Obama Swiss Bank Accounts

Cyprus can win friends and influence Europeans.


Denis MacShane


WHEN France’s first world war hero Marshall Foch was
confronted with an unexpected German offensive he declared : “My
front is crumbling. My flanks are turned. Situation excellent. I shall
attack!” So too should the collective Cypriot leadership who have
only heard incoming in recent weeks now raise their heads above the
parapet and work out new lines of attack to show to the world that as in
1974, Cyprus will get over the March Euro disaster and move forward.

The rest of Europe is still reeling from the stupidity of the
original proposals. Every argument used by the technocrats at the

See International Monetary Fund (IMF).

, and the untried and inexperienced Dutch finance minister who
heads the Eurogroup as well as the patronising tone of know-all or
rather know-little German commentators falls away.

Cyprus has too big a banking sector? Tell that to Luxembourg where
bank assets are 22 times, yes, that’s right, 22 times the
 (guanosine diphosphate): see guanine.
. Or tell that to Britain with its off-shore,
tax-avoiding Channel Islands or spin that line in France which protects
Monaco as the low or no-tax playground for the super-rich from London
who will do anything for their nation except pay taxes in England.

Too many Russians? Maybe but Britain rolls out the red carpet to
Russian oligarchs to get them to bring their money into the London
housing, luxury goods and private school markets. Lawyers reckon that 30
per cent of the profits made by City lawyers now come from Russian
contracts or representing Russian oligarchs like Boris Bereszovksy and
Roman Abramovich in their multi-million pound court battles. Russians
are routinely killed in what is now called Londongrad. The most flagrant
example of the corruption and criminality now enshrined as a state
system under Putin was the agonising death in prison of a Russian lawyer
Sergei Magnitsky. He was investigating the theft of $230 million by
Russian tax police in a complex scam. To discourage his inquiries the
tax cops had him arrested and when he refused to give up his duty as a
lawyer he was so badly treated in prison he died in agony.

Some $31 million of the stolen money has been traced to Cyprus but
more is lodged in Swiss banks where the Swiss prosecutors have frozen
accounts. The
House of Commons
 see Parliament.
 in London unanimously voted for
Magnitsky’s killers to be banned from entering the UK in line with
the Justice for Magnistky Act in America which President Obama has
signed into law. But British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, refuses
to implement the terms of the House of Commons resolution as the British
government is
tr.v. ter·ri·fied, ter·ri·fy·ing, ter·ri·fies
1. To fill with terror; make deeply afraid. See Synonyms at frighten.

2. To menace or threaten; intimidate.
 of speaking truth to Putin’s power in case
Britain might lose any commercial benefit from Russia.

The attack on depositors sent shivers down the spine of every bank
in Italy, Portugal and Spain. With Chinese growth slowing Europe needs
new confidence not to cast a shroud of fear over anyone who has some
savings in the bank. Europe also needs to develop its new regions and
build new partnerships. Here new Cypriot thinking could help. In 1974,
Cyprus reached out to the international community and built a network of
influence. Today can Cyprus do the same and help Europe solve some of
its problems independently of the broader growth, debt and currency

A start might be made with Turkey to see how new thinking can
persuade Turkey to pull back from its
One who advocates direct or radical action to secure a social or political goal in its entirety:  
 positions. By 1974,
Britain was five years into open conflict in Northern Ireland and it
took a further 25 years before Tony Blair’s peace process put an
end to what all considered to be an unsolvable problem. Big concessions
were made and the peace is far from perfect and the two communities are
far from integrated. Can Cyprus rise above its internal political point
scoring on the north and find a solution?

Cyprus’s closeness to Greece ties Cyprus into many unresolved
Balkan questions. Croatia had entered the EU but Serbia cannot begin
accession talks until it recognises Kosovo as an independent nation
state as more than 100 UN member states and most EU governments have
done. Cyprus, for understandable reasons about the status of the north
and some misguided solidarity with fellow orthodox Serbs, broke ranks
with Europe and refused to recognise Kosovo. That policy could be
reversed and would win headlines and thanks from Washington as well as
EU capitals at Cyprus showing initiative and imagination on a thorny
foreign policy issue.

Being bold on foreign policy will not solve the nation’s
financial and economic woes. But Cyprus can win friends and influence
Europeans if it shows movement, flexibility and imagination on regional

Dr Denis MacShane served as Britain’s Minister for Europe
until 2005 and was a UK delegate to the
Council of Europe
 international organization founded in 1949 to promote greater unity within Europe and to safeguard its political and cultural heritage by promoting human rights and democracy. The council is headquartered in Strasbourg, France.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2013

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