By Kyriacos Kyriacou – Nicosia
At a Eurogroup meeting last march, unprecedented economic measures were decided against the citizens of Cyprus – causing a global shock – in exchange for a 10 billion loan to the Mediterranean islands’ government. Measures included the closing of the second largest bank of the island “Laiki bank” and a raid on savings in the largest bank, “Bank of Cyprus”. However, it was the Cypriots weak reaction to the shocking measures that caused most surprise to foreign media representatives, who traveled to the capital city Nicosia seeking for drama. They were expecting to cover massive protests and street clashes with police forces, images often seen in Greece, Italy, Spain and other EU countries, with similar financial problems.
They left disappointed
A week after the Eurogroup meeting, foreign journalists left the island with feelings of disappointment, wondering why Cypriots did not protest against the savings raid. Later on, new measures were taken – resulting to a dramatic increase of unemployment – but little had changed in the streets of the capital. A number of “weak” protests, organized by different group of people and political parties, took place mostly outside the Parliament and the Ministry of Finance, but none of them could match up with the protests seen in other EU countries.
Feelings of guilt
Attempting to explain Cypriots passive behavior against harsh economic measures, different reasons can be argued. It is said that some Cypriots haven’t protested against the economic measures because they feel, in some sort of way, responsible for the country’s’ economic crisis. It is believed that in the small Cypriot society, many have managed to get in touch with politicians asking for favors – ex. a job in the government – in exchange for votes in the next elections. It is worth saying that in Cyprus the government employees are more than 70 000, out of a population of around 800 000 (in southern government controlled area). As a result of the corrupted system, the state is currently unable to cope with the huge cost of the public sector.
Only when it knocks your door
It is also believed that Cypriots did not protest against economic measures because they weren’t pushed to the limits, having still money to spend in their bank accounts. There’s a saying in Cyprus: “You realize the problem only when it knocks your front door”.
Passivity in… DNA
Some people argue that passivity is even part of Cypriots’…DNA! They believe that throughout history Cypriots have learned to live under slavery. There are many historical examples to support the opinion, such as the Franks, British and Turks as well as other conquers, who ruled the island for many decades. It is mainly believed that conquerors have affected Cypriots culture. They tough them to behave like slaves, only to bow their head and wait for orders. The same behavior could be witnessed today…