Our View: All Cypriots should not be tarred with the same brush.
They now have to go back to Berlin and decide whether to vote in favour of the Cyprus rescue package but before judging Cypriots for their emotional response to what is in essence a 'Cypriot mess', they should remember that for the last six months, German media and politicians have talked up the 'dirty money' of Russian oligarchs being washed in Cypriot banks, hence the misguided perception among ordinary Germans that most of the money in the banks was Russian. It was not.
Following the Eurogroup's decision to impose a massive hit on depositors, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble told us not to worry, because those who created the crisis were the ones being asked to pay for it.
Everyone accepts that bad government, bad banks and speculators were responsible for what has happened but the argument 'Germans good, Cypriots bad and Russians everywhere' has become a bit of a convenient mantra in justifying the unprecedented raid on deposits, as has the notion that only the wealthy have been stung, that the Cypriot taxpayer, not the EU taxpayer must pay, and that hard-working German taxpayers are tired of bailouts, even though a bailout is actually a loan repaid with interest.
It may come as shock to many Europeans but there is such as thing as a hard-working Cypriot taxpayer. However it seems everyone in Cyprus has been lumped into one big population of moneygrubbers who 'gambled' their hard-earned money in the island's 'casino banks'.
If putting your savings into a bank for safekeeping is considered gambling then are all EU citizens guilty and deserve what they get when their banks fail? No because only Cypriot banks were the devil in disguise.
Let's look at Deutsche Bank however. It's embroiled in a slew of disputes, including a carbon trading scandal. It is also one of a number of banks under investigation for allegedly rigging benchmark interest rates, including the Libor scandal, and stands accused of tax evasion, failure to report money laundering, and obstruction of justice.
Would ordinary hard-working German taxpayers, if they saw their savings disappear overnight and were plunged into a ruinous bailout, take it lying down?
According to an article in Spiegel Online yesterday, Christoph Schwennicke editor-in-chief of the German political magazine Cicero, they would not. If Angela Merkel were to force Germans to endure the kinds of measures she has been demanding from the rest of Europe, they too would take to the streets, he says.
"The chancellor speaks with a forked tongue and applies double standards. While she wants other Europeans to make do with less, she wants her own people to have their cake and eat it too," he says.
And while Merkel is grinding the rest of Europe under the boot of austerity, her government has launched a e1/450 billion economic stimulus programme for investments in roads, buildings and "seemingly everything else imaginable".
"But when it comes to Germany's suffering neighbours, Merkel adamantly opposes the use of economic stimulus. In her view, they need to make cuts until it hurts," says Schwennicke.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2013
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