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Tales from the Coffeeshop: Prez Nik’s tough-guy act

Christodoulides, reporters, media, Epiphany, president
File photo: President Nikos Christodoulides

WEDNESDAY’S trouble at a Limassol football match came as a Godsend to the government, offering it an easy way to show some toughness and decisiveness that have been lacking from its superficial, crowd-pleasing rule.

The media-generated hysteria about the firing of flares inside and outside the stadium, for which the police were unanimously blamed, offered an opportunity for Prez Nik II to show some uncharacteristic resolve, especially as the personal political cost of this was negligible.

It was he who ordered the justice minister to order the cops to order the referee to call off the match just before kick-off, even though calm had been restored by then. The decision was meant as punishment to the clubs and the fans that paid to watch the match, although concern for public safety was cited.

The prez had adopted his tough guy stance on football hooliganism before Wednesday’s troubles, forcing the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) to ban away fans from matches and publicly warning that games would be played behind closed doors if supporters carried on misbehaving.

Legislation is now being drafted giving the government the power to order that a match is played behind closed doors. How will it make such a decision, considering fan associations do not announce that they will misbehave before a match.

 

THIS WILL be another law passed for the sake of appearances rather than enforcement, because there is no way Nik, despite his new-found toughness, would ban fans from a big match, pissing off thousands of voters that would want to attend.

By Friday evening the presidential toughness had softened. He gently criticised the CFA for not doing enough to tackle hooliganism and made excuses for his proposed police state law by insisting, “as a state, we have and obligation for the safety of every last citizen,” and that “we are not here to play with people’s safety.”

These were not the only signs the hard man act was unsustainable. “If there are reactions to the measures we will announce, we are here to discuss them,” he said, leaving the way open for a change of mind, in the event that the football community, which represents tens of thousands of votes, turned against his measures.

 

THE FOOTBALL violence shifted attention away from organised crime, which had been the dominant issue in the previous week, and the hastily-drafted, measures the government announced to combat it on Monday.

Five measures were announced to combat organised crime, which ludicrously included the increase of foot and vehicle patrols, and three for stadium violence, such as the stepping up of body searches, alcotests and narcotests of people going to matches.

Then came the punchline from Justice Minister Marios Hartsiotis, who announced that 500 cops would be hired for fighting organised crime and hooliganism and that “we cannot wait for staffing procedures,” Would he use rusfeti which is a much speedier recruitment policy?

A justice ministry spokesman subsequently said that the 500 would fill existing vacancies in the force, something Hartsiotis failed to mention as it would have taken the thunder away from his declaration of war on organised crime through more police patrols. The formation of The Untouchables was left for a later date.

 

AS IF DEALING with the firing of flares at football stadiums was not enough hassle for our prez, he also had to finalise his 14 unilateral measures for support of the Turkish Cypriots, which had been gathering dust in his office drawer for months.

His plan was to announce them just before the doomed UN initiative was set to begin, as a show of goodwill that he hoped would win him some brownie points from the international community. It was certainly not aimed at improving the climate as its chief message was that the Turkish Cypriots would be better off belonging to the recognized Republic than to a pseudo-state.

The message of the measures, he told hacks, was that TCs were citizens of the Cyprus Republic and that the government showed in practice that the Cyprus Republic was a member-state of the EU, internationally recognised and not a pseudo-state.

Insulting the leader of the pseudo-state so openly was a weird way of getting him to agree to the resumption of talks that Nik is supposedly desperate for.

 

THE UNILATERAL measures also drew criticism not only

coffeeshop 2024 01 26 13 32 31
A customer sent us this photo. The ‘Central Slaughterhouse’ is in the same direction as the ‘Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers’, near Skarinou. If I were an asylum seeker I would think twice about heading for the reception centre

from Elam, but also from its fellow-travellers Edek, which was outraged by the measure that would allow the children of a Turkish Cypriot and a Turk to secure citizenship of the Cyprus Republic.

Edek’s rationale was that “the children of mixed marriages of Turkish settlers and Turkish Cypriots constitute a product of illegality and of a war crime, that of settlement, and cannot be legalized.” Under Dr Sizo’s leadership Edek has scaled new heights of stupidity, labelling kids products of a war crime.

The big question is whether these kids are war criminals themselves, being the products of a war crime or just pseudo-children that cannot be given the citizenship of a real Republic?

 

MANY were wondering why the Commissioner for the Environment, Antonia Theodosiou, was absent from the opening ceremony for the creation of the Exhibition and Educational Centre for the Inia-Lara Turtles in the village of Inia, last weekend. The event was attended by Prez Nik.

She had been the key figure in its creation as well as in the redevelopment of the Inia community’s centre. When a similar project was inaugurated in Droushia she was there so why had she stayed away from the Inia fanfare?

Inia mukhtar Yiangos Tsivikos, who does not like her, had decreed that she should not attend, and the government was happy to satisfy his wishes.

THE COST of Living Allowance (CoLA) has become something of a new religious faith for the unions, who were shocked to hear the heretical views of finance minister Makis Keravnos.

Keravnos had said a few days ago that the calculation of CoLA should be linked to productivity, the competitiveness of the economy and other factors that had to be looked at. Of course it was a bit too late to change things now, but his comments made the unions treat him as a non-believer. The unions issued fiery statements slamming his heresy.

Afraid of excommunication, the miserable Keravnos issued a written declaration of support for the faith. “As finance minister I support the institution of CoLA… at an event organised by the unions, before I became a minister, at which I was the main speaker, my positions and views that I expressed in my speech were clearly in favour of the institution of CoLA,” he said.

Whether he will be forgiven by the union bosses and guardians of the faith remains to be seen.

 

ANNUAL sick leave for public parasites has been reduced from 42 to 28 days, Keravnos announced on Thursday. And then these people take offence for being labelled parasites.

Forty-two day is eight weeks of sick leave. And scandal is that they have no trouble finding a doctor (usually a union doctor) to sign them off work for the most trivial or imaginary health reasons. According to Keravnos, not all public sector workers had taken advantage of the 42 sick leave days they were entitled to, which means a lot of them had.

 

PREZ NIK, aware that his proposal for a humanitarian aid corridor to Gaza, which he christened Amalthia, has turned into something of a joke, he has stopped talking about it, either in public or in meetings with foreign politician.

Amalthia, however, received an honourable mention in a press release issued by the US embassy in Nicosia, referring to the visit of the US National Security Council Chief of Staff, Curtis Reid to Kyproulla. According to the press release, Reid “joined Republic of Cyprus and Israeli officials for productive discussions on Cyprus’ maritime assistance corridor concept.”

Amalthia has been upgraded from a proposal to a concept, which be must a step backwards.

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