From French gastronomy to UN diplomacy

DARK-ROOM

Vive la France!

The Goût de France event celebrating French gastronomy took place in various locations worldwide last Thursday, with over 1,300 chefs on all five continents joining in.

Dinners were served simultaneously in participating restaurants across the globe.

In Cyprus, it was Mavrommatis restaurant at Limassol’s Four Seasons Hotel which hosted the event aiming at highlighting the wonders of French cuisine.

The three chefs who flew in from France for the ambassador’s dinner prepared a superb six-course meal which included foie gras, pumpkin cream velvety, sea bass, fillet of beef, assorted cheese platter and chocolatine with caramelised almonds and raspberry coulis.

Needless to say, the 20-odd guests left the residence with a big smile on their face.

And also with a substantial knowledge about French food and wine – with the meal offering a selection of whites, reds and a dessert wine as a finishing touch.

Mixed feelings

The end of April is closing in and people in some Nicosia embassies are getting a bit anxious.

With the prospect of restarting Cyprus talks being discussed between local analysts and UN people, so far feelings remain mixed.

Diplomats who deal with the problem want very much to believe public statements presenting both sides as being very eager to sit at the table again. They genuinely want to believe Anastasiades and Eroglu, who never miss an opportunity to assure everybody that they “want a solution yesterday”.

The problem is that immediately after the assurances, both leaders kick off another round of the blame game.

It’s this practice, finely honed by years of experience in stalling, which makes diplomats hold back.

It also makes them think that maybe they put more energy into the Cyprob talks than some of the island’s towering political figures.

Testing times

I’ve spoken to quite a few diplos recently and, apart from the fact that they are driven round the twist trying to figure out the leaders’ true intentions, all say that from May onwards, UNSG Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide will have to prove that he has the necessary skills to gain concrete progress from seemingly unwilling parties.

Eide has struck people as a clever person, who knows how to facilitate negotiations and get results.

Nevertheless, he is up against formidable opponents, seasoned in tabling ‘initial positions’ and then doing their best to delay convergences for as long as possible.

Thick-skinned

Finance Minister Harris Georgiades has demonstrated great resilience and proven that he doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind – even if the endeavour results in him receiving flak from ultra-patriotic politicians.

A few weeks ago, opposition parties and Greek government officials took turns in carpeting Georgiades because he dared to state the obvious. He said he couldn’t understand what exactly his Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis was asking from the Eurogroup, the EU body deciding the future of Greece’s loan agreement with the “Institutions” (FYI: that’s the Troika’s new name).

Harris basically spoke aloud what all the Eurogroup members are either thinking or whispering.

For this simple statement, Cypriots and Greek alike are demanding his resignation.

The anti-Harris chorus went on the offensive again this week, after the FinMin suggested to his critics that he serves Cyprus’ interests and not those of Greece. Well said and most timely indeed.

UPS AND DOWNS

UPS

Andreas Solomou

This lyceum pupil (pictured above), who is blind since birth, helped lead his schoolmates in the March 25 parade on Wednesday. Afterwards, he said “people have unlimited potential and are capable of achieving anything, as long as they try hard enough”.

Averof Neophytou

Disy’s chairman made a right move admitting that his party accepted “support” money from a Greek company. Nevertheless, Aveorf didn’t go as far as revealing the actual sum (reportedly €1m).

Jyrki Katainen

Visiting the island this week, the European Commission’s Vice President praised government’s efforts to honour their agreements with lenders, while advising populist politicians that reforms must pass through parliament.

DOWNS

Eleni Mavrou

The likeable member of Akel’s leadership got thumbs-down for not having the bottle (like the rest of her party’s bigshots) to admit that Akel got “support” money (reportedly €1.5m) from the same Greek company bankrolling Disy.

Nicolas Papadopoulos

Disy’s chairman demanded a ‘revolution’ against corruption. That was a bit rich from the top official of a party which has taken rusfeti to new levels and doesn’t show any inclination to stop practising political favours

Yanis Varoufakis

The Greek Finance Minister further lowered his country’s credibility with its lenders. Talking to a fan, he asked her to ‘support the government if and when it collides with the EU’, hinting that such a course is again being considered.

 in-Cyprus

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