March 30, 2007

On Drunk Drivers' Human Rights

We are informed today that a 19-year old kid tested positive for driving drunk. He was charged, released, went home, got into the car again and had an accident (not killing himself but hitting three cars in the process).

According to Stravaraland's Attorney General, it is a violation of human rights to be kept overnight in prison until you are sober to drive.

I dont get it. In the U.S. this is standard practice in most states. If human rights are not being violated in the U.S., why are they being violated in Stravaraland?

Any views?

PS: Possible answers that I deem inadequate:
1) You might be marginally above the limit. In that case, you might be allowed to go home after being charged if you can stand on one leg for 30 seconds or if you can walk on a straight line. Anyway, by the time someone takes you home you should be sober in this case anyway.

2) Police might be mistreating you if you stay in. Well, then you deal with police behavior, you dont let drunk people back on the street!

March 29, 2007

For the love of the game…

…for the love of football... Why is it that one cannot make a football day-out for the family in Stravaraland? If one can have no hesitation taking their 2 year old to watch Spurs-Chelsea in London, why should one not even have to consider taking the same 2-year old to an Omonoia-Apoel game?

The hesitation should really be coming from the vast difference in the quality of play on offer, but that is not the reason the Spurs-Chelsea game is preferred. The hesitation comes from the fear for the child’s safety, and I find it amazing that this fear is greater in Stravaraland than in North London! (I actually find even more amazing that no-one seems to really care about this basic observation).

Stravaralanders of the world, press your government to take corrective measures. Football, and its enjoyment among families, needs to be cultivated and then needs to be protected. In the process, the increased civility (whether by force or by example) that should arise from getting rid of all the thugs from football games, will spill over to the streets, to the idea that drunk people do not drive, to the idea that public property is as valuable as private property, to the idea that not caring for the public consequences of one's private actions is as bad as not caring about the consequences of one's action for their own selves.

March 27, 2007


March 26, 2007

Why does EasyJet Not Fly to Cyprus?

That question was posed to Sir Stelios recently at an interview. He responded by saying that unfortunately there are two airports in Cyprus, and the government gave the license to develop both airports to the same company, creating a monopoly, thereby generating a high price for flying.

He did not go on to say that the travel tax that BAA charges per passenger for Heathrow is approximately the same as the one for Larnaca. Nor that the government did not put any controls on the possible price increases during the life of this project by the Operator. Nor that the whole situation puts the Operator in a very advantageous-strong bargaining position when it comes to negotiating with prospective airlines that might want to fly there.

Welcome to Stravaraland Inc. The Last Hub of State (Run-Involved-Started) Monopolies...

Mavros vs Niazi

Niazi wrote this article in Politis on 25/03/2007, in response to some previous articles and morning shows by Lazaros.

Lazaros had this to say in Simerini on 26/03/2007.

The conclusions are left to the reader.

PS: @m's question, WHAT IS NEW? Just that if one could quantify the extremism in Simerini over the last 10 years, the current articles that get published there are even more extreme than in April 2004 and probably the most extreme we have seen in the last 10 years. Coincidence, pure chance, easy way to sell newspapers or deeper reflection of society?

March 25, 2007

Εκθεσούλα της Χρονιάς

Πρώτο Βραβείο, Εκθεσούλα της Χρονιάς, Έκτης Δημοτικού

Και λίγη ανάλυση

March 24, 2007

Endangered Species

One of the key arguments that Clerides used to use to explain why he was pushing for a European Union entry for Cyprus and a solution to the Cyprus Problem was given quite eloquently by Alvaro de Soto in a speech at Columbia. Quoting from that speech:
Fairly early in the process, after having had a number of meetings with both the G/C and the T/C leadership and also several meetings in Athens and Ankara, I reported back to Mr Clerides saying that I keep hearing on the Turkish side that is, both in north Nicosia and in Ankara, that the G/Cs do not really want a settlement, that the only thing that interests them is getting into the EU. I am having sometimes difficulty in persuading my Turkish and Turkish Cypriot interlocutors that the contrary is true, so I would like to hear from you just why you consider to be in the interest of the G/Cs to reach a settlement and why while of course accession to the EU is highly desirable objective it is not necessarily the one that is foremost in your mind and Mr Clerides gave me after not very long reflection 3 reasons why it was in the interests of the G/Cs to come to terms with the Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island.

The first was that if there were not a settlement there might be long term a negative effect of tourism to the island which is an important segment in the Greek Cypriot economy, that’s the first.

