Arab Today, arab today cypriots are stoics amid financial chaos
Last Updated : GMT 18:23:43
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Cypriots are stoics amid financial chaos

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Arab Today, arab today Cypriots are stoics amid financial chaos

Nicosia - AFP

With a stoical calm, Cypriots have endured two weeks of a world headlines-hogging financial crisis which has crippled their small and mostly peaceful nation while also placing it firmly on the world map. Throngs of foreign camera crews converged on Cyprus banks as they allowed customers to lay their hands on their own money again -- albeit with restrictions -- through a live teller rather than at ATMs, after a 12-day closure. A police helicopter hovered over Nicosia, armed police and security guards were posted outside branches, but in the end Cypriots calmly waited in line despite their anger over the devastating costs of the country's EU-led bailout. At one car wash, motorcycle cops with pistols in their holsters had their bikes spruced up for the big day. "I would like to thank the Cypriot people for their maturity... in their interactions" with the banks, where media outnumbered customers at some branches, President Nicos Anastasiades said in English on his official Twitter account. He himself has termed the banking crisis, which has plunged Cyprus into recession for years to come, the island's worst since the 1974 Turkish invasion of the north that turned a third of the population into refugees. Protesters waving banners and chanting have made their feelings known outside the presidential palace, EU offices and the central bank, and daubed graffiti on walls in rage at the "theft" of their bank savings. But unlike the unrest which has swept Greece, a fellow EU member in financial turmoil, no serious incidents have been reported in the Greek Cypriot-run republic of Cyprus. "The Cypriot people are by nature calm... They get angry when it comes to an extreme. Now they are in a holding position," said Kalliope Agapiou-Josephides of the University of Cyprus's department of social and political sciences. Political analyst Christos Christoforou pointed to demographic differences. "We have no big cities like Athens, no large populations," he said. "The people here don't feel that the state is their enemy. They have had many years of easy life thanks to the state... And, don't forget, Cypriots have not yet felt the impact of the new reality," he said. But "only in Cyprus could this kind of thing have happened. Anywhere else, there would have been riots and violence," was the assessment of Oksana, a Ukrainian long-time resident. Cypriot sangfroid could be traced back to one of its sons: Zeno of Kitium, or modern-day Larnaca, lived from around 334-262 BC and was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy. On March 16, Anastasiades agreed a 10-billion-euro ($13 billion) bailout whose terms stipulated that a controversial levy of at least 6.75 percent be slapped on all bank deposits across the island. A protest was called for three days later, after a bank holiday weekend allowing Cypriots to hold their traditional pre-Lent barbecues, open-air family parties, carnival and kite-flying. Cyprus, which in 2004 became the only country to have joined the European Union without the need to hold a referendum, is having a three-week-long run of three-day weekends. On March 19, after a long weekend devoted to their families and traditions, values which lie at the heart of Cypriot life, protesters celebrated after parliament voted an outright "ochi" (no) to the initial bailout terms. But the final agreement ironed out last Monday between the Cyprus government, the European Union and International Monetary Fund did not need any further parliamentary approval. Last week, in recognition of the fact that the little island in the eastern Med was totally unfamiliar territory for most Americans, New York Magazine ran an "Absolute Moron?s Guide to What?s Happening in Cyprus." Famously, a CNN graphic in March 2012 located the Cypriot capital in a different Mediterranean island -- Sicily, which also has its own Nicosia.

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