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Cyprus: A country in denial and a scandalous political leadership

Despite frequent warnings from the market, the ECB and the Cyprus Central Bank and repeated downgrades by the credit ratings agencies, Cyprus and its political leadership remain in denial.

One would think that Cyprus had everything going for itself: A smaller, manageable country, classified among the high income countries and with a standard of living that is higher than most other EU member states… an economy that was characterized (only a couple of years ago) by robustness and macroeconomic stability with full employment conditions and internal stability… a strategically located thriving business and financial hub with the lowest corporate tax in the EU and about 50 double tax treaties… an established gateway to the world of international trade with tested legislation and more than adequate infrastructure of all sorts… a tourist destination that used to be ranked amongst the top 5 in Europe with annual tourist arrivals counting more than double of its population… a country that claims the largest natural gas reserves ever discovered in the European continent with a potential to becoming a guaranteed primary natural gas source and transit route to the EU… an envied economy that only a few years back was a textbook case of success of a water-locked country…

But now, despite, three-year-long market warnings, repetitive specific warnings by, the credit rating agencies, the European Central Bank and the Central Bank of Cyprus, international cash centres and international financial institutions, the Country and its political leadership remains in denial.

Cyprus reached to such a low point, that it can no longer access the international capital markets, and is confronted by the challenge of accessing financing to meet its fiscal needs in 2012 not to mention beyond! Ignorant voices suggested that the State could provide sovereign guarantees to the banks to keep things going… It is to wonder how this could be possible when the State has no credibility whatsoever, actually a worse in the international capital markets credibility than the banks themselves! It is now almost impossible for Cyprus not to be obliged to join the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM)!

How is it possible for Cyprus to have come to this point? Is Cyprus, “deaf”, “blind” or both?

Are the Cypriots so polarized that they can only play the role of an ignorant bystander in an act that jeopardizes not only their own lives but also that of their children? Because if they are, they deserve the misery that they are about to experience!

Are, the Government, the political parties and the trade unions so unpatriotic that they put their own interests before the wellbeing of all their citizens? Because if they are, their actions are equal to the most despicable crime!

Are, the Government, the political parties and the trade unions so ignorant and incapable of handling a crisis? Because if they are, they are not suitable to neither run the island nor hold catalytic to the prosperity of the Country positions!

Indecisive, Gutless, Bigoted, Populist and Ignorant: Five adjectives that describe perfectly the behaviour of the Government on the handling of the Crisis. Highlighting, the behaviour of most of the political parties cannot be characterized much differently.

Even after half a dozen notches of downgrading, rapidly increasing unemployment and total economic slowdown, the Government and the politicians are exhibiting with every opportunity the extent of their vanity. The Government, as if living in another planet, still preaches that everything is under control. The representatives of the ruling communist party blame capitalism; the representatives of the main opposition conservative party comment sarcastically whenever the word communism is uttered; some blame the credit rating agencies and others quote words out of context of Mrs. Merkel, Mr. Sarkozy or Mr. Rhen, trying to convince the public and probably themselves, that all is cool or that their point of view is the only point of view. There are even some who dare to claim that Cyprus is doing better than most: their “scientific deduction” is based on the comparison that Cyprus is doing better than the worst of the Eurozone countries!?!?! All without any exemption do not miss the opportunity to blame the other side, the way only immature teenagers do: “I told you so!”; “We said it first!”; “It was our idea!”… But no one, no member of the Government or no politician to date had the guts to take any responsibility for the miserable condition of the economy! If this is not scandalous, what is?

