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Charlie’s soap box: There are no secrets kept in Cyprus

By Charlie Charalambous

It’s a well known fact that nobody on Cyprus can keep a secret. This is a place where everybody knows everybody – or pretends to.

There are no places to run to and no way to slip under the radar.

The only way to avoid detection is to hide in plain sight, and doing that is risky. Like it or not, this is a nation of busy bodies who want to know your business and make sure everyone else does too.

Within the cauldron of prying eyes and Chinese whispers, Cypriots are eager to judge and even quicker to condemn.

Even your neighbour knows more about you than the Inland Revenue.

That’s the way it is around here.

This is why I avoid talking to strangers even if they live next door to me. Even in casual conversation people want to know your life story, political views and financial circumstances.

I have three rules of engagement when talking to relatives or trapped in a social setting where people are curious.

Don’t get involved in political discussion, especially on the Cyprus problem, under no circumstances engage in discourse about Cypriot football and never talk about money.

On the first two subjects, everyone is a passionate self-declared expert, and on the latter there is always someone richer than you and keen to boast about it.

These are the three most popular topics of discussion on the island and you will usually find me outside the conversation at parties and weddings and family gatherings.

If you want to talk about Chelsea, films, rare groove and cult TV series, then I might shift out of neutral.

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Understanding that people are bound to know your business, even if you haven’t set eyes on them, begs the question why Akel chief Kypros Kyprianou was surprised that the intelligence service knows his every move.

Apparently, he had a not so clandestine meeting with UN envoy Espen Barth Eide at a Nicosia location – the government found out about it.

He assumes it could only have discovered this secret gathering by having spooks track his every move. And his phone is also being bugged.

Kippers shouldn’t worry too much because the intelligence service isn’t as clever as it thinks it is.

What it could possibly gain by listening to Kippers – who is a dab hand at platitudes – is anybody’s guess.

The Cyprus intelligence service isn’t really a black ops outfit geared to eliminate enemies of the state. It just goes around collecting information on us like a giant neighbourhood watch scheme.

There are plenty of real dodgy characters lurking around in the shadows that maybe the secret service should be more worried about than politicians spying on other politicians.

After all, there are no secrets between Cypriots anyway, are there?

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