20 Φεβ 2018

Ποιοί φοβούνται έστω και την ελάχιστη δικοινοτικότητα; Η κυβέρνηση του Αναστασιάδη, του Χάρη, του Πολίτη, της Καθημερινής κοκ προσπαθούν, φαίνεται να κλείσουν το «Σπίτι της Συνεργασίας» [και άλλους σχετικούς οργανισμούς] στην Λευκωσία… [και μερικοί συνεχίζουν τα Μπεεε;]


Και που να είναι άραγε τώρα οι απολογητές της κυβέρνησης, που κατά τα άλλα τάχα μου «θέλουν λύση»; …Από ότι φαίνεται είναι πολλαπλά επιβεβαιωμένο ότι η κυβέρνηση θέλει να κλείσει το Σπίτι της Συνεργασίας… Και το παίζει φτηνιάρικα νεοφιλελεύθερα… δεν είναι sustainable… και κατά τα άλλα προσπαθούν για λύση… Και θα πρέπει πάντα να θυμόμαστε το 2004.. :) …Ενδιαφέρουσα και αποκαλυπτική σύγκριση, άμα το σκεφτείς…


Who’s afraid of a little bicommunality?
By Agnieszka Rakoczy



RECENT media reports that the government may have been intentionally blocking promised international financial grants to two Nicosia-based NGOs dedicated to promoting and strengthening relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots are justified, according to Sunday Mail sources.
Three EFTA (European Free Trade Association) countries, staunch supporters over the years of practical measures to enhance intercommunal dialogue, have faced bureaucratic roadblocks and obfuscation for almost a year preventing them from fulfilling funding commitments vital to the sustainability of the activities of the NGOs in question. Some would-be beneficiaries suspect the roadblocks may even be politically motivated.

Reports that there are issues with the EEA/Norway grants have been confirmed to the Sunday Mail by both the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) and its offshoot the Home 4 Cooperation (H4C), as well as by the Centre for Visual Arts Research (CVAR). All are Nicosia based and active proponents of bicommunal activities.

“We have heard there are some difficulties and the negotiations about the grants have not been finalised yet,” Kyriakos Pachoulides, the AHDR co-director and H4C board member told the Sunday Mail.
“But the government of Cyprus hasn’t contacted us so we don’t know any details.”

CVAR
CVAR founder and director Rita Severis puts it more bluntly: “They [government] say ‘you are not sustainable and you will never be sustainable so we would rather give money to other projects that will produce money’…

“Sustainable! We are a museum! There is no museum in the world nowadays that is sustainable. Effectively, this means they want us to shut down. I told this to them directly but haven’t received any reaction…”

Both AHDR/H4C and CVAR are leaders in their respective fields and in the forefront of fostering bicommunal relations on the island.

Established in 2003, the AHDR focuses on providing educators, historians and researchers from both sides of the divide opportunities to become better equipped to handle the complexities of Cypriot history teaching. Its brainchild H4C is a community centre, located in the Ledra Palace buffer zone, mid-way between the crossing checkpoints. It hosts an extensive variety of cultural, artistic and educational programmes which have proven to be popular on both sides of the divide.
“Since we opened we have reached a lot of people,” Evren Inancoglu, a member of the AHDR/H4C boards told the Sunday Mail.

“I think our H4C Thursday night concerts, our regular old Nicosia walking tours and a variety of cultural and language courses have made a real difference. Thanks to them, many people not only crossed to the other side but also became friends… Our aim is not to preach to the ones who are already converted but to reach those who don’t know the other… this is what we are focusing on…”
CVAR, established in 2014, in Ermou Street in the heart of the walled city, hosts the Costas & Rita Severis collection. This unique archive consists of more than 1,500 works of art by foreign artists who visited and travelled around Cyprus between the 18th and 20th centuries. The museum features Cypriot memorabilia and costumes along with a vast library of books on the history, art and culture of Cyprus. The centre organises all kinds of activities promoting bicommunal understanding including museum tours for schools.

“We are the only bicommunal museum on the island,” Severis says proudly. “All our art works are labelled not only in Greek but in Turkish. Our board is not only bicommunal — it is multicommunal. We have close cooperation with Turkish Cypriot NGOS…”

Rita Severis
Severis points out how in less than three years CVAR organised more than 150 events reaching over 45,000 people. “The collection has had almost 7,000 visitors and we have run museum tours for about 6,000 kids,” she said.

