Cyprus: The eurozone’s omnishambles moment

Petros Karadjias/AP

Petros Karadjias/AP

At the beginning of last week, Cypriot politicians insisted they would not choose a “suicidal” option for their country. By the end of the week, they picked one that would inflict mortal wounds instead.

Nicosia’s handling of its unprecedented predicament has been cataclysmic. But the approach adopted by the European Union and International Monetary Fund to Cyprus’s problems has also been disastrous. The eurozone has been building up to an omnishambles moment throughout the debt crisis and it finally struck in a small island state in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The agreement arrived at in Brussels early Monday, following hours of talks involving Cypriot officials, eurozone finance ministers and EU and IMF chiefs, is being billed as the least worst option after all sides took successive wrong turns on the way. That may be the case but it will be little consolation to thousands of Cypriots who have lost a big chunk of their deposits and face uncertain times ahead.

For those looking at the longer-term picture, the island is in for years of extreme difficulties. Its banking system and concomitant services made up about half of the island’s economy. This has now been obliterated. Depositors are unlikely to trust Cypriot banks for some time to come and young Cypriots will have to choose to become something other than lawyers, financiers and accountants. Many will have to consider a future away from their homeland, which faces a double-digit recession in 2013 and more years of economic contraction ahead.

A large part of Cyprus’s downfall is of its own making. Having decided to make banking one of the main pillars of its economy, along with tourism and shipping, Cyprus should have done everything in its powers to protect its right to make a living from a much larger than average financial sector, just as Luxembourg and other countries do. Instead, it became acutely exposed to the failing Greek economy through nonperforming loans and Greek bonds shorn in last year’s PSI. It also allowed others to question the legitimacy of some of the money that was entering the island’s bank accounts.

The Cypriot political and banking leadership ignored for months the fact that the island’s second-largest lender, Cyprus Popular Bank (Laiki), was no longer a viable concern, especially after its suffered combined losses of about 4 billion euros with Bank of Cyprus when their Greek bond holdings were restructured in February 2012. An IMF country report in November 2011 outlined concerns about Cyprus’s banking system, particularly due to its exposure to the Greek economy, and recommended that “authorities should require banks to put in place robust plans to achieve higher capital ratios… and… move quickly to enhance their powers so that they can take prompt corrective action to recapitalize or resolve banks, if necessary.”

At that stage, there were examples from other countries with bank resolution processes in place that Nicosia could have turned to. It didn’t. In fact, former President Dimitris Christofias and his government appeared to become paralyzed after the fatal explosion at a naval base next to the Zygi power station in July 2011, which knocked another 2-billion-euro hole in the country’s economy. Christofias seemed satisfied with securing a 2.5-billion-euro loan from Russia in December 2011 and overlooked the pressing economic problems his country was facing. It should be pointed out, though, that at that point there were few predictions of imminent economic disaster for Cyprus. In fact, the IMF was upbeat on the country’s prospects in November 2011, forecasting a balanced budget by 2014.

It would be wrong to give the impression, as some have tried to, that Cyprus was never willing to cooperate with the EU and IMF. Over the last few months, there was a growing realization among the island’s decision-makers that time for a solution was running out. In November last year, Anastasiades wrote to President Christofias to complain of delays in reaching an agreement with the troika and warned that one of Cyprus’s banks would need to be recapitalized by January or face losing access to ECB liquidity.

Before the end of November, though, Christofias had agreed a bailout with the troika four months after requesting assistance from the EU and IMF. Try as he might to hold out hope of more help from Russia and to avoid being the one who would invite the troika to Cyprus, Christofias acquiesced just a few months before his presidency came to an end. Anastasiades, the leading presidential candidate, was openly talking about agreeing a memorandum with the troika that would include a package of austerity measures. At that point, there was no official discussion of a deposit levy.

Where Anastasiades got it woefully wrong though was in being unprepared for what the troika might throw at him. His initial decision this month to accept a deposit tax for all bank customers in Cyprus was catastrophic. Having returned to Nicosia with the agreement, he realized his mistake and Cyprus embarked on a week of pointless domestic bargaining and futile overtures to Russia in a bid to raise revenues from alternative sources. Rejecting the deal on the table or not pulling out all the stops to design a better one only made sense if Cyprus had other, concrete options rather than nebulous ideas. The Europeans had done their homework and knew Russia would not come to the rescue; the Cypriots, though, were caught napping.

A series of mistakes, miscalculations and blinkeredness have cost Cyprus dearly but it was aided and abetted by lenders with a penchant for procrastination and internal disagreement. In this environment, both sides were lulled into ignoring imminent threats as they busily kicked the can down the road.

It is only in the last few months that any great urgency was injected into proceedings and it had only been two weeks since Anastasiades was made president when he was confronted by the “deposit tax or euro exit” choice at the Eurogroup. Decision makers within the eurozone will liken the way they confronted Cyprus to an intervention for an alcoholic refusing to accept to his addiction. Anastasiades, however, had already shown a willingness to cooperate and won an election saying he would do so – not a popular policy platform in a Southern European country. The March 15 Eurogroup should be called what it was: an ambush.

