Daily Archives: March 12, 2015

Liverpool FC transfer gossip: £34m striker link; Reds scout Kjaer; Alves deal dead and Handanovic on Rodgers’ radar

Simon Kjaer in action against Everton

Simon Kjaer in action against Everton

 Liverpool FC could land Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema for £34.5m this summer, according to reports in the Metro .

Brendan Rodgers is keen to bolster his striking options with Rickie Lambert, Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini all enduring difficult seasons.

The newspaper claims that reports in Spain say the Reds are set to move in for the Frenchman at the end of the season and that the European champions are open to selling the striker, and would accept a £34.5million bid for his services.

Meanwhile, the same newspaper are also reporting that Liverpool have sent scouts to watch Danish defender Simon Kjaer.

According to reports in Denmark, Liverpool had the defender watched, but their scouts were also joined by officials from Italian giants Juventus and AC Milan.

Again, Rodgers is keen to bolster a defence that has been inconsistent all season.

Elsewhere, the Anfield club have also been linked with Dani Alves in recent times with the Barcelona man’s contract set to expire in the summer.

However, that deal looks to be dead in the water with the Guardian reporting that the Brazilian defender looks set to join French club Paris St Germain on a free transfer.

Alves is said to have travelled to Paris last week to seal the deal after playing in Barça’s 6-1 win over Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey.

Another position Rodgers has looked at improving is the goalkeeper. Despite Simon Mignolet’s recent return to form, the Reds boss will be keen to bring in a top-class stopper with Inter Milan’s Samir Handanovic on his radar.

However, Liverpool face stiff competition from Tottenham and Roma, with the Italian side having edged ahead in the race for the Slovenian international, according to TalkSport.

Handanovic has emerged as one of the most consistent performers in Serie A since establishing himself as Udinese No.1 back in 2007 and it looks like an offer of £10 will seal the deal.

source:liverpoolecho.co.uk

Αυστραλία:Βρήκε πύθωνα δύο μέτρων στα δημητριακά του!

Να και το εγκλωβισμένο ερπετό!

Να και το εγκλωβισμένο ερπετό!

Αντίκρισε τρομοκρατημένος το κουλουριασμένο φίδι στην κουζίνα του.

Έναν εφιάλτη έζησε ένας 22χρονος άντρας από την Αυστραλία όταν άνοιξε το κουτί με τα corn flakes του και αντί για δημητριακά αντίκρισε ένα κουλουριασμένο φίδι.

Σύμφωνα με την «Daily Telegraph», ο Jared Smith μαγείρευε το μεσημεριανό του το μεσημέρι της Τρίτης, όταν είδε έναν πύθωνα δύο μέτρων να κρύβεται μέσα στο πακέτο με τα δημητριακά.

Τρομοκρατημένος και αφού κατάλαβε πως δεν πρόκειται για ένα από τα συνηθισμένα δωράκια που μπορεί να βρει κάποιος στα δημητριακά, έριξε από τα χέρια του το φαγητό του και έτρεξε αμέσως έξω από την κουζίνα του.

Ο 22χρονος και ο πατέρας του, που βρισκόταν για καλή του τύχη εκείνη τη στιγμή στο σπίτι τους στα προάστια του Σίδνεϊ, κάλεσαν την υπηρεσία διάσωσης άγριων ζώων για να τους βοηθήσει με το… ερπετό που είχε κρυφτεί στην κουζίνα τους.

Έτσι και έγινε και οι διασώστες κατάφεραν να πιάσουν τον διαμαντένιο πύθωνα, ο οποίος είναι σε θέση να περιμένει κρυμμένος μέχρι και δύο εβδομάδες ώσπου να πιάσει το θήραμά του.

Ο διασώστης του άγριου ζώου, Chris McGreal, είπε στην «Daily Telegraph»:

«O πύθωνας είχε πάνω από 2 μέτρα μήκος και δεν μπορούσα να πιστέψω πώς κατάφερε να κουλουριαστεί σε αυτό το μικρό κουτί δημητριακών».

