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George Michael and being Cypriot – 12 things you might like to know….

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Before you start reading the blog…click on image below to hear The George Michael Street Mix on Mixcloud as you read…words and music go hand in hand…Also bare in mind this blog is a work in progress, just like the campaign to have a street named after George in Cyprus, so changes, adaptations will be made regularly…..

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Every one who is a Cypriot in the UK will have had or have claim to have had a link to the late George Michael in some way of another. Most of these ‘links’ are caught somewhere between adoring fandom and lameness. Just rewind to the early 80’s and how many Cypriot teenage girls screamed and scrambled their way to the front of Wham gigs – plus how many young guys copied the peroxide hair style with the flick. On the mundane there are always people wanting to sell a story to a popular rag like The Sun proclaiming something rather dull about George or his dad. Like, ‘I lived and worked in North London and so did his dad’ – what a ridiculous link to make – millions of people lived there, doesn’t mean much really.  It is the price of fame, everybody knows you but hardly any one really does.

My only link, aside from the great tunes he made as a solo artist (not really a big Wham fan) was a chance encounter with his father Jack a couple of years ago in a friend’s tea house in Cockfosters. He was a such a humble man and we chatted for about an hour. I didn’t blog about it at the time or post photos all over cyber space, nor will I now, out of respect for the family’s privacy in a time of mourning.

What has always fascinated me about George is his Cypriot link and what he meant to a whole generation of people of  Cypriot origin as a role model. He kind of set the sound for singers to follow but what many sound a-likes never realised was he had the soul to be himself. How many people xeroxed that voice or tried to at least – often Greek wedding singers or youth just wanting a pop career as an easy way to become rich. But none of that success and fame came easy.

What George Michael reflected more than anything is that pattern of migration, and achievement through hard work.  Coming from a Cypriot father from the small  village of Patriki in Karpasia and working class English mother who was a dancer, George literally leapt in terms of social mobility over 2 generations. That is in some ways the dominant British Cypriot work ethic, emigrate, work hard, and move on. It makes a lot of sense. Even in one generation our fathers and mothers came from villages with no electricity in the 50’s and 60’s, often working from the age of 14 to a radically different life in the UK say 30 years later doing everything for the future of the next generation. So here are a few things/thoughts/insights on George Michael and being Cypriot:

  1. George would say often say in interviews ‘the only Greek thing about me is my hairy chest’ and that was so easy to misconstrue. But he would also follow it up with what he got from his father, that determination to work hard and succeed, and that he considered himself a 2nd generation son of an immigrant. That word ‘immigrant’ has become almost a dirty word nowadays, but George always used it proudly. Watch video here on MEGA TV Greece around 5.31. So he was proud of his roots, his parents, and where he came from. This theme is also explored in one of his songs ‘Round Here’ where he talks about his upbringing and how his dad ‘ got here on the gravy train’

2. George Michael’s first interview in Cyprus was with John Vickers in 1984, in his Wham days, for CyBC 2 Radio, the state broadcaster. John is a rare kind of journalist in Cyprus and he will admit it himself, interviewing George Michael  topless was an honour!!!

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3. Charity and George Michael go hand in hand. He was one of those people who did not like to broadcast his name all over everything but the people who knew, the people who benefitted from his charitable donations always held him in high esteem. He was the main benefactor for The UK Thalassemeia Society, which has been in existence for more than 30 years and has amassed a wealth of experience on Thalassaemia, that most dreaded of ancient  Cypriot diseases. I can recall performing with DJ Peter Lewis and Soul Singer Irini at The Community Centre in Wood Green for this charity in the early 90’s and  the leather jacket George wore on the worldwide ‘Faith’ tour was auctioned for many thousands of pounds. And to any ‘doubters’, the picture below gives clear evidence of George’s philanthropy towards the community. Thanks to my twitter friend Dino, the youth pictured bottom front right, who was there to witness this at Haringey Civic Centre in the 1980’s.

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4.Urban legend has it that George Michael has a house Cyprus. There is some confusion on this however. While a photo does exist online (Google it and see) it’s not clearly stated by the architect  who designed the property if it’s George Michael the famous singer’s house  – which is misleading. Also consider there are probably thousands of people called George Michael (and I know at least 5 of them) and this one is clearly not accurate. Whatever the case George came to Cyprus but pop stars, in such a small place, always move in silence.

