KYPROULLA’S crème de la crème attended the glitzy, grand opening of City of Dreams Mediterranean on Tuesday evening, at which they were entertained by the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra and the Eurovision winning chanteuse Elena Paparizou before the obligatory fireworks display.
An investment exceeding €600m, Europe’s “first integrated casino resort,” was opened by Prez Nik II, in the presence of his mentor Nik I, whose government made it happen. The Integrated Casino Resorts consortium has already been running casinos in Cyprus’ towns for several years now, but this is the real deal, Las Vegas in Zakaki.
Strangely, all the PR bumf sent out by the consortium’s publicists and listening to the speeches of its head honchos at a presentation before the gala opening, you would have thought no gambling would take place at City of Dreams. It was all about a new form of entertainment, hospitality, local culture, premium luxury, and new possibilities.
Words like gambling, roulette, casino were avoided in the presentations, creating the impression that the owners were not really interested in the mega bucks they would make from gaming, which was treated as a nuisance, something not worth mentioning, when talking about the new possibilities opening for Kyproulla.

LAWRENCE Ho, chairman and CEO of Melco, the senior partner of the consortium, said City of Dream Mediterranean “provides premium luxury, inspired and infused with local flavour” and “it allows Cyprus to unlock new markets in the region and beyond.”
Not only this. “Having resorts of this quality, with all its attractions, including the largest expo facilities on the island, opens multiple new possibilities,” said Ho.
Menelaos Shacolas, managing director of the partner in the consortium, said the project was “completely unique in Cyprus” and “significantly elevates the status of the country as a destination.”
It was almost as if they were ashamed to mention that they were targeting the gamblers’ market and that its was the gaming licence which justified investing in excess of €600m on the integrated resort. Their narrative was that they had undertaken the project for the good of Kyproulla and not to make loads of moollah.
This not meant as criticism. The company made a huge investment and are perfectly entitled to make big profits, but why be embarrassed about this and talk about expo facilities, when it is the slot machines, roulette and blackjack tables that will be raking in the millions, and elevating our status as a destination, for the gambling set.

SO FAREWELL, mega pop-star Michalis Hadjiyiannis, who decided four months of endless fun as the deputy minister of culture was all he could take.
He announced his resignation with a brief announcement and presumably will return to his old life as performer that pays much better than being an object of ridicule for social media warriors. Hadjiyiannis, appointed to give some showbiz glam to a resoundingly dull cabinet, probably did not see the point of the job.
The main motives for most people becoming ministers – public exposure, status, recognisability, deference – did not work for him as he enjoyed all these as an entertainer. He avoided public appearances and making speeches and all he was left with was dealing with petty-minded bureaucrats, who are job satisfaction assassins.
He was replaced by Professor Lina Kassianidou, with a super CV that suggests she has existed in an academic bubble all her adult life, not having much time to interact with the plebs she will be dealing with from now on. Odysseas Michaelides will certainly approve of it.

THE GOOD news is that we will not have to hear about the foreclosures bill for at least three months, after the shenanigans in the legislature last Thursday, when it was finally rejected and the prez was spared the embarrassment of being defeated by the vote of deputies of pro-government parties.
His relief was expressed by government spokesman Mini Me, who poetically said that “a barricade of responsibility had been raised against populism and the bad habits of the past.” There was still some hope for populism, however, as Mini Me said “we are prepared to discuss every useful proposal that has been submitted.”

THE COMRADES of Akel were seething about what happened, accusing the prez of being “a servant of the banks and the vulture-funds.” All that its proposal did was “restore the constitutionally safeguarded right of citizens for effective recourse to justice,” the party said.
This was one way of putting it. Another was that the law would have allowed people to delay a foreclosure by another three or four years, which would be the time the court would need to issue a decision on the legal action against the foreclosure, during which time the interest would be building up.

THE CUSTOMS Department issued a dense, two-page announcement last Sunday, to justify its unlawful decision to carry out checks on drivers who fill up their cars with petrol in the north and fine the ‘offenders’.
Referring to the Green Line regulation, EU law, directives etc, the department, then said that personal luggage brought into the EU was not liable to taxation if the contents were valued at less than €260 per person and not of commercial character, before stating: “According to Union Law, fuel is not considered personal luggage”
Although not personal luggage, it admitted that fuel in the tank of a car for private use plus a 10 litres in a cannister were also exempt from taxation, “on condition that the fuel does not have a commercial character.” The announcement concluded: “Fuel is considered not to have a commercial character, on condition that, among other things, it is transferred on occasion and not systematically.”
It is a pity the EU does not tax systematic stupidity, when it is considered to have a commercial character like that of the Customs Department.

FORMER Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides ruffled a few feathers in his party Disy with comments that will be contained in an interview in Omicron magazine next Sunday. A preview of the interview was carried in Saturday’s Phil, citing Petrides’ views on the phenomenon of “apolitical politicians who have as their priority their image.”
One of these apolitical politicians became prez and the other the leader of Disy, Annita Demetriou whom he disparaged for making a big song and dance about bringing unity to the party. “I am no champion of a slogan,” Petrides is quoted as saying. “What matters is to be able to persuade with policies and arguments to lead to unity… and not for the sake of unity not to express any political position.”
Disy wasted no time in issuing a response from party members which proved Petrides’ point. It was melodramatic and apolitical. The new leadership, they said, “needed time to heal the wounds that were caused to the party by the presidential elections” and in order “to be able to cope with new political environment.”

THE DISY statement added that comments that cast doubt on the new leadership, three months after its election were not helpful and should be avoided. “All of us who love Disy have an obligation to stand by the new leadership,” it concluded.
This is more emotional blackmail rather than a political argument, perfectly in keeping with the apolitical times we live in.

A HEART-WARMING piece appeared in Phil last Sunday illustrating that our Prez remains an ordinary chap who loves to do ordinary things.
He was “at a shopping centre of Nicosia (Kokkinotrimithia) with his youngest daughter for shopping last Saturday. Without police escort and driving the car himself he arrived at the mall and once he found a parking space he walked up to the shops.” There, inevitably, he stopped many times to say hello and talk to people.
Contrast this with his attendance of the ‘graduation ceremony’ of the Armenian primary school Nareg, a few days earlier, where he sat through the whole thing which lasted an hour-and-a-half. The grounds of the school were crawling with cops, who looked like they had modelled themselves on agents appearing in American movies.
Dressed in suits, wearing sunglasses and earpieces, they kept their eyes on the roofs of the surrounding buildings looking for snipers, who are often a threat to primary school graduation ceremonies in Acropolis.

AS A MEMBER of the grumpy old men club, I cannot help but have a moan about the absurdity of primary school graduations, which have become very common. I think the idiocy was started by private schools, wanting to offer parents a bit of pomp for their money.
Traditionally, graduation was for people who were awarded a first academic degree, hence the term ‘graduate’ for a degree holder. Having a ceremony for a 12-year-old for finishing primary school, which counts for nothing in their life, is part of society’s craze of giving kids a false sense of achievement, at every opportunity. An award for learning to write and knowing their times table as well?
I would not be surprised if there were private kindergartens that also have ‘graduation’ ceremonies.