The second is that if there were a settlement the G/C side could do away with universal conscription, a desirable, highly popular move.

The third argument and the one where he placed the greatest emphasis, was that if there were not a settlement what the G/Cs would be facing on the other side of the buffer zone after that would not be Turkish Cypriots but overtime with Turkey, and he found that to be the least desirable of all possible outcomes long-term.
I found those very persuasive...

We are currently witnessing the struggle in North Stravaraland (note: this is a geographical expression, as used by the German Foreign Minister, footnote not to be repeated again ever) between the Turkish military and the T/C. We are witnessing claims that the T/C are not "Turks enough", according to the head military guy in the North. [Of course, the top military guy should also define more clearly what the minimum qualities of being "Turk enough" are, but I leave accurate definitions to people who can read and write, qualities not expected from military men on either side of the divide.] Earlier in the year, we also witnessed a spat between the head military guy in Ankara and Talat over the infamous Ledra bridge, a spat that was interpreted as political theater by our astute political analysts working somewhere between the Kykkos Metoxi and 386 TP.

I think we are actually witnessing the gradual realization of Clerides' third big fear on the ground. As the economy in the North is developing, and as T/C move to other lands on their European passports or commute to the Republic for work, more and more Turks from Anatolia (will) keep coming to Northern Stravaraland in search for work. A distinct identity will be changed gradually and become more similar to the identity of the people coming from mainland Turkey. As the Turkish Army continues to keep an iron grip and maintains a fixation with Northern Stravaraland, the T/C will become, over time, endangered species. Which, over time, will make their cousins in the South endangered as well.

March 23, 2007

Human Rights and the Cypriot Foreign Minister

We are informed today that the UN Secretary General has prepared a 6-page report outlining his worries about the violation of human rights on both sides of the divide. The response of Stravaraland's Foreign Minister has been predictable: get as many G/C together to voice their antipathy and opposition to the report.

Now, the report, for the G/C side, makes the following points that should be directly addressed, rather than organizing egg-throwing rants at Ledra Palace:

1) Education is a human right and as such cannot be denied to T/C through continued non-recognition of educational facilities and exchanges of students or participation in European programmes.

2) The increased incidents of violence against students (The English School incident) is not a welcome development. In particular, judicial action against the culprits has not yet been taken.

There are some other issues that affect both sides in the report but I want to focus on the above two. Maybe Stravaraland's Foreign Minister should focus on addressing these concerns with counterarguments, if there are any that can be convincing, rather than getting together all the G/C sufferers from human right violations to protest against the report and the continued violation of their rights...

The Foreign Minister should also be happy to note that the UN Secretary General has not included in his current report the incident between Takis and The Golden Dawn at Ledra Palace. More importantly, the UN Secretary General did not even mention the comments made by the Foreign Minister in response to those incidents. But given that the report is dated March 9th, we know what to expect when the next report gets written. So maybe the Foreign Minister should focus on addressing these concerns rather than organizing Great Egg-Throwing Parties Against The Foreign UN-US-UK-EU diplomats who SIMPLY DO NOT GET IT.

March 22, 2007

Το όνειρο της "δωρεάς παιδείας"

Πριν μερικές μέρες είχα την ατυχία να ακούσω μέρος ραδιοφωνικής συζήτησης μεταξύ εκπροσώπων Κυπριακών φοιτητικών παρατάξεων με θέμα την κατάσταση στα Ελληνικά πανεπιστήμια.

Ένας από τους φοιτητοπατέρες, ένθερμος υποστηρικτής των καταλήψεων και της αναρχίας, ήταν πυρ και μανία εναντίον των πολέμιων της δωρεάς παιδείας. (Το είπε πολλές φορές, όχι μόνο μία.)

Αυτή είναι η δωρεά παιδεία που υπόσχονται στους φτωχούς και τους μη έχοντες;

Winning Numbers

Yesterday's winning Lotto numbers were 5, 14, 23, 27, 28 and 29. Now, you may think that those number are close. This could be a side-effect of the "lost in Translation" virus going around.

In an unrelated piece, the Cyprus News Agency reported that talks regarding direct trade with ports in the geographic northern pseudo-part of Stravaraland and the EU continued on Wednesday. Business as usual although it is stressed that:
27. This is part of an attempt by the German presidency to "come up with a solution".

28. According to "community" sources no progress was made as the commission insists on its proposal of direct trade with ports in the occupied [territories]

29. The German presidency re-iterated that it would continue in its efforts to arrive at a solution - mutually acceptable by all parties concerned.
Party on, dudes!