It went beyond steering a eurozone partner toward a particular path. Cyprus was given no other option than to accept a solution that would decimate its economy and supposedly reduce its banking sector to the EU average of 3.5 times GDP. The idea itself that Cyprus’s financial sector had to be equal to the EU average betrayed something more than just an attempt to tidy up its economy. Why the EU average and not four or five times GDP? The target smacks of an attempt to put Cyprus in its place, just as the persistent talk of Russian money being laundered in the Cypriot banking system – as if it was not being used for anything else – also appeared a choreographed attempt to undermine Cyprus, which had joined the euro in 2008 with pretty much the same banking system and no complaints.

Over the past few weeks, Cyprus found itself negotiating with the same eurozone whose leaders nine months earlier had affirmed “that it is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns” and who had drawn up plans for euro-area banks to be recapitalized via the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). It was also the same eurozone that just three months earlier had agreed to plans to create a Single Supervisory Mechanism, which would pave the way for ESM recaps. And to think that Cyprus was the one being criticized for its inconsistency.

More damaging than this, though, is the manner in which the Cypriot problem was tackled over the past few days. It showed complete ignorance or indifference regarding the vulnerable position in which a euro member state found itself. Cyprus has borne the cost of having enemies for many years, so being ambushed by its friends can only be distressing.

The eurozone had no qualms about pushing to the edge its only member to be involved in a war in the last 50 years, to have part of its territory occupied by a foreign army, to be still suffering the effect of an intercommunal divide and to have a capital in which passports must be shown to pass from one side to the other.

It is in this environment that Cyprus, a semi-arid island that is surrounded by competing states, must survive. It has taken years for Nicosia to negotiate agreements that would allow it access to the island’s natural resources, but even now Turkey is threatening a “new crisis” if Cyprus seeks to collateralize future gas revenues before there is a settlement on the island.

It is these challenges and the hope of being able to gain a security and stability dividend that brought Cyprus to the eurozone. For all its failings, it did not deserve the treatment it got. With some horror, Cyprus has now realized that the euro area’s interpretation of its central tenet of convergence has become warped. It is not the compact structure many had envisioned. The fissures are now clear.

Ignoring the failure of banks all over Europe over the past few years and the fact that finance was one of the few activities Cyprus could turn to after the Turkish invasion in 1974, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici refers to the country’s “casino” banking system.

These double standards are not confined to the eurozone.

“In principle they have only the finance sector and beaches to offer and now the banks are on their way to closure,” said Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg of Cyprus last week.

Apart from the prejudice implied in Borg’s comment, there is also a failure to recognize history and the strict limits within which Cyprus can operate as a euro member. Sweden went through its own banking crisis triggered by a property bubble in 1991 and 1992 but recovered from it due to a multi-pronged approach that included a state guarantee for all deposits, the government assuming banks’ toxic assets and the nationalization of two key lenders. These options were not available to Cyprus because of single currency regulations and the narrow remit within which the European Central Bank operates.

An EU and a eurozone that forget or ignore even their recent history are becoming a less inviting place to be. The part of Europe that is in a relatively healthy state at the moment seems keen to set aside the past now that another part of the continent is being severely tested. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says the problem lies with the laggards. They are like jealous schoolchildren he says. However, the immaturity, complete with playground bullying, seems to lie elsewhere.

The tremulous description of the March 15-16 Eurogroup meeting provided by Maltese Finance Minister Edward Scicluna underlined that Europe’s weaker or more vulnerable states feel powerless next to their more successful partners. Hopes of fairness, understanding and solidarity are evaporating.

“Cyprus, more than all the others, holds a special place not so much with regard to the unique factors which brought about the financial crisis… but as a case study of how an EU micro-Mediterranean island member state is expected to be treated if ever its unfortunate turn would come to seek aid from its fellow member states,” wrote Scicluna in an op-ed after the meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

While the last few days have uncovered an alarming propensity for Cyprus to shoot itself in the foot, they have also revealed that the EU, and the eurozone in particular, seems bent on self-destruction. There can be little doubt that the last week will have planted the idea in many minds across Europe, including Cyprus, that going it alone is a better option than being a second-class member of an exclusive club. This may end up being the most damaging wound inflicted during the eurozone’s omnishambles moment.

Nick Malkoutzis

66 responses to “Cyprus: The eurozone’s omnishambles moment

  1. Fine piece as I’d expect from nick Malkoutzis. What a mess, but if I’d been there making decisions over the last few weeks and days I’d probably have made it worse. We’ll have a tranche of ‘past tense’ criticism now the harm is done. What are the lessons then if this happens again apart from the 19th century ballad?:
    ‘It’s the same the whole world over:
    It’s the poor what gets the blame.
    It’s the rich what gets the pleasure;
    Ain’t it all a bloomin’ shame.’

    • There might be some rich who have lost money too?

      • Guest (xenos)

        More to hte point, there are a lot of businesses that will probably go down with this. And the jobs of their employees will simply disappear. This is a disaster for everyone.

  2. Dear Nick,
    Ok, it looks like a balanced article but there is a big but on that. You wrote the following:
    ” Having decided to make banking one of the main pillars of its economy, along with tourism and shipping, Cyprus should have done everything in its powers to protect its right to make a living from a much larger than average financial sector, just as Luxembourg and other countries do”
    Ok, to make a living from the financial sector, but the problem is that when you make a hole based on it, the size of the hole is many times the size of your GDP. How can you expect others to give to you what they perfectly know you will never be able to give back?
    If I was German, that will look to me as perfectly unfair, and I will be also quite upset about the moral hazard bomb that I will be creating.

