Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

Cutting the ties to priests and parties

By Hermes Solomon

There will be no resolution of the Cyprob until all chapters are agreed insists our president, and every other politician besides, knowing full well that these present talks are unlikely to attain an all-chapters-agreed goal.

The media only informs us when the two protagonists will next meet up but nothing about the contents/conclusions of any previous meeting. Successive governments keeping us in the dark have become an art form.

The un-newsworthy content of constant tussles between political parties and which of our spoon fed politicians will become the next Euro MPs take precedence over our presumed gas wealth, the Cyprob talks or the true state of our banks and the economy.

An Anglo-Cypriot resident wrote to me: “The news in Cyprus is far too depressing for words and I feel it’s simply a question of living day to day in an almost hermit-like state.

Cyprus as a state has ceased to function with everyone seemingly paralysed like rabbits in the glare of headlights. It’s hardly surprising when the powers that be are both incapable and unwilling to make meaningful decisions.”

Why have there not been more meaningful public demonstrations against privatisation, bank and developer theft and rising unemployment?

Is it because we are easy to identify if caught on camera and fear being labelled a trouble maker – this having dire consequences if a civil servant or when seeking favours in kind or visiting our bank manager to extend loan facilities.

In other words, the ordinary man was long ago bludgeoned into submission.

Murderers, bank robbers and burglars are almost always caught due to Cyprus being a small island and everybody interlinked somehow or other.

But bankers have been allowed to get away with mass theft simply because nobody in power dare point the finger for fear of being accused of moving funds just ahead of the bail-in. It would be easier to name those few of our elite who didn’t.

Most of us have cousins, koumbari or spouses well enough placed to ‘get us out of jail’. Politics, business and law is a game of Monopoly; those with the most ‘chips’ and best connections own the island, while the unconnected become increasingly disconnected and end up paying the bill.

It is time we grew up and stopped sucking up to perfidious ‘superiors’ for the sake of ‘dried up’ favours.

The Greeks did so two years into their now five years of serious recession, when cardiologist, George Vichas organised free healthcare and medicines denied to over four million citizens in a country populated by 13 million.

In December 2011, Vichas founded the Greek Centre for Social and Medical Care, situated in a suburb of Athens. After daytime work at a public hospital, he treats the unemployed and ever increasing number of pitifully poor.

Dozens of doctors have joined him in offering their services voluntarily and similar facilities are now spread evenly throughout Greece.

His system, running in parallel with the state system, is based on solidarity and benevolence in a country which owes millions to pharmaceutical laboratories and healthcare employees while the income of public sector surgeons has been slashed to 1,300 euros a month.

Can I see a similar agonising state of affairs arising here? Well, after spotting several formerly wealthy private sector doctors at a Bank of Cyprus bondholders’ meeting, yes I can, especially after the Nicosia General ran out of beds and outpatients must now wait six weeks for a blood test.

Like Greece, public services here are running on a shoestring and few can afford private healthcare.

Some say there will be a debt re-set with a grand wiping clean of slates; a sort of financial re-boot, which has never happened before. But a steady decline into poverty (now called deflationary spiral) is inevitable.

The troika started us down this road with no light at the end of the tunnel other than unsubstantiated promises of an early economic upturn, forgetting that Greece is into its fifth year of recession and we only into our second.

Prior to the Crimea fiasco and fall of 20 per cent in value of the rouble against the euro, the CTO predicted a greatly increased number of Russian/Ukrainian tourists this summer. Last year, tourism was seriously harmed by the bail-in and this year, Crimea.

What will it be next year?

We could well end up worse than Greece, which did not suffer a bail-in, but instead saw incomes slashed astronomically and the jobless number rise to almost 30 per cent.

Tied as most of us are to the ‘party line’ or priests’ skirts, with packed churches and one packed pointless political convention following another, will we ever elect a competent government?

Does our president’s persistent smirk combined with grandiloquent patriotic outbursts mask disaster or confirm it?

I have heard it said that when, a generation ago, we dismounted donkeys, donkeys climbed into Mercedes. That, surely, is an overstatement! Yet my correspondent comparing Cypriots with rabbits caught in headlights and I, donkeys in Mercs, might suggest government is treating us like farm animals, where all animals are equal but some animals more equal than others!

Political parties playing musical chairs rather than rebuilding the economy and solving the Cyprob only prolongs our crisis. It’s time the music stopped!

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