5.Yusuf Islam frequents Cyprus often as well and when George Michael passed away he tweeted: ‘So sad to hear my Cypriot brother @GeorgeMichael has passed away.Will miss him & pray God will have mercy on him. Condolences to his family’

6.On Twitter George would often sign himself off as ‘The Singing Greek’ and his nickname was also ‘Yog’ short for Giorgos. Its possible some one cottoned  onto the ‘Singing Greek’ tag by creating a twitter account, making things a bit confusing. In the end George Michael got the  name officially removed.

7.Club Tropicana, despite urban myth was not filmed as a video clip in Limassol Cyprus, it was made in Ibiza. However many people have used the name in Cyprus for their clubs and even my nephew had a chippy in Liverpool with the name in bright blue silver neon lights. “Its pure class” he declared at the chippy’s opening 🙂

8.George Michael, like many of us who had to endure, went to Greek school as a kid in northwest London. Greek school was an additional educational chore, often on a Saturday morning. To some it was  a pain, a routine where they learnt nothing and to others it was key to learning the Greek language. I would have preferred Saturday morning pictures.

9. A very reliable source, Costas Yennaris (who through marriage has a link)  stated on Facebook recently that George Michael also did the vragga-dagga thing as a youth with  traditional dances and the vraka – the national traditional male attire of Cyprus back in the day. Going through the same things, I am sure our paths may have even crossed on a dancefloor in a church hall off Turnpike Lane…at some stage or other.

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10. GM The Original Vrakaman was also a theme  explored in The Cyprus Weekly in 1996 when George first started donning a goatee in public. They published a headshot pic of the the both of us side by side saying GM was looking more and more like HM and we were one and the same person!  Far fetched for sure  and I am not in the same league but as the original Cypriot goatee-ist it did make me feel very humbled at the time.

11. George was a star for all people, ethnicities, races and creeds. He appeals and is just as important to Greek Cypriots as he is to Turkish Cypriots, and Armenians, Latins and Maronites. He is what Cyprus could have been, tolerant, daring and forward thinking and that was always clearly manifested through his music.

12. May be this  is not so important to some but  I will throw it in for some clarification. Still trying to figure out what side of North London George Michael was in terms of football, blue or red. It would be devastating if he was a Gooner – it hit me hard when I found out the late Bob Marley supported Arsenal a couple of years ago – but news so far from trawling the net seems to indicate GM was with Man United. Also possible growing up in Hertfordshire he could have even been Watford.

Last but by no means least…a couple of days ago we started a petition to have a street named after George Michael in Cyprus. Its going really well with over 1,743 people signing so far. Considering he is the most famous person worldwide with a Cyprus link, we see this as imperative out of respect for a person who gave so much to so many people. And it would be good if there were many streets named after George Michael worldwide…So please sign the petition here…..

RiP Yog, Αναπαύσου εν ειρήνη you will always be remembered…

Common Senseness & Sell Outs!!!

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It was around 1988, Conway Hall London, and the newly elected President of The Republic of Cyprus, George Vassiliou was going to make his maiden speech to the London Cypriot community. As a then student activist I found myself in venue putting out the chairs. As soon as they had been laid out a group of around 5 people had littered each chair with a vitriolic leaflet denouncing a ‘Federal Solution’ and opposing the peace talks. It did feel banal, and still to this day, many people that oppose a federal solution seldom have an alternative approach which will be acceptable to all the communities of Cyprus.  There are slogans of course, and everyone has slogans. ‘Unitary state’ and ‘European’ political parties who once demanded a ‘European Solution’. A few fanatics, who may have increased lately use the most cowardly one ‘draw a line and build a wall’. But no one has yet to come up with a feasible alternative to a Federal Solution to the Cyprus Problem which would be acceptable to all the communities in the negotiating process. Although the ‘Unitary State’ advocates think they have an alternative, reality is they do not and they know it because it takes two to tango. The ‘European Solution’ supporters, now a bit of a cliché/passing fad, realized that and even changed the name of their political parties.