    • You are talking rubbish, Estevao. The article is excellent, and a better analysis than I have seen in any international newspaper. The hole is actually in your head, and nowhere else.

      • Estevao Veiga

        Ok, let’s talk numbers. The total package of the EU plan is € 10 billion, contingent on Cyprus 5.8 billion bank levy. This two together represent 65% of Cyprus GDP. You have to add to that the amount of losses imposed on depositors of Laiki Bank. This number is still unknown, but a fair guess is above € 4 billions, so the total hole is above 82%. And on top of that you still don’t know the losses on Bank of Cyprus.
        Can somebody imagine Germany being lent by IMF and the other Euro countries € 1.4 trillion? This is in proportion what it is being lent to Cyprus. Can somebody imagine Germany taxing the equivalent of 813 billion from it’s own banking system, a good part of it coming from foreign deposit holders? No again. Can somebody imagine Germany wiping out 560 billion of deposits in a single bank?
        So what you are asking is the famous “do as I say but not as I do”.

      • Guest (xenos)

        You persist in talking rubbish, Veiga. You make up numbers by multiplying others and then claim to be talking about reality.

        You are either a paid troll (which I think you are) or a complete imbecile. I presume that you are working for the Germans (unlike Ann who is clearly working for the Turks).

  3. everygoodboydeservesfavour

    Another fine piece Nick, cogent and prescient. Like you, it seems that the Eurozone must break up. The periphery will not be able to stay the distance with ever increasing austerity and social dislocation. The platitudes in support of all member countries remaining in the Zone raised by various politicians at a European and National level, are akin to the finger in the dyke – it’s only going to last so long. It was a flawed project in its implementation at outset.

  4. About a year ago, a former Chilean Minister of Finance was asked what the Euro-crisis meant for Latin America. His answer was something like: “We see a tsunami of money flowing into our direction and we are worried about that!”

    One recipé for killing a not overly large economy which has free movement of capital is: dump a lot of money on its banking system; wait until they get used to having that money and then you suddenly call it back.

    What Cyprus has brought back to mind is that a bank’s risks do not only lie on the asset side of its balance; just as well on the liability side where it is the funding risk.

    All I have read about Cyprus so far makes me guess that, there, it was not the Euro which caused all the trouble. Instead, it seems to have been the tsunami of foreign funds which were dumped upon the Cypriot banking system. That could have happened without the Euro just as well. When money is dumped on banks, the latter need to do something with it. And whatever they do with it on the asset side, whether it is loans or investments, entails risk. The Cypriot banks seem to have put a lot of money into Greek bonds. After all, they had investment grade rating and, according to Basel-2, they were ‘risk-free’. I don’t know what other big risks they have but the reason why they had to enter into risk is because they received so much funding which needed to be re-invested.

    What Cyprus apparently overlooked when they decided to become a financial power horse is that when you fill up the banking sector with deposits (particularly offshore deposits), you have to do something with that liquidity and whatever you do with it, it will entail risk. I guess Luxemburg is beginning to have some thoughts about its business model.

    • What a beautiful commentary Klaus. You are absolutely right. That is why sometimes the best that a financial system may do is refuse more money.

      • Guest (xenos)

        That is not what Klaus is saying. And I await the day that any bank, includng German ones, refuse to accept money! Such a ridiculous remark.

  5. “What Cyprus apparently overlooked when they decided to become a financial power horse is that when you fill up the banking sector with deposits (particularly offshore deposits), you have to do something with that liquidity and whatever you do with it, it will entail risk.”
    It is strange: When the Euro was formed, I think it was said the Euro would make a nation, especially a small nation, more stable against financial markets betting and manipulating its currency.
    Looking toward Cyprus and the worries of malta it nearly looks like these countries did not get less but even more in the hand of financial markets:
    True, it is much more difficukt to shake the Euro than perhaps the cyprus pound. But the national defense lines are also much smaller:
    – If they are in debt, they can’t print money, but have to ask financial markets.
    – If they are loosing the trust of the investors, they have a much harder job to implement capital controls. (The euro will be taken abroad as fine as last week, a weakened cyprus pound perhaps not.)
    Is it a systematical error or do I miss a point?

    In the last days I got a new feeling:
    If small countries make huge mistakes as cyprus did it (and as Greece did it): Is the devastating “revenge” of the market bigger or smaller with euro than it was with national currencies? If it is bigger with the Euro (As I get the impression by time), we really should think about options to dissolve the Euro-Zone.

  6. In many points I agree with nick or at least I see it as a point worth to thing about. But one point really did make me oppose:
    “The eurozone had no qualms about pushing to the edge its only member to be involved in a war in the last 50 years, to have part of its territory occupied by a foreign army, to be still suffering the effect of an intercommunal divide and to have a capital in which passports must be shown to pass from one side to the other.”
    In the time (southern) syprus was joining the EU, there have been made lots of diplomatic efforts to end the war and to unite cyprus. It culminated in the “Annan-Plan”. That plan was accepted by all other sides, EU, UNO, UK, USA, also by Turkey and Northern Cyprus, but it was vetoed only by the Southern Cypriots.
    They could have gone to peace, a united island, an end to intercommunal divide etc.pp., but they neglected it. So afterwards I dont see any reason to complain about that point.

