by Jean-Jacques COURTEY, Doctor in Economic Geography, Ph. D
When we think about Cyprus, we automatically have a nice perfume fragrance in the head.
In strong dose, it can even cause headache, as presently with the financial puzzle of this Mediterranean island for EU.
We are really living in a strange period, when a fiscal paradise can be paradoxically on the verge of bankruptcy and revolt because of European Central Bank (ECB) demands for bringing new cash facilities.
It is quite surprising as its GDP more than doubled in the last twelve years from 9.36 billion $ to 24 billion $ presently.
Cyprus Greek side is effectively in the turmoil. And Nicosia, the capital, is knowing an hellish time, like Athens (Greece) from 2010. The rich and magnificent period of the French Lusignan dynasty (1292-1473), when coats of arms and armors where made of gold, is over from a long time.
Cyprus is 9 251 sq. km (the two British bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia not included) for an estimated population of almost 1.1 million people, British and now equalilly Russian rich residents included.
What is funny is the Turkish part of Cyprus island (Limassol), is safe from European Union upheavals, as it is headed by the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of the North (since 1983).
When you think Turkey's entrance in European Union has been delayed for years and years, partly for the question of Cyprus, you may realize the present First Economic Power of the Near East avoided a terrible bad luck finally. The East (Orient) can continue to grow and know a renewed expansion, when the West (Occident) seems to decline inexorably and almost blindly.
In the highest Antiquity Aphrodite (Venus) was born in Cyprus, and called overthere "Kypria".
She became the goddess of beauty, as her warrior past like her equivalent in Sumer, Inanna (Ishtar or Astarte), was progressively forgotten.
During the Trojan war (XIIIth century BC) held on the presently Turkish soil - Hissarlik -, Aphrodite was on the side of Troy against the Greeks lead by King Agammemnon. She was supporting Paris, son of King Priam, and opposing goddess Athena according to Homer. Present capital of France, Paris is probably deriving its name from him (more than the "Parisii" tribe which was in fact in Nanterre place according to recent archeological excavations) ; this is a remnant of the movement of emigration which started after the Greek domination on the area from the fall and destruction of Troy.
Since the 2008 financial crisis which shook the whole world from September 15th of this fateful year, it's a bit like historicity was hesitating on the side to bend on : West or East ?
Strangely, it is a few months before, on January 1st 2008 that Cyprus, new member of EU (since May 1st, 2004), entered the Eurozone.
The breakage of Cyprus financial economy, and the "salvage EU-ECB-IMF plan" of 10 billion Euros - in exchange of a tax considered "confiscatory" of 20 % of bank accounts above 100 000.00 Euros -, might bring a boomerang effect towards EU and the institution of Frankfurt from UK, the modern heir of the Sumerian Empire, and also Russia as a vexed power. Money has always been a cause of war, financial or not.
Of course, everything is depending on the Brussels' agreement (or not) of tonight. Without agreement on the 5.8 billion Euros Cyprus has to levy the above way to fulfill the "salvage troïka plan", the country will normally be excluded from the Eurozone on monday tomorrow, and it would be the first time this would happen thus.
Cyprus is known in history for around 12 000 years now. It was famous at the origin to be the kingdom of copper of the Aegean area at the Bronze Age. Its name is probably coming from the Sumerian word "Kubar" meaning "bronze", amongst various explanations.
And because of its riches, it was rarely independent, passing successively under various sovereignties from Sumerian times.
Cyprus became symbolic of the predominance of the West, when it was conquered by Alexander the Great (356 -323 BC) in 333 Before Christ, but this predominance is questioned again by now.
After the Lusignan apogee of the Middle Age and the Venetian time, it passed through Ottoman domination in 1571 for several centuries. Administered by England from 1878, Cyprus became independent in 1960, and its first president was the orthodox Archibishop Makarios III (1913 - 1977).
The "Enosis" (Union with Greece) imposed in 1974, led to a civil war between the Greek and Turkish inhabitants of the island, and a military intervention of Turkey.
That's why since 1983, there is a political partition of Cyprus in two parts, the Turkish Republic of the North only recognized by Turkey, and the rest of the island known as the Greek part which internationally has got official sovereignty on the whole island.
So the question of the Republic of Cyprus is wider than the problems of EU enlargement, a process which is a bit cooling down at the moment, except from the dynamic candidatorshisp of Iceland : in this respect, it's important to underline that Iceland is the only Western country which let banks' bankruptcy happen on its soil after the 2008 financial crisis, and regained economic and financial health by now !