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Column: It's been an emotional upheaval but at least Cypriots are standing united

The people of Cyprus are no strangers to losing their belongings, as history has shown, writes Yiota Demetriou – who questions why her country is getting the short end of the stick.

Yiota Demetriou

AS A STUDENT living abroad I may be physically displaced from the situation in its entirety, however I am immensely troubled. My parents who are currently in Cyprus try not to show their concern when we speak so they don’t upset my siblings or myself. But this is inevitable – we all know what’s going on. We have been glued to the computer screens for about a week and a half.

As I am not totally supported by my parents and I don’t have a Cypriot Bank account the situation has not affected me financially, but many students including my younger siblings might face difficulty when accessing their money as all Cypriot accounts have been frozen.

My family could lose their savings they’ve built up over a lifetime

For about a week-and-a-half the constant information that has flooded the media regarding the ‘new’ Cyprus problem has caused people to be extremely worried and unsure about their futures. This, of course, has been also been felt by us students who are at the moment living abroad. The constant worry about the possible imminent bank closure, which might result to my family losing their savings built over a lifetime – for a third time – has occupied my life over the past days.

As refugees, my family lost everything in 1974 due to the Turkish invasion. As well as this, they became refugees for a second time – losing everything – as a result from the first Congo war. The current situation has them facing another possible financial destruction. They describe this as the greatest depression that our country has experienced since the Turkish invasion of 1974.

Distress of my people

I feel the distress of people through images that appear in the media. People rush down the streets of Nicosia outside the parliament to protest about unjust financial plans. Other images of endless queues of people outside ATM machines to access some of their savings also appear on my screen. I take some comfort in the fact that support has been shown from the local Greek-speaking community here in Bristol. In association with the Hellenic Societies of both the University of Bristol and University of West of England they have agreed to help students who due to the current situation may not be able to receive much-needed funds to support themselves abroad.

At least solidarity in this respect has not been lost. This has been a week of much emotional upheaval but at least I have seen Cypriots standing united and putting aside their partisan beliefs.

Questions that need to be answered

Cypriots are no strangers to losing their belongings, as current history has shown, but I feel there are questions that beg answers – questions whose answers will help me gain back all confidence that has been lost in the European economical and political system. Why is Cyprus portrayed as having a failed business bank model? Banks only became exposed to financial liquidity issues after the imposed ECB haircut to Greek sovereign bonds. Why is Cyprus portrayed as a Russian tax haven for oligarchs when even Russian tax authorities found no illegal activities in this respect? Why are all proposals adamant to Cyprus putting up overnight 34 per cent of the required amount of financial assistance? If it was that easy then we wouldn’t need help in the first place.

We need to remind everyone that Cyprus has also been putting money in the box when it came to bailing out other EU member states – so why do we get the short end of the stick?

This article was written by Yiota Demetriou (ed. Petros Mina). Yiota is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Bristol, which is entitled An Exhibition of Hidden Stories: The Lives’ of Others – Research into methods of staging oral history archives. Demetriou also has her own column in a Cypriot online magazine, Skalatimes, called: I think of Art. Demetriou is from Larnaca, Cyprus but is living in Bristol.

Read: Cyprus reaches last minute deal to avoid bankruptcy>

Read: Eurozone head deals major blow to Irish hopes of banking refund>

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Yiota Demetriou

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