Both AHDR/H4C and CVAR have benefited from EEA/Norway grants in the past. In the case of H4C, a grant of 750,000 euros was awarded to help restore the building in the Ledra Palace crossing that now houses the NGO. Subsequently, 650,000 euros was allocated to help develop and promote H4C’s impressive range of community-embracing activities. CVAR also was granted 630,000 euros to help meet the renovation costs of the old factory in Ermou where the museum now stands.

When the Sunday Mail asked Norway’s Foreign Ministry about Oslo’s support and commitment to the two NGOs, officials responded tactfully: “The position of the donors is that both projects are important institutions for bi-communal activity that actively promote normalisation between the two parts of the island. (…)

“The donors strongly encourage the development of bi-communal relations in our cooperation. We would like to point out, however, that only the RoC [government] is entitled to receive EEA & Norway Grants. Donors wish to ensure that the populations on either side of the dividing line benefit from this fund.”

CVAR’s Severis and H4C’s Pachoulides are a bit more forthcoming with details:
“We had several visits from the donors and they appreciated what we were doing,” recalls Severis. “They said we exceeded their expectations and were doing very well. They said they wanted to help us to sustain ourselves in the coming years.”

AHDR/H4C received similar reviews, according to Pachoulides. “The donors understand very well that projects like ours cannot be 100 per cent sustainable but when they learned that we were earning up to 70 per cent of our budget ourselves they were impressed. They said that similar organisations in their countries seldom earn more than 40 per cent.”

Last year, the donors approached both CVAR and AHDR/H4C and suggested they should submit proposals for new projects. However, the generous offer was not endorsed by a similar request or follow-up from the government, a sign that the projects in question might lack official favour, or so some believe.

The Sunday Mail asked the ministry of finance here if there was any truth in suggestions that the government is opposed to EEA/Norway money going to the two NGOs. The Directorate General of European Programmes, Coordination and Development, which is the ministry’s focal point responsible for managing the funds, responded:

“The government of the Republic of Cyprus is not opposing the granting of funds to the H4C and the CVAR projects. Both projects have received large amounts from funded programmes in the previous programming periods, not only from the EEA/Norway Grants but also from other donors, with the understanding that, on completion, they would become financially self-sustaining — although it is understandable that unforeseen circumstances might have affected the Projects’ viability.”

Finance Ministry
The statement did note concerns expressed by the government “about commercial activities that have been included in the request for funds, which are deemed to distort competition and consequently fall within state-aid rules constraints.”

Pachoulides shakes his head when asked what commercial activities AHDR/H4C runs that might prevent it from getting EEA grants.

“To be honest, this is the first time I have heard about it. I don’t have any clear idea what they mean. We run a café at H4C but we don’t ask for any funding for it.”

If the official attitude is as they claim, he finds it somewhat controversial. “On the one hand they are concerned about our sustainability but on the other hand if they question our café, what kind of sustainability do they have in mind?” Bewildered and mildly irritated, he wonders, “do they want us to plant a tree that grows euros?”

In the case of CVAR, the “commercial activities” referred to by the DGEPCD’s statement might have something to do with a restaurant that until recently operated next to the museum. However, Severis is adamant too that no funding has ever been directed towards it.
“The restaurant has been always supported by our private money. We were hoping that it would eventually start bringing profit and help the museum survive but unfortunately it didn’t work out. So we closed it. Now we only have a cafeteria and this also funded by the family. It has nothing to do with the grants.”

The seeming contradictory muffled clarifications of officialdom added to what many see as an unnecessarily drawn out process. This has led some civil society peace and unity activists to speculate about what lies behind what they deem to be an unnecessarily protracted and non-transparent process. Could it be, they wonder, that the government doesn’t want the EEA/Norway grant funding of the AHDR/H4C and CVAR because of the significant role both play in the bicommunal movement.
They cite other examples of recent inflexibility on the part of the authorities as evidence supporting their suspicions and claims. For instance, they point to a letter sent to all Greek Cypriot bicommunal technical committee members asking that they refrain from engaging in any form of cooperation after the collapse of talks in Crans-Montana.

Another directive causing concern is the demand by the foreign ministry that ambassadors not attend events in the north of Nicosia’s Bedestan, a Gothic church site renovated by UNDP using EU funds, that is often used for cultural and bicommunal events.