«Όταν έφτασα εκεί έπρεπε να σκίσω το κουτί για να τον βγάλω έξω. Έμοιαζε να νιώθει ασφαλής εκεί» συμπλήρωσε.

Οι διαμαντένιοι πύθωνες δεν είναι δηλητηριώδεις. Συνηθίζουν να κρατούν χαμηλό προφίλ και είναι από τα πλέον συνηθισμένα είδη ερπετών στην συγκεκριμένη περιοχή. Σκοτώνουν το θήραμά τους σφίγγοντάς το και δαγκώνουν ανθρώπους μόνο αν αισθανθούν απειλή. Υπάρχουν περιπτώσεις μάλιστα που έχουν αφήσει τα δόντια τους πάνω στη σάρκα.

Πηγή: Νέος  Κόσμος

Η Ινδονησία μάς απειλεί με «ανθρώπινο τσουνάμι»

Οι δύο θανατοποινίτες

Οι δύο θανατοποινίτες

Ενόψει των αυστραλιανών πιέσεων για χορήγηση χάριτος στους δύο Αυστραλούς θανατοποινίτες.

«Αν η Αυστραλία συνεχίσει τις πιέσεις της στην Ινδονησιακή κυβέρνηση για να ακυρωθεί η εκτέλεση των δύο Αυστραλών εμπόρων ναρκωτικών που βρίσκονται σε ‘απόσταση αναπνοής’ από το εκτελεστικό απόσπασμα, την περιμένει ανθρώπινο τσουνάμι από πρόσφυγες» δήλωσε ο Ινδονήσιος υπουργός Νομικής και Πολιτικής Ασφάλειας, Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno.

O κ. Tedjo ανέφερε ότι η Αυστραλία, στην προσπάθειά της να ακυρωθούν οι θανατικές ποινές των Myuran Sukumaran και Andrew Chan, ασκεί πιέσεις, κάνοντας αναφορά στην ανθρωπιστική βοήθεια του $1 δις που παρείχε στην Ινδονησία, όταν η χώρα χτυπήθηκε από το καταστροφικό τσουνάμι το 2004, ενώ, παράλληλα, αφήνει να εννοηθεί ότι θα μποϊκοτάρει την εισροή Αυστραλών τουριστών στην Ινδονησία.

Ο ίδιος συνέχισε τις δηλώσεις του, υπενθυμίζοντας στην αυστραλιανή κυβέρνηση, ότι η Ινδονησία έχει καταβάλει υπεράνθρωπες προσπάθειες τα τελευταία χρόνια για να σταματήσει τη λαθρεμπορία αιτούντων άσυλο. «Αν η Αυστραλία συνεχίσει να δυσαρεστεί την Ινδονησία, τότε σίγουρα η Τζακάρτα θα αφήσει τους παράνομους μετανάστες να πάνε στην Αυστραλία» δήλωσε σε ομιλία που έδωσε σε πανεπιστήμιο της Ινδονησίας.

Ο κ. Tedjo κατέληξε ότι η Αυστραλία πρέπει να σεβαστεί τα δικαστήρια της χώρας του, ενώ παράλληλα ανέφερε ότι η πρόταση της υπουργού Εξωτερικών της Αυστραλίας, Julie Bishop, για ανταλλαγή των δύο θανατοποινιτών με Ινδονήσιους που κρατούνται για αδικήματα σε φυλακές της Αυστραλίας είναι «ανήθικη».

Όσον αφορά πιθανό μποϊκοτάζ των εμπορικών συναλλαγών μεταξύ των δύο χωρών εκ μέρους της Αυστραλίας, ο κ. Tedjo δήλωσε ότι η Ινδονησία δεν φοβάται μία τέτοια εξέλιξη. «Η Αυστραλία θα πρέπει να ανησυχεί καθώς αν σταματήσει το εμπόριο κτηνοτροφικών ειδών που η Ινδονησία εισάγει από αυτήν, αυτό θα προκαλέσει σοκ στην οικονομία της και θα έχει σοβαρές επιπτώσεις» είπε ο υπουργός.