    Perhaps, now, with northern and southern cypriots living on a more comparable economic level again, both sides would take about reunion again? Then the downfall might also bear its hidden gems.
    And if it is only to clear the rights of petrol exploration. As long as the island is divided, Turkey may bloc petrol exploration, claiming it represents the interests of northern cyprus. United, Turkey has no right to bloc any more.

    • The handling of the Annan Plan and the accession of Cyprus to the EU is another long sad story of incomptence on the part of the European Commission and northern European governments. Instead of allowing the UN to negotiate in good faith, the Europeans interfered (for reasons that elude everyone). They decided that they needed to allow Cyprus to join the EU BEFORE the Annan Plan vote. So they asked the idiot Papandreou who was Greek foreign minister, and he assured the idiots in the EU that the Greek Cypriots would vote Yes. So, the EU lawyers drew up a legal assessment of Cyprus (which is the biggest pile of crap I read in my life) saying that the whole island could join the EU even though only the South could vote on it. The EU also told the UN that they should not worry about the Greeks, but concentrate on the Turkish Cypriots in the last 6 months of negotiating the Plan. That is how we ended up with the Turks liking the plan and the Greeks rejecting it; that is how we ended up with a divided island in the EU.

      Perhpas you can understand that we have seen all of this incompetence and arrogance from the EU (and mostly from Germany and France) previously: this time, it affects the entire eurozone, is interacting rapidly with financial markets, and their stupidity is impossible to hide.

      So please, let’s have no more of your naive (or fake naive) “I don’t see any reason to complain…” There is plenty of reason to complain about the self-interested incompetence of Germany and the EU, along with the arrogance. Stick to making nice cars, and keep away from politics because your country sucks at it.

      • I have to interfere here because of outrageous commentary.

        Here is the deal:

        1. Should Cyprus had voted for the Annan plan then the Aphrodite Block 12 of 60 Trillion Cubic Feet of natural gas (plus soon to be discovered petroleum) would belong to the UK. There was a special provision in the Annan plan to have both British bases on the island have their own EEZ – Exclusive Economic Zones (and since there is no other island between Cyprus and Egypt the influence of these two tiny land bases would have translated in an enormous area of EEZ coverage and future profit for the UK). I can show it to you on a map. It was basically day light theft.

        2. The reason Cyprus got in, is because Greece threatened to block the other 10 expansion members to the east.(ex-East European territory a la Sovieta). So It was a raw deal. You want eastern expansion? Then Cyprus is in. End of story.

        3. Should Cyprus had absorbed the costs of the poor north’s integration (its per capita GDP is about $12,000 vs. $28,000 for the Republic of Cyprus) today Cyprus would be holding even larger debts stemming from the increased cost of integration. Ask Germany on this about the enormous cost ( I think 1 Trillion euro and counting) of the yet on-going east German integration. In any event the Cypriot per capita GDP would have gone down considerably.

        There is no logic to the arguument that somehow a united Cyprus would stand economically better. Or that Turkey would in anyway improve the situation of a “inited” island. Turkey’s job is to sabotage The Republic of Cyprus every step of the way to precisely prove that Cyprus is in dire need for patronage and therefore permanent Turkish presence on the island. The north is poor in terms of professional skills needed for a dynamic economy. It represents a legacy cost with major negative economic implications.

        Thank you and proceed in peace.

  7. > They decided that they needed to allow Cyprus to join the EU BEFORE the Annan Plan vote.
    I agree taht was extremely stupid indeed. So stupid, that it simply sounds unplausible.
    So I see some logic in the widespread story that the EU was blackmailed by Greece: “If you don’t allow Southern Cyprus to enter EU in any case, we will veto the entry of any eastern european state.” With this story having heard as proved truth I also understand that Cyprus (and Greece) have made some “non-friends” in other european states with these maneuvers.

    > Perhpas you can understand that we have seen all of this incompetence
    > and arrogance from the EU (and mostly from Germany and France)
    > previously
    Not really. Instead I see a real chance that big Europe felt beeing blackmailed by Greece and had to bow toward blackmailing because they promised the entry to eastern european states.
    With the result that perhaps some Europeans still had a silent open bill with Greece and Cyprus, so the compassion with both was smaller than with other nations in the actual negotiations.(Just my personal speculation.)

    > There is plenty of reason to complain about the self-interested
    > incompetence of Germany and the EU, along with the arrogance.
    But still the question: What better alternatives did you see?
    – Russia did not offer any helping credits
    – Greece did not offer any helping credits
    – capital markets did not offer any helping credits (at least not for better conditions)
    – Only Europe offered helping credits – for conditions they felt to be acceptable. I am shure many European countries wouldt not be angry at all if they couldt have refused as did Russia and Greece alone. In Germany eg. many economists (and fewer ppoliticians) still slaim all these credits should be forbidden because the are a violation of treaties.

    I suppose it was not a perfect deal but still the best of several perhaps not very nice alternatives for Cyprus.

    • I have to interfere here because of outrageous commentary.

      Here is the deal:

      1. Should Cyprus had voted for the Annan plan then the Aphrodite Block 12 of 60 Trillion Cubic Feet of natural gas (plus soon to be discovered petroleum) would belong to the UK. There was a special provision in the Annan plan to have both British bases on the island have their own EEZ – Exclusive Economic Zones (and since there is no other island between Cyprus and Egypt the influence of these two tiny land bases would have translated in an enormous area of EEZ coverage and future profit for the UK). I can show it to you on a map. It was basically day light theft.

