Tuesday, 4 October 2011

What’s been happening in Cyprus and Greece?

A quick update on things:

1. I said several times that the reason Greece will fail would not be because the economic remedies demanded of it by the troika are too stringent; but because the PASOK government lacks the ability and willpower to initiate measures and reforms to ameliorate the excesses of the troika-induced contraction and prepare the ground for Greece to emerge as a modern, dynamic European state and society. Tackling the closed professions, reforming the tax system and the public sector should not have been beyond the capacities of a creative and determined government but, through a combination of fear of the PASOK deep state and a peculiar form of incompetence – the role of politicians in Greece has not been to reform and progress society but to maintain the status quo through patronage and clientelism – Greece is now facing years of hardship and political upheaval, the outcome of which is not predictable.

2. The situation in Cyprus is just as discouraging. The government-appointed enquiry into the Mari disaster – that resulted in the deaths of 13 servicemen and firefighters and undermined an already faltering Cypriot economy – reported yesterday and said, in the most unequivocal fashion, that communist president Dimitris Christofias, through his actions and inactions, bore chief responsibility for the tragedy. The report, without calling for Christofias’ resignation, was so damning that, in any normal democratic society, Christofias would have quit on the spot; instead of which, Christofias – a virtual recluse since the July blast – retorted with a display of extraordinary vanity and impudence, insisting he was entirely blameless for the disaster, harshly condemning the author of the report – the respected lawyer Polys Polyviou – and declaring that under no circumstances would he step down – in these fraught times, the country could not do without his guiding hand. Christofias is a shameless coward, ignoramus and incompetent and every day he stays in power is a terrible indictment of Cypriot politics and society.

3. Cyprus’ natural gas deposits – exploration drilling for which has roused the Turks, who have resorted to their usual bullying and bluster – will, according to a report I saw on tonight’s RIK news – quoting Michalis Economides, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Houston – make Cyprus the richest country in Europe. Economides estimates that the finds in the Aphrodite field – one of 13 fields in Cyprus’ EEZ – and which is currently being investigated by US firm, Noble Energy, contains 50 times as much gas as the neighbouring Israeli Leviathan field. Regarding the Israeli fields, it’s worth pointing out that Israel will want to export its gas through Cyprus and Greece to the rest of Europe and this will inevitably draw the two Greek states into a closer relationship with the Jewish one.


Anonymous said...

Finally back good post. Agree the outcome in Greece will be undpredictable.

I find the situation in Cyprus interesting. The truth is coming out as to how rich cyprus is. I hope the Turks do kil their relationship with Israel as it will help Greece and Cyprus. But I am not to optimistic about this. Turkey is a paper tiger and it knows it. I fear they are jockying for more out of greece and cyprus.


John Akritas said...

I don't see a way back, in the near future at least, for the Turks and Israel. Israel needs Cyprus and Greece to export its gas to Europe. In the past, they may have considered doing this through Turkey, but that's become impossible. The Israelis can't trust the Turks with transiting their resources anymore.

Anonymous said...

How will our relationship with Israel affect our relationship with Russia?

It's not in Russia's interests to see us and the Israelis work hand-in-hand to supply resources to Europe, surely? (although we didn't have much choice in the matter, to be honest.)

John Akritas said...

As far as I'm aware, the Russians and Israelis already cooperate on energy – Russian oil goes through Israeli pipelines – and Gazprom is looking to get involved in exploring the Israeli fields, as well as sniffing around the Cypriot fields, which go up for auction later this year. Russia has huge financial interests in Cyprus, has just provided us with a $2bn loan – no doubt allowing Gazprom in on gas exploration was part of this loan deal – so I don't see any rift between Cyprus and Russia. On the contrary, Russia is sending some of its navy down to the Eastern Mediterranean to let the Turks know that Russia doesn't see the area as Turkey's backyard.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response – it cleared a few things up for me. I certainly wasn't aware of your first couple of points.I'd heard about the Russians sending in some of its navy into the Eastern Mediterranean.Incredible – was my first reaction. Apparently, the Turks were in shock too. I'm not actually sure if it's been confirmed yet, and I think they were scheduled to be the area for planned manoeuvres sometime soon(I think), but anyway, it certainly can't be a bad thing. Who knows, they may want their presence there to act as a deterrent to a planned NATO invasion of Syria… though obviously I hope it's because they want to protect us, the Russians, and their interests on the island (is that too much to ask?!?).

Hermes said...

Regarding matters of national strategy, here is one good strategic thinker, Nikos Lygeros commenting about Greece's greatest modern strategist and thinker, Panagiotis Kondylis.


lastgreek said...

Who knows, they [Russians] may want their presence there to act as a deterrent to a planned NATO invasion of Syria.

Judging (and laughing in the process) by the last "planned" NATO invasion (Libya), I doubt it.