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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Cyprus’

Eurocrisis: Russia Offers Its Services

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Europe’s politicians will not admit it openly but they are afraid that the dire economic situation in countries such as Greece and Spain might lead to revolution. In two weeks’ time, the Greeks will go to the voting booths again. The far-left Syriza party is leading in the polls. During the past months, violence has hit the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki. Desperate people are committing suicide in public, reminding Europe’s leaders that the so-called Arab Spring, which toppled many Arab regimes, was triggered in December 2010 by the self-immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia.

Later this month, Greece needs a new round of €5.2 billion in bailout funds from the other European Union countries. In return, the Greeks must pass €14.5 billion worth of austerity measures. With a newly elected Greek parliament unwilling to introduce them, however, and with Greek politicians threatening to annul prior loan agreements, other countries are unwilling to come forward with new funds. Meanwhile, Greek citizens are moving their money out of the country, exacerbating the situation of Greece’s banks. The prospect of a bankruptcy of Greece, and of the country leaving the eurozone, seems ever more likely. Grexit – as the European media call the scenario of Greece leaving the euro – is a possibility. But how will the Greek people react? If the level of anger and frustration keeps rising in Greece, the country might descend into chaos.

The situation is equally unstable in Cyprus. The economic situation of this strategically located country is inextricably intertwined with that of Greece. A collapse of Greece will drag Cyprus along with it. Economists expect that to keep Cyprus afloat, it will need between €25 and 50 billion from the other EU countries. If the EU does not provide the money, others might. Last December, Russia already gave Cyprus a bilateral loan of €3 billion. Russia is definitely capable of bailing Cyprus out. The Russians, however, are likely to want something in return. If Russia steps in, the strategic situation in the entire Eastern Mediterranean could change. Given the large gas supplies in the waters around Cyprus, Turkey, too, is interested in gaining a stronger foothold in Cyprus. Can Israel tolerate this?

Greece and Cyprus are not the only countries in Southern Europe that are heading for political instability. In Portugal, Spain, and Italy there have also been street protests in response to austerity measures. The EU is particularly worried about Spain. Last week, the Spanish Socialist former Prime Minister Gonzalez said that his country is in a “state of total emergency.” Spain is heading full speed for a debacle.

Last month, panic-stricken Spanish citizens withdrew more than €70 billion from Spanish banks and moved it to foreign safe havens. While Greece is confronting Grexit, Spain is already in the grip of what the European media call Spanic. The Spanish banking sector is about to collapse. Bankia, Spain’s third largest bank, urgently needs the Spanish government to bail it out with €21 billion. Bankia, a state-owned institution which was formed last year out of the ruins of seven regional banks which could no longer shoulder the huge losses of the Spanish real estate crash, is virtually bankrupt. To save the Spanish banks, however, the debt-ridden government in Madrid needs at least €90 billion.

Meanwhile, with youth unemployment higher than 50%, Spain’s younger generation has no prospects whatever. They have nothing to lose and, hence, can be easily persuaded to rebel against a political system that seems incapable of offering them hope for a better future. This is a politically dangerous situation, which the United States should be taking into account. The whole of Southern Europe might soon be in turmoil.

If Spain goes down the drain, Italy is bound to follow. And if Italy, the third largest economy in the EU, goes, France is likely to go as well. The Europeans are preparing for disaster. In May, economic activity in the eurozone countries, including France and Germany, contracted at the fastest rate since June 2009.

Last week, the heads of government of the eurozone countries met in Brussels for their 19th emergency gathering since the eurocrisis began two years ago. Spain, Italy, and France have stated that they want the European Central Bank to intervene by issuing eurobonds, pooling the sovereign debts of all 17 eurozone countries.

Israel Denies Reports it is Seeking to Deploy 20,000 Troops to Cyprus

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Israel has denied a Turkish news report claiming that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested permission to deploy 20,000 soldiers to Cyprus in exchange for building a gas terminal on the island, according to Turkish Daily Today’s Zaman.

Anatolia News Agency had earlier reported that Netanyahu made the request to Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias when he visited Greek Cyprus in February. The report went on to say that due to Cyprus’ current financial straits, Israel offered to build a gas terminal – which the report states will cost $10 billion – on condition that all 10,000 construction workers be Israeli citizens and that 20,000 Israeli “commandos” be deployed to protect the workers and the terminal.