      2. The reason Cyprus got in, is because Greece threatened to block the other 10 expansion members to the east.(ex-East European territory a la Sovieta). So It was a raw deal. You want eastern expansion? Then Cyprus is in. End of story.

      3. Should Cyprus had absorbed the costs of the poor north’s integration (its per capita GDP is about $12,000 vs. $28,000 for the Republic of Cyprus# today Cyprus would be holding even larger debts stemming from the increased cost of integration. Ask Germany on this about the enormous cost # I think 1 Trillion euro and counting) of the yet on-going east German integration. In any event the Cypriot per capita GDP would have gone down considerably.

      There is no logic to the argument that somehow a united Cyprus would stand economically better. Or that Turkey would in anyway improve the situation of a “united” island. Turkey’s job is to sabotage The Republic of Cyprus every step of the way to precisely prove that Cyprus is in dire need for patronage and therefore permanent Turkish presence on the island. The north is poor in terms of professional skills needed for a dynamic economy. It represents a legacy cost with major negative economic implications.

      Please abstain from commentary that it is deeply injurious to our national interests.

      Thank you and proceed in peace.

  8. > I can show it to you on a map.
    I would be glad about!
    By the way, are these bases british territory for ever (like Gibraltar) or rented for a defined time (like HongKong)? And is UK paying money to cyprus for renting it?

    For 3, @ Dean: With the economic throw back of Southern Cyprus and the growth of Northern Cyprus, do you see rising chances for a unity of cyprus?
    Would a unity be seen with sympathy by cyprus greeks and by “greek greeks”?

    • @Roger
      Your responses indicate to me that you are not acting in good faith. Someone without a clear agenda (pro-Germany in your case) would not reply in the style that you. Instead of coming to the discussion with some general ideas and asking others for reactions and detailed information, you present anti-Greek propaganda here. (And I speak as a non-Greek.)

      @Dean. Thanks for the detail on the Annan Plan implications, which I muct confess I did not know. But I stick by my account of the last year of the negotiations and how all the politicians and the EU legal experts fucked up. There is a consistent pattern emerging in the EU, of how the North is manipulating the South while also claiming to be extending great favours and doing its best to help while the corrupt South is destroying its own economies.

      Moreover, there is clear evidence now emerging that there is organised pro-German propaganda machinery all over the internet, as well as much of the printed press. It looks as if this “Roger” is employed within it, too.

      • > Your responses indicate to me that you are not acting in good faith.
        Xenos, I read for quite some time that you prefer insulting personally people with other opinions and questions.
        That surprises me. Is that your normal behaviour in discussions?
        Wouldn’t you like to come back to a “my sight of the things is XYZ, because of…; what is your side of the things”-level?

        Just for the protocol: I am German (no reason to hide), I don’t get paid for writing, I do not try to troll or to insult but to discuss, listen und show points of view I know and I find quite convincing too.
        I follow Nick and the discussions in the wish to understand what makes the dilemma and the growing hatred atmophere in Europe that I really feel depressing. As a German I know the way of discussions in Germany – and I see the logic in the common arguments. I ask for the logic in other arguments if I dont see or understand it, admitting there can exist quite different, but still convicing logics.

        Finally: Why do you think I would not act in good faith? If you come with that kind of insults, please show your solids arguments to undermine it, so I may understand what makes you feel that way.
        Only if you have solid arguments, of course.

      • Guest (xenos)

        @Roger: sorry, if you are a genuine person. I do not insult people for having opinions: I insult insincere trolls, as does Dean.

        I am open to discussion, but had the impression that you are not. I apologise if you are serious.

  9. Estevão Veiga

    The more I read Guest (xenos) and Dean Plassaras, the more I love and respect the Germans.

    • Presumably, that is because they are paying you to write this crap. It becomes more transparent with every post you make.

    • > The more I read …
      Sorry to partially contradict: IMHO Dean Plassaras was not insulting in this thread. He showed his point of view, and he showed argements to confirm it so I can try to learn and understand his point of view.
      That is a fair way of discussions, a way I really like.

      • Estevao Veiga

        Dear Roger,
        Your kindness and candid way of writing is touching, but may I remember you that Dean start the answer to you with the following entry:

        Quote
        I have to interfere here because of outrageous commentary
        Unquote

        Outrageous means the following:
        b. Being well beyond the bounds of good taste: outrageous epithets. 2. Having no regard for morality

        You deserve to be treated better than this, you were respectful and curious.
        It is a continuous mystery to me that, more often than not, the “friends of Greece” think that they have no better way to defend their point of view than to be insulting and totally unrespectful of a different point of view. Is that possible that their standing is so low that they are reduced to that? In the meantime, with this behavior, they are validating all the worst prejudice about the region that the rest of Europe has of them.

      • Guest (xenos)

        I find it interesting, Ms Veiga, that you don’t consider yourself to be a “friend of Greece”. This Freudian slip also reveals you as being a troll.

      • Estevao Veiga

        I put “friends of Greece” between coma for a good reason. If you are a true friend, you will not be sullying the reputation of the country by insulting and using epithet to anybody who present a point of view who diverge from blind praise.

