Politics Member States

Cyprus: Do your homework, Mr Schäuble!

20 March 2013
O Phileleftheros Nicosia

"Attila!"- "Attila times three". From left to right, Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde and Wolfgang Schäuble
"Attila!"- "Attila times three". From left to right, Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde and Wolfgang Schäuble

After the failure of the EU's €10bn Cyprus rescue plan, the German Minister of Finance has questioned the island’s low tax regime. However, a well known journalist argues that following the 1974 Turkish invasion, Nicosia had no option but to offer tax breaks.

In his bid to justify an unprecedented tax on bank deposits, German Finance Minister Wolfang Schäuble insists that the Cypriot economic model “has gone bankrupt.” In his fascist opinion, "anyone who invests money in a country where taxes are low and supervision is weak should suffer the consequences when the banks and the country itself cease to be viable."

We are convinced that the tax measures involved in the deal were discussed in front of Greek and Cypriot ministers. And what was their response? Did they point out that the Cypriot model was not devised by a rabble of swindlers but by a European state which had to find a means to survive in the aftermath of military invasion and occupation?

To avoid collapse, this state — half of which is still under military occupation, not that it would make any difference to Mr Schäuble — took the step of lowering taxes on tourism, marine charters and bank transactions to attract foreign investment.

The economy had to be given the means to develop in a context where Turkey — which controls 700,000 voters of Turkish origin in Germany — had strangled the Cypriot state by stealing 65 per cent of its hotels, 87 per cent of its holiday complexes, 40 per cent of its schools, 48 per cent of its agricultural exports and 56 percent of its beaches (and we will continue to reiterate these figures so that history will not be forgotten).

How was the Republic of Cyprus supposed to survive without an economic model designed to attract a level of investment that was sufficient to enable it to recover from the invasion [of 1974]? Is Mr Schäuble so focused on his economic lessons that he has no time for history?

Has no one thought to tell him that of the 80 foreign shipping companies registered in Limassol, 36 are German and only three are Russian? Or could it be that this is in fact the problem: the Germans have three Russian companies under their feet at a time natural gas is going to boost business and tankers will bustle to and fro throughout the Mediterranean?

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