All of this is all well and good up until a Greek academic finally gave us the answer, the alternative to a Federal Solution. Angelos Syrigos is an Associate Professor of International Law & Foreign Policy at Panteion University Athens. He recently spoke at the memorial to honour Tassos Papadopoulos, the man who partly/allegedly negotiated The Annan Plan and then buried it in the referendum of 2004. Syrigos is also an expert on the said Plan, having written a book on it.  So the alternative posed would be to accept Turkey annexing northern occupied Cyprus as opposed to negotiating a Federal Solution. In other words, to spell it out, the assimilation of the north is actually one step further than Partition. This was said at the 8th memorial of Tassos Papadopoulos, a former President of Cyprus, elected to solve the Cyprus Problem on the basis of a Federal Solution. It is good to see the masks finally come off. And the furor from the little party of the centre, the empty-space-between-party-lot, DIKO, following critique on this stance by President Nicos Anastasiades, the reaction. Remarkable echoes of those dark times when they were in power and that post-2004 ambience of constraining any form towards critical thinking. They were in power then, and thankfully now, they are not. What we have yet to realize about DIKO is they want to hold on to power for the sake of it. They want to always be the party of power, in power. Whether they do this alone or with others is immaterial. They will oppose a solution ad infinitum because their power will be eroded and they will have nothing else to talk about.

There is also a common senseness, that everyday allure of DIKO’s position on Cyprus which appeals to people like nicotine to a chain smoker. As an allegedly ‘in-between’ party (whatever that means nowadays) they have naturalised an anti-federal solution through just being obstinate. It’s that everydayness, that routine of their arguments that is disturbing. You switch on the TV and some news presenter probes with a naive question like ‘aren’t we better off, them over there and us over here’. It does sound sweet to some ears, this unofficial DIKO like position which you can probably hear in some coffee shops where usually old men gather to reason on the days events. But whatever way that common senseness is phrased, whether it’s from a coffee shop or from a tie wearing Greek Academic (in a more convoluted way) the bottom line is partition, which is where all these years of deadlocks and dead-end blame games in The Cyprus Talks will eventually take all of us if we pursue the path of pessimism.

So I ask myself, as a refugee without refugee status, as someone born in Marathovouno, who is this Greek academic to tell me and anyone else in Cyprus that the annexation of the north is better than a Federal solution. For over 42 years successive politicians have told us we will ‘go home’. For 42 years you have been lying to the voting public, hiding behind empty slogans, posing you want progress. For 42 years you have hidden your pathetic agenda, herding voters like sheep so you can give part of Cyprus to Turkey so we can be what, ‘united with a Greek motherland’? Is that your next move, stalwarts of DIKO, to proclaim Cyprus is actually Greek and we should just be done with it, side by side with a 150 mile border with Turkey, one side Greek one side Turkish – no more negotiations – a new cold war era?  And no doubt, you will all go on, singing the same negative tunes, bellowing the same rejectionist bile, when all people want, at the end of the day is simple, a solution based on what was agreed all those years ago, a Federal State of Cyprus. We cannot carry on fooling ourselves, each other and the world, we agreed on a Federal Solution as far back as 1977 and 1979, either we do it now, or face the realities that Syrigos so poisonously advocates. If the north is assimilated with Turkey, a new chapter begins, but we certainly will not be as relieved as the Greek academic that fears a solution, because sitting in his office from Athens, he will be a lot more comfortable than us.

O Axabaros – The Ignoramus – The One Who Did Not Know…

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Axabaros (pronounced ‘Ahabaros’) is such an interesting vernacular word. It’s one you hear more or less every day in conversations throughout the island of Cyprus. It could mean many things to many different people such as ignoramus, uncaring, insensitive. It’s  the person we all know in the world who works on this lazy kind of auto-pilot, makes a coffee does not wash the cup, leaves his/her dirty laundry at different parts in the house for someone else to pick up and clean, and/or flings their empty drinks can and crisp packet out the window on the highway without a care in the world. There are many of these people, in the plural we call them ‘axabarous’. My sociologist friend, Christina Loizou, who I consulted on the meaning of the word also pointed  the word “Habari” in Turkish (the root of the word) means “news” or “inform”, so in this case putting the ‘a’ before the word means a “total lack of information, or unaware”. So for instance what does the lazy man who throws his dirty laundry round the house say when his partner says she is sick of him doing it – ‘did I do that? I didn’t know!’ . This word also has a special relationship with Dimitris Christofias, the ex-President who on a number of occasions claims not to have known or been aware of what was happening with/at Mari or the economy. In fact, Christina also pointed out to me that Christofias used the the phrase ‘I did not know’ 19 times during the Mari hearing, including a very lame reference to not even knowing where Mari was. This kind of ‘axabarthkion’ (the systematic habit of consistently not knowing) stuck with Christofias afterwards, and many people, who disagreed with the ex-President’s handling of the Mari disaster,  in daily conversations started to use the epithet to describe him as ‘axabaros’.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when the former President of Cyprus announced recently that he was filing a libel suit against TV news anchor person, Yiannis Kareklas and the station he is employed by, CyBC, the state broadcaster. The story runs like this…Some months ago, then Presidential candidate, now President, Nicos Anastasiades, was on Kareklas TV show and he described the former President Christofias as ‘axabaros’. He did it in a vernacular way, reflecting/exploiting the populist wave of thought against his political opponent. Anastasiades appeared to be uncomfortable using the term. It was one of those rewind moments when politicians are on TV as in did he just say that!!!  Any way a short time after, Anastasiades, a legal personage by profession decided to retract the statement, perhaps wary that Christofias might sue him. Then Kareklas, in the same program,  used the term to describe Christofias through a journalistic trick implying people say ‘Christofias is Axabaros’. In journalism I guess Kareklas was just seizing the opportunity and playing devil’s advocate.