Severis subscribes to the belief that at bottom there is reason to suggest that the authorities have gone cool on all things bicommunal.

The two leaders at the H$C last year before talks collapsed

“The word that came to us is that it is about our bicommunality and yes, it is possible. What strengthens such a suspicion is that when we learned there might be problems with the grants, the diplomatic community stood by us and wrote to the government supporting our projects but the authorities didn’t care and ignored the show of support. So if this is the case, if they think that bicommunality has no future, if they don’t want CVAR and H4C to survive, why not tell us as soon as possible so we don’t spend any more time, money or effort…”

the ministry of finance’s DGEPCD takes a very different line than the critics, claiming the projects it supports embrace environmental, health care, cultural and asylum and refugee issues in both urban and rural areas. And it insists that “bicommunality is addressed in most of them, as the services are provided to both communities”.

Moreover, the DGEPCD says negotiations with the EFTA donor group are entering the final stage and an MoU is expected to be signed shortly.

Norway’s foreign ministry, though it declined to comment on details of the negotiation process, indicated that the talks are coming to conclusion, It did assure the Sunday Mail that “a range of other projects will have a bi-communal dimension”.

Since its entry into the European Union in 2004, the Republic of Cyprus, along with 14 other EU states, has been a recipient of EEA and Norwegian Financial Mechanism grants. These come from Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway. To date, Cyprus has received about 12 million euros from these funds which exist to reduce economic and social disparities within the EU and to strengthen bilateral relations.

Projects funded by Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway in Cyprus range from construction of a new shelter for the victims of domestic violence to strengthening the anti-money laundering body Mokas. A big chunk is also directed towards fostering bicommunal relations.
At present, the RoC government is negotiating a new agreement that would make Nicosia a beneficiary of another 11.5 million euros.

Whether AHDR/H4C and CVAR will be included remains to be seen.

13 Φεβ 2018

Πρώτη ανάγνωση των εκλογών: Αναστοχασμός για ένα κούφιο λόγο σε ένα μισοάδειο γήπεδο


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Θέμος Δημητρίου



Άκουσα τις δύο ομιλίες του επανεκλεγέντα προέδρου Αναστασιάδη, του Σταύρου Μαλά, των πολιτικών και των διαφόρων σχολιαστών μετά τα αποτελέσματα. Ήταν ασφαλώς αναμενόμενο ότι θα επικρατούσαν οι ευχαριστίες σ’ όσους συμμετείχαν, κάποιες συναισθηματικές αντιδράσεις και οι αναλύσεις περί μετακινήσεις ψήφων απ’ εδώ προς τα εκεί. Δεν είδα όμως ακόμα ουσιαστική διάθεση για προβληματισμό και αναστοχασμό. Γι’ αυτό και θα ήθελα να μοιραστώ κάποιες πρώτες σκέψεις.

1.    Κέρδισε με διαφορά ο Αναστασιάδης. Ανάμενα ότι θα ήταν μικρότερη η διαφορά – σε κάποια στιγμή μάλιστα είδα την πιθανότητα ανατροπής: Πόνταρα ότι θα εκφραστεί πολιτικά η κοινωνική δυσαρέσκεια π.χ. ότι  το 1./3 των κυπρίων είναι κάτω από το όριο της φτώχιας, την συνεχιζόμενη ψηλή νεανική ανεργία κι αποδήμηση, ότι ο Αναστασιάδης έκανε κούρεμα, ενώ είχε προεκλογικά δεσμευτεί για ακριβώς το αντίθετο και εφάρμοσε αυτό το πρόγραμμα σκληρής λιτότητας. Θεώρησα ότι ορθολογιστικά δεν θα του έβγαινε το πολιτικό παιγνίδι που έπαιξε στο κυπριακό κι ότι αυτό θα οδηγούσε σε πολιτική δυσαρέσκεια, ιδίως μετά την αποκάλυψη των παλινωδιών του στο κυπριακό, το γεγονός ότι συστρατεύτηκε με το ΕΛΑΜ για το ενωτικό δημοψήφισμα που άφησε την ε/κ πλευρά εκτεθειμένη, ενώ μόνο πριν από μερικούς λίγους μήνες οδήγησε στο ναυάγιο την προοπτική λύσης στο Γκραν Μοντανά. Θεώρησα ότι θα του στοίχιζε πολιτικά η αποκάλυψη ότι είπε ψέματα στον ΟΗΕ κι ότι απέκρυψε από τον κόσμο ότι αποσύρθηκε ο χάρτης από τους τ/κ.  όταν είδα τις πιο σκοταδιστικές και διεφθαρμένες δυνάμεις (π.χ. αρχιεπίσκοπος) να τον στηρίζουν, θεώρησα ότι θα γυρίσει μπούμερανγκ.  Όλα αυτά, δεν μπορεί σκέφτηκα, θα τον άφηναν εκτεθειμένο και στο κόσμο που θέλει λύση: Πόνταρα ότι αυτό θα κινητοποιούσε μια η μάζα του κόσμου που θα έφευγε από την αποχή  και θα εκφραζόταν στην κάλπη υπέρ του Μαλά.