      • Guest (xenos)

        @Veiga
        Blind praise? What praise have I heaped on the Greek state, or politicians, or Cypriot state and politicians? I have expressed opinions on how Germany within the EU framework has behaved towards others. The fact that you take offence at this, indicates that you are more concerned with criticism of Germany than anything else.

        Now, why could that be? It doesn’t make much sense to believe your story that you are a native Portuguese speaker married to a Greek. The trolling is pretty clear, to most of us.

      • Estevao Veiga

        Caro Xenos,
        Assim como eu não falo grego (meus filhos falam, mas não eu), você não fala português, de modo que fica dificil de saber quem está blefando. Mas eu te sugiro encontrar alguem que o fale para que te faça a tradução. Eu tambem falo francês e espagnol no caso em que isto seje mais facil para você. E eu sigo insistindo que não usar xingamentos é o mínimo que você deveria fazer.
        Atenciosamente,
        Estevão

      • Estevao Veiga

        And after the Portuguese, let’s get back with what you wrote:

        ” The fact that you take offence at this, indicates that you are more concerned with criticism of Germany than anything else.”

        Obvious that I am concerned, I have Greek children, you forgot? And Greece is stunningly beautiful. How can I not be angry that the ones who had rendered impossible to my children even to conceive to live there, are now using the Germans as an excuse to avoid to look at the shame that they had inflicted on themselves?
        Germany, Angela Merkel, etc… Are only excuses, I spent the first 20 years of my marriage hearing how the Greeks were smarter and happier than all this stupid North Europeans, and now the fault of the mess is of the Germans? Weren’t the Greeks the smart ones? How could it be that the fault is of the “dumbs”?

      • Guest (xenos)

        @Veiga: as a foreigner here, like me, if you didn’t understand the Greek character — how they like to brag, ridicule their enemies, claim far too much for Greek ability etc. — then this is either because you are stupid or lazy. Then to turn this into some justification for the terrible policies that the Germans are wreaking on southern Europe (not only Greece) indicates that either you are a paid troll or just an idiot.

  10. Who is paying you xenox?

    • For writing on the internet? Nobody. For my professional research in political economy, this includes international agencies, various governments (including Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain) and anyone who wants to read serious and independent analysis.

  11. Flippa, I don’t know who you are – troll? new (ordinary) commentator? – but the english language Ekathimerini comment threads have been taken over for months by trolls representing Turkish or German viewpoints. And since the Cyprus crisis it has become a veritable Troll Swarm. They spout nonsense and disinfo, and their purpose is to break up true exchange of viewpoints and spread propaganda. Fortunately they are so badly educated it is easy to spot them.

    The rest of us are real, known individuals, with telephone numbers in the book and a track record.

    • How old are you Eleni….. 12?

    • Well, any sensible person would be quite scarred to be 100% open with people as prone to insulting as Eleni, Xenos and Dean are.

      • Guest (xenos)

        You can just stop your insults, you nasty little troll. It is because of people like you that I can no longer post my real name on internet discussions.

    • dendrolivanos

      Ideas have been planted in many minds that I am a Turkish ‘troll’. I finally revealed my name, reluctantly because I knew it would unleash a great opportunity for further abuse, and that prying into my details on Facebook would provide other names of friends which would, used inventively, further the aims of the real trolls. Wow, was I right! The first onslaught came from Phoevos, a pseudonym for Constantine, alias also Dean Plassaras. Ludicrous invention.

      Ann Baker is British and I understand her reluctance also to become targeted even more than she is already. I could not find her via Google. She got in touch with me yesterday. No matter what else she may be or have in mind, being a Turkish or perhaps German ‘troll’ is not one of her attributes.

      Hesitating to reply to questioning is understandable when you simply do not know what other bloggers motives are, especially when filthy innuendo has already been hurled at you through that medium. .

  12. You’re welcome!

  13. Just for information: Actually there are several discussions how lots of money left cyprus while banks were closed.

    Todday I got a hint about this Homepage of a fonds manager giving telling his clients how to get to its money out of cyprus. It is written in German, so please use google translate.
    I am shure this kind of hint has been mailed also from lots of other fonds managers to their clients.
    http://blog.eybwallwitz.de/hinweis-an-unsere-kunden-in-zypern-die-londoner-filialen-sind-noch-offen/

    Incredible.

    • Dear Roger,
      If anybody manage to get money out of Cyprus, it will be at the expenses of the other depositors in Cyprus, so, there will be people there paying a steep price for what is happening, wherever your article says.

      • Of course its at the expense of the others depositors.
        I am simply quite shocked.
        By the incompetence or even crime potential of cypriot bank managers that they did not shut down their London branches.
        But as well by the unprofessionality of cyprius banking supervision that they did not realize it and did not force (and perhaps coordinate with london collegues)to a shutdown of ALL branches of the banks.

      • Guest (xenos)

        @Roger
        I know little of banking. But I do know that the Cypriot banks in the UK were obliged to make substantial deposits with the Bank of England, as a foreign bank operating there. It is possible that with this mess of the eurozone in only 2/3 of the EU, that the free movement of capital provisions were relevant for UK branches (and not for other branches in the eurozone, such as in Greece). In other words, the Cypriot banks by law could not block transfers to the UK.

