“This is the end of life as we know it in Cyprus.” This is a feeling expressed by many Cypriots today.
It makes me sad. This beautiful country that I have adopted as my home is no longer what it used to be.
When I first visited the island in 1995, I fell in love with it. We stayed for a year. At 25-years- old, the possibilities were endless. We explored the island, visited villages where time stood still and people were relaxed and friendly.
For me it was paradise. There was still a sense of “It takes a village” where people were compassionate and helped other people.
But after days of uncertainty, Cypriots, me included, are tired and angry. They feel betrayed by the EU. In the end, they were backed against a wall with nowhere to go but to accept a bailout deal that they felt would kill Cyprus altogether or at least its banking system which is tied so closely to its economy.
The bailout deal involves a cut of about 40% of deposits over 100,000.00 Euros at the Bank of Cyprus and the split of Laiki Bank into a good and bad bank. Only deposits up to 100,000.00 Euros will be secured at Laiki Bank and will be transferred to the Bank of Cyprus. In other words, it will be the end of Laiki Bank (the second largest bank on the island). Ultimately, thousands will lose their jobs. Some of these people I know personally.
According to some Cypriots, the terms of the 10 billion Euro bailout were unreasonable, considering Greece received over 100 billion without cuts to their personal deposits. Is it possible that this was a political move on the EU’s part?
If Cyprus’ economy is destroyed or at the very least run down to a deep recession, could the stronger EU states (i.e. Germany) impose restrictions or regulations for control of Cyprus’ natural gas reserves? And even push Cyprus into an unacceptable solution to the Cyprus problem that has been plaguing the Island since the 1974 Turkish invasion? Some Cypriots think so.
In my humble opinion, I believe EU made a big mistake. What will happen when the next member state needs a bailout? Will the EU go after their deposits as well? I don’t think that will happen since no one will be depositing their money into banks at the end of the day.
In the end, the EU markets will suffer. The trust that was once there is no longer and after this fiasco, I doubt citizens of any country in the EU will ever be able to trust the banking system with their money.
Now there is uneasiness in Cyprus. People are worried about their future and especially their children’s future. I know I am.
I guess I am one of the “lucky” ones. I don’t have 100,000.00 Euros in the bank. I won’t lose any money to the haircut. But how will the economy react? Businesses had already started closing down in the past year. What will happen to my business if Cypriots don’t have the cash to buy?
Several of the banks were supposed to open today, and again it has been delayed. The government feels there will be a run on the banks when they do open.
Last night, they announced that policemen were going to be posted at all bank branches in order to prevent mayhem. And as I drove around Nicosia there seemed to be a noticeable presence of policemen on the streets. This is not the Cyprus that I once knew.
Time will tell in the next few days. Although I am angry, I still feel hopeful that the future will be bright for my daughter. It can only go up from here.
President Anastassiades said it best during his speech last night when he told the entire country to be strong and to have courage and that together we will get through these tough times.
I believe in his words and many Cypriots are behind him. In the end, it was what we needed to do to avoid a worse alternative.
Cypriots are a proud people. They picked themselves up and rebuilt their lives after the Turkish invasion in 1974, and will do it again this time around. But it remains to be seen at what price.
And after all is said and done, I only have one wish, and that is for my daughter to be able to see Cyprus as it once was not too long ago.
Shemaine Bushnell was a longtime Fox News journalist based in Los Angeles when she and her husband moved to his native Cyprus in 2005. They have an importing business in Nicosia.