Petitions for Stravaraland

The UK PM Office has a novel way of establishing demand for different policies. Anyone can start a petition on anything and set it up to be signed by different interested parties. If you go to this website and search for cyprus, you will find an interesting set of petitions that the UK PM no doubt loses lots of sleep over.
A search for "Cyprus" reveals the following results:

1. Act immediately to prevent Turkish admission to the EEC (53 signatures)

2. Direct flights to northern cyprus and pressure to end the embargo (102 signatures)

3. Force Turkey to give back Northern Cyprus to the Greeks and stop its colonialist ambitions elsewhere in the world (154 signatures)

4. Promote a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem based on the right of return of all refugees to their homes and the repatriation of illegal settlers. (754 signatures)

5. Act in accordance with Britain’s treaty obligations with the Republic of Cyprus and to take decisive action to prevent direct trade and direct flights between Britain and Turkish occupied Cyprus and to prevent the illegal sale and advertising of Greek Cypriot property to British nationals. (2282 signatures)

6. Oppose the recent application to the Civil Aviation Authority to permit direct flights between London and Ercan in Occupied Northern Cyprus (143 signatures)

7. Support the recent application to the UK Civil Aviation Authority for direct flights between London and Ercan airport in northern Cyprus. Nearly 3 years have passed since the referendum in which Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the UN brokered comprehensive settlement, yet northern Cyprus remains isolated in spite of commitments from the UN, the EU, HM Government and the PM personally to end isolations. (7731 signatures)

March 21, 2007

Lost in Translation

TeePee: I call on Mr Talat to continue the συναντίληψη (common understanding) that our committees have reached.

(Apparent) Translation in Turkish for Mr Talat: I call on Mr Talat to continue the agreement that our committees have reached.

Talat: Our committees have never reached an agreement, since an agreement must be reached on all points, not only on some, to be defined as an agreement.

ChrisPash on RIK: The President never talked about agreement, the President talked about συναντίληψη (common(/same?) understanding).

Lost in Translation anyone? Or is it something deeper?


The current minister of health is arguably the best in this ministry under TeePee. He looks decent and hard-working and actually, remarkably, efficient. Yet, his handling of the current mess at the Old General Hospital is horrendous. Does he not get any advisors from Lillikas on how to minimize the damage from unfolding events? A journalist goes into the Hospital, finds bones and personal details of lots of patients and the response of the minister is that the journalist will be prosecuted for entering a forbidden zone!

To the extent that even the state newspaper is up in arms!

Bring back Dina! At least she was messing up in private, away from public scrutiny!

March 20, 2007

More Than Just a Thousand Words

The Road to Freedom

There is an old joke in Stravaraland. It goes something like, “A Happy Cypriot is the one who has more people sucking up to him/her than people he/she is sucking up to.” Αν προτιμάτε, «Ευτυχισμένος Κυπραίος είναι εκείνος τον οποίον γλείφουν περισσότεροι απ’ότι εκείνος γλείφει».

I bet Stravaralanders right now smile in agreement, while reading the above simple point, a gem that holds so many Stravaraland truths.

Why should one have to suck up to anyone as part of their daily lives in a modern society? In a free society, developing this part of one’s skill set should not be essential for success. Yet, it is part of one’s modus operandi while trying to make it in the island, and this includes both sides, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and spans all governments throughout time (since 1960 if you prefer). If we were in America, we might even trace the problem back to our treatment in the hands of so many invaders in our rich historical past. The diagnosis would be pretty simple: to survive, we had to develop the necessary “sucking up” skill set. So relax, it is not really our fault.

By needing this skill, I argue that one is not free. One is not free when they have to suck up to any government official for anything simple they want to have done, one is not free when they cannot accuse the government of any incompetency due to the fear of not being appointable to the many government or semi-government positions that exist in the land, one is not free when one shuts up and lets things happen on the fear that their future career will suffer. (Ούσσου να περάσουμεν...)

Why is this a bigger problem in Stravaraland than in other economies and what can be done about it? First let me clarify that I do not have in mind the case of the person who won the position of Cyprus News Agency Chief that was eventually not ratified by the Cabinet. In that case, I think that was a political appointment eventually and, as much as my heart goes out to the guy, in the same way I would not imagine George Bush giving the Head of Public Relations at the White House to a Democrat with a good CV, I cannot imagine why the same should be expected of TeePee.

