Este mes de febrero, en nuestra entrevista mensual, presentamos a Constaninos Massouras, estudiante chipriota de economía en la Universidad de Copenhague
El mes pasado entrevistamos a un empresario catalán, esta vez queremos saber más sobre la crisis y el empleo en Europa desde otro punto de vista. Intentaremos saber más de la crisis en Chipre y sobre la situación de los ciudadanos del sur del continente que emigran a los países del norte.


When was the first time that you worked in Cyprus? 

Well, I started working from quite an early age, I was 14 years old when I had my first summer job, working in a gas station at the car wash section in my hometown, Pafos. It wasn’t an easy job for me then, because I was very young and also the working conditions weren’t the best. We were a group of 4 people for every car coming out from the washing machine and then we had to swipe it and clean what was left under the hot sun of the Cypriot summer. However, summer jobs is something quite usual for young students in Cyprus. In contrast, finding a full time job is quite difficult because the labor market is quite small and apart from Cypriots seeking for a job we also have a lot of immigrants too, from Eastern European countries and the Arabic world.

Why are u studying economics?
Economics is a very misunderstood study for a lot of people, especially in my country. An economist can give a very good explanation about unemployment, crisis, determination of prices, economies of scale... and he can understand the mechanics that are involved in those. So the basic reason because I am studying economics is to be able to understand and try to explain it to the people. We shouldn’t forget that almost everything happening in the world has something to do with Economics.

Do you like to study economics in Cyprus? And in Copenhagen?
Studying Economics in the University of Cyprus is something quite interesting and challenging. It is supposed to be a quite demanding study because it’s quite mathematically and empirically based, but for me studying Economics in UCY is a dream becoming true! Studying Economics in UCY gives you a lot of studying opportunities, and one of those is having a year in a foreign university. This is what I am doing right now, having a semester in  the University of Copenhagen. Up to this point, I have seen a lot of differences in the teaching methods professors are using in Copenhagen in contrast to my home university but still the study is the same –Economics– and it’s just a matter of getting used to it. The whole experience is fantastic and the University of Copenhagen is also fantastic, so I enjoy studying here very much.

Which is your point of view about Cyprus crisis and the actual situation?

The economic crisis in Cyprus was caused by a mixture of both bad governmental policies and banks mistakes. As Mrs. Velkouleskou -member of Troika- said, Cypriot officials managed to create the perfect time bomb within their economy, and I totally agree with this statement. Someone who was observing the Cyprus economy could easily predict that sooner or later a crisis would hit the island. Budget deficits for years, tax evasion, lack of real development in the economy, banks extra-ordinary exposition in Greek bonds, very high interest rates and easily given loans without strong guarantees was the picture of the Cypriot economy the past 5 years. Today, after the closure of one of the two biggest banks of Cyprus (Laiki Bank), after the famous bail in and a series of austerity measures imposed by Troika, the Cypriot economy is still shrinking but in a very lower level than the expectations (-6% instead of -8%) and politicians support growth is coming soon. However, the NPL’s are still at a very high percentage (50%), unemployment rate is at 16.2% and no major foreign investments are foreseen, so things doesn’t look so good at least for the current year as far as I am concerned.

What do you think is the next step to solve it in Cyprus? And in Europe?
Austerity measures are not the only solution that could be implemented to take a country out of an economic crisis. I believe that the EU should reconsider the way is operating since so many southern European countries (Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus) have faced a crisis in contrast with northern European countries that at the same time are gradually growing. The central banks of each country should gain more power and the ECB should become more active. As about Cyprus, the most important thing to happen right now is the market liquidity to increase, so the economy will flourish again. People should trust Cyprus banks once again and the government should try to attract foreign investments to import money in the economy. Another great chapter of Cyprus economy is the discovery of the hydrocarbons. Several confirmative drills took place in the Cypriot EEZ and the results were quite positive. If the government can take advantage of them in the future then I believe that the exploitation of the hydrocarbons will boost the Cyprus economy. 

About work, which are the main diferences about Denmark and Cyprus?

Even though I haven’t spend so much time here in Denmark to observe things in detail, I can only say what was clear for me from the first days I spend in Copenhagen is that the Danes are much more productive than Cypriots. They are trying to get rid of any unnecessary bureaucracy and they even work in much more flexible timetables than we do in Cyprus.   

What do you think about the Integration of europeans from the south in northern countries?

I think if the EU could proceed in such a big integration it would benefit everyone. We are now moving in 2014 but yet the EU doesn’t seem to be able to accomplish pan-European policies. The economic growth gap between the southern and the northern European countries is enormous and in my opinion this could be improved through the integration.

Do you want to live in Cyprus always? 

Unfortunately someone who really wants to do something big in his life, he won’t be able to do it in Cyprus. I love my country and I would really like to live all my life there but I would also like to develop myself, implement some ideas I have and doing this in Cyprus may seem too difficult. Cyprus is a very small country, with a very small market and a very complicated political environment because of the Turkish invasion in 1974. Living there all your life may limit you and in that way you might not be able to fully develop your potentials. Even my family asked me to think about immigrating somewhere else for a better life. In my opinion, Scandinavian countries look a very attractive destination for someone who would like to get employed in a foreign country since both the working and living conditions are in high standards. Innovation and entrepreneurship is positively perceived and also some aid can be easily given. Because of these thoughts that I am having, I choose to have my study exchange here in Copenhagen since it would also be a crash test for me if I can adopt the Danish way of living and blend in the society.

Which are your future personal plans, and your business future plans?

I still have one more year to finish my bachelor degree in economics and then I am thinking either in having a master degree in financial economics or if I can be admitted to any of the “big 4” auditing companies for a professional title like the ACA or the CFA I would prefer this. I like to think more about my present than my future and that’s the main reason I still haven’t thought about any more distant plans. The only thing I can tell you is that I want to go big in my life and achieve as many things as I can, so why not becoming a future minister of economics in Cyprus so I would be able to give something back to my people. 

And my last question, about your dreams, If you become rich, which is the dream that you would like to make real?
Hopefully when I will become rich, a multi-billionaire, I will be able to buy my own piece of land, an island for example in the Caribbean Sea and then I would be able to create my own small empire, living the rest of my life there without any civil rules and enjoying just life. Just kidding, I would donate some money in charities, I would visit underdeveloped countries and try to invest there so I could help people because, what’s the purpose of having a fortune if you are not going to help other people that are in need of even basic things?          

by Xavi Molina

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