Quoting a Cypriot official, Netanyahu was also reported to have said, “Give us an air and a naval base and I will immediately prohibit investment on the Turkish side of the island with a decision in the Israeli Parliament.” Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the island and helped established the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which it supports economically, politically, and militarily. Northern Cyprus is not recognized as an independent state (other than by Turkey), and is considered by the international community to be occupied territory.

The report comes amid an uptick of activity in the Cypriot theater on both the Israeli and Turkish sides. Turkey is extremely wary of Cyprus’ burgeoning relationship with Israel, especially as it relates to the recently-discovered natural gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean, and it disputes the demarcation of maritime borders recently agreed upon by the two countries.

Last Friday, Turkey’s government issued a warning to 15 companies that submitted bids in a Cypriot tender for oil exploration in the Mediterranean. “The companies which cooperate with GKRY (the Greek Cypriot administration) will not be included in energy projects in Turkey in the future,” a Foreign Ministry statement said on Saturday. Among the firms that made a bid were Israel’s Delek, ATP of the US, Russia’s Novatec, Italy’s ENI, France’s Total, Malaysia’s Petronas, Canada’s Petra Petroleum, and Britain’s Vitol.

Also last week, the Turkish military revealed that it scrambled two F-16 jets to force an Israeli plane that had violated Northern Cyprus’ airspace to evacuate. The Turkish military stated that the Israeli plane violated its airspace five times for a total of eight minutes before retreating.

Still, there are signs of a thawing of the frosty Israel-Turkey relations. The Turkish daily Sabah reported on Saturday that Israel had repaired and returned four unmanned aerial Heron drones Turkey had sent to Israel for maintenance a couple of years ago. The last one, according to the report, will be returned “in the next few days.” The delay prompted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ask in September 2011: “Are they [the Israelis] even ethical? There can be problems amongst people and resentment; they can refrain from meeting with each other. All of this is possible, but when it comes to international agreements, there is an international trade ethic.”

Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Sign Underwater Electric Cable Deal

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

AFP reports that Israel and Cyprus have signed an accord Sunday to lay an underwater electricity cable between the two countries. It’s the first stage in an effort to transfer power between mainland Europe and Israel.

The cable, to be complete by 2016, will stretch 178 miles, at a depth of 6,550 feet.

Israel Electric Corporation CEO Yiftach Ron Tal declared at the signing that the “Euro-Asia Interconnect,” with the capacity to transfer 2,000 megawatt, will forever free Israel: “No more Israel as an economic island.”

Additional underwater cables will connect Cyprus and mainland Europe via Greece, who also signed the agreement. Israel’s Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said “Israel will be able to receive backup electricity from Cyprus and Europe, and in the future, we will be able to provide them with energy.”

PM Netanyahu in Cyprus: Sanctions Not Working

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in the first ever visit to Cyprus by an Israeli PM, said that sanctions against Iran have so far been ineffective.

“Iran is the most irresponsible force in the world. I hope the sanctions will have an effect, but so far they have not. We are dealing with a regime that violates every resolution and has no respect for international standards,” Netanyahu said, after holding talks with Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias.

His comments come a day after Iran announced the achievement of another milestone in its nuclear enrichment program – the use of Iran’s first domestically made fuel rods.

Netanyahu’s one-day visit is intended to cement the burgeoning ties between Israel and Cyprus, and was used as an opportunity to sign a ‘search and rescue’ agreement between the two countries, whereby Israeli aircraft will be authorized to enter Cyprus’ airspace in the event of disaster, and vice versa.

The agreement also reflects the extent of the rupture in Israel-Turkey relations, as – for all intents and purposes – this agreement replaces a similar one between Israel and Turkey that had been revoked.

Israel in Discussions to Stationing Israeli Air Force Jets on Cyprus

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to discuss the prospect of stationing Israeli Air Force jets on Cyprus when he visits the island later this month, according to a report by the Chinese news agency Xinua.

According to the report, an Israeli official told Xinua that the discussion “is at the exploratory stage – it’s not clear if it will or won’t happen.”