Εν τω μεταξύ, ενδεικτικό του αρνητικού κλίματος που επικρατεί στην Ινδονησία για τις πιέσεις που τής ασκεί η Αυστραλία, είναι το γεγονός ότι διαδηλωτές προχθές έδωσαν στην Αυστραλιανή Πρεσβεία πέντε σακούλες με κέρματα, μία ενδεικτική κίνηση που συμβόλιζε ότι έτσι ξεπλήρωναν τα χρήματα της ανθρωπιστικής βοήθειας που η Αυστραλία έδωσε στη γείτονα χώρα όταν αυτή χτυπήθηκε από το τσουνάμι.

Την ίδια στιγμή, το κύριο σύνθημα που ακουγόταν κατά τη διάρκεια της συγκεκριμένης διαδήλωσης, ήταν ότι αν η κυβέρνηση της χώρας τους υπαναχωρήσει στο θέμα των εκτελέσεων τότε ο λαός θα ξεσηκωθεί απαιτώντας αποπομπή της από την εξουσία.

Πηγή: Νέος  Κόσμος

Το Ισλαμικό Κράτος στρατολογεί μαθητές από την Αυστραλία!

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Πάνω από 12 μαθητές έφυγαν από σχολεία της χώρας και πήγαν στην Συρία και το Ιράκ.

Πάνω από 12 μαθητές έφυγαν από σχολεία της Αυστραλίας και πήγαν στην Συρία και το Ιράκ, για να ζήσουν και να πολεμήσουν στις τάξεις του βάρβαρου Ισλαμικού Κράτους που έχει τρομοκρατήσει με τις μαζικές εκτελέσεις αμάχων Μέση Ανατολή.

Σύμφωνα με τις μυστικές υπηρεσίες της Αυστραλίας, η προπαγάνδα του Ισλαμικού Κράτους έχει προσελκύσει πάνω από 12 παιδιά, που τώρα βρίσκονται στην Συρία και το Ιράκ, σε περιοχές που ελέγχουν οι τζιχαντιστές.

Τον τελευταίο καιρό, η καλά σχεδιασμένη προπαγάνδα του Ισλαμικού Κράτους, έχει καταφέρει να προσελκύσει περίπου 40 νεαρές γυναίκες, ορισμένες από τις οποίες πηγαίνουν στην Συρία ή για να συναντήσουν τους άνδρες τους, που βρίσκονται στο Ιράκ και την Συρία, ή να παντρευτούν νεαρούς τζιχαντιστές ή να πολεμήσουν στις τάξεις τους.

Ορισμένες, μάλιστα, από αυτές τις γυναίκες, περνούν μαζί τους και τα παιδιά τους, γεγονός που ανησυχεί την κυβέρνηση της Αυστραλίας, λόγω ότι υπάρχουν πολλές πιθανότητες τα παιδιά να σκοτωθούν σε κάποια από τις πολλές φονικές μάχες που διεξάγονται συχνά.

Αναφερόμενη στο θέμα η υπουργός Εξωτερικών, Julie Bishop, επιβεβαίωσε τις πληροφορίες των μυστικών υπηρεσιών της Αυστραλίας, σύμφωνα με τις οποίες έχει ενταθεί η προπαγάνδα του Ισλαμικού Κράτους μέσω του internet και των μέσων κοινωνικής δικτύωσης και αρκετά παιδιά βρίσκονται ήδη σε εμπόλεμες περιοχές της Συρίας και το Ιράκ.

Να προσθέσουμε εδώ ότι την περασμένη εβδομάδα η αρμόδια υπηρεσία προστασίας των συνόρων της χώρας σταμάτησε δύο νεαρούς μαθητές που ήταν έτοιμοι να αναχωρήσουν για την Τουρκία προκειμένου να στη συνέχεια να πάνε στη Συρία.

Παράλληλα, έγινε γνωστό ότι ένας 18χρονος από τη Μελβούρνη είναι μεταξύ των 90 Αυστραλών που πολεμούν κάτω από τη σημαία του Ισλαμικού Κράτους.