2.    Όλα τα πιο πάνω λειτούργησαν σε μεγάλο βαθμό στο πρώτο γύρο υπέρ του Μαλά: Εκεί που είχαν ξεγραμμένη την Αριστερά και το δημοκρατικό προοδευτικό χώρο  ο Μαλάς πήρε 30.5% κι ο Αναστασιάδης 35.5%. Ναι, υπάρχουν προφανών πολιτικές και κοινωνικές αντιστάσεις. Στάθηκε όρθια η Αριστερά. Το πρωί της δεύτερης Κυριακής είδαμε ενθουσιασμό στο κόσμο της υποψηφιότητας Μαλά γιατί υπήρχαν ενδείξεις ότι πράγματι ήρθε κόσμος από την Αριστεράς που δεν ψήφισε την πρώτη Κυριακή. Ωστόσο, μέχρι το απόγευμα ήταν φανερό πως δεν είχε επαρκή στήριξη από άλλους χώρους - μοίρασαν οι ψήφοι του ΔΗΚΟ και των άλλων ανάμεσα στους δύο υποψηφίους, ενώ ο Αναστασιάδης είχε μαζεμένους του ΕΛΑΜ και της άκρας Δεξιάς - σε αυτούς εξάλλου απευθύνεται ο αρχιεπίσκοπος διότι κατά βάση είναι σήμερα ο «πνευματικός» ηγέτης των Χρυσαυγιτών. Η δυσαρέσκεια έμεινε στην αποχή, δεν εκφράστηκε στην κάλπη. Η μιντιακή ηγεμονία με τα περί επιτυχίας στην οικονομία με 3% μεγέθυνση, μείωση ανεργίας ενώ η στήριξη που πήρε από το οικονομικό κατεστημένο φαίνεται να επέτρεψαν στον Αναστασιάδη να συγκρατήσει τους ψήφους του. Κράτησε τους φοβικούς μικροαστούς του «embourgeoisement» (εξαστισμού) της πρότερης περιόδου που μάχονται να περισώσουν ότι μάζεψαν τώρα την εποχή των «ισχνών αγελάδων», κράτησε τις μάζες με διάφορα μέσα (π.χ. φουστανέλα  στα παραδοσιακά του προπύργια της Δεξιάς, μοίραζε αβέρτα υποσχέσεις κτλ.), ενώ με τη κυριαρχία στα παραδοσιακά ΜΜΕ αλλά και στα social media κατάφερε να περάσει το προφανώς  επαρκώς το αφήγημα περί «εκσυγχρονισμού» και «συνέχειας». Τα μακιαβελικά παιγνίδια του βγήκαν – κατάφερε επιτυχώς να «αρθρώσει» τα διάφορα παρά τις αντιφάσεις και την καταστροφική από λάθη του προεκλογική εκστρατεία: απλά στη συγκυρία μας δεν του στοίχησε η ανεπάρκεια του. Καλά θα ήταν ξαναδιαβάσουμε τι έγραφε παλιά  ο Στούαρτ Χωλ για την Θάτσερ κι ο Λακλάου για τον λαϊκισμό και να αναγνώσουμε τις συμβαίνει τον κόσμο με την άνοδο του ακροδεξιού λαϊκισμού σήμερα.