What I do have in mind, and where the problem really starts from, is that in Stravaraland such appointments are not a small percentage of the economic activity that takes place. Such appointments still make a substantial part of economic activity. To put this another way, this is a bigger problem in the land because the state has so much power that it affects every single one of the people in the land, one way or another. The state controls a substantial part of the productive assets of the country (CYTA, Electricity Authority, Cyprus Airways), controls the huge public sector (that includes government employees, the military, the police, the University, the public hospitals, schools) and the President, as Head of State, can appoint around 130 members of different semi-government boards. If you add the Church as part of this “establishment” then, chances are, if you live in the land, at some point one member of your family will either be working in one of the above or want something done by one of the above. Or, at some point, you (or a member of your family) might even want to be appointed in one of the above for the lack of any other employment options.

But as many know, it is not necessarily what you know that matters, but who you know (if you don’t like to think in the “sucking up” terms). Moreover, it is in the interest of all politicians to keep the situation like that since this strategy maximizes the number of people sucking up to them. Which keeps the citizens of the land in a mad scramble for the political positions of power that will eventually put them in the position of dividing up the loot. But which also keeps Stravaralanders from being free to voice their true concerns about where things are going.

The Road to Freedom nowadays is different from the one that Evagoras Pallikarides had in mind in 1957. The Road to Freedom nowadays first comes from the more mundane task of limiting the power of the state. Complete privatizations of all that moves and limiting the role of the state to a pure regulatory role is what will lead to freedom. Private companies will hire who will do the job, and will not hire on the basis of who you know. Private companies will be better in minimizing corruption than the state, and will eventually be more efficiently run. Of course, almost no politicians in authority (whether G/C or T/C, whether in government or in opposition) will declare this as the road to freedom because at this stage they are in a position of authority controlling the fate of most people in the land. I think eventually limiting the power of the state as far as possible will have to take place in Stravaraland, in the same way it has happened in most successful economies of the modern world. But for that to happen, the first step will be for Stravaralanders to start demanding that this happens. Once Stravaralanders start demanding the reduction of the state role in their daily lives, then we will all be one step closer to getting on the Road to Freedom.

March 19, 2007

The Arab advisor of TeePee

What's the story with this guy who seems to have no experience in anything in particular, besides student politics, who became special assistant to the president at the age of 28... Is he advising TeePee on oil exploration because he looks like an Arab?

Spotted [and Bought] in Hawaii

Meanwhile, the obscure battle between Hellim and Halloumi heats up with the latest broadside being fired here. In order to ensure the protection of part of our national galactocomic [no, not as in galactic or comic] heritage, will henceforth point to this blog.

March 16, 2007

Bus Driver of the Year


March 15, 2007

Does AKEL's final argument make sense?

We finally got to see the final AKEL argument over euro entry. Recall that the first three attempts to explain AKEL's opposition to introducing the euro by Andros Kyprianou were a bit unconvincing (my daughter said so, the euro is more volatile than the pound (NOT), and finally, the euro serves the interests of Big Capital (but the cyprus pound is like an innocent girl, like the one PIN uses in the state paper to portray the innocence of the island in the face of bad foreign interventions)). Given that these arguments were comical (to put it mildly), Andros Kyprianou has not commented on the issue in the last two weeks (who says AKEL does not take corrective action in the face of poor choices?).

Instead the onus to convince the public has fallen on the mighty co-chief comrades, Katsourides and Christofias. This is what they had to say in one voice:

"We want euro entry postponed for a year. The public deficit is currently at 1.3 per cent, much lower than the Maastricht criteria, making available around £140 million which the government could use on social policy like housing and refugees if the single currency was pushed back."

At least this is a logical argument, contrary to their spokesman's three previous attempts. The problem is that the argument is wrong, it is a myth if you want and let me explain myself.

What are the problems with this approach? Well, if the public deficit is currently 1.3% and it satisfies Maastricht, at the same time public debt is 67% of GDP and is above the 60% guideline offered by Maastricht for long run sustainability of public finances. Moreover, this 67% (or the 1.3% deficit) does not include social security entitlements that will very soon make these numbers appear too good, and therefore long run sustainability of public finances probably means that the economy cannot really afford to go back to the 3% deficit given the social security expenditures that are coming in the future.

Then the suggestion that one can take the deficit from 1.3% back to the 3.0% and still satisfy the criteria next year, assumes that policymakers have perfect control over public finances, whereas that is not the case. A mild recession, a mild increase in the oil price, a mild increase in the deficit coming from taking on repeated expenditures (eg an increase in pension salaries that therefore should be there next year as well), any unforeseen eventuality that reduces GDP or tax collection can take the deficit to much higher numbers than 3% (once it has been taken back at 3%) and therefore not enable the economy to satisfy the criteria in a year.