Πηγή: Νέος Κόσμος

Greece needs to play more attacking football

Greece needs to play more attacking football

Sergio Markarian wants to give Greeks “joy at this difficult time”. Photo: EPA/YANNIS KOLESIDIS.

Greece coach Sergio Markarian wants the team to mature from its defence-heavy play.

Greece coach Sergio Markarian said last week he wanted Greece to play more attacking football against Hungary in a Euro 2016 qualifier on March 29 as his side strive to move off the bottom position.

“We know it is a very difficult time and we need a big effort, but I believe in the players and the chances that we have. With a good effort and cooperation we will do well,” the 70-year-old Uruguayan coach told a press conference.

Markarian, who was picked to coach the Greeks through the Euro 2016 tournament last month, said that if Greece failed to qualify for the finals in France next year it would be a step backwards after such a good showings from 2002 onwards.

“But we are optimistic and will try our best,” Markarian said. “We want to give the Greeks joy at this difficult time for them.”
Markarian said that in the past Greece had been known for its defensive play, but he wanted the team to be more offensive.

“In the past Greece had a style, good defence and goals in the counter attacks. With time this style has been lost. We must move forward. Good football means good defence and good offence,” the former coach of Peru and Paraguay added.

Markarian said the match with Hungary would be crucial for his side.

“I cannot say if we will win or not, but I am sure with the help of the players we will play good football,” he added.

Greece are bottom of the group, with just one point in four matches. Romania head the table with 10 points followed by Northern Ireland (9), Hungary (7), Finland (4) and Faroe Islands (3).

Source: AFP

Kyrgios to play Indian Wells

Kyrgios to play Indian Wells

Nick Kyrgios travelling to the US. Photo: AP/Darron Cummings.

Australian tennis no.1 Nick Kyrgios will make up for missing Davis Cup by playing in the Indian Wells.

Nick Kyrgios is in US this week to play in the Indian Wells tournament, starting on March 12.

The 19-year-old has not played since aggravating a back injury during his run to the fourth round of the Australian Open and joins a star-studded field including the entire ATP top 10.

Australia’s top-ranked male player, Kyrgios opted to sit out this weekend’s Davis Cup tie against the Czech Republic.

It remains to be seen whether he will be able to line up for the Miami Masters, starting on March 25.

Kyrgios said he is not sure how many tournaments he will play this year.

“No matter how much you train or how much you hit, your body’s not going to allow you to play every week,” he said. “I think you’ve got to be smart, and I’m
just going to go out there now, every time I’m healthy, and have fun with it.”

This year marks the first time Serena Williams will play Indian Wells since winning the California tournament in 2001.

She claimed she suffered racial abuse during her victory over Kim Clijsters in the final 14 years ago.

Source: ABC

Lemnos painting donated to NSW parliament

Lemnos painting donated to NSW parliament

Artist Nikolaos Foteinos with his painting of nurses arriving on Lemnos. Photo: KaIly Koutsogiannis.

Artist Nikolaos Foteinos was inspired by a photograph of the arrival of Australian nurses on Lemnos in August 1915.

One hundred years to the day after the landing of Australian soldiers on Lemnos on 4 March 1915, the Greek community in Sydney marked the occasion with the donation of a unique work of art to the collection of the New South Wales parliament.

An initiative of Greece’s Consul General to NSW Dr Stavros Kyrimis, the donation took the form of a commissioned painting inspired by a photograph of the arrival of Australian nurses on Lemnos in August 1915.

The painting was presented to the parliament at a special ceremony attend by state parliamentarians and Greek community leaders. Those present included representatives of AHEPA, the Pan-Arcadian Association, the Joint Committee for the Commemoration of the Battle of Crete and Greek Campaign, the Australian Hellenic Educators’ Association and the Pan-Macedonian Association.

Andrew Fraser MP, secretary of the Parliamentary Friends of Hellas, congratulated the artist, Nikolaos Foteinos, on his achievement, as well as the Consul General on nurturing the initiative.

