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Our View: A dangerous expertise in avoiding tough decisions

MPs rejecting the first haircut in March 2013

IN the absence of anything very damaging to discredit the Anastasiades government, his rival candidates keep returning to his 2013 pre-election pledge that he would never allow the haircut of bank deposits.

After the latest onslaught, the president admitted “this was my big mistake”, explaining that “when you do not precisely know the prevailing economic conditions, you should not take responsibility, because you might not be able honour your commitments.”

This was a cop-out, said Stavros Malas because it was not possible for him to plead ignorance of the problems he had promised to solve before he was elected. He had gone unprepared to the Eurogroup meeting of March 2013, charged Giorgos Lillikas while Nicolas Papadopoulos argued that Anastasiades had tried to fool the people by sending to the House the bill for a levy on all bank deposits, fully aware that deposits up to €100,000 were protected by the EU.

Strictly speaking, this was not correct because the Eurogroup had given the go-ahead to the levy, which would have been a better solution than what followed a week later.

The reality was that nobody supported the first version – not even Anastasiades, who, in private, told party bosses to vote it down and he would secure big loans to cover the country’s needs. He sent his then finance minister, Michalis Sarris, to Moscow where he failed to secure a cent in help.

In rejecting the first haircut, the politicians committed the type of mistake which has become a feature of political life and consists of putting off a difficult decision in the unjustified belief they would secure something better in the future. Within a week of their defiant stand, Cyprus was forced to accept a much worse deal, including the winding down of Laiki Bank. The same happened a few months earlier when then President Demetris Christofias refused to agree to a bail-out, under the illusion that he could secure another big loan from Russia. Meanwhile the situation became much worse.

It is the exact same approach that has been adopted in the case of the Cyprus problem. Opportunities to sign a deal in 1978, 1985, 2004 and 2017 were spurned, each and every time, in the misguided belief that we would secure a better deal in the future.

This future never arrives, while with every passing year the north moves closer to becoming a province of Turkey. Turkish business has invested huge amounts of money in the north, the flow of settlers continues and it is only a matter of time before the Turkish Cypriots become a minority. Who will we negotiate with when the leader in the north is a Turk?

Our politicians have developed an expertise in missing opportunities by putting off decisions. This tendency was displayed again in 2013, but yet again we failed to learn that time waits for no man.





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