        If I am correct, then the fault (again) is with the European Union. Do not try to blame Cyprus for everything that has gone wrong. Generally, the EU has made a terrible mess of everything concerning money — and a large part of the blame lies with Germany (but not all, of course).

  14. Roger:

    Perhaps you don’t know this but I have withdrawn from this blog to let it flourish on its own. (and in order to relieve you from the oppression that my presence seems to generate ). So, two birds with one stone.🙂

    Therefore please don’t try to engage me in conversation here because it would not be possible.

    You asked to see a map showing the effect of the 2 British bases EEZ according to the Annan plan (should the proposed language had passed and adopted). Having some difficulty is attaching an actual map, nevertheless, I found a video (which is in Greek – so please disregard the language and focus on imagery instead).

    At about minute 1:33 you will see a colored map made up of orange, light purple, brown and green sections mostly over the area of the current Cyprus blocks offered for bidding.

    So, the light purple and brown would have been the EEZ area of the 2 bases which gets bigger as they fan out from land. What you see there in pink ( Block 12 ) is the only verified discovery so far which would have been completely claimed by the the UK base EEZ. In fact both the brown and purple EEZs contain the choicest pieces of all the blocs which have now been given to French, Italian and US companies to explore. The reason that block 12 is the only one verified so far is because it’s an extension of the Israeli Leviathan field with the Israelis being about 5 years ahead of Cyprus on exploration and extraction.

    This is what we mean when we say the Annan plan was a trap. On one hand it resolved some “communal” issues on the other the mineral wealth of Cyprus was handed in a bag for others to own. Needless to say that if the island had reunified or in the process of reunification a la Annan and subsequently such “sell out” issue was discovered, any politics would have collapsed. It would have been impossible to rationalize a pseudo-reunification under such circumstances.

    • “Therefore please don’t try to engage me in conversation here because it would not be possible.”

      He was successful!

  15. He always says that, then return swith a new name that’s Dean, but you will recognise his style, offensive. As for Guest well, all we ever here is how highly intelligent he is and how all these countries are begging him for help. As you can read if you disagree with them then you are branded as a Turk, which is used derogatively and as a racist remark. They are anti German in every way, anti Turkish, Just don’t give them any personal information as for sure that’s what they are after. I was told that Dean lives in USA and obviously family left Greece after the war, which could account for his bitterness. Guest is supposed to be English, very strange as not at all gentlemanly and as he purports to be an intellectual, even more surprising. Maybe he is UKIP supporter as is definitely anti EU.
    I don’t blog here anymore as it simply isn’t worth while, they don’t want to discuss, simply to insult, and it’s very childish.

    • Ann: enough with the offensive trolling. You are obviously not British, so you can stop that pretence. I think Dean is right, you are a Turk with pretty good English.

      I have asked around the British expat community here, nobody knows you apart from your online antics and massive letter writing to English language Greek newspapers. After all these years in Greece, you cannot write in simple Greek? Even I can, and my work is always in English.

      • Guest (xenos)

        Incidentally, I work with many Turkish academics and have no disagreements of any sort with them. Very civilised and decent people.

      • dendrolivanos

        Ideas have been planted in many minds that I am a Turkish ‘troll’. I finally revealed my name, reluctantly because I knew it would unleash a great opportunity for further abuse, and that prying into my details on Facebook would provide other names of friends which would, used inventively, further the aims of the real trolls. Wow, was I right! The first onslaught came from Phoevos, a pseudonym for Constantine, alias also Dean Plassaras. Ludicrous invention.

        Ann Baker is British and I understand her reluctance also to become targeted even more than she is already. I could not find her via Google. She got in touch with me yesterday. No matter what else she may be or have in mind, being a Turkish or perhaps German ‘troll’ is not one of her attributes.

        Hesitating to reply to questioning is understandable when you simply do not know what other bloggers motives are, especially when filthy innuendo has already been hurled at you through that medium.

        Many of you have been led astray by an unprincipled operator in California at the last address, although he does move around. Described as an ‘eccentric’, he is a disturbed individual whose motivation may stem from earlier traumatic experiences.

        Of course I am only surmising, based on my own investigation and educated experience. You should give this some thought, but my opinion is that he is hoodwinking eKathimerini and also using this opportunity with ‘ Inside Greece’, in some way, to further unethical and devious intentions.

      • Guest (xenos)

        Well, Rosemary: I did not accuse you of being a troll. If Ann is not, then she should be more careful in what she writes and how she responds to others. Her comments to me are offensive.

        As far as your other points are concerned, I have no knowledge of them and am not able to comment. However, I do know from the moderators at openDemocracy that there are serious problems with trolls with a clear political agenda. I have also been caught up in fights with one of them who is a known US academic, trolling under pseudonyms and part of network of Zionists. It is one of several reasons that I no longer post under my real name on discussion sites.

    • dendrolivanos

      He’s been rumbled!

      • dendrolivanos

        Xenos, thank you. Of course you are polite to me. I’m referring to comments on EKathimerini. I had given up following on ‘Inside Greece’ and was aware only of scraps here about economic/banking etc matters.

        Comments about me to others and made directly to me have shocked me extremely, They were viscious, obscene, disgusting and absolutely uncalled for.

  16. dendrolivanos

    I add here, Xenos, that Dean Plassaras invented the most scurrilous lies about me on the basis of what he found on Facebook and the fact that I am interested in islamic Art and Architecture, and have travelled with like-minded groups to study and photograph these.

