Πέμπτη, 4 Απριλίου 2013

In defense of Cyprus


    In defense of Cyprus
I can still remember the month of June in 2003, when President Clerides came back to Nicosia from the European Council carrying EU’s unanimous decision of admitting Cyprus as a new member State. European and Cypriot flags were unfurled and multiplied all along Makarios Avenue, the blast of thousands of horns kept beeping for hours and Cypriot givania spreaded all over the public places and cafés in the Island, which celebrated full of joy and satisfaction the recognition of Cyprus as an European territory. Ten years later those streets are witnessing demonstrations where banners are hoisted demanding the exit from Europe and fiercely criticizing Brussels. What has happened in Cyprus for, in just one decade, passing from pro-European exaltation to disaffection? In these lines I will not try to analyse this mess organized by the European heads aiming to “rescue” Cyprus, for that would deserve an specific article itself; what I am only pursuing is making a contribution to the reflection upon the underlying reasons which have led to this growing and negative attitude from Europeans towards Cypriots.
As Minister of Foreing Affairs and Cooperation I witnessed the deception of the main European leaders and the international “establishment” because of the rejection of Cyprus to the Annan II plan. Many of them wondered how the 75% of the citizens of that small State dared and said no to a plan conceived by Washington, Berlin and Brussels. Once again, I confirmed with a kind of frustration how the international community designed the future of a people and a nation without taking into consideration their opinion and historic perspective and not foreseeing the outcomes of their proposals. Cypriots mainly rejected a plan which they found unfair in order to reach and settle down with a definitive solution for the split of the Island. The international heads disliked this democratic decision and, instead of searching for concrete solutions and promoting a new negotiation row, punished the country and President Papadopoulos with a sort of isolation.
During this time, in just a few years, this country has climbed, on their own merits, up to the levels of quality and competence demanded by the European standards. Cyprus was a model country and swiftly reached the social, institutional, economic, financial and security requirements which Europe demanded. They joined the Schengen Agreement and the euro, as their economic figures were those of a prosperous country. The nowadays demeaned Cypriot bank system was, only five years ago, a European and international obliged reference. Not only the Greek banks but many other financial entities, including British and German, knew and took advantage of the Cypriot platform. I am scandalized by hearing how now these same banks despise the Cypriot ones because of the deposits of Russian companies and people, for we could wonder whether the arrival of capital from Russia which is denounced in Cyprus didn’t happen in Germany and the United Kingdom too. The situation of the Cypriot banks was widely known and, therefore, the Troika had got the information. That was discussed during the Cypriot presidency of the EU. In the informal Ecofin meeting of september 2012 in Nicosia, the almighty European ministers of economy listened, during the supper, to a very enlightening intervention from the Cypriot Minister of Finance, Vassos Shiarly. He recalled that the Athenian decadence began with the break up of the agreements reached by 150 state-cities integrated in the Delian League. That comparison with the EU and Germany was not welcome and the ministers of the euro made themselves deaf to the intervention, which insisted in the necessity of getting out this crisis together.
When so critical voices with Cyprus arise the European public opinion has to be reminded that this country, where 1.120.000 inhabitants live, has got a DGP of € 21.500 M, the 31st position in the Humanity Development Index, a young university which educates about 7.000 students and hydrocarbons which make the third greatest reserve in the World. The Ecofin ministers have come to ignore again the national and international realities, as well as the Cyprus geopolitical and strategic views. They have not pondered the Russian Federation influence, a key country in the UN Security Council, when discussing the Cypriot issue. Cyprus has got a great potential and not only touristic, because their hydrocarbon deposits have probably caused a bigger unbalance in the mechanisms of power relations and influence inside and outside the EU. The question to be suggested today is whether the Cypriot deposits will be European, Russian, Turkish, Lebanese or Israeli, but that is a different discussion to be faced by the European politics... To the view of the events, the geopolitical focus will be despised and the pseudotechnocratic one will be adopted, meanwhile the Cypriot society will undergo a disproportional and unfair suffering. Because of all that, all my solidarity and support to Cyprus.
Published in Spanish in El País

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