May 30, 2023

Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (18)

KathyBy Kathy Martin…

Written June 2014

After the Kenyan debacle, Britain began a rush to grant independence to most of its Commonwealth members in Africa and the Caribbean (and also Cyprus). The main requirement (in Britain’s eyes) for independence was “majority rule”. However, as most of the newly independent African countries became hotbeds of corruption, political intrigue and bankruptcy, “white” minority Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence.

Rhodesia - Zimbabwe
Rhodesia – Zimbabwe

In April 1977 Dr David Owen, who was then Britain’s Foreign Secretary, visited Rhodesia to start the process that would lead to the conclusion of the 1979 Lancaster House agreement, bringing about the birth of majority ruled Zimbabwe.

He is recorded on television (and I remember seeing/hearing this quote) “I am going to sit down at the table with the leaders of all the political parties, should any party decline this opportunity I will refuse to listen to their views or allow their participation or involvement in any future talks.”

Well, the “whites” turned up, but the representatives of both the “black” majority parties (ZANU and ZAPU) boycotted the talks! Were the “whites” the only ones that were recognised and the “blacks” ignored?

President Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe

Of course not, as the presence of that really, really excellent President Robert Mugabe shows!

Attention, European Union politicians, when it comes to duplicity, you may be very adept. Especially when you reneged on your promise to lift the embargos on the TRNC, if it voted “yes” to the 2004 Annan plan. The electorate did, but you didn’t! However, as can be seen above, you are not alone! If I were a cynic, I would come to believe that duplicity is a compulsory requirement to be a politician!

BarclaysI have read that Barclays Bank has been fined £26,000,000 (TL 91,000,000) by the Financial Conduct Authority for a financial fiddle involving (in effect) defrauding its customers. Excellent, this has satisfied the legal aspects of the case. However, recently I rambled that banks don’t “earn” money. A builder buys bricks, tiles cement etc for (say) TL50, 000 then he builds a house. He sells this house at (say) TL60, 000, giving him a justifiable profit, which he earned through his own “sweat and blood”.

However, a bank simply accepts money from current and savings account holders, as well as shareholders and investors. The bank is then free to swindle these people out of some or all of their money until found out. If the swindle is discovered, any punitive fine is simply paid for using the money that belongs to the people, who are effectively ripped off twice! In order to continue, paying the bankers (and of course their bonuses!) the bank simply lowers the interest rate that is paid to savers who are thereby ripped off thrice! If I am being too simplistic, any high banking official can make a comment!

While on the subject of high ranking bank officials, I am convinced that the Kibkom Times (and especially my column) is read by members of the Serious Fraud Office in the UK! I believe this because, in a recent ramble, I stated that senior management in the disgraced banks had not been taken to court. Now I understand that the SFO is preparing to prosecute people, such as Bob Diamond of Barclays! I am always glad to do my bit to inspire justice!

James Bond - Sean Connery
Sean Connery – MY James Bond

Recently, my wife and I met an acquaintance, whom we have known for many years, in a cafe. He asked us where we were going to live after the end of June! Somewhat taken aback, we replied “here, of course”! He then tapped the side of his nose in a conspiratorial manner and said that an “important Turk” had told him that on 30th June 2014, the TRNC would be admitted into both the EU and the Euro zone!

We asked him who the “important Turk” was, but he said that he wasn’t at liberty to say! It is, of course, possible that our acquaintance is a rather elderly “James Bond” type, who regularly hears diplomatic conversations, but we rather doubt it! He certainly isn’t as suave as Sean Connery (my James Bond)!

I used the word “acquaintance” rather than “friend”, because, although we have known him for about 8 years, he is not “like us”! Despite living here longer that we have, he is (and, among our circle of friends, we are not alone in having this opinion) a card-carrying, fully paid-up member of the “Whingeing Brit Union Jack Brigade”! To him, everything in the UK is better, oh, except for things like the weather and the, (comparatively) low cost of living. He has, apparently, made no effort to learn basic Turkish (courtesies, greetings etc), so he is not “people like us”!

Anyway, to get back to the question of where we were going to live after Kibris joined the EU, we said that we couldn’t afford to live in the UK (or anywhere else in the world). He said that he and “all” his British friends were going back to the UK to live. I said that, as we didn’t have any “bricks and mortar” in the UK, we were not prepared to be refugees for the second time in our lives! Admittedly, we would be able to take more property from here than we were allowed from Rhodesia, a suitcase each and 4 “tea chests” measuring a ½ metre cube each!

Our acquaintance told us that we wouldn’t be refugees, as the state would provide accommodation for us! Thank you, but it would be very unlikely that any such accommodation would be in a salubrious area, or even in an area where we would want to live! No, here we are, in a location that we love, we have (for the first time “bricks and mortar” that we own, we should (even if the Euro be our currency), be able to live a fairly comfortable life.

When our situation and circumstances were pointed out to him, our acquaintance said that he didn’t want to live in the European Union, but could providing he didn’t have to use the Euro as currency!

EuroHis mention of the Euro got me thinking….uh-oh I hear you say!

Apparently the idea of a “Europewide” currency was first mooted at the League of Nations (forerunner of the United Nations) by Gustav Stresemann, as long ago as 1929! This was suggested as a “remedy” to the extremely volatile exchange rates that existed at that time. Many importers (or exporters) would find that the goods involved in cross-border shipments would be grossly over (or under) priced between the placing of the order and the delivery of the product!

However, it was not until 1969 the then Prime Minister of Luxemburg, Pierre Werner, was tasked to take action on this situation. He came up with the idea that countries should fix rates for imports/exports (although not necessarily at the “high street” bank rates).

However, it was not until 1979 that the European Monetary System came into being. Under this system, all transactions would be calculated in European Currency Units (ECUs) for accounting purposes only. This was an attempt to stabilise exchange rates and counter inflation.

It wasn’t until 1988 that the European Commission, backed by France and Italy, proposed the introduction of a single European currency issued by one central bank!

Eventually, on 1st January 1999 the Euro was launched in many European countries.

Next blog will continue with Alistair’s rambles

These rambles were written by Alistair initially for the “The KibKom Times” then “The KibKom Forum

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