Time passed, many people, myself included, just got on with their lives and thought nothing of it, mainly because Christofias has been called a variety of far worse things by different people, but more of that later. And suddenly the former President, being well known political nobility decides to sue CyBC, an organization which is verging on bankruptcy on many levels. He also decides to sue Kareklas, for up to 500,000 Euros. Now the last part is strange because the way I see it Kareklas was not actually saying he thought the ex-President is an ignoramus, he was just reflecting what had been said earlier. Don’t get me wrong here, I am neither a fan of Anastasiades nor Kareklas, nor a consenting disciple of Christofias, but it does all seem a bit trivial if not peculiar, that a former President decides to sue on such feeble grounds. And Christofias had as we said before, admitted in his own words that he was not informed, therefore, in doing this he was ‘a-xabaros’. May be he will sue me for saying that as well?

In these times of severe austerity, hardship and pain, when people have little hope for the future, this kind of court case reflects how pusillanimous many of our politicians actually are. They can in fact call you as a simple citizen of the Republic of Cyprus anything from ‘axabaros’ to ‘traitor’  and you, as a simple citizen cannot do a thing about it because they have immunity. The same applies to any wrong decisions they make, and they have all made many in our recent history, without exception.

Additionally, as I said before Dimitris Christofias has been called far worse things by many people and at no time in the past did he ever pursue legal action. This is the same man who sat in front of bereaving families of victims of the Mari disaster in a televised exchange with said people holding placards up in court, for all the cameras and people to see which basically said he was the person, through is wrongly calculated decisions,  who ‘murdered’ their relatives. Did Christofias pursue legal action then? This is also the same person who made history, as President in his first term, by not standing for re-election. The only reason for this was his diminished popularity, largely because of Mari, his mishandling of economic issues, and complete failure to solve the Cyprus issue. Go to any coffee shop right now in Cyprus and record few conversations. You will hear much worse epithets and characterizations about politicians.

Last but one, someone once called me an ‘idiot’ in a newspaper. Had they used their journalistic brains and said in their opinion my music is ‘idiotic’ I would have thought their interpretation was idiotic but as everyone is entitled to an opinion fair enough. But being called an idiot, just for being who I am, just for existing, breathing,  made me take them to court for libel. The case was never mentioned on TV, radio and I think the only newspaper to cover it was ‘The Cyprus Mail’. I won the case a couple of years later with what I consider to be a paltry sum of just over 4,000 euros in damages plus legal expenses. The irony is had I been The President of Cyprus, another two zeros would have been on the settlement fee. Libel law in Cyprus sucks basically if you are not a famous politician.

Finally, Dimitris Christofias would do us all a favour by dropping this petty, ridiculous and bizarre court case. Far worse things have been said of him and his counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades. In times when people cannot afford to buy bread and milk, a former President should rise to the occasion, shrug it off and be content with some gardening or reading history books.

More Trees Cyprus – plant a seed and watch it grow….

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In times of crisis, we all suffer; only some suffer more because others have much more in the first place. To say my island Cyprus has suffered recently is an understatement.  The rich and corrupt ones who always seem to take care of their interests, the very same people who made this crisis, bankers and politicians combined,  cannot save us because they are the root of the problem.