Not to count the loss in credibility from such a turn away from the euro. Just imagine the whole procedure of re-applying next year to the same committee in Brusells. If you were the relevant commissioner, and they asked you to do the same work again, would you really not do anything you could to stop this from happening again? By sending the application back to sender?

And finally, if the argument is for one year postponement, then the deficit can be taken to 3% next year anyway(!), so what exactly is the problem? No-one prevents the government from introducing the euro now (Jan 2008) and increasing government expenditures from Jan 2008 on. In fact, that is what the government will do, if one had to predict, given previous electoral years in the land. And this is perfectly legal (even though bad policy) after the introduction of the euro.

Which makes me conclude that on this issue, not even the mighty co-chiefs can save the day and produce a sensible argument...

March 14, 2007

Recognized or not?

Dear Chris Pash,

a friend informed me of the following link to an advertisement for jobs in a pseudo-university.

Now, this pseudo-university happens to be a recognized university in Turkey that created a campus on the Other Side. So I am a bit confused as to whether this qualifies as pseudo, or not. The pictures they have on their site seem to indicate that this is for real. But what do I know, I am just a confused citizen. If you can help clear my confusion, I would be most grateful.


A Confused Stravaralander

March 13, 2007

Hellim vs The Republic

1. The Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce is not classified as a pseudo-institution. According to the Cyprus News Agency, the Chamber organised a press conference on Tuesday the Thirteenth.

2. N.B. The Turkish Cypriot Dairy Producers' Association is not classified as a pseudo-institution either and also participated in this event which must have been a press conference seeing as the CNA turned up to take pictures and thus publicise it - at the taxpayer's expense, no less.

3. Both non-pseudo institutions object to the Republic's efforts to classify Halloumi as being of uniquely Cypriot origin.

4. There is no indication as to whether the hair net was imported illegally from Turkey.

Pakistan, Hindustan and the Land of the Blind

When I was in secondary school I remember quite well to this day the day Indira Gandhi paid Stravaraland an official visit. I remember it quite well because all secondary school students, from both private and public schools, were taken out on the streets and given little Cypriot flags to wave for the split second Gandhi’s motorcade went through. The event made an impression on me because we rarely gave such honor to visiting heads of state (admittedly not many were willing to come by anyway, not even the Greek Prime Ministers at the time). But why were such honors bestowed to Indira? India at the time was neither a superpower nor an aspiring one (thanks to the “Indian socialist”, or self-sufficient, policies followed at the time). India was not part of the UN Security Council and Kyprianou at the time did not have such close relationships with India (his wife was from mainland Greece unlike the wife of Glafcos who hailed from India).

A recent documentary by Channel 4 provided the answer to those official government actions back in the 80s.

India, before independence, had mixed villages in which Muslims, Hindus and Shikhs lived together. There was no geographical location for any other country than India. Or so Gandhi and Nehru thought. Until Jinnah, an Indian Muslim from Bombay, had the idea/dream that Muslims should create their own country, in which they would be treated as equals, rather than been looked down upon (according to his view). Independence would result in two different states, Pakistan and Hindustan. Partition became the rallying cry for the Muslims, while Independence with Unity was the solution offered by Gandhi.

Two arguments or efforts were made by Gandhi to avert Partition. At first he argued that the policy of partition will lead to a policy of “an eye for an eye” and such a policy will leave everyone in the land BLIND. Once this moral argument failed to sway the Muslims, he offered the leadership of the whole of India to Jinnah. But Jinnah was adamant that the solution had to be the creation of two nation states, partition. In the end, partition did take place with 20 million people moving to and from what is now India and Pakistan and one million people died in the process.

Now, these events were being witnessed at the time by Denktas, Makarios and the rest of the socio-economic and political elite in Stravaraland. Are we really surprised with the course of events that then followed in Stravaraland? And are we really surprised that India is the honored friend and beacon of hope for the Greek Cypriot leadership through time, while the same role is reserved for Pakistan in the heart of the Turkish Cypriot leadership?

You Must be Shipping me!!

Allow me to indulge here. If you're planning to make a move from the United States to somewhere like, for example, Stravaraland, be aware of the fact that this can cause a serious amount of stress.

The stress will be amplified if you want to take a couple of computers, three monitors and an assortment of other equipment. You can check it in as excess baggage for a tidy sum of money or use one of the courier companies for an equally tidy sum of money.