In his speech Mr Fraser said he had been unaware of Lemnos’ relationship to the Gallipoli campaign until he was made aware of it by the Consul General.

“This is a most important contribution to the parliamentary art collection, which will be displayed in a prominent position for the duration of the Centenary of Anzac,” he said.

Mrs Liz Kaydos, a member of the Lemnos 1915 Commemorative Committee, stressed the important legacy of Corporal Albert William Savage, the photographer of the Anzacs on Lemnos whose work ensured the island’s role in WWI was recorded for posterity.

Consul General Dr Stavros Kyrimis described Lemnos today as a place “where someone can literally walk in the footsteps of heroes, where the terrain is so little changed”, adding that the painting’s donation to the NSW parliament, “the birthplace of Australian democracy”, was highly appropriate.

source: Neos Kosmos

Has the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival lost its appeal for the Greek Australian community?

Same same but different

Have we outgrown Lonsdale Street? Photo: Kostas Deves.

It’s one of the biggest events on the Greek Australian calendar in Melbourne, but after 28 years of the Lonsdale Street Festival, has the street glendi remained relevant to the Greek Australian community?

Neos Kosmos conducted a poll last week, asking our readers whether Greek street festivals in Australia needed a drastic overhaul, and 82 per cent of readers voted yes.

While many praised the festival for its commitment to showcasing the best traditional and cultural aspects of the community, many felt as though the festival had outgrown itself and was in need of new ideas.

One of the most common complaints was the location was no longer suitable.

“At the moment the area allocated is very cramped and uncomfortable,” Esther Kaghelaris-Mikropoulos said.

“We have outgrown Lonsdale Street.”

Angela Vasilakos agreed, saying she doesn’t go anymore because “taking the kids into a crammed city festival isn’t appealing”.

Many have called for the festival to be moved to a bigger location, preferably a large park to better control crowds and give stallholders and performers more room to stretch out.

Director of the Greek Centre of Contemporary Culture and an organiser of the festival, Jorge Menidis, says moving the festival to another location will change the festival’s feel.

“In terms of the festival, I think it changes fundamentally the minute it moves location,” he tells Neos Kosmos.

“Quite frankly, it loses its soul, or the event just becomes another weekend event at, for instance, Federation Square. There are so many of them that they don’t really mean anything.

“Here it’s got a very strong identity.”

He says as long as the Community will be funding it, the festival will be staged on Lonsdale Street.

Others who braved the crowds to go to the festival were annoyed to see more of the same.

“I go every year to support the event and it’s not really that interesting,” Pauline El Horri says.

“The clubs represented do the same thing or similar every year.”

Sophie Koutsoukos agreed and called for new ideas to revamp the festival.

“It needs to have something more appealing and different,” she says.

This year organisers tried hard to include new offerings for festivalgoers, but that mostly fell in the food and drink offerings, not in the stallholder area or the program.

“We specifically went out and targeted other people to come into the festival who wouldn’t normally set up at our festival,” Mr Menidis says.

“We brought 12 new suppliers, mainly in food provisions.”

Many felt that relying on food and the same traditional dancing and music program didn’t properly promote the community’s heritage in the best light.

“Enough of appealing to the lowest common denominator when it comes to Hellenic festivals,” said Jo Kargiotis.

“It’s hard to defend our heritage and promote the interesting things being done by Greeks when all most see is covered in tzatziki.”

Nick Sardis suggested organisers would benefit by adding more Greek theatre performances, more history learning experiences and more traditional costumes.

Mr Menidis says the Community is conscious of the changing interests of festivalgoers and invites anyone with new ideas to come forward and collaborate with the festival.

“We’re conscious of the changing face of the community,” he says. “We welcome any feedback.”