Generally many of us have lost faith in organized polytricks, mainly because it’s become legitimate robbery.  I heard a story about a man last week who stole two haloumia. He only stole them to feed his family. Two haloumia is less than 10  euros to buy and that citizen will be charged for a so-called ‘crime’ he was forced to commit due to the economic crisis. And yet politicians and bankers can take away millions from people’s saving’s accounts overnight and not one of them will ever get locked up for doing it. Fact is they will carry on getting paid over 5 grand a month as MP’s and still be able to keep their regular day jobs as lawyers, doctors, business men and the like…

So having lost faith in organized politricks I have to ask myself what’s the alternative? Well simply put I feel we should all make Cyprus grow again together. A very good friend of mine, Steffen Franz, started his own music distribution company from nothing. Independent Distribution Collective in San Francisco, USA currently represents over 600 artists and labels in close to 10,000  retail outlets. It does seem strange to some of us  that people are still physically buying  music releases and I think one reason it has worked for IDC is this  basic philosophy –  ‘Plant a seed and watch it grow’.

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Much of humanity has lost that kind of DiY organic approach to life. I had this conversation with a cyber friend on Facebook, right at the height of the recent crisis in Cyprus. We had been bombarded day and night with all kinds of messages, bits of information, fake promises, false pretences and suddenly this friend online called Melo Felo told me to take time out and think about the valuelessness-the worthlessness attached to this thing called money. Melo aside from reiterating my belief in going natural and growing food to live off finished with a wise recommendation….”there is only one thing to do… learn…teach…practice…and survive”…

We have been swallowed up in an endless materialistic ‘rat-race’ and at some point we have to jump off the hamster wheel and think outside the box.  Cyprus used to be so different. It was like a fertile forest. Remember we used to grow and export potatoes, citrus fruits, olives and olive oil. I used to see double-decker buses going round central London with a huge advert proclaiming “Cypressa Accept Nothing Lesser” and it used to make me feel proud of my island to see that. “Cypressa” by the way still exists as a company in Britain, click here

We forgot all that because for the last few decades we have been obsessed with everything materialistic and non-Cypriot.  We have tried our hardest to be everything we are not. To be the most perfect Europeans, the loudest ‘Greeks’, the banking centre of the universe, and the biggest spenders.

That denial of who we are and the potential for who we could be is pivotal. People were always negative towards anything Cypriot, I know this from first-hand experience having made music for the last few decades and been based here. I can get airplay in 40 countries around the world and if I am lucky a handful of people will play me a couple of times on radio in Cyprus. Don’t get me wrong this is not a “me thing”  I am just using myself as an example of how messed up things are. I remember thinking of a title for my second CD release in 1997.  I wanted to call it ‘Made in Cyprus”. I had this conversation at that time with a newspaper editor who told me simply ‘ are you sure you want to call it that?’. He felt this way because Cyprus was such a negative brand, a land where bombs were going off and where the then President, Glafkos Clerides, saddened by the corruption around him in society proclaimed we were like a ‘Banana Republic’.

Of course nowadays every one waves their Cypriot flags, claims to love Cyprus and insists on buying only Cypriot produce. It’s all good I guess but this new found sense of Cypriotness seaped in the crisis is at the same time very claustrophobic and narrow-minded. It’s also becoming very top down again with the politicians vainly trying their best to still lead the way. These vampires brought us into this mess will claim whatever they want about who is to blame, who is the savior and who are the sell outs and traitors. And I say halali tous oullous, let them have it, they can carry on leading their lost tribes of sheep into oblivion.

The alternative is to grow together, plant some seeds, watch things grow and share the fruits of our labours.  People we have to start doing it for ourselves – ‘plant a seed and watch it grow’.

So here is the idea. Everyone around the world now knows where Cyprus is due to the failings of politicians, the EU and the banking system. The crisis, who is to blame is not my concern because a million experts will tell you a million different things. The real point is how to move forward. The answer is simple. We should all start living more off the land which we have been blessed with  from the times of Aphrodite to live on. Our predecessors did it so why can’t we. If each person planted 10 more olive trees, 10 more lemon trees, 10 more fig trees, this island would be a better place for all of  us. Many people have land and this could be used to grow our own produce organically. In the process we will all get back to the real world, to the physical aspect of nature and move away from our overtly materialistic life styles.

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I started in my garden. This week I planted a grape-vine from Marathassa, which produces an aromatic dark black grape; a mango tree, which I hope will give fruit someday as I love mangoes; and an avocado – I know this one is a long shot as these fruits need a more tropical climate but they have such a nice green leaves. I also plan to plant at least 100 more olive trees in the village of Lythrodontas. We have been growing our own olives in the village for many decades. Each year this produces enough olive oil for us to never have to buy it. Now the idea is to plant more trees and produce more oil that can be sold or exchanged.

