For democracies in the western world, the impression is that the citizens vote for a government, who in turn govern the country.
This may be true in other countries, but not necessarily in Cyprus which appears to be governed by third parties.
- If we are to take the recent example of the Nava Club charade, we were given all sorts of lame excuses from Paralimni municipality, the Police, the Minister of Justice and so many others. What made a most striking impression, was a discussion that took place between the Paralimni Mayor and former Minister of Interior Socratis Hasikos, with the minister asking the mayor (who is the local licensing authority), why the club was working illegally, and he was doing nothing about it. An issue worth monitoring to see where this will lead to.
- If we look at other reports regarding the same municipality with similar cover-ups, I’d like to point out the case of a kiosk which became a 150-capacity restaurant, within the protection zone, with no permits as such in the seashore zone where no buildings are allowed. The “restaurant” is operating in full sight of the municipality with no action or results for years.
- On another spot at the Nishia location in Protaras, a kiosk licensed to sell newspapers and juices has turned into a grill bar (advertised by large signs on the building’s roof). For this case, we have applied both to the municipality, as well as the District Officer, asking how such a development can happen, without a permit by the authorities (Ministry of Tourism) no private W.Cs., no official electricity connection (yet there is power), etc. The ministry replied that it does not operate with a permit, whereas the District Officer said that the licensing authority is Paralimni municipality and although he has written to the municipality on several occasions, he did not get a reply and “there is nothing that he can do”.
- We have applied from time to time to the various commissioners including the Auditor General, none of whom have responded. So, we are now writing directly to the Government to ascertain under what authority the municipality has obtained possession of this state-owned land which was let to third parties. Depending on the answer (if we ever get one) we will seek permission from the Attorney General to undertake a private criminal action against the municipality, which although it might take 2-3 years to get a decision, it will be worth it and set an example for other local wrong-doers to avoid.
- On another occasion, we have reported to the police of a client of ours who issued bounced cheques, but no action was taken. We reported it to the Attorney General who wrote to the Chief of Police twice asking what he was doing on the matter but received no reply. In the end, the Attorney General wrote to us saying that “we should” talk to the Chief of Police? So, no effective governance here, either.
- Regarding other matters, I refer to the trade union influence on the economy and the inefficiency of the Civil Service that disappoints foreign investors who happen to be attracted under the Cyprus Investment Scheme and eventually abandon their investment project.
Cyprus justice is shockingly slow (perhaps only better than Zimbabwe) but be that as it may, we have recently jailed two mayors for wrongdoings and a few other top officials, we hope that more will follow, since it appears that it is not the elected government that governs, but “third parties”.
So, how can we and especially foreign investors have some sort of confidence in any elected government with these sort of things going on? Are we misled by who actually governs this democracy?
What we really need is some independent investigative journalists who are not directed by their bosses, but then with their salaries being so low, who would dare risk being out of a job?
I suggested three years ago for the state to establish some sort of Pulitzer Award to 3 or 4 investigating journalists with at least a €20,000 cash prize for each one, selected as such by the Cyprus University.