Anachronistic and Ignorant are two adjectives enough to describe the behaviour of the Trade Unions on the Crisis. How else can they be characterized when they should be aware that if the C.O.L.A. is not abolished, if the pension plan is not reformed, and if the public finances are not streamlined and sorted out, the Cypriots of today and the generations to follow will not just lose a salary increment or two but their livelihoods?! How is it possible that the Trade Unions cannot realize that Cyprus cannot be productive or competitive when the COLA defeats each and every purpose for competing?! How is it possible that the Trade Unions do not realize that Cyprus cannot seek for excellence when entrepreneurship and innovation is “massacred” by a system that is not based on merit and performance but instead promotes mediocrity and injustice?! How can some of the Trade Unions possibly claim that the EU and credit rating agencies’ warnings are unfounded?! How can they dare to play with peoples’ lives in such manner?!

Cypriots, two days ago, were pleasantly surprised to see the leader of the main opposition political party meeting with the President of the Republic, in an effort to find a solution to the Cyprus Financial Crisis. Although it is progress, the outcome of the discussion was as half-baked as all the decisions that have been taken so far in regard to the crisis. The announced measures, when they will be enforced (the 15 December deadline will come and the politicians will be still discussing the obvious), will buy Cyprus a few months, maybe a year, if of course no other external or internal factors by then, negatively impact the economy further.

What needs to be done!

  • The Government has to come out of its permanently-worn-election-campaign-shell, face its people, acknowledge that it underestimated the resilience of the Cyprus economy and with clarity admit that the Cyprus economy is in a mess. Moreover, the Government has to tangibly explain to its people that unless real sacrifices are made, the price that the Cypriots will pay tomorrow will be incomparably higher than what they are called to pay today.
  • The Government has to acknowledge that fundamental changes must be undertaken (and it has to evidently chart the way) in order for the Country to enjoy long-term financial stability, such are, the abolishment of the C.O.L.A., the reform of the pension plan and the streamlining of the public finances – providing measures that only scratch the surface will only prolong the problem and the credibility of the Country will be further tarnished… If Cyprus is to prosper, it has to strive for excellence, it has to become competitive, and it has to accumulate capital. The C.O.L.A., the growing cash deficits of the pension plan and the insurmountable public finances will never allow the Country to follow the path of prosperity.
  • The Government has to ensure that the measures to be taken will not promote further stagnation but instead encourage local and foreign direct investments. For instance, tax evasion (which must be dealt with systematically and promptly) should not become a “psychosis” by establishing complex legislation and inspection – if procedures do not remain as simple as possible they will scare off investment and eliminate the entrepreneurial spirit that resurrected this country after the Turkish invasion of 1974.
  • All political parties have to support and promote the Government’s efforts. A strong message has to be sent to the international capital markets that Cypriots united are behind the efforts of their leadership and that Cyprus as an international financial centre is the natural choice for the serious investor – the much needed spirit of collectiveness can be cultivated only if the leadership of the country embraces is first and sets the example.
  • The trade unions must realize that unless they support the fiscal consolidation process unreservedly, in a very short period of time their role will be diminished to obscurity. When their members (if drastic measures are not undertaken) in the very near future are laid off, one after the other, they, their members, will realize only too late that the Trade Unions were at the least ignorant…

Moreover, epigrammatically, the banking, tourism and real estate industries have to be reinforced in each and every possible way. Incentives, especially for foreign investors but also for private local ones have to multiply. Procedures and other administrative inefficiencies within the governmental machine at every level have to be rationalized and become more responsive. Technological innovation and sophistication, research and development have to be reinforced. Double tax treaties with more countries are a priority and should be dealt as such. Building coefficients in selected areas have to increase. Hospitality and tourism have to be upgraded. International hotel chains should be targeted and “invited”. Architectural monstrosity should be eliminated. Architectural uniformity in all areas has to become a way of life. Tradition and heritage have to be protected and better projected. Critical thinking, creativity and ingenious vision have to be cultivated…

In a nutshell, the main policy priorities should be to stabilize public debt at a more prudent level and boost competitiveness, while safeguarding the stability of the financial sector. Over and above the bold reforms and the sacrifices, a spirit of collectiveness, pride and transparency must be encouraged and adopted. Cyprus is given at this final hour the opportunity and probably a last chance to eliminate “cancerous” practices that have accumulated over the years…

Does Cyprus possess the common sense and resilience to map its own destiny?