For untidy people such as myself there is no such thing as unacompanied luggage any more and there's no way you can swing by the friendly neighbourhood freight forwarder and have your crap sent.

Oooooh, NO!! One must be a known shipper, or else a 24 inch LCD monitor could easily jump out of its box, half way to its destination and give all the rest of the electronic devices in the hold one up the bum without their consent. Or worse, it could pee on a consignment of buffalo skin bomber jackets headed for God only knows where.

Now, freight would have been greight. Why? The boyz and galz in the industry make up palettes, shrink wrap, secure and tie your stuff down. So the carton your brand new Mac Pro came in can travel safely - actually that one's meant for the second desktop. But that little quandary has been solved by a trusty Pelican case into which it'll fit nicely and go as excess baggage.

Case did you say?? A HA!! You're buggered again. When you add to the 19.2 Kg (the computer) plus a few extra bits and bolts (you know, like maybe a hard drive or three) you've stuffed into the monster (with mutual consent) in addition to a few accessories compounded by the weight of the Pelican case (a 1640, by the way, which I highly recommend) itself... whammo!! you get charged double as the damn thing now weighs over 33Kg. Do you get a discount for the box that's half the weight? NO!! Go get a dufflebag and stuff everything in there and the baggage handlers can assume Christmas has come early and it's time to play.

I need a freight agent who can help me get approximately 160 kilos of crap to Stravaraland for less than a thousand US bananas.

I know, I know it's all about bad karma and serve me right. Oh, yes, and veeery self indulgent.

OK, you can now go back to what you were doing before I flew off the handle.

March 12, 2007

Takis, Lillikas and The Golden Dawn

Lillikas, foreign minister and wannabe heir to the throne, told us yesterday that "as dangerous are the nationalist/chauvinist fringe groups, is Takis Hadjidimitriou who is demanding the opening of Ledras street, and therefore creates the feelings that drive the nationalist groups." In short, Takis is the cause of what is called The Golden Dawn.

If this were a man on the street, you could ignore such lapses of concentration. But this is the foreign minister acting as a government spokesperson, and is equating the fringe nationalists with a member of parliament, elected on the AKEL ticket for three consecutive terms, and a man well-known for his anti-nationalistic feelings.

The statement, and the whole train of thought behind it, defies belief. It is like saying that the Jews are responsible for Nazism because with their behavior they caused the nazists to hate them... It is a statement that gives a free passport to the fringe nationalists to keep at it, since according to the foreign minister, they are being provoked.

Welcome to the 21st century on the island...

PS: It was interesting that Katsourides reacted the most aggressively when Averof Neofytou mentioned that maybe DHSY should vote like AKEL for the euro introduction. Maybe the chief among comrades should be advised, that if your views are suddenly followed by your opponents, you rejoice and welcome them, rather than frown and accuse them of not knowing what they are doing...


March 10, 2007

Grab Your Poles and Scream, Boys

Where Did it Go?

March 09, 2007

Join the Club

Has a Cypriot citizen finally made the Forbes Billionaires' list? It certainly seems that way.

Sign of Strength, or Weakness?

TeePee surprised everyone last night by bringing down the Ledra Street wall. You have to hand it to him - keeping such a move secret until it actually happened, and while out of the country, shows executive ability that we have not been accustomed to in Stravaraland. It also shows he can actually take the initiative if he wants to, and play the game. And the move is in the right direction as far as answering all his critics when they accuse him of not meaning business. All these elements are in his favour.

But, is the move stemming from strength or from weakness? Recall that the person who opened the 'border' was the Denktator in April 2003 when pretty much all the Turkish Cypriots were in the streets, ready to throw him out of office. So that must have been a desperate measure from a position of severe weakness. On the other hand, Talat has actually continued this trend, or at least pretends that he wants to continue this trend, but he seems to be motivated by the feeling of being in a position of strength, both domestically and internationally, after April 2004.

Now which of the two possibilities best describes TeePee's motivation? Is it weakness from the direct trade prospect that he wants at all costs to prevent? Or is it strength because he both puts Talat under pressure to deal with the Turkish military and at the same time moves closer to traditional AKEL positions and forces even more AKEL to stay with him for the longer run?

Praise be to TeePee

TeePee leaves for Brussels on Thursday. By late at night a bulldozer makes its way to the end of Ledra Street in Nicosia where it starts pulling down the National Guard outpost and observation point. The media turns up, as do a number of people who want to check out the scene.

