A senior EU official, speaking anonymously, has said that the swingeing bailout terms were a punishment extracted by the Eurogroup for excessive wasting time and strained relations between ex-president Chrisofias and the EU.
The official went on to say that the bailout would have been “like any other” if Christofias’ government had listened to numerous warnings regarding the potential economic catastrophe looming on the horizon. He accused Christofias of implementing obstructionist policies and of thinly veiled anti-EU rhetoric.
“We warned more than once that political decisions on the Cyprus rescue plan needed taking urgently, but every single suggestion we made, everything we advised was ignored,” the official said, at the same time admitting that the EU had delivered a gang-style mugging in the form of the bailout terms and conditions.
He added a bailout for South Cyprus was all but inevitable from 2011, but Christofias appeared less interested in relations with Brussels as he was holding out hope for a bilateral loan from either Moscow or Beijing.
“If I’m straight with you, I can say the Cypriots pissed off everyone,” he added.
The official, who worked within the Eurogroup at the highest level, roundly condemned the former president, accusing him of opting for a policy of negligence and arm-wrestling by “stuffing the economic problems of Cyprus into a cupboard and slamming the door”.
The escalating row between Brussels and Nicosia comes just days after EU commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn confirmed that South Cyprus was censured for dragging its feet from as early as November 2011. That was when the first warnings of the stricken economy were issued, with the South applying for a bailout last June.
“It is unfortunate that it took Cyprus more than half a year to accept the gravity of the situation and the unsustainability of its business model. And it is similarly unfortunate that it took Cyprus another nine months to reach an agreement with the Eurogroup,” Rehn told MEPs from the European Parliament’s monetary affairs committee on Wednesday. Aside from losing patience, another point of contention amongst EU politicians and technocrats was Christofias’ increasing erratic behaviour and public outbursts against Brussels, which were described as being “irritating at best.”