Weary reporters once more filed stories about Cyprus talks failing to reach any agreeable conclusion in June. Diplomats packed bags, shaking their heads as yet another exhausting round of talks ended in hot air and pointed fingers. Akinci and Anastasiades withdrew to lick the wounds inflicted by Turkey’s vile stranglehold on the island. A grassroots peace movement tried and failed, itself torn apart by internal divisions. With elections on the horizon in early 2018, the political will and reunification momentum lapsed into playing it safe with the cards you hold in hand.
The Enosis referendum controversy drove much of the dissatisfaction from the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey’s refusal to give up its guarantor status provoked resentment from the Greek Cypriots. In addition, the regional political climate was not helpful in the least. Turkey is going through an extended period of post-attempted-coup paranoia that shows few signs of abating. Power games have become high priority for Turkey, and they’re being matched by Greece, which senses a clear threat from its long-time rival.
In better news, the Cypriot economy kept recovering in 2017 and the jobless rate was reduced considerably. We’re not out of the woods yet, but the picture is much better compared to 2013’s economic and financial crashes. In resounding caveat emptor fashion, the banking sector was slapped with multiple fines for breaching consumer rights, particularly when it came to overcharging on interest fees. Millions of euros were returned to customers’ accounts, setting a precedent that the banks would be wise to respect going forward.
There were several high-profile crime stories earlier in the year. Ex-deputy attorney-general Rikkos Erotokritou was jailed for corruption and abuse of power. Underworld figure Andreas Rodotheou was murdered in Limassol by a contract killer. In a shocking case of parental abuction, four-year-old Marie-Eleni Grimsrud was kidnapped by her father in April. In a happy ending, she was returned to her mother in Cyprus later in the year.
In health news, the universal health scheme was approved by the House of Representatives after an exhaustive political process and debate. Several ethical issues raised their heads. Insurance companies set up obstacles, thinking no doubt of their revenues over-and-above patients’ needs. It was not a popular reaction. Cyprus was revealed as the country that spends the least on national healthcare infrastructure, a fact that has long been known by anyone who has to go to the General Hospital. Cancer patients prospects of recovering improved with the opening of a new treatment facility in Limassol. Nicosia’s Oncology Centre improved its medical and human resources, again in more good news for cancer patients.
In environmental news, temperatures hit 30-year highs in the first two days of July. Global warming was also reflected in the continuing high dust levels from the Middle East as desertification increases. Environmentalists were furious over the destruction of turtle nests on Anassa Beach. The breeding grounds were threatened after the hotel used a bulldozer to level the beach. In the end the wedding was held indoors.
In entertainment and cultural news, our editor Sarah Fenwick finally opened her jazz club in Nicosia, and the home of jazz ‘Sarah’s Jazz Club’ now hosts at least two concerts a week while supporting the live jazz and blues music of Cyprus.
So much for the year that was, CyprusNewsReport.com wishes everyone a very Happy New Year, health, happiness, safety and prosperity in 2018!