A CITY FULL OF FEELINGS A CITY FULL OF FEELINGS







Under the auspices of:
evel limassol

Nikos Nikolaidis, Limassol’s Mayor: A man full of contrasts unravels himself!

From Eva Giannoukou
Photo Credits Lemonade Creative 

He opened the door with a smile. "Merely the fourth day at work," he said, already excited for what is to follow. We sit in the small living room at the Mayor's office. Few steps away the desk, loaded with open files and documents, is the place where he works for over12 hours, since he officially took his office. The mobile phone is ringing incessantly and the screen flashes like crazy. He puts it aside and turns it face down. It is his strong belief that if you need to concentrate on something, you cannot be constantly interrupted by a phone call. "Well, shall we begin?"

In a subversive interview at All About Limassol (the Official City Guide of Limassol), the Mayor talked about the things that have never been told until now: about his own "paradise on earth" in Limassol, the priest grandfather who "saved" him at difficult times in America and the mustache he carries for almost a lifetime…

We talked for hours, until it was clear that it was not enough. The meek politician with the characteristic mustache - he started growing it in the army, he kept it during his studies and has it ever since - is a multifaceted personality, full of surprises and contrasts: impatient but also methodical, demanding but also supportive to his colleagues, cosmopolitan and traditional, both friend of progress and tradition, anxious but ready to take risks, the family man and the ambitious politician.

Nikos Nikolaidis was born in 1953 in Limassol, who was a student of Astiki Sholi (Urban School) B in Limassol and Lanitio School for Boys in Limassol, following the curriculum of exact sciences, is now at 63 the new Mayor of Limassol.

"I learned a lot in America..."

Dartmouth was one of the most demanding universities, one of the IV League universities. I was fortunate to get a scholarship and I found myself in a competitive environment. I did not have the opportunity to be part of a big community of Greeks or Cypriots and that was both good and bad. It was bad because you felt the loneliness of being away from familiar surroundings, but it was good because I had the opportunity to mingle with many foreign students, but also Americans, where I met the American way of life, with the good and the bad.

On a personal level, ever since I was very little, who was a priest and a very calm man, I considered my grandfather to be a role model. He had all the features one would like to have: sage an wise, with an open mind. In difficult moments I used to conjure his image to calm down.

America is a country of contradictions, hospitable and inhospitable, democratic and anti-democratic, progressive and regressive. If you keep the positive ones, it is still the place where everything is carried out, from politics to art. I left America having gained a lot.

The aim is not to be punished, but to learn from your mistakes. And, yes, where there must also be punishment, why not. A mistake is only positive when you learn from it. A mistake is negative when repeated.

It helped me recognize the multicultural societies. There are no Americans, except for the Indians - all others are migrants basically. It is a society in which the merit is still in effect, a system that recognizes the rules and makes good use of them, despite the fact that there are some circuits there, too.

A characteristic feature of Americans is their hard work. This was passed to me, having been there without any support, and if I would stumble, I could only rely on myself. And I learned to do so. I like to keep a methodology - set targets and pursue them.

 

"Once I came back from the office before 11 pm..."

I am in the office from 7:30 until 8 for sure. So it should be and so I suspect it will be.  My time as minister for 2 years was like this. Back then, one day I went home before 11 and my wife asked me if I was sick. The town hall exceeds the demands of a ministry.

There is a natural centralization for the Mayor, since many decisions require your decisive contribution. You ought to be aware, to dedicate hours to read, to keep updating, to keep a network of associates. The Mayor should not be isolated from the officials of the municipality, many of which are excellent. Alas if you cannot sense the vibe and the suggestions of the people.

"The times when I felt that I was in absolute paradise ..."

Family, children, friends must not come second. You need time with them, not just the famous line "quality time", actual time is needed. I have 2 children, 26 and 28 years and 1 grandchild. Everyone finds their own balance. Some things need to be respected. You cannot, for example be sitting at the table and answer phone calls.

One of the most beautiful moments are the conversations at the table. I like meeting friends. I like cinema too. The 'Godfather' is my favorite movie. Sometimes I go to a house in the mountains, I calm down, but I am more of a sea type.

The times when I felt that I was in absolute paradise on earth, was a Saturday or Sunday morning in Dasoudi. I try to walk, the sea is a source of life, source of optimism, I could not imagine Limassol without the sea. I would not want to live in a city that has no water. It's part of its charm.

"I had an uncle who was head of a sector in EOKA…”

I had always been interested for the social matters, since my childhood. Generally, I was in a family that was interested in these things. I had an uncle who was head of a sector in EOKA. Although my parents did not have academic education, they had a strong perception on social matters, with a sense of citizenship and the belief that one becomes worthy by offering to their neighbor. As a child I was many things. The most beautiful times were those, when I worked at my father's grocery store. The most beautiful ways to serve your fellow citizens are the simplest ones.

