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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 May 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 MAY 2016 23 NEWS under a NATO flag prevented him,” TASS News Agency cited. Putin also advocated Greek sovereignty over Cyprus and stated that Turkey must "end its decades-long occupation of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus". Such statements by a world leader such as Putin show that Russia has been consistent with its support for Cyprus. Instead of attempting to build stronger ties with this long-time friend, President Anastasiades agreed with EU-Troika's plan to reduce Russian banking on the island and also crop the accounts of Russians, including all Cypriots. If that was not bad enough, his government, instead of abstaining, actually voted in favour of EU sanctions against Russia. In retaliation, Russia introduced its own counter-sanctions, sending shockwaves in the small economy of Cyprus. The country had jumped from one frying pan straight into another with disastrous repercussions to the economy. With the May election coming up, President Anastasiades has finally succumbed and admitted making political mistakes: "The pledge about haircut (bail-in) was probably my biggest mistake simply because, not knowing the situation, I believed we could avoid it through negotiation," he told reporters during a news conference. In hindsight, he made decisions flippantly without proper evaluation of the repercussions of those decisions. For Cyprus, his decision to steal people's money was not a mistake, but a catastrophe on a grand scale; it ruined the country economically and socially. The admission of such ruinous political mistakes raises serious questions of the government's ability to govern astutely and in the interests of the country. His government's actions did not go unnoticed. Victoria Nuland's - the US State Department for European Affairs - visit to Cyprus did not take place because she loves Cyprus and neither did those of US Vice-President Joe Biden nor US Secretary of State John Kerry. For more than 50 years, no such high-ranking US officials had ever visited the island before. With a friendly and receptive government in power as well as the discovery of natural gas, Cyprus had become a new trophy to be shared by all. First and foremost, they arrived to persuade the Cyprus government to keep Russia out but also to accept Turkish forces in Cyprus under a NATO flag. The timing was perfect and Mr Erdogan dropped a bombshell; he announced that once a Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation (BBF) agreement was reached, Turkey would maintain a military base in Cyprus "for protection". NATO considered Ankara's statement as a "contributing factor" to stability in the region. Those comments received little press coverage or government reaction. Erdogan's statement was not without substance but was well chosen and in line with Ankara's aims to establish military bases in central Asia and North Africa, Qatar, Somalia, Georgia and Azerbaijan as well as Gaza, and certainly to keeping the one in Cyprus. Turkey's diplomatic and shrewd policy has outsmarted the EU and western powers combined; it will receive six billion euros; visafree EU access for 78 million Turkish nationals plus EU membership. All considered, Turkey's powerful foreign policy raises one question: Does Cyprus have the stealth and statesmanship to fend off those forces that aim to destroy the Republic of Cyprus, liberate the island and also stop Turkey breathing down its neck? History shows otherwise. The current apartheid-style BBF negotiations will certainly not get rid of Turkey but would help to consolidate and legalise its occupation of the island. The situation is very fragile indeed. There was always another choice that no government has ever dared to consider - that's the Russian connection. Offering Russia a naval base on the island would have stopped those political shenanigans by everyone and at the same time Turkey would never dare risk provoking the Great White Bear. It appears as if 2016 will become the deci- sive year for Cyprus. Under the current situation, it will either remain a republic or it will be partitioned, by establishing two separate component states at the risk of being overrun by a Muslim population. The first option appears to be a much wiser choice by a mile. In the end, citizens will be asked to decide the fate of their country; that is, unless the government negates its promise of a referendum and signs on the dotted line behind closed doors - like it did with the IMF EUTroika bail-in. Racing towards Cyprus 2016 elections What do I think of the upcoming May 22 elections? Not much. We see braying men and women as well as braying donkeys; senseless loud talking is none other than braying and we hear plenty of that, but no substance; politics has been reduced down to vocal slugging matches without dignity. The electorate is none the wiser but this time there is a breed of young candidates on the scene to spice things up. Every party has nominated new faces to show they have changed their ways - no such chance. One would expect to hear fresh ideas and show that things are moving in the right direction but that's not happening. With the exception of some, most are a younger version of the established Kommatokratia and political victims with no free minds. There are 600 candidates and 12 parties that seek 56 parliamentary seats. In most western democracies 2-3 parties is the maximum but not so in Cyprus; the more political pens the merrier - divide and rule! It makes one wonder how some of those neophytes and others alike can believe they are capable of running the biggest corpora- tion of the land - the country itself - without training or experience whatsoever? This is madness. Doctors, scientists and academics demand years of training before they are allowed to practice, why not the politicians? It's not comprehensible to have military academies to train people to kill and yet, we do not have academies to prepare and train people to govern. Electing the right politician is like playing Russian roulette; the odds are always against the electorate. It's no wonder countries end up in a mess - Cyprus included. Abstentions will be very high again this year. The disastrous troika bail-in will play a critical role on the outcome of the elections. The Anastasiades government has to accept the consequences of its inexcusable decision to steal people’s money in order to save a corrupt banking system. People are not so forgiving, and will probably punish the government and its dogmatic right-wing party at the polls - that is, if people do decide to go out and vote at all. Under EU qualified majority voting law, abstention votes count as ‘against’. The same practice should also apply during elections; people's white/blank protest votes should count as a vote ‘against’ under horizontal voting. Such a fair democratic system does not exist in Cyprus. The rule by Kommatokratia all these years has in fact produced terrible results and will continue to do so if not dramatically changed. Without a radical mind-set to introduce a revolution of the mind and establish an ‘Academy for Political Leadership’ filled with the mightiest brains in the land - like the autonomous public Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) governed by Act - to produce excellence of national importance based on meritocracy - there will always be inferior leadership in Cyprus and an army of half-baked politicians governing the nation. Cypriot and foreign experts on constitutional matters, top academics and esteemed professors with a powerful brainpower can be gathered together to ponder on such a novel scheme of establishing a visionary academy in Cyprus where candidates graduate with political degrees before being allowed to even contemplate putting their names up for election or being considered for a political career. In time, a brilliant political catharsis will prevail in the interest of the country and not in the interest of the political parties. Plato's brainstorm of philosopher rulers inspired Louis XIV to set up ‘Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques’ in France (1712). The academy's aim was to train young diplomats to excel in their chosen political careers, eventually growing to become Napoleon Bonaparte's famous Institute de France. To succeed it demands the will to excel well above where all others have failed. Such a dream may be wishful thinking but not impossible. There is a long, long road ahead before such a vision can take root where petty politics have always worked against the nation. Thankfully, there is hope for a better tomorrow; a tomorrow to see a new breed of leadership that may rise out of the ashes of despair and political incompetence. * Andreas C. Chrisafis is an author, freelance writer and artist. This article is published in Neos Kosmos as part of 'The Revolution of the Mind' series.
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