Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Marios Evriviades, who is professor of international relations at Panteion university in Athens, has written a piece (below, which originally appeared here) on the Eurozone’s bailout of the Cyprus economy, which compares the German-inspired ‘rescue’ of the island's economy to the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938. The article reflects the anger and outrage felt by Cypriots at the way they’ve been treated by their European partners, although Evriviades omits to mention that, unlike Czechoslovakia, it was actually the government of Cyprus that invited the troika to interfere in its affairs.
Above is an interview with Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, that puts the blame for the brutality of the ‘rescue’ squarely on the shoulders of the Christofias government for repeatedly delaying the decisions that could have averted it. There is, of course, a lot of truth to Lagarde’s criticism of the previous administration in Cyprus, but she’s also being disingenuous since however incompetent and cowardly Christofias was, this does not explain or justify the particular form the bailout has taken and the browbeating of Cyprus.
What happened to Cyprus in the early hours of March 25 and in the lead up meeting of March 15 in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union, was qualitatively no different from what happened to Czechoslovakia on September 29 1938 in Munich of Nazi-controlled Germany.
In both cases a small independent, sovereign state was bullied into accepting a diktat – in the case of Czechoslovakia the loss of about a third of its territory to Nazi Germany. And in the case of Cyprus the virtual destruction of its economy for the benefit of the German dominated eurozone.
In both cases Western Governments, democratic governments it should be emphasized, did not only stand by. They actually cheered the results and praised the bully in-chief.
The most important European democracies of 1938, England and France, welcomed the Munich abomination in spite of their treaty obligations and moral commitments to stand by Czechoslovakia against the Nazis. The leaders of England and France reported triumphantly back home that what transpired in Munich preserved peace and stability on the European continent. This is precisely what the sixteen members of the Eurogroup said of the Cyprus diktat – that it preserved stability in the eurozone.
Don’t take the word of official Cyprus about the bullying tactics of the German-dominated Eurogroup, namely that Cyprus was forced to capitulate at gunpoint by its partners. Here is how the Finance Minister of Malta, Edward Scicluna, a participant in the 15 March Eurogroup lead up meeting described, in the Times of Malta on March 19, the bullying that transpired: ‘All this was ‘agreed’ to by the Cypriot government representative who, with a pistol to the head, was naturally unusually co-operative. But it took 10 long hours before the Cypriot minister’s body and soul became exhausted enough for him to assent to the accord. As soon as that happened [the German] Schauble demanded that all wire transfers to and from Cyprus banks would cease forthwith.’
This is what passes for EU solidarity these days.
As a result the Cypriot economy, that topped the performance of the nine other candidates for EU membership in 2004 and performed on par or even better than most other European economies until the global crisis of 2008, now lies prostrate.
Except for the loss of life in the 1974 brutal military invasion of Cyprus by Turkey – when 1% of the Cypriot population was slaughtered by a NATO army – what the Cypriots are now going through is worse. Then, the Turkish army seized about a third of Cypriot territory, two-thirds of its wealth and ethnically cleansed the indigenous population of the conquered territory. But Cypriot resilience prevailed and in five years the lost wealth was regained.
This time however the Eurogroup’s decisions injected a cancerous cell in every Cypriot household. You can certainly fight cancer to a degree. But you can surely suffer for the rest of your life or die from it as well.
The Eurogroup has subjected Cypriots tο a double economic abomination. It ordered part of their savings confiscated and the rest frozen. In true Orwellian doublespeak this has been called a ‘tax’ on savings, or a ‘haircut’. It was in fact outright robbery. Thievery is also ‘freezing’ a person’s deposits and denying him/her the right to do whatever the heck he wants with them.
They did that too.
The inane bullies of Brussels had to have a good sounding excuse for their theft. So, they arbitrarily decided that the savings of Cypriots were ‘mafia’ money, stolen money from someone, somewhere. Perhaps some hard-working Russians. So they decided to punish the Cypriot ‘sinners’ by stealing their savings themselves. Is this the latest version of the ‘protestant ethic’ up in the European north?
The world does have a short memory. But some people do remember. Or read history. The outright confiscation of private property in the western world occurred twice before. In Nazi-Germany against German-Jews and other ‘sub-humans’. And in Nazi-sympathizing Turkey which in 1942 enacted legislation, the infamous Varlik Vergisi or ‘wealth tax’, enabling the Turkish state to confiscate the properties of Turkish citizens – Greeks, Armenians and Jews and sending those who could not pay to ‘exile’ in desert Anatolia from which most did not return.
The EU, obsequious to a resurgent Germany, is now acting as the enabler of econocide (destruction of an economy) and consequently of cratocide (destruction of a state) against the Republic of Cyprus – one of its smallest members.
Shame on the spineless, sinister and self-serving EU. And twice shame on the rest of the hypocritical Europeans who stand by and watch another destructive bullying of a defenceless state in their midst.