Berlin meddling and Brussels incompetence = crisis

The UK has its eye off the ball on this one: we need to wake up

This morning’s Daily Telegraph relegates the Cyprus story at the expense of George Osborne’s UK Budget, but this represents a classic case of parochial journalism: the UK press obviously prefers covering the death of a salesman to what the Irish Independent yesterday called ‘the slow death of the  eurozone’. What’s happening hour by hour in Cyprus is the biggest story in the world on two crucial geopolitical levels: defying the Brussels mafia, and a surfacing of the more important Major Power concerns in the South Eastern Europe/North Africa axis of energy.

The Cypriot parliament didn’t just reject the bailout scheme yesterday: it deliberately ignored late attempts by Brussels-am-Berlin to retrieve the situation. And then it said “Go take a running jump”. 36 votes against, 19 abstentions, zero votes in favour: this is more ejection than rejection.

Hardly had the discussion started in the Cypriot Parliament than Greeks were comparing the plain-speaking response of the Cyprus Parliament with the gutless toadying of their own elite. Said centre-left DEKO’s Party leader,

“The decision we will take today, isn’t painless, its historic. Our country is under unjust and premeditated attack. Eurogroup’s decision is a blackmail, we want our reply today to be a European one, not just Cypriot. It is clear now, the problem isn’t economic, it’s political, it’s geopolitical. We propose the rejection of Eurogroup’s decisions.”

Equally uncompromising were the comments of  Yiannakis Omirou from EDEK, who said “Our proposal is to say No to agreement and renegotiation” or Dimitris Syllouris from EUROKO claiming “Cyprus can live without the Troika.”

Some speakers referred to the European Union as “having mutated into loan sharks”, and “villains” who hide confiscation behind “a tax when no tax is due”.

Some media have reported that the Cypriot President has called an emergency meeting of party leaders ‘in a frantic effort to put together a plan B after MPs rejected the terms of the bailout’, bu sources on the island deny this: they suggest that, having been given an ultimatum last Friday by Schäuble and the FinMins, they were happy to let the vote go ahead. (For this reason, the much-heralded postponement of the rejection vote didn’t take place.)

Be under no illusion, this is defiance: and the Führerin to the North did the expected thing late yesterday by warning Cyprus not to enter into negotiations with Russia, insisting this action could result in eurozone disintegration. Wolfgang Schäuble added his own threat, warning the country against “irresponsible solutions” – and insisting that the Cyprus economy had been “unsustainable for decades”.

This is complete bollocks, ignoring conveniently as it does that the economic, banking and geopolitical importance of Cyprus goes way beyond the days when it was a tiny island exporting potatoes. Its banking system was destroyed by loyally investing in the Greek recovery and then taking the hit after Draghi’s illegal haircut. Meanwhile, Big Geli ploughed on, her spokesman insisting that “The chancellor once again emphasises that the negotiations are to be conducted only with the troika (the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund)”. But Frau Doktor Merkel the fridge-collector is the Chancellor of Germany, not the EU.

Eurozone finance ministers say they remain ready to help Cyprus, but as of today the islanders aren’t in the mood to hear any further half-truths and spin: several of them are already in Moscow. Here they seek to secure further Russian investment on Cyprus, but chiefly the aim is to strike while the iron is hot. The discussions follow President Nicos Anastasiades’ half-hour phone call with Vladimir Putin, Russian president, after the vote on Tuesday night. Mr Anastasiades’ spokesman said the talks were “fruitful and constructive”. Predictably, this has all taken the twerps at the FCO by surprise (plus reste la même chose), but not The Slog:  You read it here first. So stay tuned to the site that saw this coming.

Also related from the archives: Cyprus – an election threat for Merkel?