Copyright © 2011 Pytheas Limited

Further reading

Cyprus – A country in denial and a scandalous political leadership

About the author

Harris Samaras is an Economist and presently the Chairman & CEO of Pytheas, an international investment management organization, Harris has also worked with the Bank of America Group, Thomson Financial BankWatch, and Moody’s Investors Service. His expertise lies primarily in the areas of investment and corporate banking, private equity and finance, risk management and business development. His research and extensive publications in these areas range across practice rather than theory, economic and business thought, entrepreneurship and geopolitics.

He has been an adviser to various governments, central banks, financial institutions, and other corporates and has been a member of the board of directors of multinational organizations.

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • @Everyone – I’m closing the comments on this post.

    There has been a healthy debate but comments, unfortunately, are straying away from the substance of the article onto other more sensitive issues that would be better discussed elsewhere.

  • Harris Samaras says:

    Greetings Bob (again),

    Your remarks about my article are well noted and your criticism welcomed.

    Clarifying and reminding,

    I am not the advocate for the government of Cyprus and their wrong doings.

    I am not also the advocate for each and every Cypriot and his/her way of thinking.

    I bother to write these articles because I am for wrong doings to cease happening and mentalities that are backward thinking to become virtuously progressive.

    Now,

    ON OUR ELECTRA CASE: Why should the Cypriot forget the Cyprus problem? Would you forget if northern UK including half of London was occupied by a more powerful nation?

    ON YOUR STATEMENT, “IN BETWEEN DEC 63 AND AUGUST 64 SETTING FIRE TO HUNDREDS OF TURKISH VILLAGES AND MAKING “DISAPPEAR” OVER A 1,000 CITIZENS…”:

    U Thant, UN secretary general, justifies in his annual report of 1964, the right of the unarmed majority of the Greeks to defend their homes from the well armed TMT and the hideous British-Turkish diplomacy that incited the Turks to revolt and impose a form of apartheid on the island… the terrorist TMT were threatening the Turks to move to confined areas controlled by them and so to force them to live away from the influence of their Greek friends, neighbours and relatives. The disobeying Turks were killed and the Greeks were to wrongfully blamed… resulting in the death of 364 Turkish Cypriots and 174 Greek Cypriots…

    Were you also aware that (according to the Turkish Cypriot Arif Hasan Tahsin, the number two in hierarchy of the Turkish Resistance Organization, TMT), the first signs of inter-communal conflict on the island appeared when the British conscripted Turkish Cypriots into the police force that patrolled Cyprus?. Tahsin wrote: “It is a fact that the Turks fought against Greek Cypriots not just because they wanted Enosis… EOKA targeted colonial authorities, including police. Both British and Turkish police died in exchange of fire. Deaths of Turkish Cypriot policemen were met with anti-Greek riots by the Turkish Cypriot community while the British authorities remained passive. Greek Cypriot stores and neighborhoods were burned and Greek Cypriot civilians were injured or killed. Such events created chaos and drove the communities apart both in Cyprus and in Turkey”.

    Bob, atrocities are criminal, condemned and unacceptable but you should have your facts straight before you accuse a whole nation that is criminal and barbarian. I can elaborate on this if you really want me to and I can prove to you with undisputable facts of other nations’ behavior that is barbaric and despicable!

    ON YOUR REMARKS ABOUT THE SPREADS: What is your point?

    ON YOUR REMARK ABOUT CYPRUS BEING AS STRONG AS GERMANY: Only an idiot can assert such a thing and I never did.

    ON YOUR REMARK ON HOW MANY EU DIRECTIVES CYPRUS COMPLIED WITH…: Do you mean Cyprus has not complied with all EU directives? No country member of the EU has complied with all EU directives. And those that have not complied with or not enforced them, including Cyprus, should be punished accordingly.

