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“The very fact that Cyprus has been chosen among the countries to participate in the Middle East Summit that will take place on Saturday in Egypt is proof of the recognition of the role that the Republic of Cyprus can play,” President of the Republic Nicos Christodoulides said today, adding that it is the first time there are so many requests from countries for extraction of [their] nationals through our country”.

Bravo to us. We are the best at utilising the pain and suffering of others to our advantage. And to shout about it from the rooftops to our native applauders on the domestic front with the obvious glee of a desperate has-been who achieved minor success after a string of failures.

Shouldn’t perhaps at some point this pretentiousness and the syndrome of the mouse that roared somehow be tempered or better yet, eliminated from our political life altogether? We are a tiny island state – and half an island at that – positioned opposite the powder keg of the Middle East. We have a rich past, an indifferent present and a doubtful future while the only ‘name’ we have managed to build for ourselves over the last decade is that of an unsinkable money launderette and passport manufacturing industry for every internationally wanted crook – preferably white collar so they have the requisite money. Not that we have not achieved anything. Cyprus is mentioned in almost every product of contemporary pop culture that has anything to do with laundering, tax evasion or corruption, from Ozark and Mr. Robot to Suits and The Laundromat – call it our most tangible achievement in the absence of others.

But that’s who we are, with our good and our bad points, with our strengths and our faults, with our small size and our disproportionately huge ego, with our place in this ever-troubled corner of the planet that is rarely mentioned in world news for anything good. We need not pretend that our contribution to world affairs is anything more than a decent place for a vacation, for shell companies and somewhere for rich Lebanese and Israelis to dock their boats every time there’s a whiff of gunpowder across the water. Nothing wrong with that, to each his own role assigned by God, by nature, by chance, by history – you can pick one or all. And we may at times be dubbed by those in power with various buzzwords like ” technological hub of the SE Mediterranean”, “Hollywood/Bollywood branch”, “international attractive investment destination”, “energy hub of the region” etc. (when we are not perversely brought back down to earth by the most apt description ever of “Iran of the Mediterranean”) but at least we say these things to ourselves, we alone get excited and never at the expense of anyone else (apart of course from our intelligence which they fuck with so often that it should have been making money on OnlyFans).

But to be the leader of a state (even a Banana Republic) and to state clearly and publicly that the bloodshed in the Middle East constitutes “recognition of the role the Republic of Cyprus can play in the region” because the popular kids invited the school loser to their table (he even said “I don’t want to exaggerate”) is at the very least inelegant, adventurist, arrogant and pretentious. Especially when your minister declared this, three days after the Hamas massacres in southern Israel: [Translators note: snapshot inserted of online news post titled “Energy Minister: The war is a window of opportunity for Cyprus”]

(They changed the headline later, evidently after someone pointed out that they are still picking up bodies from the kibbutzim)

And really, what exactly has been the contribution of the Christodoulides government? What exactly did it do that hasn’t been done for decades? Did Cyprus become a robust democracy under his watch, an EU member and a factor of stability in a region plagued by civil wars, armed conflict, dictatorships and religious fanaticism? Or have they just now learnt at the airport how to welcome emergency flights from Israel? What is it that makes us strut like a peacock because “it is the first time we have so many requests from countries for extraction of [their] nationals through our country”? You leave that to others to say, let the countries you helped thank you (even if only for doing the obvious) and you see how you can help in a practical way either with some initiative to de-escalate the crisis or by sending humanitarian aid where needed (now no doubt to the civilian population of Gaza). But don’t you sit there blessing your beard [Translator’s note: Greek proverb meaning to be consumed with self-interest] in front on the cameras over the completely random fact that you happen to be just opposite [the conflict] and are not some Islamic dictatorship!

But when, as a government, you have a track record with more blunders than a slapstick comedy, you desperately search for something to bail you out, something to grab onto. Even if it’s not even yours. Even if it’s your slaughtered neighbors.


A journalist for over 20 years, Marinos Nomikos has been a constant thorn in the side of the Establishment, thanks to his sharp humour and insightful social commentary. He has collaborated, among others, with the newspapers Politis, Kathimerini and Phileleftheros, the magazines TV Mania and Down Town, and the radio stations Active, Sfera and Kanali 6. He currently writes for the websites ToThemaOnline and LimassolToday and presents the podcast ‘TV Stories’ by Alpha.

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