The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria is conducting a survey about the festival which can be completed online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/lsf15audiencesurvey
Those interested in speaking to the organising committee and offering ideas can call (03) 9662 2722.

source: Neos Kosmos

Champion’s League:Ten-man Paris through after stunning Chelsea

2220617_w2

Chelsea FC 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain (agg: 3-3, aet, Paris win on away goals)
Down to ten men from the 31st minute, Paris’s late headers in regulation and extra time earned a sensational triumph.

Thiago Silva headed in the decisive goal six minutes from the end of extra time as Paris Saint-Germain pulled off a sensational triumph over Chelsea FC despite playing 90 minutes with ten men.

Three times French title holders Paris looked down and out in London. First when Zlatan Ibrahimović was sent off on 31 minutes; then when Gary Cahill lashed in the opener following a corner; and finally when Eden Hazard stroked in an extra-time penalty. They refused to be beaten.

On top before going 1-0 down – Edinson Cavani rattled the post – David Luiz’s late header against his former club ensured another 30 fraught minutes. Lightning struck twice as Thiago Silva nodded in to cancel out Hazard’s spot kick and take PSG through.

Before Ibrahimović’s full-blooded contribution the first half had been full of intrigue, a game of cat and mouse as both sides probed without revealing their full hand – plenty of time for that. The hosts clearly saw Paris’s right flank as a potential chink, Diego Costa doubling up with Hazard to expose Marquinhos at full-back; Marco Verratti was forced to drop back in support.

Verratti was evidently more at home at the other end, running through his well-stocked passing armoury as Paris picked at Chelsea’s high defensive line. It was all very subtle; Ibrahimović’s challenge on Oscar was not. Experience, Laurent Blanc said on the eve of the match, could count against his team: now they would have to do it outnumbered, without a man with 43 UEFA Champions League goals to his name.

Diego Costa has eight, but threatened a ninth just before half-time before going down under Cavani’s attempted tackle; the referee waved play on. Chelsea were slowly moving in for the kill, a little too slowly though, lacking urgency even after the introduction of Willian for Oscar. Paris soaked it up and, moments before the hour came their chance – how close they came.

Javier Pastore was the instigator, threading a pass through to Cavani, being played onside by Cahill. The Uruguayan’s first touch around Thibaut Courtois was heavy but his second looked sweet enough, only for the ball to kiss the near post and roll a whisker wide of the far upright. Pastore went close himself midway through the second period, drawing a save from Courtois.

Chelsea were rocking, their indecisiveness apparent in their attempts to meet Cesc Fàbregas’s corner on 81 minutes. Cahill showed them how it is done, with a goal almost as emphatic as the next one from Luiz’s head that prompted extra time. All that effort from the ten men took its toll, however, and when Hazard fired in from the spot after Thiago Silva had handled a high ball, Paris finally seemed to be beaten. Not a chance: the visiting skipper made sure of that.

source:uefa.com

Cyprus seeks distance from Greek euro drama

Cyprus seeks distance from Greek euro drama

People wait in line in front of a branch of the Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia, Cyprus. Photo: EPA/KATIA CHRISTODOULOU EPA/KATIA.

Cyprus wants to reverse a perception that the two countries are inextricably linked, worried that it could be dragged down with Greece.

Doubts over Greece’s future membership of the euro are straining its historic kinship with Cyprus, as Nicosia distances itself from Athens to try to secure its foothold in the currency bloc.

Cyprus wants to reverse a perception that the two countries are inextricably linked, worried that it could be dragged down with Greece, should Athens’ finances collapse and force the Greeks to abandon the euro.

The fate of Cyprus, a divided island on Europe’s frontier with the Middle East, could prove an important test of the durability of the eurozone and the wider European Union in the face of political uncertainty in Greece.

“(Sharing a) language is one thing but being the same economy is completely different,” said Harris Georgiades, finance minister of a country largely populated by Greek Cypriots. Linguistic solidarity leads Cyprus and Greece to give each other’s contestant the top score each year in the Eurovision song contest.

“There are cultural ties but that’s it. We are following our own course,” Georgiades told Reuters in an interview.

Unlike Greece, Cyprus has been largely diligent in implementing reforms required in return for an international bailout it received in 2013. There has been little public protest despite the deep recession that ensued.

