WE are now in the midst of the fortnight that marks three years since an economic crime, unprecedented in our history, was committed. The ‘haircut’ of bank deposits was a repugnant and unprecedented political act. It was in effect national theft with the main protagonists being the 56 demagogues that made up the House of Representatives on March 19, 2013.
The memory of the paranoid situation prevailing in that March fortnight still causes fear. Apart from our political scoundrels, we also had the numerous economic experts, who were appearing from morning till midnight on our television screens, in radio studios and newspaper pages, participating in and encouraging the schizophrenic hysteria that speedily led to that unforgettable catastrophe.
All of them posed as authorities and uncompromising patriots who would supposedly give a ‘lesson’ to Chancellor Merkel and the EU. It was all talk. I will not refer in depth to the freakish results of that collective loss of rationality. A bank closed down, tens of thousands of citizens – Cypriot and foreigners – overnight lost their assets (€8 billion in total), thousands of pensioners saw a life-time’s savings disappear, thousands of businesses were forced to close down, foreign depositors lost billions, shareholders of banks and bondholders were left holding worthless pieces of paper and employees saw their pension funds wiped out. Even the orphaned children of the Helios air disaster lost the money they had received in compensation for losing their parents. It was an economic tsunami that destroyed tens of thousands of people.
Shock and awe is also caused by the provocation of the culprits. Even now the heartless political demagogues have the nerve to stand and condemn the haircut and blame their crime on President Anastasiades. The facts are well-known: in the early hours of March 16, 2013, after a dramatic all-night negotiations, during which all our partners wanted us to close our two biggest banks, the Cypriot delegation led by Anastasiades succeeded, thanks to the decisive backing of IMF chief Christine Lagarde and ECB member Joerg Asmussen, to reach a deal that under the circumstances would have rescued us from the worst case scenario. There would be €10 billion for saving the state and to rescue the banks there would be a levy on all bank deposits – 6.75 per cent on deposits below €100,000 and 9.9 per cent for those above.
Very correctly this contribution was described as a caress compared to the appalling crime of the haircut that followed when the House of demagogues rejected the levy. Our politicians however, to this day, claim that the first deal was allegedly a haircut of deposits that countered the EU directive for the guarantee of bank deposits to €100,000. I will repeat that this is a conscious, obscene lie. It was not a haircut but an extraordinary tax that the state had every right to impose in order to deal with an extraordinary situation. The relevant bill clearly stated that it was a tax. In the same way the state collects a tax on immovable property it would have imposed a one-off levy on bank deposits.
Had the House of the irresponsible demagogues voted through that bill, the massacre of the haircut would not have followed one week later and people would not have suffered the losses I mentioned above. Consequently, there cannot be any doubt that the guilty parties for the heinous crime of the haircut were the 56 demagogues of the House (including the DISY deputies who hypocritically abstained from the voting, incurring the wrath of the Eurogroup). We, their victims, must never forget this.
I have written in the past that if these 56 deputies were living in ancient Athens they would have been put to death by law for the harm they caused the people and the city. Because in Cyprus, unfortunately, we do not have such a law today, I would like to propose another, much smaller, punishment. We should not vote any of the 56 in the forthcoming presidential elections.
In my opinion, if we vote again for even one of these people, all of us who were their victims would in effect be rewarding them for their crime.