I had better admit that I have had a history with Cyprus; you could describe it as a hate-love relationship. My earliest memory was as part of a four man patrol searching for EOKA execution squads, landing on a beach and sneaking up through lemon groves in a bitter winter and finding that the lemons on the trees were frozen solid.
Much later I became good friends with Socrates Evripadou and his family in Limassol and came to love the island and its happy people. Socrates is long dead but I have such happy memories. I never confessed to him my part in its history although I know that he would have brushed it away.
However I do know that along with the rest of his compatriots he would not have stood by and accepted the barefaced robbery proposed by the EU. He would have been up there with those demonstrators waving a banner with a picture of Merkel adorned with an Adolph Hitler moustache and giving the Nazi salute ‘Sieg Heil.
What will the unhappy Cypriots do? Will they mortgage themselves to a dodgy, authoritarian kleptocracy? Or – drum-roll – will they spurn the EU and take Russia’s money instead?
Actually, there is a far better option: an option offered by another thinly populated island on the fringes of Europe whose financial sector had outgrown its economy. Cyprus could copy Iceland, let its banks collapse, and leave their shareholders and bondholders to sustain the loss.
There is often a perception lag when it comes to foreign countries. Most people in the EU still have the idea that Iceland is in economic meltdown. In fact, as I have blogged before it has bounced back impressively from the 2008 crash, and public opinion is solidly against EU membership. Icelanders are a canny people. They know that, though they have been through a dip, their standard of living is still higher than 24 of the EU’s 27 members, and is improving more rapidly than anywhere in the euro zone. All this despite the best efforts of their Green-Socialist coalition to penalise business through bizarre eco-regulations.
Why don’t Brussels leaders want Cyprus to follow the Icelandic model? Well, you can’t fault their honesty. The expropriations are necessary, admits the European Central Bank, to prevent ‘worries over the reversibility of the euro resurfacing’. Cypriots, in other words, are being sacrificed to the greater goal of monetary union. They will become a second Greece, vassals to their EU creditors.
After all, think of it from the Eurocrats’ point of view. What if Cyprus were to default, decouple, devalue – and then prosper? What effect would a successful return to the Cyprus Pound have on the rest of the euro zone?
What I can forecast is that the people of Cyprus will not just lie down and let the Eurocrats stamp their jackboots all over them. They will find another Georgios Grivas or Archbishop Makarios to lead them.