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.