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Dark Room: Putting out the fires

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Turf war
Those wondering why the authorities took some time before moving into top gear in dealing with the Soleas fire need only to consider the task at hand to coordinate four different government units, all authorised to deal with major fires and all operating their own crisis centres. This effort is daunting.
The Forestry Department operates under the Ministry of Agriculture, the Fire Services and the police refer to the Ministry of Justice, the National Guard is under the Defence Ministry and the relevant District Administration – responsible for the areas affected by the fire – is part of the Interior Ministry. Understandably, red tape and battling for territory could really slow things down.

Hope dies last
I just hope that when the fires are out and the dust settles, the political establishment would engage less in TV panel cockfighting and devote quality time to collectively devise, approve and implement policy to modernise firefighting. Use information and education for prevention and new, more effective infrastructure and equipment.
It’s a tall order, I know, but one can only hope.

Blast from the past
Disgraced Turkish Cypriot businessman and Kibris Media Group Chairman Asil Nadir was seen with none other than his wife Nur Nadir at a wedding over the weekend.
The two were believed to be estranged during Nadir’s incarceration. Nonetheless, they were chosen to be witnesses at a close friend’s nuptials.
All eyes had been on this couple as rumour had it that Nur Nadir had asked Asil for a divorce, whilst he was serving his sentence in a UK prison. Nur and Nadir’s sister Bilge were also believed to be at loggerheads after he was sent to jail; the rumour mill was rife when it was claimed that Bilge had thrown Nur out of the Kibris newspaper offices.
The fact that Mrs Nadir had taken to social media at the time to lambast her in-laws didn’t help keep the gossip at bay.

Hiccups…
Uncertainty clouded the government’s public sector reform bill this week as parts of it were deemed unconstitutional. The verdict was given by the Attorney General himself who raised questions about the competence of the presidential palace’s legal staff.
The culprit can be found in the bill on public servants’ evaluation.
It is a situation to raise eyebrows.
The actual reforms are moving in the right direction, bringing some sense and reality to the workings of Cyprus’ public sector.
So “how come in a lawyer’s land the Palace couldn’t get sound legal advice and avoid challenging the constitution?” is the tantalising question.

Narrow-mindedness
An incident where a state authority works against its own best interests is not rare in Cyprus.
Proof of that can be found in the following story. Looking for opportunities to fund interesting projects, the Nicosia Tourism Board wanted to support an interactive book for children and adults alike.
The book focuses on old Nicosia itself, presenting its 11 bastions – four in the south and five in the north part of the city. Apparently the Board thought that funding the book made sense. It could be an authentic product promoting a city that strives to place itself better on the tourism map.
The problems started when the Board sent the project proposal to Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) for approval. The refusal was quick. The CTO argued that it could not fund a book that promotes the north.
No further comment.

Ups and Downs

Ups 

Firefighters
Officers from the Fire Service and the National Guard and volunteers – together with the air support pilots – fought and brought under control the huge fire raging in the Soleas area of Troodos. Let’s hope their superiors will learn from this and work to avoid such impossible situations again.

Nicos Anastasiades
The President was hands on during the huge effort to control the Soleas blaze. He chaired crisis meetings, went to the funerals of the two firefighters who died battling the flames and he was also available for comment.

Reddediyoruz
The ‘We Reject it’ movement in the north managed to mobilise Turkish Cypriot youth to stand up for their rights and strongly criticised the assembly’s decision to allow a Turkish Youth Coordination Committee to try and change cultural and religious traits.

Downs 

North Nicosia Hospital
Air conditioning failed abysmally in the cardio and pediatric units of north Nicosia central hospital when patients needed it the most during the hottest days of the year so far. There were incidents where ill people also came down with heat exhaustion.

Nicos Anastasiades
The President dealt admirably well with the crisis, touring the devastated areas in Soleas. But I was still expecting Anastasiades to own up to the state not being proactive enough and capable of preventing things instead of giving chase afterwards.

Andros Kyprianou
I admit to having a soft spot for Akel’s chief mainly because he is of the few moderate, listening party leaders. I did find, however, unfortunate his comment that media are also to be blamed for voters staying from the recent voting booths. It’s not the media’s fault that the political establishment talks too much and does very little.

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