3.    Όσο για το κοινωνικό ζήτημα, ξέρουμε ότι δεν οδηγεί αυτόματα ούτε στην αύξηση της ιδεολογικές αντίστασης μέσα από μετωπικές πολιτικές συγκρούσεις, ούτε σε άνοδο της Αριστεράς – υπό κάποιες προϋποθέσεις αυτό είναι δυνατό, αλλά πρέπει να αναλυθεί στο συγκεκριμένο πολιτικό-οικονομικό, ιστορικό, πολιτιστικό και κοινωνικό πλαίσιο. Πολλές φορές το κοινωνικό ζήτημα μετατοπίζεται. Μπορεί να οδηγηθούν οι μάζες σε απόγνωση και εγκατάλειψη της πολιτικής συλλήβδην. Αυτό μπορεί να εκφραστεί με αποχή και απαξίωση. Ας μη ξεχνούμε και τον παράγοντα  αποδήμηση: απλά πολλοί φεύγουν από τη χώρα – βέβαια πολλοί ψήφισαν. Άλλοι μπορεί ακόμα κάποιο να οδηγηθούν σε αντιδραστικές πολιτικές και ιδεολογικές κατευθύνσεις. Τελικά, αυτά όλα οδηγούν στο «πάσο» επιτρέποντας στην εξουσία να συνεχίσει στο «business as usual». Κι όμως καθόλου δεν εξαλείφονται οι αντιφάσεις καθώς περιπλέκεται όλο και περισσότερο το κοινωνικό ζήτημα και ανοίγονται νέα κοινωνικά και πολίτικά ζητήματα. Εξ ου και τα μη εξυπηρετούμενα δάνεια, οι εκποιήσεις και όλο το πράμα με την κρίση των τραπεζών θα μας περιμένουν αμέσως μετά τις εκλογές.   

4.    Κέρδισε ο Αναστασιάδης. Ωστόσο, το μισοάδειο γήπεδο σκέφτομαι μπορεί να μην είναι καθόλου τυχαίο κι ασήμαντο γεγονός: Για πρώτη φορά στη ιστορία της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας από τότε που εγώ θυμούμαι δεν γέμισε το γήπεδο στην ανακήρυξη προέδρου δεν είναι τυχαίο. Μήπως γυρνούν τις πλάτες οι πολίτες στη πολιτική;  Σε μια μετεκλογική συζήτηση με ένα φίλο συμφωνήσαμε ότι στις εκλογές τούτες ο κ. Αναστασιάδης ίσως σπατάλησε όσο «πολιτικό κεφάλαιο» του είχε απομείνει και δεν θα έχει καμία δυνατότητα να αντιμετωπίσει:

- Έχοντας απωλέσει όλο το πολιτικό του κεφάλαιο, ένας αναξιόπιστος ηγέτης που έχει πλέον πιαστεί να ψεύδεται στον ΟΗΕ, στους τ/κ και στο λαό, πως θα λύσει τα μεγάλα προβλήματα της χώρας; Σαν το βοσκό το ψεύτη γιατί να το πιστέψει κανείς ότι θέλει να λύσει το κυπριακό;
- Θα έχει σοβαρότατα καθημερινά προβλήματα «διαχείρισης» - θα έχει πλειοψηφίες στη βουλή; Ποιο πρόγραμμα και ποια «ισχυρή εντολή» έχει λάβει για να κυβερνήσει;  Δεν κατάλαβα ακριβώς τι εννοεί όταν λέει «συνεχίζουμε».
-Το βασικό αφήγημα της προεκλογικής του εκστρατεία ήταν το εξής: «Πέτυχαμε πολλά, σώσαμε την οικονομία κι έχουμε επιτέλους ανάπτυξη: δώστε μας εντολή να συνεχίσουμε». Μας είπε ότι αντιμετώπισε επιτυχώς τα μεγάλα κοινωνικά ζητήματα π.χ. έχει λύσει το πρόβλημα της φτώχιας με το «επαναστατικό» όπως το έλεγε ΕΕΕ που οδήγησε στην εξαθλίωση και ξήλωμα του ισχνού κοινωνικού κράτους και στην μετεκλογική του ομιλία μίλησε για προστασία των «ευάλωτων ομάδων»: Γιατί λοιπόν να τον πιστέψει κάνεις;

Τα μεγάλα προβλήματα κάθε άλλο παρά λύθηκαν - οξύνονται σε ένα κόσμο γεμάτο αντιφάσεις. Ο κούφιος λόγος του προέδρου σε ένα μισοάδειο γήπεδο ας γίνει η αρχή για να προβληματιστούν κόμματα, σχολιαστές, σκεπτόμενοι πολίτες και κοινωνία.


