‘Merkel playing hardball, going to drive Cyprus issue into ground’
RT:So what held it all up? Why couldn't they reach a deal?
Ivor Crotty: This goes back to the EU-Russia summit last year
when the Eurocrats basically told Russia that Cyprus would be their
problem to solve. Russians had a look at it and said, “No, not
really, we think it’s a eurozone problem”, but they had stamped
two-and-a-half billion (USD) to keep the island float. So timing is
crucial here. A change of government in Cyprus last year delayed
any possibility for a resolution, but it crucially brought any
chance of a deal into the German election cycle, which is taking
place in September this year. And this is why Merkel is playing
hardball: she needs votes. And the SPDR opposition have identified
Cyprus as a wage issue. Her uncompromising stance which is backed
the raid on privately-held deposits in Cyprus forced the Cypriots
to go to Moscow looking for help.
RT:But I thought it was some sort of EU limit of money which Cyprus can borrow from now – inside the EU, anyway.
IC: At this stage the Cypriots are pretty much ready to talk to anybody. The Russia-Cyprus connections are well-known, but it’s not that Russia is the only one.
RT:If they've been talking for a year, why is it taking so long to reach some kind of deal?
IC: Again, this comes back to the change of government inside Cyprus last year, that it wasn’t possible for them to make a deal while the political transition was going on. Right now, the Russians are looking at the situation, and basically sent the Cypriot ministers packing with their bags empty for two reasons: firstly, specifically, is that this is a eurozone problem. Russians aren’t going to get involved in what is ostensibly an internal eurozone contagion issue. But secondly, they don’t think that Cyprus has hit rock bottom yet. Merkel is playing hardball now, and she’s going to drive that issue into the ground, and nobody – not the Russians, nor the Chinese – aren’t going to touch it until Merkel’s game has reached its zenith.
RT:That carrot was being dangled to Russia yesterday about Cyprus’s gas reserves – Russia wasn’t interested?
IC: There’s a couple of interests here. Cyprus has been confirmed to be nowhere near filling that debt hole, so it looks like it’s going to be a very long weekend at the holds of Brussels in Berlin.