    ON YOUR REMARKS ON THE TITLE DEED SCANDAL: I have personally discussed and written about the Scandal numerous times, I have advocated against the wrongdoings in private and government circles. I have even argued for the government itself to reimburse the true victims despite the outcomes of the proceedings with the developers… I explained that it is not only the humanitarian aspect that you so vividly portray with the situation of the lovely old couple next door… the lack of appropriate, prompt and just action by the government undermines the credibility of the whole country and future as a desirable property destination and more…

    Sincerely, Merry Xmas Bob.

  • jon frazer says:

    I believe that most of the issues raised in the article, and in the posts, have their origins and perpetuation in an atavistic tribalism.

    At root it seems to be a flawed belief in the uniqueness and rightness of one’s family, which is maintained by tradition and hierarchy. The commonplace attitudes to women, servants, foreigners and the environment can be traced back to this flawed belief system. Hence the absence of any real cohesion in society. It is each tribe for itself. How many charities or voluntary societies or groups are there which were not started and mainly supported by outsiders?

    Why the ridiculous numbers of bodyguards required by the political elite? Electric gates, high walls and intercom systems all betray the absence of law order and trust and of civil society.

    Comparisons with the mafia may seem over the top, but to those who have lost their life savings, it possibly doesn’t.

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    Hi Harris,

    I’m afraid that I’m going to have to apologise for not dealing with all the points you raise individually, as well as researching examples to demonstrate wild assertions (made by me!) as it’ll probably take too long and stray off topic. Also, I think I now know why there was something with your original article that irked, which has been made more clear by your subsequent posts. I’ll get to that in a bit though.

    You say the Electra myth can be used as an analogy with most of the modern world. If we go back to my analogy with Les Mouches (and NOT the Electra myth, even though based on it) the townspeople were made to never forget the evil that had been perpetrated (against them, for them, in their name?: whatever). Tell me, in WHICH other society in the world do they have, in every single newspaper every single day, not tucked away amongst the obits. but normally right up front, the CYPPROB (or their national equivalent) and all its latest developments (hardly any). Is this an accident?

    Your analysis of the Cypriot mentality, that you do not go into in detail here but with which I largely agree, I find fascinating. In my brief time in Cyprus, I’ve tried to “get into the head” of the average Cypriot and (fully? Maybe not) understand the historic pressures that have resulted in this “tough and crafty, shrewd and hospitable, free-spirited and entrepreneuring” individual you describe. I think you have misunderstood my take on the remorse though. If a big guy picks a fight with a little guy, but gets his arse kicked, the only thing the big guy regrets is not the picking of the fight, it’s of the losing. To my mind, this is the Cypriot remorse: self pity, not admission of guilt. If a Cypriot is caught speeding, or not wearing a seat-belt, or say for example, in between Dec 63 and August 64 setting fire to HUNDREDS of Turkish villages and making “disappear” over a 1,000 citizens, the Cypriot only regrets the consequences of his actions, not the actions themselves.

    With regards to the markets and EU money, you probably know more than anyone about the spread in government bond yields (which dictate how much a government has to pay to borrow and thus how much it can) and the effect of credit ratings of the banks (which determine how much they can borrow to then lend on and how strict they have to be in making sure they get paid back). If we look at the above two indicators for Cyprus pre Eurozone membership and in the heady days shortly after accession, we see that for virtually EVERY Eurozone country, spreads became marginal and credit ratings improved. THIS is the access to cheap money I’m talking about, not EU subsidies. The Cypriot economy was being treated, by the international markets, as being as strong as Germany’s for chrissake! Did convergence of monetary treatment go hand in hand with convergence of countries’ behaviour? Since May 2004, how many EU directives has Cyprus complied with? Er…

    As you quite rightly say though, markets will always correct themselves. Spreads have increased and credit ratings have dropped. The coming austerity is just a consequence.