    I have done the same for the Italian Renaissance and have at least a metre width of books on the subject. Indian Art also.

    • Guest (xenos)

      I am sorry to hear about these internet problems you have had. It seems that we have a long way to go before making people accountable for their behaviour on the internet. Obviously, realnames policy would help, but those of us who started off using our real names have mostly given up for the sort of reasons you cite. It is really a terrible mess, and mostly the fault of politicians in North America and Europe for their abject failure to regulate anything (including banks) honestly and appropriately, while protecting people’s freedom of expression.

      Taking a larger view, it is a crisis of democracy in advanced countries — paradoxically, while democracy in poorer countries is actually increasing.

  17. dendrolivanos

    Freedom of expression must be respected, but not beyond the point where a person can use libel and slander, with impunity, in order to attack those who disagree with him.

    Dean Plassaras, who may reappear under yet another new identity, is able, in a very cowardly way, to promote his agenda by taking advantage of anonymity. He has attracted, by means which I do not understand (unless they themselves are similarly addicted to unethical behaviour), a number of slavish acolytes who take up his cause and extend the abuse such as I have experienced. The possibility has been suggested that reward accrues to his uncritical admirers, for following his lead.

    I have not described the worst of the disgusting suggestions and comments which were orchestrated and presented by ‘Phoevos’, (another identity used by ‘Dean Plassaras’), on Ekathimerini. However I presume that the Editor is aware, or should have been aware of what was happening. Certainly other bloggers were and there were signs of disapproval towards ‘Phoevos’. But no comment from Nick Malkoutzis, the Editor.
    . .

  18. Pardon me Guest, my comments to you were offensive Have you checked back at all on your comments to me, together with Dean. You accused me of being a troll, and other nasty remarks. You then stated that I was a person that wouldn’t listen to advice etc., when you have no idea who I am. I was shocked at your comments together with Dean, who I knew was extremely rude to many people that made comments he didn’t agree with. On Kathimerini now they are even insulting our families, what sort of people they are, I have no idea but they should be ashamed. What is the point of having a site like this if people cannot have different views.
    As for who I am, exactly what I have stated. I am British, have a business here, sold my UK business and my home and invested everything here in Greece with my Husband who is Greek No secrets, no mystery, we still go to work every day, cannot sell our factory, like many experiencing very difficult times, but keep hoping.

    • dendrolivanos

      Very true Ann, ‘Phoevos’ , ‘Dean Plassaras’ as he is known here insulted my family. my grandfather’s brothers, my mother her sister and her cousins, as well as myself. His comments (in Ekathimerini) were immediately followed by further related insults by several of his followers. The subject was German PoWs who worked on our farms during the war and particularly the continuing friendship with the family of one of them.

      I wonder how the editorial staff read this and made no attempt to intervene.

      • Hi Dean

        “insulted my family. my grandfathers brothers, my mother her sister and her cousins, as well as myself. The subject was German PoWs who worked on our farms during the war and particularly the continuing friendship with the family of one of them.”

        Did you do that? I can’t remember anything like that. Where on earth would those farms be – France? [?]

        This is an old technique. This is also no nice old hippie lady but the alternative voice of Ann Baker!

      • Guest (xenos)

        Again, I cannot comment on things that I know nothing of. However, it seems to me that there are two paradigms that are relevant. First, is that if someone makes childish insults then it is best to ignore them. The second is that if those insults contain detailed knowledge about yourself and your family, then this is probably something that should be pursued with law enforcement agencies. It amounts to harassment, and certainly the US authorities are capable of tracking down such behaviour. Greek authorities (sigh) have very limited interest and resources, but they do pursue this in the case of paedophilia and trafficking. It may be worth asking…

    • @Ann. I started to think that you were a troll from your behaviour. You should consider why that would be. And yes, your comments to me were gratuitously offensive — as opposed to mine which were incidentally not so polite, but really trying to establish if you are a genuine commenter or a troll.

      It is not a matter of people having different opinions, not at all. I do stand by one assertion that I made, however — which is that you don’t seem too interested in having a serious debate, but merely wish to impose your own opinion on others.

  19. dendrolivanos

    ‘Elenits’, another hidden identity?

  20. Xenos, I’ve read your comment of today at 12;21. It is very appropriate.

    My thoughts are exactly in accordance with yours on this subject of harassment. I’m considering the possibility of involving the relevant US authorities. As you surmise, the Greek authorities would be of little use…at least that is what i think.

  21. dendrolivanos

    Xenos, looking back to your comment on March 28th, which is “I insult insincere trolls, as does Dean” OK but Dean insults vehemently people, such as myself, who are NOT INSINCERE TROLLS.

    There is an important distinction here. Dean insults people who differ from his expressed views, and being unable to formulate polite responses, he sinks to the lowest level of insult, lies, abusive remarks and he invents false stories as a result of his seeking names of my friends on Facebook; also uses my remarks in ekathimerini about the wartime employment of PoWs on our farms to make further insulting and lewd accusations. disgusting. Remarks which, rather than admit, he has now deleted from the blogs. On ekathimerini he blogged as Phoevos, previously as Dean.

    Also he gathered a nasty coterie of like-minded slobs to continue the abuse…

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