EU meltdown: And the next victim is...Cyprus!
How wonderful for the people of Cyprus, how joyous they must be at having joined the jolly Euro-Club. Why, now their hard-earned savings are going to be stolen from their bank accounts before their very eyes, while the people who got them into this mess receive millions in bonuses. Welcome to the EU!
The idea was good originally: create a club of friendly nations, a free trading area devoid of animosity which could spill over into war. France and Germany friends and not foes, Germany's tremendous energies and synergies harnessed and geared towards a European project and not ancient Anglo-Saxonic fantasies of Lebensraum and Wandern. As EFTA, the free trade area, moved to encompass the entire continent, a new spirit of togetherness was tangible.
Suddenly the British did not regard the French as garlic-guzzling cheese-eating surrender monkeys with strings of onions round their necks, riding to work in a hooped blue and white T-shirt and a cap, saying "Ooh, la la!" and "Dites-donc!" Suddenly, Germans weren't greeted by jingoistic and disgusting phrases such as "Who won the bloody war then?" when their football team thrashed England for the thirty-ninth time. Suddenly there were smiles and handshakes. And even a few kisses.
That was at the popular level. However, while all this was going on, and while at the same time western Europeans were discovering that their brothers and sisters to the East had superior education systems preparing them admirably for the workplace, at a higher level, sinister anti-democratic experiments were being drawn up.
Welcome to the Treaties of Maastricht (1992), Nice (2001) and Lisbon (2007), pie-in-the-sky, cloud-cuckoo-land fantasies which wholly disrespected the leverage countries had gained throughout thousands of years of history, imposing the same model in a top-down process devoid of democratic consent. It was an experiment which could have been a valid approach to implement over half a century or more but the way it was forced upon the people of Europe within a decade of conception as over-enthusiastic Eurocrats went too far and too fast, built the proverbial house on the sand.
How can Greece's economy possibly be compared to Germany's, or Sweden's or Denmark's? Let us not be too hasty to apportion the blame and place it squarely upon Germany's shoulders yet again - there are a myriad of reasons why Germany is more prosperous than its southern neighbours and if it has managed to create a market of 300 million people to buy its goods and support its industry, then congratulations are more in order than jealousy.
It therefore comes as no surprise that the peripherical economies, one by one, start to creak, groan and go under. By the time they receive their bail-outs, they are, to use the correct word, screwed and regally so. If they did not have the means to meet their obligations before crippling austerity conditions came along with the poisoned chalice of financial aid, taking money out of the economies and shrinking them instead of pumping money into them, with less money coming into the exchequer and more money outgoing in social benefits, coupled with gravity-defying interest payments on the loans, where can they go but downwards?
And who then will buy Germany's (excellent) products? The dire situation in which Cypriots find themselves today, with the virtual theft of their hard-earned savings due to the incompetence of the banking sector, mismanagement by the new euro-class of professional politicians which has appeared from the management schools across Europe and contagion from a sinking Greece is yet another of the Eurozone's sob-stories.
Let us be honest: can anyone really expect the Germans to foot the bill time and time again? No, and neither should we expect the economy of Cyprus to perform in the same way. What happened to that wave of goodwill which existed before Maastricht opened the gates of Hell? Next time round, ask the people first.