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GROUNDED: Firefighters were this week at Larnaca Airport all equipped and ready to go and help their colleagues in Greece. If only there had been a plane to get them there

Dark Room: Ready for a new Cyprob triumph

At the ready
Listening to RoC President Nicos Anastasiades’ statements on Cyprob one can easily make one think that he was not present at the infamous dinner in the Swiss resort Crans Montana, when the peace talks were literally put on ice by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

In every given opportunity, Anastasiades tirelessly repeats that he is ready to restart negotiations with Turkish Cypriots and Turkey as soon as “tomorrow”.

It’s as if the negotiations didn’t hit a brick wall in Switzerland when, in my view, neither the Turkish Foreign Minister nor Anastasiades wanted to bring things to closure.

Past experience reveals that Cypriots (on both sides), Turks and Greeks do not learn from their mistakes.

The United Nations, though, do learn. And I understand that UN officials in New York will need a long time, a lot of “reflection”, and many, many assurances before they can get again involved in our problem, which will be declared unsolvable if Cypriots do not take some substantial measures soon.

So, I understand Anastasiades’ need to sell himself again as the “solution President”, but insulting people’s intelligence has always been a very dangerous game.

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Get a grip
In his relentless campaign to present himself as the one who wants to get back to the Cyprob negotiating table immediately, Anastasiades even said that he would like the next UN envoy appointed by UNSG Antonio Guterres to be a European national.

The RoC President’s logic is that a UN envoy from Europe would have a better understanding of Cyprus and of what is needed to achieve a settlement.

Somebody needs to remind Anastasiades that Espen Barth Eide is also a European, but that didn’t stop the President of calling him biased or Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias to label Eide “a lobbyist for Turkey’s interests”.

New image
Speaking of Espen Barth Eide, I have noticed he has changed his Twitter picture since leaving the island. He has shed the suit and now appears in hiking gear, against a mountainous backdrop, and without his trademark glasses.

He still has his broad grin though. I suppose the new look makes him come across as more friendly and approachable to Norwegians inclined to vote for the Labour Party to which he belongs.

Labour hopes to unseat the nationalist-leaning Progress Party in the September elections and Eide has a good change of re-taking the post of Norway’s foreign minister.

Every other statement by every other political party focuses on the need for the Cypriot politicians to be united and form a common strategy on Cyprob.

Politicians, especially the ones on the RoC government’s sides, never tire to call for unity first and then embark into such a fierce criticism of their opponents that make their previous call redundant at the very least.

If you don’t want to offend people by denouncing this business as stupid, you could easily use the term “Cypriot politics” for it.

A debacle
Last Monday, Greek firefighters were battling with wildfires on at least five major fronts. Near Athens, the flames had already destroyed thousands of hectares of forest land and burned down many houses.

Huge fires were also burning in western Peloponnese and the Ionian island of Zante. The authorities had duly declared a state of emergency, but they didn’t go a step further to ask help from Europe.

The fact that the PM Alexis Tsipras and other government officials did not see the need to disrupt their holidays to deal with the fires probably contributed to it.

The lack of coordination was so evident that when Cyprus offered to send 60 firefighters and six vehicles to Greece, the authorities there could not find in time two transport planes to fly the Cypriot squad and equipment to Athens.

In the end, after two days and while the fire had destroyed most of the rural areas northeast of Athens, the Greek authorities managed on Wednesday morning to send one transport plane that couldn’t carry all personnel.

The mission was cancelled when it became apparent that so much time had been lost that there was no need for the Cypriot firefighters to go to Greece.

After having destroyed vast areas, the wildfires had finally been put under control.

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