Athens, Yiannos Kranidiotis and PASOK

The need to get involved with politics in a more constructed way, was inspired in Athens, after my studies in America, where I began to collect further information more intensively in the university libraries. I lived in Athens from 1978 to 1981, feeling the need to cover a gap within. I find that Athens is the metropolis of Hellenism. Those years were the years of a snowball for PASOK, it went from 25% to 51%. I met several people in Greece and Cyprus, which are not particularly known, union members with spirit purity and knowledge. In Athens I met with Yiannos Kranidiotis, who was an enlightened personality.

"Limassolians are those living in Limassol and love Limassol"

In Limassol I mostly fascinated by people, by their mentality. The Limassolians' mentality is tolerance, acceptance of others. This is because Limassol was a port from back in the old days, people arrive, interact and shape the character of the city.

Limassol has an awesome feature: simple Limassolians have views - you will not believe how many people pick up the phone to make suggestions. There is also a variety of specialists, technocrats, businessmen, scientists, intelligentsia, people of arts, experts on everything. Alas if we do not take advantage this wealth.

"Limassol is like a beautiful girl, who does not need embellishments..."

Cities I admire is Athens, Boston, Strasbourg. They have character, natural beauty elements, cultural activities, and infrastructure. Limassol is in a very good level, but the potential is much greater.

What always distinguished Limassol is the tendency for innovation, a move towards something different. We must not, however, lose the tradition, the city has an immense heritage. There is a wall built at the beach front and is found in front of us today. So we must not make the same mistake with tall buildings. Tall buildings are neither a panacea nor a curse. The city is rampant, tall buildings may under certain conditions be what is needed, but we need to be careful, for Limassol, rampant as it is, not to be diverged.

Maybe I would need to have a little more patience in the most simple things, and perhaps more fundamental ones… I am really trying to improve and I think I'm on track.

One could say that multiculturalism is the identity of Limassol, but this is wrong. It is an element that adds to Limassol, but it cannot however be its specific character. It's a beautiful city, which does not need embellishments. Some trinkets won't harm, but we should not load it with things. We need to preserve the old, the timeless. I do not underestimate either the Marina or the Old Port with their glitter and bright colors, but it is not what puts the stamp in the city, it could be much better, linking the new and tradition together.

Limassol has all the needed elements. All ingredients are on the table to cook a great food. Natural beauty, the sea, a good infrastructure base - roads, communications and services - a good grid of professional groups, a business center, progressive minds, a welcoming city, with social sensitivity, merriment.

Self- evaluation and criticism

You cannot be insensitive to criticism, nor hypersensitive. If you are insensitive you cannot recognize the good-will criticism either, the criticism that can throw light on things that you can correct. If you are hypersensitive to criticism, it might kill you. It takes many years, a lot of experience and exposure to criticism to balance.

I think I can have an objective view on some issues. Some want the leader to be unapproachable, to keep his distance. The opposite is more efficient. You have to be disciplined and demanding, first towards yourself and then towards others. I believe in teamwork, assigning work to my colleagues, encouraging them to take responsibility of it, I challenge them to take steps forward, I support them so as not to be afraid to make mistakes.

Family, children, friends must not come second. You need time with them, not just the famous line "quality time", actual time is needed.

I prefer someone doing something wrong than to do nothing at all. This way, they have the opportunity to fix it later. "The one of Caesar, go to Caesar": everyone should take credit for the positive outcome, but there need to be some severe criticism for the negative ones. The aim is not to be punished, but to learn from your mistakes. And, yes, where there must also be punishment, why not. A mistake is only positive when you learn from it. A mistake is negative when repeated.

Stress is good up to a point. Stress makes you resilient. Also, without risk nothing happens, that is the calculated risk, of course. Risking carefully, although it is a contradiction. If things do not contain the element of failure, you do not go very far.
My candidacy was such a case. With a negative development in this election, I would be exposed, so I can say clearly that yes, it was a big risk.

Lying annoys me, ulterior motives annoy me and so does individualism and selfishness.
It is the greatest danger for politicians. You get used to lying, then you want more. We all have our vital lies, of course. When you enter the process of telling lies, you trap yourself.

Maybe I would need to have a little more patience in the most simple things, and perhaps more fundamental ones, in my relation with the family.
It is really important for someone to listen. Generally people do not listen and listening is an asset to anyone. I am really trying to improve and I think I'm on track. We all have our faults, the point is to recognize and try to correct them.

The human suffering is something that no one can bear.
You cannot stand it, to see your fellow man and wonder how could a human being get to that point. If you must say something scares me, I would say, without a second thought, the human suffering.

 

The mayor Nikos Nikolaidis has taken his office quite decisively. He has goals, vision, ambitions and stresses out that he will not make any concessions on his values. To lead Limassol where he wants to see it, law and expertise are his tools, he claims.

 

Did he actually manage to find happiness, though?

“I am still looking”, confesses Nikos Nikolaidis, the man, but he is not in a hurry, since he is really enjoying the quest (just like any of us, after all). Until then, he continues to experience the pleasure of morning walks in Dasoudi, the precious moments with friends and his political achievements, never leaving his mind a Limassol that will surpass Athens, Boston and Strasbourg together.


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