TeePee calls a press conference, during which he tells the world that ordereing a bulldozer to get down to Ledra Street to tear down the wall of shame was his own personal decision. It would now be up to the other side to show good will by making sure all landmines are removed (yes, the ones that were removed a while ago) and that the turkish troops ought to be whisked away. You must admire a leader who can take the time to personally track down a bulldozer in Nicosia so late at night.

All those still willing to view turkish troops will now have to go to the Ayios Dometios crossing where they can be seen on the right hand side in the big white building. Troops can also be observed near other crossing points.

We commend this decisive action, as should all residents of Stravaraland. Apologies for our stand ought to go to the man who, while being interviewed by CyBC, expressed his yearning for more and higher walls to be erected.

Also, Michalis Papapetrou ought not to make comments praising the European Union. These foreigners (hey, does being part of the EU make us foreigners as well?) had nothing to do with Stravaraland's brave leader's brave decision.

TeePee, we salute you.

It's [a] personal [decision]

The setting: Strakka Estate, Stravaraland
The characters: Tee Pee, Kokos (conducting telephone conversation)

The 'phone conversation':

TeePee: "Re Koko, do you still have that bulldozer we used for digging olive ditches at the farm?"

Kokos: "Ahh, you mean for 'operation organic Akritas'?"

TeePee [snaps at Kokos]: "Malaka! I told you not to mention that again or that's the last time we drink Blue Label from the same bottle!"

Kokos [beads of sweat appearing on his brow]: "Sorry, boss... no, the bulldozer is rented out for a couple of weeks. You need it again?"

TeePee: "Duh! No, I was going to get your opinion on a JCB I was going to buy, re touvlo!! Yes, I need one - down at the bottom of Ledra Street"

Kokos:"Ledra Street, are you serious? Aren't there a bunch of landmines down there? Boss, are you trying to kill me"

TeePee [wonders whether it's time to start delegating instead of having to deal with half-wits]:"Landmines, my ass. Don't you remember the song and dance made by the UN guy about the last mines being removed?"

Kokos [by now, sweating profusely]:"But, boss, please, the place is crawling with turkish soldiers...there are buildings about to collapse, it's a constant reminder of the occupation of Stravaraland..."

TeePee:"listen up, you idiot, I'm going to be in Brussels in two weeks time and I have a funny feeling I'm going to need that fucking bulldozer, Entaksi?"
TeePee hangs up the 'phone and for a split second actually considers putting the revolver to his own temple. Just in time, however, he notices a half-empty bottle of Johny Walker Blue Label out of the corner of his eye. He returns the revolver to the drawer and grabs a tumbler.


March 08, 2007

Instructive Comments on Metro

Take a look at the comments random people have posted at Metro, at least most of them are favourable towards the Greek Cypriots, but here is one that is not:
"Oh those innocent, downtrodden Greek/Cypriots of short memory !!
As an instance they are at the moment hauling murdered Turks out of old wells in the South, where they were dumped after a bullet to the head.
Anybody remember doing it in 1963??

March 07, 2007

Why did Marcos speak out?

The interview by Marcos Kyprianou 3 weeks ago generated a lot of interest because it was a diplomatic attack on the way the current government is being viewed within the EU (and all that this might imply in the future).

There were a number of interpretations of this intervention. Maybe Marcos is frustrated from being isolated from the Cypriot political scene by TeePee, maybe he is frustrated because he is losing the succession struggle to Lillikas, maybe he has lost it. My favourite explanation is that Marcos sees dark clouds forming very rapidly ahead and wants to separate his position from the coming storm, at least by pointing it out before it breaks.

What might happen that is so bad? Well, Ercan might open up legally and squarely, even if the government takes the proposed opening to direct flights to court. Without the government getting anything in return. Such an outcome will be a shock to the system that any politician would actually want to distance themselves from. Even the 2004 "patriots" would want to distance themselves from such an outcome. In fact, especially those "patriots" would want to do that. Now with such a state of events, should there by any surprise that Marcos wants to distance himself from the coming developments?

Time will tell whether the above is correct or not...

March 05, 2007

Metro Says, Go North

OK, I think it's time we heard from the former Shistris waiter. We want to know what he intends to do about this little gem.

March 03, 2007

Fifty Years Ago…

… Zindros, real name Grigoris Afxentiou, decided to burn alive rather than surrender to the British Colonial Forces. Fifty years ago this day, the third of March, when spring comes to the Maxairas Mountains, a true patriot decided that life in captivity is worse than life itself.