Finally, I would like to invite people from around the world to be a part of this dream to let Cyprus grow naturally from the roots upwards. You can contribute directly to the planting of more trees by sponsoring a tree. Each tree will be photographed and will have your name on it.  The money you choose to give will go towards the cost of each tree, planting soil, fertilizer and water throughout the year.

In the future we will share the fruits of our labours by providing a small gift of our appreciation for your contribution with a choice of the wide range of products we will be producing, including freshly pressed olive oil, citrus fruits and dry figs. You will also be welcome any time in the village to savour our friendly hospitality and pick fresh in season produce for free.

For more details post email to moretreescyprus@gmail.com

Try a little devil’s advocate

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Imagine standing in front of the mirror and seeing yourself as an illusionary opposite. While many of us may find comfort in this special optical trick in the world of politics, parties, leaders and movements no one would ever dare be so different. It’s a question I have thought about lately, seeing as most of our hacks – print, radio and TV and wack chat show hosts seem to be lacking the very basic skill known as playing devil’s advocate. Everyone is either without the President and demanding his immediate resignation over the mishandled Mari explosion disaster or with him blindly to the point of no return.

It’s a very similar atmosphere to the extremely polarized scenario of the referenda in 2004 when apparently everyone was either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. A 12% and 13% minority of voters from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities did not vote either as they chose to abstain. Furthermore we had the ‘No’ meaning ‘Yes’ of AKEL and the ‘Yes’ but most of our voters voted ‘No’ of DiSY. Most people then did not actually vote for the same reasons, and likewise today, even though everyone is trying their utmost to sway public opinion – whatever that dodgy term means against or in favour of President Christofias, what is also real is the fact that some of us are not being influenced by all the pseudo hard talk of the media, politicians, facebook groups for or against, protestors or admirers.

I heard reportage just last week by a renowned BBC journalist who will be unnamed, on a radio station in English, again unnamed. The journo insisted ‘thousands of people are outside the Presidential Palace each night, from all the political parties, demanding President Christofias resigns’. I am not sure what Palatio was being referred to as on the very same night I drove past there. I would estimate there were about 200 people. I did not stop to ask their views but they were clearly antagonistic, demanding the immediate resignation of Christofias because as their banners insisted he was a ‘Murderer’. No one should deny the right of citizens to protest, and if we ever reach that point in Cyprus, there will be no turning back. But where were the thousands reported by the reputable journalist I wondered, and did they all come from every single party in Cyprus. This takes me to the opposite camp. AKEL supporters who often confuse their ideology for a football game. Out of curiosity I asked to join a facebook group supporting President Christofias. I must admit to doing this solely for research purposes, not for snooping on any one but just trying to understand the logic of how people in this camp were thinking – much in the same way, after having heard the reportage mentioned earlier, for driving past the Presidential Palace on that night last week, to see for myself what the journalist had said. Equally ‘patriotic’ along ideological lines the facebook Group was riddled with all kinds of conspiracy theories on how the President was being treated by the media and opposition. I lasted a day I think and exited, feeling disappointed.

Now on both these sites, at both these locations, virtual and real, I felt the same sense of not agreeing with things and wanting in some way to be different, independent minded and open for critical kinds of thinking. That to me is what is missing, a sense of trying to heal the wounds through a more open-ended and open minded discussion. As Cypriots we always insist on what divides us but seldom look to ways to overcome these divisions. The media are not exempt from this. They seldom make any attempt at objectivity; they merely reflect divisions and rarely look at the bigger picture and the possibilities that could arise from being more critical in a constructive sense. There are media outlets who have wanted Christofias to step down from the minute he was elected and there are others who worship the ground he walks on. There are people who live in a very interesting but false world of everyone who is a comrade agrees with us and others, The Archbishop being a classic example who are so happy that there has been no progress whatsoever – according to him at least – in the talks over a solution between Christofias and Eroglou. In fact his 8% Beautitude from Paphos would be very delighted if Christofias resigned because the talks would be completely terminated and yes, the next President, speaking hypothetically now of course, would presumably go back on all that has been agreed, and move to a more irredentist stance. This would match quiet well again very surrealistically with the partitionist stance espoused by Turkish PM Erdogan recently in occupied northern Cyprus when he stood on what looked like a bus with mic in hand. Muting the sound, I did get the impression, just by reading his body language that he was trying desperately to sell water melons.
So the rest of us, albeit may be a minority, who don’t want to be herded here and there by any one, who do not want to be threatened or treated like lemmings by the politicians, media, religious leaders and yes the plethora of fickle minded facebook groups, we are just sick and tired of all of it, like most people are in the world frankly. The recession, the wars, the environment, the intransigence, the fanaticism, and the way in which so much suffering is inflicted, so much pain, so much grief, so many mistakes and no one has the courage to admit it was their fault. Too many lawyers, right about now, and never enough justice!
So a message to the media…Next time you have all the political vagabonds – I mean that with the utmost respect and acerbic wit – pitted against each other over any issue, Mari, The Cyprus Problem, Christofias seeing it through or standing down, try a little bit of critical thinking, a touch of devil’s advocate. Say to the government spokesman, let’s just reverse things a little here, if you was in opposition and DiSY was in power, with Anastasiades as President, and a disaster equivalent to Mari happened, what would you be demanding from the President? To the Opposition, again reverse the tables. If you were President would you have resigned on 11-7-11?

