reveal out respect for everything he has done for us.

 

KYPROULLA appears to be turning green and ultra-sensitive about climate change, or at least the young generation is.

A survey exploring people’s views on climate change, carried out by the European Investment Bank, found that 83 per cent of Cypriots under 30 said that sustainability of prospective employers is an important factor when job hunting. For 25 per cent it is the main consideration. “I won’t take a six grand a month job because the company does not recycle its rubbish.”

Meanwhile 79 per cent of under 30s were in favour of stricter government measures to impose a change in personal behaviour in order to save the planet. You have to feel sorry for the young of today living with this climate angst. When my generation was under 30 the only thing that caused angst was finding a date to go out at night.

Now the young want to change people’s behaviour. What drugs are they taking nowadays?

 

I SUSPECT people give pollsters the responses they believe they should rather than what they are actually thinking. I can’t believe that 62 per cent of Cypriots are in favour of a carbon budget system to put a ceiling on the most climate-damaging consumption. They were probably not told this would restrict the frequency of their barbecues.

And now tourism stakeholders will also focus on sustainability. This was the theme of the annual conference held last week by the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (Stek), which discussed the industry’s transition towards sustainability.

I think we passed the point of no return on sustainability in the tourism industry a few years ago. Still, it sounds good, even though as part of our sustainability drive we are building more hotels and going out of our way to attract more tourists than the previous year.

The focus on sustainability may be aimed at getting squeamish young people to work for the tourism industry.

 

THRILLED to see that the assistant prison director Athina Demetriou has fully recovered from the two-month illness (she had caught the same virus as the prison director who has not recovered and remains on sick leave) that kept her away from her job and has moved to the technical services of the audit office.

Deity-general Odysseas had offered the pair jobs at his pad, having declared them capable public officials when they had fallen out with the government and the AG over the Katsounotos affair.

Question marks remain over the director Anna Aristotelous’ future as she is expected to remain ill until April 21, with the government undecided whether to take up Odysseas’ job offer.

 

SPEAKING of the deity-general, last Sunday, he tweeted that he would be suing Politis for libel for a “false publication which slanders me.” He added that “the publication would be added to an existing libel case as proof of continuing bad faith behaviour.”

I search for slanderous articles, but only found a humorous item speculating that Odysseas may have had Javert as a great-great grandfather, which I found funnily appropriate. It also described him as a “ball-buster, obsessive and someone who holds a grudge.”

He lived up to all these labels by continuing his merciless attack on the UCy rector last week. Perhaps he considered the Javert reference libellous, which proves he is Le Miserable, totally lacking a sense of humour.

 

AFTER the petrol station owners protesting about drivers filling their cars with cheap petrol in the north and the government doing nothing to stop them, it was the turn of the dentists’ association to whine about the unfair competition.

The House health committee was told that one in ten Greek Cypriots go north for dental care, the only criterion being the lower cost. Well, the cost is a pretty decisive criterion for most people, even though a representative of the association claimed that the Turks used cheap materials, causing patients problems in the future.

Mercifully, no deputy suggested that police at checkpoints inspect people’s mouths when they return from the north to ensure they have not had any low-cost dental care done to them in the north.

 

DEFENCE minister Michalis Giorgallas, we are happy to see, nurses the same delusions of adequacy regarding the National Guard as all his predecessors.

On a visit to Athens to meet his Greek counterpart, Giorgallas said he looks forward to the “further deepening of cooperation with the USA, especially after the complete lifting of the arms embargo and our imminent entry into the State Partnership Programme with the New Jersey national guard.”

And he did not forget climate change. Cyprus and Greece would utilise the new prospects opening for the supply of military equipment, facing climate change and the energy sustainability of the armed forces. Is Kyproulla going to buy electric tanks?

 

“HERDS of dogs sow panic and death,” was the headline of a story in Saturday’s Phil which genuinely roused my interest. I wanted to know who was panicking and who had been killed by these savage dogs.

To my disappointment this was just click-bait, the story failing to live up to its headline. It did say, however that “stray dogs have formed herds all over Cyprus and carry out attacks in different areas. Among their victims are children, adults, but also other animals as attacks are recorded on other dogs, moufflons, sheep, goats and even cows.”

If any of the victims of a herd of stray dogs, is reading this, please contact us because we would love to use your story as click-bait.

 

ALSO in Phil, I read that Prez Nikos II has been invited to the coronation ceremony of King Charles, but he had not yet decided whether he would be attending. What is he waiting for to decide? The approval of Sizopoulos and Junior? Or perhaps the first lady has another engagement on the day.

I am very disappointed not to have received an invitation and am planning on lodging a formal complaint to the British government.

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