Their paths have diverged more sharply since the radical leftist SYRIZA party won power in Greece in January, denouncing austerity and demanding a reduction of its official debt.

The centre-right Cypriot government blames former Communist President Dimitris Christofias for delaying a cleanup of Cypriot banks that made the eventual bailout more painful.

Cyprus hopes to return to borrowing on bond markets this year, Georgiades said, while Athens has little such prospect.

Trade ties are modest. Greece ranks second behind Britain in selling services to Cyprus, such as holidays, but it lags far behind Russia, Britain and Germany as a customer.

The former British colony has also severed its banks’ links to Greece that resulted in heavy losses when Greek bonds were restructured or ‘haircut’. It was those losses that fatally compromised the Cypriot financial system and prompted its bailout.

“We hope that there will be no problems in Greece,” said Chrystalla Georghadji, the governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus. «But if there are any problems, the banks here are ring-fenced.”

Vulnerable
Yet the island, just 100 kilometres from war-torn Syria and far from central Europe, remains vulnerable.

Cyprus has been divided since a brief coup in Nicosia triggered by colonels then ruling Greece prompted a Turkish invasion 40 years ago to protect Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island. A diplomatic drive to reunite the country before it joined the EU in 2004 foundered when Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N.-brokered peace plan in a referendum.

After prospering for a few years in the EU, Cyprus ran into trouble because of its banks’ exposure to the Greek debt crisis as well as a domestic property bubble.

The punitive bailout terms imposed losses on big depositors in Cypriot banks in return for loans from eurozone states such as hardline paymaster Germany. That triggered a deep recession in a country dependent on tourism and business services, often to Russian companies seeking to cut their tax bill.

“The terms of the bailout destroyed vast tracks of savings,” said John Hourican, chief executive of Bank of Cyprus, the country’s main bank.

“And while it was portrayed as an attack on Russian money, really it was an attack on Cyprus because the real Russian money destroyed was modest,” he said. “The savings and investment funds destroyed were enormous.”

The economy is on track to grow modestly this year but the improving outlook masks problems.

Roasting the pig
Many Cypriot borrowers can’t or won’t repay their loans. Almost half of loans given by the Bank of Cyprus, which accounts for most lending on the island, are in arrears.

A new foreclosure law to accelerate the slow-motion pursuit of bad debtors, which has been held up in parliament, will make it easier to seize security, such as property.

Ending a political logjam over this reform would enable Cyprus to join the European Central Bank’s asset purchase program. Cypriot authorities expect this to release roughly 500 million euros to buy government bonds, making it cheaper for the state and banks to borrow.

There are signs of frustration in Cyprus but, unlike in Greece, they are mostly understated. When SYRIZA won the Greek election, some left-wing opposition lawmakers in the Cypriot parliament removed their ties in a show of solidarity.

Greece’s uncertain future worries many Cypriots, who regard Athens as their only pillar of support against Turkey, which has kept more than 25,000 troops in a breakaway self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus since 1974.

“The eurozone pushing Greece out … is, as the Chinese say, like burning the house to roast the pig,” said Theo Panayotou of the Cyprus International Institute of Management.

“Greece is sort of the shield of Cyprus against the excesses of Turkish policies. If Greece defaults, Greece would be so poor … for at least two or three years, Greece would be no credible threat to Turkey,” said Panayotou.

That might prompt Turkey to move in on recently discovered major offshore gas reserves in Cypriot waters, which promise the island a prosperous future as an energy producer.

But being pigeon-holed with Greece by the wider world may be a bigger short-term problem for Cyprus.

“The worst risk is to reputation, people thinking if Greece fails, Cyprus is failing to,” said Stavros Zenios, an academic and member of the Board of Directors of Cyprus’s central bank.

Officials at EU headquarters in Brussels are also keen to avoid lumping the two together, to safeguard Cyprus in the eurozone. Losing Greece would be a blow to the currency bloc, but to lose two members could be fatal.

Source: Reuters