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It’s naïve to think politicians will get us out of this mess

As it was dishonourable and dishonest politicians who got us into this mess it’s naïve to expect them to get us out of it; as they demonstrated when they voted to delay the foreclosures law.

politicians voting in the Cyprus parliament CYPRIOT politicians have apparently lost their moral compass – a large number of them at least. With their vote on Thursday, they proved they are not serving the national interest, even as they pay lip service to it.

Their decision to pass a law “in order to protect citizens from foreclosures” suspending another one they passed in September that was a precondition for Cyprus getting another tranche of bailout money, which it desperately needs – let’s not forget, the government has to find the funds to refinance more than 2 billion euros in maturing debt next year – was not a harmless bit of theatre for domestic consumption.

They should know – and in fact they do know better than any other citizen – that banks are far from ready to engage in “mass foreclosures” for several reasons. The relevant regulations are not ready yet, the banks still lack the administrative capacity to do so and the economy is still not strong enough, just to name a few.

But this is not the point. With their vote the parties damaged the state’s credibility and the country’s interests. The agreement between Cyprus and the international lenders is not an internal affair, some sort of agreement between the Cypriot government and parliament.

It is an agreement between the Cypriot government and European bodies and the IMF. This agreement allows Cyprus to receive funds provided by other euro area countries, including those with a much lower standard of living like Slovakia and Estonia, as well funds from non-EU countries with an even lower income per capita, to pay salaries and pensions.

The best way to thank a taxpayer in Asia, Africa or South America and elsewhere for contributing to Cyprus’ bailout would be for Cyprus to honour this agreement, stick to its terms and make sure it will it pay back.

Instead, some Cypriot politicians proved they will not hesitate to cheat in order “to send a message”.

What kind of message that was and to whom it was sent is irrelevant because the message the lenders received was that “an agreement with Cypriots is not worth the paper it is written on”.

Let’s us not forget. It was the same political parties, which in order to protect the interests of developers, ten years ago also turned down the settlement plan for the Cyprus problem they earlier accepted by engaging in the negotiation process. And it is the developers they want to help once more – developers who exploited the gaps in the legislation, irresponsible politicians knowingly maintained, in order to finance their business with depositors’ money they cannot or do not want to repay.

And one has to have a look to what is going on in Paphos in order to understand how developers and the construction sector have been calling the shots for years, if not decades.

As it was these dishonourable and dishonest politicians who put us in to this mess in the first place, it would be naïve to expect them to get us out of it. The reason is clear. If a country wants to be trustworthy and regarded as such, then its political leaders have to be honest and respect their state’s agreements with third parties.

Readers' comments

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  • Richard says:

    “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them”

    Albert Einstein.

    To me – the elephant in the room is why Cyprus has been allowed i) entry into – and ii) tolerance of their behaviour within – the E.U.

    All I can think of – is it must probably be the strategic position of the island that is allowing the E.U (and quite possibly other world powers) to accept the egregious behaviour of these utterly corrupt buffoons.

    I can’t think of another reason. Whatever it is – there must be a negotiation position somewhere in the mix.

  • Hector says:

    It’s alright everyone! There’s a fortune in gas just sitting there under the sea which will solve all the Cyprus financial problems! There is isn’t there? I mean they have confirmed that haven’t they?

  • MartynG says:

    Moral compass? Many (most even?) don’t even know what one is. They’ve managed well for a long time without such. Yes they have shown their ‘true colours’ this time, you should NOT mess with the IMF an expect to get away with it! A Clanger of potentially Huge ramifications ‘going forward’. Ha!

    Steve R: I’m amazed if anybody by now hasn’t emptied their bank accounts of anything other than day-day money. Some of us cleared them well before March, 2013……..

    ……. The Cyprus economy, and it’s banks, had been in Denial for years: whilst others – Spain, Portugal, Ireland, even Greece in a typical Greek way – were well into ‘remedials’ years before the last Cyprus government milked everything they could before, thankfully, exiting just in time to leave the next lot to try and start sorting things out. And they have really only just started, probably realising that MedGas now may not after all be the next Cyprus Saviour (something always turns up they keep telling us!).

    SuperCasinos, perhaps somewhat belatedly, seem to be fast becoming the next Big White Hope.

    Wanna Bet, anyone?

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Stelios Orphanides is bang on the nail with his analysis and comments. The problem is that, even if any of the politicians and legislators are listening, none of them is likely to change their ingrained dysfunctional and destructive behaviour. Why? Because they believe that (a) they can continue to get away with it and with impunity as they have done for decades – they are untouchable, (b) their cynical and corrupt thinking and actions benefit themselves so much (financially, status, power and vanity) that any reckless damage to the country and its population they cause is not worth their attention, and (c) their brains are biologically incapable of registering any kind of guilt, remorse, empathy or personal responsibility.

    These factors (a), (b) and (c) reinforce each other. In many, manifestations of delusions of grandeur and living in a fool’s paradise are evident but (c) is particularly worrying as it is consistent with psychopathic personality disorders. The latter are typically ‘hard wired’ and so they are almost impossible to change for the better: persuasion and coercion are unlikely to be successful and the individual is unlikely to voluntarily change for the better. Maybe locking them up, taking away their corruptly acquired assets and status symbols and barring them from public office is all that can be done.

  • Stuart says:

    Surely no-one would disagree with the views expressed by Stelios Orphanides in this article from the Cyprus Mail but have we not been here many times already? The conduct of Cyprus’ politicians who prefer to play chicken with the Troika in order to influence local voters is unfortunately underpinned by the knowledge that Cyprus will never be allowed to exit the eurozone and ruin the ‘United States of Europe’ dream so beloved of the European Union. Unless and until that political safety net is removed there is little chance of any ‘moral compass’ being restored.

  • @Ivan Inklin – on 2014/12/23 at 9:16 am – According to Albert Einstein:

    “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

  • Ivan Inklin says:

    I genuinely wonder just how many people in Cyprus are Not repaying loans at the moment simply because they think they may lose some benefit by doing so. There seems to be a mentality that says ‘why pay if you are not forced to’. If this is the case, how many NPLs would become performing again if the threat of action against them seemed real? The refusal to bring in foreclosure rules seems to encourage some not to pay!

    I would also be interested to see some statistics on the actual people the politicians claim they are protecting ie. the ones that will be made homeless. I wonder if it is a possibility that the NPLs belong to those that took a loan to buy their ‘Showhouse’ and accompanying Car? Possibly many of the same people that brought about our problems in the first place!

    My personal feeling are that bringing in the foreclosure rules will not see a flood of homeless people, but we might see some having to live within their means and become accountable for their actions.

    I don’t give credibility to the idiotic statements of politicians that appear to support non payment of debts and Tax Evasion whilst thinking they are fooling us all as to their motives!

    Start accepting responsibility, start paying your taxes, get rid of the thieves in positions of power and perhaps Cyprus will become what it should be – a very wealthy Country.

    The alternative is, just keep doing what you always did, you’ll get the same results again.

  • Mike says:

    Perhaps never a truer word spoken, or in this case written. Could their actions be considered treason as it is against and detrimental to the state’s interest.

  • Steve R says:

    People including myself will start to clear out their Cyprus bank accounts before the government decide to raid them again. This type of action by the politicians in delaying matters is setting the whole agreement back by 18 months. Are the people of Cyprus going to fall for it again. More fool them if they do. I wont be.

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