An initial reading of the election results in Cyprus 

1. Anastasiades won with a 12% margin. I was hoping that the margin would be smaller - at some point I even entertained the possibility of victory: I was betting on social disaffection and dissatisfaction being expressed politically, as 1/3 of the Cypriots are now living below the poverty line; there is continuing high youth unemployment and mass emigration; Anastasiades’s first act in power back in 2013 was to impose a deposit haircut, contrary to his pre-election commitment and a severe austerity program. I felt that the political game he played over the Cyprus issue would backfire, leading to political dissatisfaction, especially after the discovery of his terrible handling and inconsistencies over the Cyprus issue; the fact that he colluded with the neo-Nazi ELAM over the school commemorations of the ‘Enosis plebiscite’ at the height of the reunification talks with the Turkish-Cypriot leader; only a few months ago he wrecked the prospects of solution in the UN talks at the Swiss resort ‘Grands Montana’. I thought that his election chances would be damaged after the revelation that he had lied to the UN and that he had concealed from the public that the map given by the Turkish Cypriots at during the UN talks at Mont Pellarin was withdrawn; or when the most obscene and corrupt powers (e.g. Archbishop) supported him. He would be abandoned by all those who want a solution. I placed my bet that all these factors, plus the good campaign by Stavros Malas would mobilize and energise people away from abstention to vote for Malas.

2. To a large extent this logic worked in the first round in favour of Mala: When the Left and the progressive/democratic forces were written off, Malas won 30.5% of the votes and Anastasiades 35.5%. There are is political and social resistance in society and a momentum fro victory, I thought. In the morning of the second round, 2 February, there was excitement about the candidacy of Malas: there were signs that voters from the Left came out to vote who did not vote on the first Sunday. However, until the afternoon it was obvious that Malas did not get enough support from other forces - the votes of centrist (but nationalistic) DIKO and the others were split in two, while Anastasiades had gathered full support from the neo-Nazi ELAM and the far right – this was the reason for the archbishop’s open pledge on Thursday prior to the elections he is the sponsor and ‘spiritual’ leader of the local ‘Golden Dawn’ thugs ELAM. Resentment remained in abstinence, not expressed in the ballot box. Pro-Anastasiades dominated the media who played over and over the ‘economic success with a 3% growth’ and reduction in unemployment, whilst enjoying the full support from the financial establishment: Despite his abysmal election campaign, Anastasiades to retained his support from masses. He retained the votes of the fearful petty bourgeoisie, who had benefitted from the earlier ‘embourgeoisement’ of the earlier periods of mass tourism and then financialisation; he kept the masses in check by various means, such as nationalist rhetoric for in the traditional Right, promises and kickbacks for the different elites, while his dominance of traditional media and social media, he pushed anti-communist fears and spreading their narrative about continuation of  ‘modernization’ did the job. They managed to cover up well the net transfer of income from workers to capital and boosting and pumping up of zombie banks, whilst the non performing loans are still at 51%. His Machiavellian games paid off - despite the contradictions and the destructive of mistakes in the election campaign. He fits well with the current right-wing populism today, a personality combining Netanyahu, Erdogan and Trump.

3. Anastasiades won but for the first time in the history of the Republic of Cyprus, the stadium was not filled in the proclamation of a president.  Are civilians turn their backs on politics? He won 56% of those voted, but only 37% of those registered to vote. Mr Anastasiades has wasted all of his ‘political capital’ during the election campaign and his 5 year corrupt rule.  Having lost his political capital, an unreliable leader who is exposed to the UN, the Turkish-Cypriot and the Cypriot public, he has zero credibility in solving the country's problems.

·         He claimed that the 53% is a "strong mandate", but what is his program? No one knows; he has no program and has no support in the institutions to govern.
·         No one believes that he wants to solve the Cyprus problem. As for the much advertised gas extraction and promises made to proceed irrespective of solution, we will see how he will handle the next crisis.

·         He has no political forces as allies and will face serious daily problems of ‘management’ as he enjoys no majority in parliament.

·         He asked for and obtained a mandate to ‘continue’ with his neoliberal reforms but insisted that he had successfully tackled major social issues, claiming that he ‘solved’ the problem of poverty with the "revolutionary’ by his ‘guaranteed income’, which led to the mass impoverishment and destruction of the anaemic welfare state. However during his post-election speech he pledged to protect the ‘vulnerable groups’.
·         We will see the success of these policies when the repossessions and selling of properties.

