In March 2013, Cyprus – where I lived between the ages of 9 and 18 and where my family still live – admitted that its economy and banking sector was in grave danger, and was in desperate need of an EU bailout within a number of days; failing this the banks were predicted to collapse, going down with most of the people of Cyprus’ savings. The government desperately looked for ways of raising money to secure the bailout – one of these ideas was taking a percentage of the deposits in all accounts in the country, but this was strongly rejected after large protests. The main cause behind the crisis was widely reported to be the huge loans given to Greece in their time of trouble, and a period of considerable economic growth in the country which led to excessive spending.
While this is not untrue, there is one thing the press failed to mention – the explosion that occurred at the Mari naval base in July 2011, wiping out the country’s main power station, incurring a cost of around €9bn to the economy – €6bn is required for the bailout – and taking 13 lives. This a was a result of pure ignorance and laziness on the part of the government at the time led by former President Dimitris Christofias; 90 containers of munitions seized from a shipment heading for Iran in 2009 were stored in the direct sunshine on the naval base for 2 years, next to the Vasilikos power station. I was woken by the shockwave from the blast at around 5.20 AM on the 11th July 2011, 35km away in the city of Limassol, where I lived at the time. The families and friends of 13 people woke up to the news of the death of their loved ones, as the result of a completely avoidable tragedy.
Two years on, those same people are being reminded of the tragic circumstances in which those 13 died that day by being made to pay for the mistakes made by the people responsible for those deaths and the economic turmoil the country is now in. This piece deals with the feeling of fear and vulnerability now shared by many people of Cyprus that they could lose something of great importance at any moment (e.g. their money, their country’s stability, their loved ones), and the concern we now have for the future of the place that myself and my family call our home. It was very clear for a long period of time that human and economic catastrophes would occur, yet the country was led down a path of inevitability, unable to change the trajectory that led to these losses.
2 piccolos, 4 flutes, 3 alto flutes, 3 oboes, bass clarinet and electric guitar
Glasgow/Limassol, February – May 2013