Relations between Cyprus and Israel have been intensifying since Israel’s fallout with its former regional ally and Cyprus’ adversary, Turkey. In January, Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with his Cypriot counterpart to enter into and sign defense agreements.

 

PM Netanyahu to Visit Cyprus in February

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will travel to Cyprus next month to increase security coordination between the two countries and discuss cooperation on recent natural gas finds in Israeli and Cypriot waters.

In what is said to be the first-ever visit by an Israeli prime minister to Cyprus, Netanyahu will reportedly sign a cooperation agreement relating to the protection of natural gas drilling sites, and also request to station Israeli aircraft in Cyprus.

The natural gas finds in Israeli and Cypriot waters coincide with the dramatic erosion in Israeli-Turkish relations to offer the two countries an opportunity to deepen strategic cooperation.

 

Before The Deluge: Jews Of The Mediterranean Islands (Part I)

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

The stories in this column are translations by Mr. Nollet from Die Juden In Der Welt (The Jews in the World) by Mark Wischnitzer, a long out-of-print book published more than seven decades ago in Germany. The book examines Jewish communities, one country at a time, as they existed in 1935 – a time before the Nazis began their extermination campaign against the Jews and before there was a state of Israel.

 

Jews Of The Mediterranean Islands

Cyprus (continued from last month)

Cyprus is about half the size of today’s Palestine and is mainly mountainous. A smaller chain of mountains stretches along the north coast; the main mountain range in the southwest of the island reaches to more than 2,000 meters above sea level and is covered with various species of pine trees. Between these two mountain ranges lies a high plateau with only minor changes in elevation, and makes up about a third of the island’s total surface.

There is a lot of wine produced, and various kinds of fruits, such as red currants, and olives. On the plateau grows wheat, barley, hops, wine, oranges, pomegranates, flax, cotton, and vegetables, particularly potatoes and onions.

Animal husbandry is practiced, with cattle, sheep, and donkeys exported to Palestine and Egypt.

Cyprus has a population of about 350,000, four-fifths of which is Greek and the other fifth Turkish. The native language is Greek but the language of government is English. The conditions of health are generally good, though there are spots of malaria.  The big harbors are Famagusta, Larnaca, and Limassol. The capital of Nicosia (25,000 inhabitants) lies not far from Larnaca.

Some 200,000 people feed themselves from agriculture, and there are mining activities in the southwest mountains. The wooded highlands are sought out for recreation purposes in the summer by people from Palestine, Syria, and Egypt. Over a third of the people live in cities, mainly as merchants. Attempts have been made to launch tanning and silk industries.

Rhodes

Rhodes is in the Aegean Sea, currently under Italian control. [Translator’s note: Rhodes was awarded to Greece after WWII and today remains Greek, though it lies within eyeshot of the Turkish mainland.] As early as the second century BCE it counted Jewish inhabitants. There was a count in the year 1170 of around 500 souls. A hundred years later, Jews from Tarragona in Spain fleeing persecution found refuge in Saracen-controlled Rhodes.

In 1309, knights of the Christian order of St. John Hospitallers conquered Rhodes, but before this time the presence of the “Evriaka Street” in the village of Mallona, not far from the main city of Rhodes, proves the existence of an already-established Jewish settlement.

The Jews from Spain brought with them the knowledge of cloth manufacturing. Tanning of animal hides was also a Jewish specialty.

Obadja Bertinoro, after his journey of 1488 to Jerusalem, visited Rhodes, and made the following observations: “After vigorous fighting between the Turks and the knights of the Hospice of St. John’s, the number of Jews left remaining on Rhodes was not large.  There were about 22 families, all poor. They feed themselves carefully with vegetables, and never consume bread or meat which they have not themselves slaughtered, and never buy any wine, for fear of having unpleasantries with the Greeks.

“When they visit the market to go shopping, they touch nothing which belongs to the Greeks, and observe prohibitions against wine just as they do prohibitions against swine.  They are well educated and trained, speak a clean language, are moral and ethical, and hospitable. Even the tanners are always cleanly dressed and speak soberly. [The women] all let their hair grow long, and are comely of form. They do all kinds of artwork for the lords of the land, and this is how they feed their menfolk.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/before-the-deluge-jews-of-the-mediterranean-islands/2011/10/26/

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