A Pivotal Moment in the History of Cyprus

The Bank of Cyprus, whose doors remain closed during this week's collapse

The Bank of Cyprus, whose doors remain closed during this week’s collapse

This week, International Fellow Ashley Johnson shares her  personal experiences as Cyprus experiences a financial crisis

Outside my quiet, seemingly deserted bank, I walked up to the ATM machine.  With my last 20 euros being spent to refill my car with petrol I needed desperately to refill my wallet.   Just after entering my card the machine popped it right back out, no dispersing of any cash, just handing back the debit card that seems more worthless than ever.

Two blocks away from the UN Buffer Zone, where the PeacePlayers–Cyprus’ office is located, sits the Cyprus Parliament.  Outside a few hundred protestors gather, rather calmly at this point, yet filled with frustration and anxiety as they await on this Thursday evening a vote by the government on yet another proposed bailout plan.

A sign found amongst the protestors outside of Parliament this week

A sign found amongst the protestors outside of Parliament this week

Flashback to just a week ago: it was another sunny Friday afternoon on our Mediterranean island and Cypriots were preparing for the 3 day weekend of Clean Monday(the first day of lent in the Greek Orthodox ) and the infamous Carnival celebration in Limassol.   This same Friday afternoon, decision makers from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades were locked in talks discussing a proposed bailout agreement.  This, just weeks after Anastasiades entered his first term as President of the Republic of Cyprus.  In the early hours of Saturday morning a bailout agreement had been made.  It was announced that an unprecedented tax would be levied on all depositors in Cyprus.  A few days later this bailout plan was rejected by Parliament in a vote Tuesday evening in the capital of Nicosia.

Flash forward to today, another sunny Friday, another day with an empty wallet, at least until I find a cash machine still stocked.  With banks still closed until this coming Tuesday, Cyprus has been given an ultimatum of finding and agreeing upon a deal before the banks reopen.  So here we await, once again, resting in the uncertainty looming around us.

This past week’s sentiments were best echoed in an email I received from the President of our board at PeacePlayers-Cyprus, “you are experiencing, my dear Ashley, a very pivotal moment in Cypriot, European and world history.”

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