Zindros came from the village of Lisi, which is now occupied by the Turkish Forces. It is hard to imagine, fifty years later, that any one of us would honestly prefer to exchange their life for martyrdom. Much less so, than become a martyr by being burned alive.

Fifty years on, Cypriot historical analysis has not matured and does not really know how to interpret Zindros’ sacrifice. Are we to teach the sacrifice to the schoolchildren as something they should look up to and be ready to re-perform to free their land from the occupying forces? Or are we to tell them that times have changed, and that the scars of war need to be healed so that sacrifices like that need not be repeated?

I salute Zindros, fifty years on, and offer these few lines as a humble tribute to his memory. At the same time I salute the few brave souls who, contrary to the collective march towards conflict continuation on both sides, are ready to honestly look into the past and offer a hand of friendship to each other.

PS: In the rush of the moment I originally used the term "Cypriot nation" instead of "Cypriot historical analysis", or "Cypriot State" if you prefer.

March 02, 2007

To Let them Cross, Or Not?

Increasingly, many Greek Cypriots are expressing the view that many have had since April 2003; namely that no crossings should be open without a complete solution of Das Problem. The latest twist to this (without explicitly mentioning the closing of crossings, but quite strongly alluding to that) involves the issue of tourists to The Other Side, straight from Larnaca airport. Or the increasing number of tourists that view The Other Side as an interesting place to visit. So, off the buses go from Ayia Napa to Bellapais and St Hilarion instead of Lefkara and Omodos (is there any comparison between the choice?)

Now, all these Greek Cypriots who support closing the crossing points also happen to be the strongest supporters of TeePee in his attempt to prevent Turkish Cypriots from having any direct links with the EU, so as not to run the risk of any future political recognition.

But if you close the crossings, would that not be the best way for the Turkish Cypriots to land [excuse the pun] direct flights into Ercan from anywhere else in the world? And would that not be the best way for the political upgrading that the Turkish Cypriots crave so badly?

And if one were to predict, would one not predict that some genius would eventually make sure that the T/C could argue to the unbiased: "Look, we cannot use the crossings under these conditions. We bring our tourists through there and they pelt them with eggs and rocks. Not nice for our customers, and we told you this will happen, ages ago". And would that not be the last straw in the argument, and would that not inevitably lead to Ercan opening to the rest of the world within the next 5 years?

Time will tell...

March 01, 2007

Fly Me

OK, this one comes from the streets of London:

A guy sitting at an airport bar at Heathrow notices a beautiful woman sitting next to him. He thinks to himself, "Wow, she's gorgeous, she must be a flight attendant. I wonder which airline she works for."

Hoping to pick her up, he leans towards her and utters the British Midland slogan: "Love to fly and it shows?"

She gives him a blank, confused stare and he immediately thinks to himself, "Oh shit, she doesn't work for British Midland".

A moment later, another slogan pops into his head. He leans towards her again, "Something special in the air?" She gives him the same confused look. He mentally kicks himself, and scratches British Airways off the list.

Next he tries the EasyJet slogan: "I would really love to fly your friendly skies?"

This time the woman turns on him and snaps: "What the f**k do you want?"

The man smiles, then slumps back in his chair, and says . . ."Ahhh, Cyprus Airways!"

Read All About It

The most important news event of the week (or perhaps the year, so far) may well have gone unnoticed, despite its far reaching implications in the world of news. On Tuesday, the official news agencies of Cyprus and Bulgaria signed a co-operation pact.

The accompanying story should be read, admired, printed out and framed for posterity.

The gravity of this vital and significant agreement was reflected by Stravaraland's new agency running 15 pictures of the alliance. Yes, 15 of the 18 photographs disseminated by CNA on the day was wall-to-wall handshakes, visits and signatures, while Tommy 2.0 and Jimmy the Sheftali's get together only seems to have warranted 2 snapshots on Wednesday. I wonder if those two put more pictures of their own up on flick'r?

And what (for the sake of argument, of course) did they run on Wednesday, you may well ask. What could possibly have topped the pact between two colossal new agencies? Who could possibly follow that act?

Well, Georges Lillique, of course, who on Wednesday announced yet another global alliance. Of course this one was supposedly an alliance that had already been forged some time before TeePee went to Paris, but it's never a bad idea to repackage preposterous crap from time to time. Beats the hell out of lying in public, doesn't it?

And the last non-story related news story: The Times ran this piece regarding the impending oil row in the region, a reinterpretation of which also appeared on the Cypro-Bulgarian Friendship and Propaganda Association's site.