    Again, as you say (and with which I very strongly agree), how did the “tough.. crafty, shrewd… free-spirited and entrepreneuring” Cypriot react to this once in a lifetime opportunity to fill his boots with other people’s money? At government and individual level, money was borrowed to fuel lifestyle, the details of which we know only too well (Civil Service “perks”, luxury cars etc). From an individual prospective, a great way to do this was to borrow against a plot of land (which you didn’t even have to own!) and say you were going to build property for the foreigners who liked to come here. You didn’t have to get the property properly constructed, pay any tax on them, pay any interest on your loan, have them signed off as being complete and you could take deposits on them, sell them, sell them again (isolated instances but they do exist), still retain them (so if anyone sells they have to pay you more money) and, here’s the great bit, YOU DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO BUILD THEM AT ALL! If anyone ever tried to sue you, they would NEVER get through the barbed wire of the legal system and if they ever DID, you can simply just change the law. Or go bankrupt, keeping whatever money you’d built up.

    So, back to the thing that irked about your first article. The “loveable rogue” thing, the “cheeky, hospitable chappy ducking and diving just trying to make a living but being scr.wed over by the government” thing: it simply does not exist. For every home built on mortgaged land where the developer had no intention of ever giving the unfortunate buyer what they paid for (without very costly strings attached, if at all), there is a family that is likely to be ruined, not just financially, but every aspect of their lives as not many families can survive losing half a million quid.

    I’ve spoken before of the lovely old couple living next to me who now have realised the mess they are in and whom the worry is literally killing. Their entire life savings have gone into their home in the sun and every time the lady looks at me, she wants to talk property as it haunts every waking moment of the last few years she has on this planet. The pain and sense of betrayal in her eyes is so great, I literally cannot bear to look and try to avoid her (I know, I’m no saint). Having sold up back home, this was to be the place in which she would live out her life in peace. That now aint gonna happen.

    Harris, you are obviously eloquent and extremely intelligent. You agree that we all deserve the governments we get and you have described the government and politicians here as “Indecisive, Gutless, Bigoted, Populist and Ignorant”.

    To use the term “polarised” to describe the people who thoroughly deserve such a government and who are the willing perpetrators of what will, in the future, be deemed the Great Cyprus Property Scandal, right up there in history with the South Sea Bubble and the Madoffs of this world, is doing your eloquence a massive disservice.

    Right, off to do some packing…

  • Harris Samaras says:

    Greetings Bob,

    THE ELECTRA TRAGEDY AND CYPRUS
    I can see many elements of the tragedy that can be used as an analogy with modern-day Cyprus as they can also be used as an analogy with most of the rest of the modern-day world.

    Cypriots, however, are not remorseful. We are too polarized to accept that we are guilty and one cannot show remorse unless he believes that he is guilty… A new form of “obscurantism” characterizes our society (and the world society) that is a lot more complex – long discussion though, not appropriate for this medium. Anyhow, wish we were remorseful; it would be easier to change for the better.

    In regard to “mourning”, if you have spent some time in Cyprus and if you interacted with Cypriots you will realize that “tragedy-like-behavior” is part of our DNA which encompasses mourning and murmuring… You will see us Cypriots murmuring to the extent of “mourning” even when we have to pay tax on millions of a lotto winning that we had risked only a Euro on…

    You see Bob, you have to “interpret” the Cypriot through his history. The Cypriot is forced by the myriad of conquerors and the different elements to become tough and crafty, shrewd and hospitable, free-spirited and entrepreneuring… The cultures that did develop in Cyprus through time quickly formed the unique cultural identities that so often occur on small islands when there is a barrier to communication. Cypriots found their own path and individuality as they were shaped by a complex, diverse and most of the times unfair history. Clarifying, I am not excusing the Cypriot, thus my article…

    THE “ALTERED” HISTORY OF CYPRUS
    This is a serious issue. People that allow for their history to be altered will eventually lose their identity (and I am not arguing from the point of view of a fanatic nationalist). People need to be aware of their history, learn from the mistakes of the past… There are, however, many history books published for between 1960 and 1974, their content varies as per the author but isn’t this common to everywhere? Unfortunately the post 1960 history taught in schools is in an outline form and lacks in depth analysis and many times objectivity for a number of reasons. As it was in the UK when it was a great colonial power, also for polarization reasons, if you read the school history books of the time and beyond you would think that Britain was conquering and enslaving nation after nation in the name of civilization.

