Preparing for the nightmare before Christmas

3 mins read

Cyprus President Anastasiades has entered the festive spirit by phoning up his friends in the neighbourhood to remind them this is the season of giving and it was time to show their support.

I’m not sure what the protocol is for phoning a fellow leader in either Egypt, Lebanon, Greece, Israel or Jordan but our President seems to have turned it into a fine art.

It’s also unclear how much small talk goes on when two heads of state get together for a chat about burning issues of the day.

Do they ask about the wife/husband/partner and kids first, or discuss their favourite Netflix series or the last good meal you had before getting into the nitty-gritty of the conversation?

Is there a certain amount of deception – you know where you have to pretend the person on the other end is your best friend, denoted by the special tone or borrowed phone voice to deliver the political message.

Is it done on FaceTime or WhatsApp where you trade pictures of your dog or favourite pet to break the ice or maybe it’s like a nervous first date when gibberish overrides the senses?

Does the person on the other end make Anastasiades wait for a few minutes while they order lunch or pick the kids up from school?

Perhaps it’s like having to make that rare phone call to your parents to ask for a favour because you’ve run out of money or been arrested in Afghanistan for telling dirty jokes.

It could be that Anastasiades is an accomplished talker on the phone who can string a conversation along without pregnant pauses or wishing the other person would find an excuse to hang up.

I always imagine that these highly important phone calls are made on something that looks like the Bat phone, hidden behind a secret panel at the Presidential Palace.

Telephone etiquette is complex to navigate in any given situation and heavily dependent on the relationship you have with the other person on the receiving end.

It’s unlikely, that the President gets into a panic after say Turkey sends another scary drone to the north and starts cold calling all his mates.

You know, the ones he bumped into at the last EU summit after going on a fishing expedition for their private numbers.

We are not in the Bat cave when these phone conversations take place so it’s hard to fathom what was really said or how cordial the exchange was.

Really, we only know that a call was made because the government likes to trumpet that it happened with a scripted narrative of how great it was.

This could be a misconception, but it always seems as if its Anastasiades doing the calling around when he’s in a jam or needs to boost his approval ratings.

There doesn’t appear to be a rush from world leaders to give him a buzz to solicit his opinion on some issue or other.

Okay, he might get a few seasonal enquiries for a crate of Zivania and boxes of halloumi but obviously, a text would suffice for such requests.

Talking to people over a landline is so last Christmas and apart from ordering a takeaway, having to communicate with another human through a device is worse than climate change.

Christmas is a time when we feel guilty about being trapped in our lifestyle isolation bubble and want to spread the love.

We don’t like to see family and friends spending the holiday period alone or without a good meal which many people experience. I think this was preying on the mind of Anastasiades.

He didn’t want Cyprus to feel alone and unloved in a regional confrontation where Turkey is holding all the ‘Happy Holiday” cards.

So, like the nightmare before Christmas, Anastasiades wanted a different story ending for this year. He rallied the East Med troops who also don’t want Turkey to be the sole arbiter on who decides where the energy gifts go.

With no direct line to Erdogan, Anastasiades can’t call Ankara to reveal his displeasure at Turkey trying to spoil his Christmas but he can phone those who are immune to the bully boy bluster to feel secure on a cold winter’s night.

Needless to say, hoping our neighbours from Greece, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt will leave valuable presents under the Christmas tree to help in a time of crisis may not be enough to keep the Grinch at bay.