To the Editor:
The following is a copy of a letter sent to ’60 Minutes’ and CBS News on September 5, following the broadcast of a second segment on Russian oligarchs and the Republic of Cyprus.
To ’60 Minutes’ Staff; CBS News:
It was appalling to see that for the second time in as many years ’60 Minutes’ decided to examine the relationship between ‘Russian Oligarchs’ and the Republic of Cyprus.
In your first report on this relationship about two years ago you examined in detail how Cyprus had become a haven for this Russian elite. Fair enough.
This second report, aired just yesterday, September 4, had nothing to add to this story. It was simply a rehash of your first report on this relationship.
Why, one may ask is ’60 Minutes’ so captivated by this story regarding Cyprus that they had to air it twice in this short period, and with literally nothing to add to the first?
This report lambasted the Cypriot financial system for offering some Russians a possible way to shield their wealth from the sanctions program imposed as a result of the Russian war in Ukraine. However, was it really necessary to try to defame Cypriot society and the Cypriot tourism industry with innuendo about the vibrancy of the Cypriot luxury retail market? Are Russians the only ones who buy jewelry on Cyprus?
Moreover, you completely avoided ANY mention of the precarious position Cypriot citizens live under due to the Turkish occupation of nearly 40% of the Republic’s territory including some of its most productive farmland, historical sites (largely desecrated by Turkey’s occupation forces), and most stunning parts of the coastline. Not once was this overwhelming factor in Cyprus’ recent history and its effects on Cypriot society and politics mentioned.
Due to the complete failure of the ‘West’ to come to Cyprus’ aid during the invasion 49 years ago and the continuing failure of Turkey’s western allies and enablers to pressure Turkey to withdraw its forces, Cyprus had to look elsewhere for friends and allies who might help to stave off further Turkish aggression.
To resuscitate its shattered economy, which is largely based on tourism, Cyprus initiated policies to attract capital and investment by offering low tax rates for people willing to invest in the country and to shelter their funds in the Cypriot banking system.
Other countries such as Switzerland and some Caribbean nations have adopted similar policies.
Russian investment and ownership of properties in the Cypriot real estate/development market was also seen by the Cypriot government as an insurance policy against further Turkish territorial ambitions, which as witnessed by last week’s Turkish backed incursions into the UN patrolled Neutral Zone separating The Republic from the unrecognized ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’, remain a real and ever present fear.
’60 Minutes’, if it had wanted to present a fair and comprehensive report of the influence of foreign nationals in the Cypriot real estate and investment market, could have reported on the despicable practice of many wealthy British citizens who are buying up choice pieces of formerly Greek-Cypriot owned properties in the occupied Turkish zone without legality or compensation to their rightful owners. These ‘sales’ moreover, virtually ensure that these properties will never return to their rightful and legal owners.
Unscrupulous real estate firms in the UK blare out ads for “Investment properties” in “North Cyprus”, even offering financing for these illegal ‘purchases’.
All of the above taken as a whole leads to the reasonable and fair-minded conclusion that ’60 Minutes’ holds a sharp and enduring animus towards Cyprus and even the embattled Cypriot people. It would be refreshing and restorative to the reputation of ’60 Minutes’, that you appear to hold in such high regard, to report on the resilience, resourcefulness, and adaptability of the Cypriot people to survive and even thrive in this troubled part of the world.