TODAY’S military parade to mark the 53rd anniversary of the Cyprus Republic will not feature any vehicles – tanks, personnel carriers, artillery etc – because the state is on a cost-cutting drive and spending a few hundreds of thousands of euro on petrol is considered, quite rightly, a waste of money. Putting army vehicles on parade is a luxury we can no longer afford because we have bankrupted the state whose anniversary we are celebrating today.
After half a century, a ruling elite of corrupt politicians, greedy trade unionists, dishonest businessmen and self-serving lawyers has sucked the state dry. For more than 50 years they had been plundering the state, lawfully and unlawfully, covering up for each other and sharing out the spoils. Backhanders and bribery, as the Dromolaxia scandal shows, were the norm, everyone receiving a piece of the cake for services rendered, while the taxpayer picked up the bloated bill.
The state existed to be plundered, to dispense favours and to protect the interests and privileges of those running it.
We ended up with a bloated public sector, employing 70,000 of the working population, paying scandalously high wages and pensions that the state could not afford, costly, state-owned, union-run monopolies ripping off the public, the second, highest-paid state school teachers in the EU that also worked the fewest hours, state officials who used their positions to become wealthy and self-serving politicians that uttered patriotic platitudes while feathering their nests.
This, regrettably, is what the Cyprus Republic has been about in its 53-year history. We cannot even boast that after 53 years, we built a State in which there is rule of law, let alone equality before the law. There is open discrimination in the law which guarantees public employees and state officials with rights that ordinary citizens do not enjoy. We have created a dysfunctional justice system that serves the wrong-doer much better than the law-abiding citizen, used primarily as a money-making vehicle for lawyers.
We managed to create a state that commands no respect among its citizens because it has become synonymous with corruption, theft, incompetence, profligacy and ineffectiveness. It is state that was designed to serve the ruling elite, the greed and incompetence of which, inevitably led to bankruptcy. Have we learnt anything from this? Is it realistic to expect the people who destroyed the state to re-build it with a firm foundation? Could they be trusted?
Probably not, but this time our elite would not be left to its own devices. The state re-building will take place with the help and under the close supervision of outsiders, the much-maligned troika, which raise hopes that the abject failure of the last 53 years would not be repeated.