Time seems to be passing so quickly that it’s almost hard to believe that three years have gone by since the world was plunged into panic over a pandemic the likes of which has not been seen since the Spanish flu 100 years earlier.
Like 2020 and 2021, last year was another one of great uncertainty. Covid has not gone, though the worst of it seems to be over. The WHO has not yet changed the pandemic status and classed Covid-19 as endemic which might offer a small bit of relief from constantly living under its shadow.
On top of still having to still deal with Covid, 2022 brought us the results of the lockdown policies of the previous two years that saw many businesses shuttered and people lose their jobs. Continued restrictions, especially in China, also affected the supply chain. All of the Covid restrictions implemented around the world have brought us higher inflation, which began to hit home in the middle of the year.
This was all exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and also caused the biggest energy crisis probably since World War II, according to some. The results of hikes in energy prices, like inflation, has hit the bottom strata of society the hardest and there is no end in sight. Indeed, it might be just beginning.
So although the Covid uncertainty on a personal level may have waned a great deal in the past 12 months for a lot of people, inflation, the Ukraine war and the energy crisis are still with us and the extent of their impact in 2023 cannot be predicted.
In Cyprus, we’re pondering the same big questions as the rest of the world. Will the Ukraine conflict descend into nuclear war, or a new world war? Where will the energy crisis ultimately lead and how will people’s standard of living be impacted?
In addition to that, some changes at home will include a new church leader and a new president and cabinet early in 2023. The only big question here is how the Cyprus problem will move forward… or not. Will the new archbishop be more conciliatory on the Cyprus issue and influence the faithful in a positive way? Even so, a lot will depend on the outcome of elections in Turkey in June. One thing we can probably count on is that the UN will likely give it one last shot. Whether that happens within 2023 or kicks off in the second half of the year, only time will tell.
The island’s fate on the other big issues affecting people will be dictated by global developments and is not in the hands of the current government or the new government for that matter.
One part of their job will be to follow instructions from Brussels on the reforms that have already been laid down under the EU’s recovery plan or lose out financially. This comes irrespective of who is in power.
The second and hardest part will be implementing these reforms when it comes to the crunch. Some will be very unpopular, especially those related to the EU’s Green Deal that will burden consumers even further with new fossil-fuel taxes, a new water tax, waste tax and other ‘malus’ measures referred to in the plan to ‘prompt’ the public to change their behaviour.
As these measures start to be rolled out, there is likely to be some pushback from unions and special-interest groups that we could see in the coming 12 months as well, probably including the public service. Labour unrest due to the cost-of-living crisis has hit a lot of countries in Europe lately and Cyprus is not likely to be immune if things get worse.
On a positive note, some of the changes that are coming may finally force the creation of a new public transport system into being and eventually put an end to the over-use of private cars. Overall, while we are not dealing with a full-blown pandemic going into 2023, and while we’re likely to see those rapid – welcome and unwelcome – changes in the green arena, there may finally be a sense of moving forward, not backwards after almost three years of stagnation. Cyprus’ tourism did well in 2022 and should fully recover in 2023, a year ahead of predictions.
However, much surrounding that and other aspects of life in 2023 will be dictated by global developments, even more so as long as the words ‘nuclear war’ are being bandied about. People and economies need stability to thrive and grow and this has been in very short supply in recent years.
It’s harder now to plan for the future, sometimes even for a simple holiday, but people are resilient for the most part so even if 2023 is not likely to bring about a full return to pre-pandemic conditions, most have already adapted to what is widely termed the ‘new normal’. Whether ‘this new order of things’ as quoted by one of our officials recently, turns out for the best or not, remains to be seen.
We’ll know much more about it in the coming 12 months.
Happy New Year!