    Ostracism? In Cyprus? Are you aware of anybody that has been ostracized from Cyprus? On the contrary even those that committed treason were (wrongly) not ostracized…

    NEPOTISM, THE MOTORCYCLIST AND THE POLICEMAN
    Nepotism is more observed and is common in smaller societies as family and clan members are “expected” to help one-another in times of need. My point of view on nepotism and favoritism can be seen in many of my articles: Increased nepotism is caused by the failure of the state to provide true education in virtue, which is to produce, as Plato says, “a keen desire to become a perfect citizen who knows how to rule and be ruled”… I have stated several times that a social system not based on merit increases nepotism and favoritism. The worse type though of nepotism is when it occurs at senior governmental levels, e.g. the Liam Fox-Adam Werritty scandal or the MP expenses scandal in the UK…

    EU CHEAP MONEY FOR CYPRUS AND CHARLATAN REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS
    Bob, the markets dictate supply and demand and the markets will always correct themselves. Nations that are wiser and better structured will take better advantage of the market dynamics or will read the signals of the markets to be better prepared… Unfortunately Cyprus did not exercise its right they way it should to take advantage of the available EU subsidies… The actions and reactions of the Government in regard to the title-deed scandal are inexcusable and a crime not only for the property buyers but also for the economy of the island as a whole.

    WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE CAMPS?
    Unfair and inappropriate remark! No comments!

    INSPIRING THE GUILTY?
    My article is not written to inspire the guilty, my article is written to inspire not only my fellow-country citizens but also all those that chose to make this island their home and highlight/(humbly)explain to them that if we do not undertake drastic and painful changes we will only suffer more!

    I FEEL YOU HAVE LET THE CYPRIOT PEOPLE OFF THE HOOK
    We all have our own style of writing… But what is harsher than stating that one is polarized Bob?

  • out of the frying pan into the fire says:

    No need to read the article.

    A picture paints a thousand words.

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    Hi Harris,

    Thanks for your response. I did say that I agreed with much of your article, but the 5th paragraph you quote asks a very valid question but does not lay any blame at the feet of the Cypriot people for acceptance and compliance in the current state of affairs.

    As many of the other subscribers have stated, your voice seems one of the very few which dares criticise the country’s leadership, so it is not possible for me, from purely the evidence of your article, to accuse YOU personally of being mournful, steeped in remorse nor as being one cowed by the fear of upsetting the big guns in this society.

    However, if we are talking parallels between modern-day Cyprus and the Electra story (as told in the Les Mouches version), check this bit out (after Electra’s brother kills the Mum and new husband):

    Electra allows Zeus to determine her past for her. She surrenders her freedom by letting her past take on a meaning that she did not give to it and as a result she becomes bound to a meaning that did not come from her. She thus repudiates her ability to freely choose her own values and accepts the values that Zeus imposes on her.

    Her brother Orestes, on the other hand, is really quite pleased with what he’s done and is willing to accept the consequences. In response, Zeus tells Orestes that by rejecting His version of the past, he is a bad un’ who has rejected the universe itself and will be exiled from nature and from the rest of humanity.

    Can you see the remorse and mourning in Cypriot society? Can you see how the history of the Republic of Cyprus has been altered so it’s nigh on impossible to find out WHAT REALLY WENT ON between 1960 and 1974? Two years ago a history professor here asked the question why there are no history books about that period here and was shot down in flames…

    But you probably know much better than I do how the ostracisation of dissenters works here, the “exile from society”.

