Key points from the conversation between Radio 98FM (Greek alternative radio) and Syspirosi Atakton

Question 1:   How did you see the “No” from the parliament?

We felt that the NO,from politicians, was like a reflex, because as it turned later there was no “Plan B” nor a path for a change so they continued the negotiations hoping for something better.

When the neoliberal president was elected he was expecting that the Plan A would be the same austerity measures applied in the other countries. He was caught off guard and that is mainly why they voted no. They wanted to keep their deposits intact and support for the big capital. All in all the no was not something revolutionary, they were serving their interests and their deposits. All those reports on the heroic NO of the Cypriots was more like a fairytale that was easy to sell.

Question 2:   We want some more details about the society in Cyprus.

The following points were made to explain how an environment was created with which social acceptance for the current system was achieved:- In Cyprus for a number of years all the political parties and syndicates have been working together to gain social acceptance for the current system. There was a stability in employment and some rises on salaries. However, this was nothing compared to the profits made by the banking system and the tourism industry. This led to a general social acceptance of the way the banking system worked.- Since 1974 there was a flow of foreign capital in Cyprus that created the bubble of the banking system. At the beginning it was from Lebanon, then from Yugoslavia and more recently the Russia. The political party of the left were supporting this and therefore there was no critisism of this system from any political parties nor mainstream media. – The social acceptance of the banking system and the events of Mari (a big explosion at a naval base which killed 13 people) after which there seem to be an alliance between the neo-nazi party (ELAM) and the neoliberals (DISI) against the then left government, had a great part in the rise of DISI in the presidential elections but also in generating the opinion that there was only one solution to our problem (the austerity measures and the help from troica ).

Question 3:   What about the archbishop and his offer to the state the belongings of the church.

At first we need to state out that the same person said similar things during the Annan referendum. He said he will give to every refugee, of the war of 1974, a plot of land if they voted no. He never gave anything to anyone!! The truth is that the archbishop is really close to neo nazi and nationalistic views and he is a supporter of the current president. The church has 800m of property of estates. They own hotels, the Hellenic bank in Cyprus and KEO (local beer industry). But at the same time they don’t have the required liquidity to help and we doubt they can sell their property with the economical unbalance in Cyprus.

Question 4:   What about the natural gas?

There is the common belief that the extraction of natural gas will save Cyprus from economic destruction. But until now we have not had any concrete information as to what the actual value of it is or whether we will extract it in 2, 5 or even 10 years. They are using the potential for natural gas in order to try and keep people calm and avoid organised resistance. Another important piece of information on this matter is that the left party AKEL, who was the government for the last 5 years (until the end of February), made agreements and (new) alliances with Israel regarding the natural gas.  As a consequence Cyprus lost alliances with the countries of middle east like Syria and Egypt who were our natural. In the end Israel re-established their connections/alliances with Turkey and now it remains to be seen whether Israel is actually our ally or not.

Question 5:   Our mainstream media were presenting the situation in Cyprus as disastrous. Empty supermarkets, pharmacies out of stock etc. Was it true?

We had these pictures in our mainstream media as well, but as it turned out later those pictures were taken from different situations and potentially in different countries. The media were trying to create a sense of panic and in a way terrorise people, so that they would accept the cuts as the only solution. The truth is that people were calm enough. There was food and medicines and everything was working well except business like petrol stations that required cash to provide for petrol as people were only using their credit cards.

Question 6:   What do you think will happen now? Will people rise up for the situation?

We expect that people will get to the streets. Two years ago unemployment was estimated on 1%. Now it is 14% and we expect it to be double in 6 months. It will be impossible to keep people calm and reassured with rates of unemployment always rising. Let’s take as an example the people working in the banks, which until now that was a really safe and well-paid job. People will get fired and they won’t be able to pay their debts for their car or their house or even their kid’s education. We don’t think the current system will be able to control the anger of these people. Already during this week we have seen different things in the streets. The change is imminent.