The big problems not only remain unresolved but they are becoming more complex and chronic in a world full of contradictions.



The 2018 Presidential Elections: A Personal Comment



by   FrankK



Many of us had waited for 5 long years to get rid of the Anastasiades government—a government marked from its very beginning by endemic corruption, cronyism and lies. The hope of Anastasiades’ demise wasn’t confined to the Left. Large sections of the Centre and even some sections of the Right (though for very different reasons) also wanted change. But, alas, it wasn’t to be.

The first round of the elections gave us the tantalising hope that perhaps Ansatasiades, the head of the most corrupt government that Cyprus has ever had to endure, could be ousted. But it proved to be a false dawn.  So what went wrong? Hindsight is much easier than foresight so the reasons may appear to be obvious a week after the second round. But some of us had, either privately or in groups so small as to be ineffectual, expressed concerns about the likely hurdles to be faced by any candidate from the Left long before the elections had even begun. Last week’s issue of Defteri Anagnosi offered a post-mortem on the elections. While I share much of the sentiment expressed in last week’s article I want to put forward my own views on what went wrong and to draw lessons for next time.

Hostile Media. At the risk of stating the obvious, we have a media that is dominated by the ideology of the Right and in some cases is utterly corrupt. This corruption takes the form of: a) payments to journalists, b) close ties between the proprietors and sections of the political establishment and c) a transactional relationship with large companies (eg. banks, developers, etc) who provide important advertising revenue. From the outset, the media was determined to prevent the election of a president backed by Akel.  The propaganda of Alithia, Politis, Simerini and Phileleftheros was to be expected as was the majority of the radio and TV channels. Even the state broadcaster, CyBC, had been politically captured by DISY—the most glaring example being the appointment by Anastasiades of a close family friend as Director General. Thus, Akel should have been prepared for this and I will elaborate on this further down.

Fractious Opposition. Following the results of the first round, the most rational strategy for Papadopoulos would have been to rally Diko around Malas. After all, on economic issues there has, historically, been little to separate Akel from Diko. The main chasm between the two parties was the Cyprus issue. And this is where perhaps I would differ from many on the Left.

Cyprus has been divided for nearly 44 years. During this long period two generations of Greek Cypriots have grown up either too young to remember the events of 1974 or were not even born at the time. Most Greek Cypriots are so absorbed by the struggles of everyday life that the Cyprus issue, while important, is not a priority. Education, employment, indebtedness, corruption, nepotism, care for the elderly, narcotics and sexism as well as a host of other economic and social issues are at the forefront of people’s daily existence.  This is what forms their political consciousness. And this is what could have brought Akel and Diko together in a pact to unite behind Malas. but a combination of Papadopoulos’ ego and  differences between the two parties on the Cyprus problem scuppered any chance of a deal. However, it was incumbent on Akel, as the main opposition party, to have laid the groundwork for an electoral pact with Diko long before the first round of the elections.

Poor Campaigning. After the disastrous and embarrassing flirtation with Mike Spanos, Akel had the opportunity to redeem itself. The decision to back Malas was the first correct step. The second should have been to organise a campaign that would overcome the challenge of a hostile media. Here, Akel should have taken lessons from the Corbyn campaign in last year’s parliamentary elections in the UK.  Faced with a hostile media, Corbyn cleverly used social media and toured the country speaking directly to disaffected communities and the youth. Rather than focussing on Brexit (which is what the Tories did) he concentrated on the issues that were of direct concern to the working class and large sections of the middle class, i.e.the national health service, education, income inequality, etc. Despite a vicious campaign against Corbyn by the right-wing press, and even by the supposedly neutral BBC, the Labour Party came close to winning, and may still do should May be ousted by her own party, which would trigger an election. Indeed, one of the reasons why the Tories haven’t acted in their usual ruthless manner is because they fear a Corbyn victory. But the UK elections are not the only ones to draw lessons from. The US presidential elections also offer useful insights. Bernie Saunders used tactics similar to Corbyn and had it not been for the machinations of the Democratic Party machine to ensure that Hilary Clinton was the Party’s official candidate, the US may have seen the election of its first openly Socialist president.

I hope that next time, Akel and the parties of the centre, especially Diko (assuming it survives the current bloodletting), will unite behind a single candidate. Otherwise, I fear another Disy government. The Cypriot people deserve better than that.