    Is there alos a single Cypriot here who has not benefited from the “who you know”, internecine nepotism that pervades every aspect of life here? A Cypriot friend of a friend was in a dispute over driving a few weeks ago. The motorcyclist interlocutor got on the phone and within moments a policeman appeared, shouting and screaming abuse at her and threatening her with arrest. The policeman was obviously a friend of the motorcyclist and he was flexing his nepotistic muscles. She then phoned up a very senior policeman friend of hers who found out instantly who this off-duty policeman was and gave him an almighty bollocking. When recounting this story of nepotism about people who feel untouchable due to their connections in the police force, the hypocrisy didn’t even occur to her…

    Can you also see how, possibly as a result of the sense of injustice (which has been cynically manipulated and left on “simmer” over the past 37 years), has perhaps led to the greed and wanton avarice that we see all about us? Would you disagree that the entry into the Eurozone and thus access to pots of cheap money has allowed this greed to now virtually engulf the country in debt? Every man and his dog were suddenly property developers…

    We hear talk of €6bn developer bad debt, €4.5bn exposure to Greek government debt, a further €14.5bn exposure to Greek bank debt, the impression I get though is that the true figures are much worse. Can the average Cyprus citizen truly claim that “they knew nothing of what was happening in the camps”? Sorry, analogy going a bit far there.

    I accept that one of the reasons for you to write this article is to inspire, but the guilty can only be inspired if they are willing to change. Acceptance of culpability is the first step.

    I feel you’ve let the Cypriot people off the hook.

  • Mike says:

    Philip Burley I fear has summed it up perfectly. I am a Cypriot and I can see exactly what he means.

    Mr Samaras has eloquently and concisely detailed the position exactly as it is, however, we the people must take much of the responsibility as we still gloat at our 13th pay cheque our lax work ethic and our insistence that the government keeps us in the style to which we can easily become accustomed if retired or on benefits.

    We must tackle tax avoidance immediately, restore our competitive edge in Tourism and solve our property title debacle now. Like most however I fear this is beyond the capabilities of our elected representatives who as the author infers prefer to live in denial and perhaps hope for divine intervention.

  • Richard says:

    @Philip – I think your comments echo the experience of most of us new to Cyprus and Cypriot culture.

    “It doesn’t affect me” & ‘nepotism’ being top of the heap!

    In my experience – challenging (& then changing) culture is the hardest battle.

    Do the Cypriots want to do either?

    I regret to say I’m not going to hold my breath on either. What might work is a culture change via stealth – something that benefits them but they have to alter to get it. Given they’ve resisted such overtures for 7,000 years mind???

  • Philip Burley says:

    Fine words indeed and all very true and valid. However, as a British expat, having lived here for the past nine years, I fear that these wise words will fall on deaf ears.

    It seems to me that many Cypriots feel that they are immune from anything and everything. For instance, what right minded individual would ride a high powered motorbike, with the helmet, a life saving product, strapped to the handlebars of the machine?

    This attitude of, “It doesn’t affect me” runs all the way through the generations, and applies to the politicians who run this country. There are many learned people, such as the author of the above, who are well aware of what needs to be done in this country, but the people that matter, who have the power to implement changes to the countries policies, necessary to fix the countries problems, seem to be totally unaware of what needs to be done.

    Some are reticent to make their voice heard because it may upset friends or family who have business interests, nepotism being rife on this Island, but without some radical changes to Government and Government policy, I fear nothing will change for the better.

    We’ve had an Arab spring, perhaps it’s time for a “Cyprus Spring”

  • Harris Samaras says:

    To Johnny Cyprus

    It is important in order to stop the promotion of polarization and cultivate critical thinking, when we argue never to quote words out of context or worse alter somebody’s words as if they were their own… Unless of course one is biased and amongst other deaf, and you can knock on a deaf man’s door forever… Now if this person is not biased but simply unable to comprehend… well, one should feel sorry for him, getting into a discussion with such person is merely a waste of time…

  • Harris Samaras says:

    I am the author of this article.