Far From The Maddening Crowd…

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I can recall the phrase from school. It was the title of a book we had to read by one Thomas Hardy.’Far From The Madding Crowd’ . Its been my philosophy for a while to many things. And with a bit of poetic license I’d adapt the phrase to “Maddening” because the polarisation, lies, and distortions we are living under in Cyprus right now are precisely that….

When I see some people baying for some one’s blood, unless of course its a mass murderer and the evidence is clear, I tend to go in the opposite direction. Its easy enough for many people to be swept up by the current wave of anti-Presidential euphoria. ‘The Dissatisfied’ who gather most nights (APOEL football games usually being the exception) outside the presidential palace may be demanding Christofias head on a plate, but then many of these people, at least the most hard nosed ones, the most dissatisfied ones, have been doing the same ever since he got elected, and they strike me as mad as a box of frogs on acid pills!

I also heard from an ordinary citizen today, whatever that means, that Christofias advizer gets paid 200,000 Euros a month. The woman who said this also told me she heard it on the radio, so it must be true. Perhaps some one got a couple of digits wrong, but then again we are talking about a mass media who are often guilty of exaggeration for the sake of stirring up trouble. What did they say last autumn, a muslim man ‘allgedly’ – we never heard or saw him say it – but he ‘allegedly said ‘ The bells should be banned from ringing in St Lazarus Church’ in Larnaca. This statement was tauntamount to Orthodox Christians of the utmost blasphemy. No one knew who this person was but the fact the media said it, made it into what we academics call a ‘factoid’ an unwanted myth, or in every day terms, an out and out lie.

So when I heard the maddening crowd chanting ‘Christofias, Murderer, Resign’ and ‘We Will Hang You’ it made my blood run cold because 1. We are not living in the ‘wild wild west’ where the possees implemented their own justice by hanging people on trees and 2. Every one is innocent until they have been proven guilty with substantiated evidence.

Of course what I have just said may make many people’s blood curl, but you tell me why should we be so vindictive, testosteronified like a bunch of football hooligans out to mash up the ‘opposing tribe’ when the facts have not been found as yet as to why the explosion happened on 11/7/11? Its easy enough to point the fingers at the executive power in this society and demand his head on a plate, but what about all the people involved in the chain of command?The explosion could have happened deliberately, by accident or it could also be that all the things that coul go wrong went wrong. I do however find it hard to believe, despite what the media are telling me to think, and what various haters are saying, that Dimtris Christofias, of Dikomo, the President of Cyprus knew this was going to happen, and did nothing to stop it from happening.

And last but by no means least. Since when did an investigation about a tragedy such as this start so immediately? You remember the S300 missiles that never came – was there ever an investigation – NOPE! Remember the Head of the National Guard, the late Evangelos Florakis and the tragic way he died – no investigation!! How about the pilot who went joy riding in the skies over a built up area in Kolossi and met a sad death when his plane crashed into two citizens houses – no investigation!!! And the 8 people who killed themselves when the stock market bubble burst, and all the thousands who lost huge amounts of money – no investigation. And the Helios Flight 522, and the 121 souls who died so tragically – No Prosecution – and still 6 painful years on No Justice!!! And no one was on the streets in any of these cases demanding the head of the president on a plate!