    On Odd_Job_Bob comments: I totally agree with, “People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard”. H. L. Menckene would agree with the 5th paragraph of the article, “Are the Cypriots so polarized that they can only play the role of an ignorant bystander in an act that jeopardizes not only their own lives but also that of their children? Because if they are, they deserve the misery that they are about to experience!”.

    With all respect Bob the parallelism with the story of Electra (the Greek tragedy by Sophocles) does not apply to my article. I am not mourning, I am not remorseful and the leaders of my country do not keep control over me as they do not also instil fear. If they did Bob, I would not have written such an article. A main reason for writing this article is to inspire by reminding that “It requires perfect virtue and boldness (courage and vigilance) to enjoy freedom and prosperity”. And elaborating, the polarization of the society (and this is not only a phenomenon of Cyprus) died with the death of those intellectual circles and voices that over time “motivated” and gave food for thought (critical thought) to us common people to live with virtue and courage… and to assume responsibility of our own destiny through hard work, planning, vision… in search for excellence!

  • Johnny Cyprus says:

    Not so fast David and Denton; Mr Samaras and his Pytheas organisation have certainly changed the Panglossian views of Cyprus they extolled to prospective real estate and business investors not so long ago:

    * “.. a desirable property hot spot”
    * “… modern efficient legal, accounting and business services based on English practices”
    * “…economy characterised by robustness and macroeconomic stability”
    * “…successful economic performance… rapid growth”
    * “risk… at the lower end of the spectrum”
    * “…real estate and construction… likely to boom..”

    And much more of this sort of guff is still available on their website.

    Clearly the inflation proofing of public sector pensions and salaries is now seen by the same people as a disastrous folly.

    But that is nothing new and what has changed such that these utopian prospects have so quickly evaporated and been replaced by such a “mess”?

  • david says:

    How true, at last a voice to be listened to!

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    Good article and lots of it well said. However, maybe it’s just me, but I’m a little uncomfortable with some of it.

    For some strange reason, it reminds me a bit of that Sartre play Les Mouches (the Flies). The play is an adaptation of the Electra myth and recounts the story of Orestes and his sister Electra in their quest to avenge the death of their father King Agamemnon, killed by their mother and her lover (typical Greek tragedy, I suppose).

    Anyway, the townspeople see their purpose in life as constantly mourning and being remorseful of the ills of their society and the leaders keep control over them by instilling fear. They have this permanent guilt which, now get this, “results from the failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions as a product of one’s freedom”. Everyone repudiates their ability to freely choose their own values and accepts the values that their leaders impose on them. The flies of the title are a plague sent upon them to constantly remind them of the guilt and shame they should feel for having accepted the sinful state of their society.

    In Mr Samaras’ to-do list of five action points, 3 are by the government, 1 by all political parties and 1 by the unions. Nowhere does it mention that those in power are there as a direct result of the people who have been living in and turning a blind eye to, as well as probably profiting themselves from, the current corrupt state of affairs in this country.

    Maybe this financial crisis is like the Flies: a direct result of the acceptance of what is so clearly wrong here, and on so many levels. Sartre used this play as an analogy with the Vichy government in war-time France, with the Flies being the Nazis, sent to punish people for their complacency and moral corruption.

    Many people have said this, but the one I think says it best is a H L Mencken: “People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard”.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Absolutely spot on! But are any of these pillars of the Cyprus establishment that he cites likely to take one scintilla of notice? On past and present performance, I very much doubt it. The ignorance, childishness and vested interests he cites or alludes to will remain a bastion of obstruction to any kind of rational progress, let alone the emergency salvation that Cyprus needs so desperately.

    Mr Samaras for President, anyone?

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