No one is guilty until they have been found guilty, with substantiated evidence and as far as I am concerned every politician in parliament who sat back when all the aforementioned tragedies happened should check their conscience and be honest enough to admit and do something about all the truths that have been hidden amongst all the bitterest lies we have been spoonfed for so long. May be I am askiing for too much, after all we are talking about the place where a crazy minority of 3 percenters organized a coup which led to an invasion by Turkey in 1974, and all the catastrophic consequences that followed, and nobody, to this very day has ever said sorry, not 1 single apology! And nobody to this day, has ever been tried or put on trial. It took governments 37 whole years to conduct an investigation on the ‘Cyprus File’ – ‘O Fakelos Ths Kybrou’, oh and that happened under the Presidency of Dimitris Christofias!!!

Let Them Know!

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For many decades I have observed the pseudoscience and insensitiveness of boxing one’s own shadow. What is he talking about today many may wonder? The sun is shining, its Sunday and children are already out there, kicking a ball down the village lane. Twelve year olds in fact who in five or six years time will be out there on some guard post, in some army camp, wasting the most precious months of their lives. As the very wise Chief Seattle once said “All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.”

It’s shameful to think that today’s children have inherited exactly the same problem as us. In fact, things in more ways than one are much worse in 2010 as far as the rubric-cube-like Cyprus problem is concerned. In this myriad of possibilities, misinterpretations and deliberate distortions, it’s as clear as the fresh Sunday morning air that many politicians have a lot invested in a non-solution. I know, it does sound ironic, after all not one of them would dare say in public, loud and clear for all of us to hear, “I DO NOT WANT A SOLUTION”.

Instead they chose a different more cowardly method. Let it be known at this point that I like most people have my political preferences but I am not in the business of being in parties and following leaders passively. No matter who is in power or in opposition I will always engage in active and constructive criticism. So when various politicians who generally show a rejectionist stance jump up and down and protest when any President tries to take one millimeter forward to a solution they always bring back that image of some one boxing their own shadow.

It is so futile, so pointless. Take the two most contentious issues, property rights and security, of the Cyprus Problem. Whatever is proposed in the negotiations, behind closed doors is so far from any kind of resolution despite decades of talk and dishing out pointless diplomatic triple chat. In many ways it is completely irresponsible to make u-turns and walk away from the negotiating table. It’s also futile because Turkey, the power who has clearly violated property rights and security matters in Cyprus knows every single move, every single detail just by watching daily Greek Cypriot news bulletins or reading newspaper articles online.

Perhaps another aspect worth considering, aside from the futility of rejectionism, is a secondary more disturbing dimension, namely political capital. It sounds good in some people’s minds, even courageous, to walk away and stick to a position that asks for the maximum every time. Not 1 settler in some people’s minds should be allowed to stay in Cyprus and while it sounds great to our ears, making this maximalist demand when negotiations are happening seems so far-fetched that is obvious certain politicians are only saying this to exploit people’s sensitivities.

It is also so easy for various fringe factions to declare through graffiti on walls and empty winded slogans at predictable rallies that Christofias is, in their small-minded words “a traitor” and “an informer”. Some people do this hiding behind such vague notions of democracy and freedom of expression. One wonders whether opposition voices under the previous late President Papadopoulos, ever had the same amount of air time or coverage in the media. Did any one for example, ever see journalist and historian, Makarios Droushiotis on TV?

So when rejectionist politicians fan the flames even more its clear that the intention is to get re-elected, and with an increased majority. The posters, I never know who funds them, are appearing again. The consequences of ‘YES’ and the benefits of ‘NO’. How much more loaded a question and slogan is that. And we have not even reached a stage of possible referendum. How messed up is that???

I apologize for my pessimism, we are far from reaching a solution, and every one, including the UN knows that. There are many reasons for this. Primarily the fakery of Turkish diplomacy is the root cause. How can any one claim to want a solution by the end of the year and yet the flag on the hill is still there, by day and lit up by night, the size of 3 football pitches. At the same time I blame the rejectionists for never wanting to make one step in the right direction. For their lack of vision for a common future, where all Cypriots will be treated as equals, under one state, where human rights are respected to the utmost.

If you believe the children of the future deserve better than to inherit the Cyprus Problem, then actually do something about it. If you do not, then at least tell them the truth from now, so they can make alternative plans. Where is the future for any one in a divided island? Unless of course you want to become tomorrow’s rejectionist politician, peddling myths, exploiting people’s anxieties and remaining resolutely conservative to the bone.

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