Cyprus. An explosive fire in an armory at the naval base
Evangelos Florakis in southern Cyprus July 11 had
far-reaching political and economic consequences. Nearly 100
containers of seized Iranian explosives, mostly gunpowder,
were over-torched and 13 people, among them the navy's
highest commander Andreas Ioannides, were killed. The fire
spread to the country's largest electric power plant,
located right next door. It was switched off, which led to
recurring power cuts for several months.
The accident caused political chaos. According to
Countryaah official site, thousands of
Cypriots demonstrated against the government having allowed
the gunpowder to be stored in the solar gas on the fleet
base. Defense Minister Costas Papacostas and Foreign
Minister Markos Kyprianou resigned. The middle party DIKO
(the Democratic Party) left the government coalition and the
left party AKEL (Workers' Progress Party) was forced to form
a new government based on only 19 of 56 seats. In the May 22
parliamentary elections, the right-wing party DISY
(Democratic Assembly) had become the largest party with 20
seats, an increase of two. AKEL had lost a mandate but was
able to continue to govern together with DIKO.
The power outages hit the economy hard while the
country's banks had large sums lent to the crisis-hit
Greece. Three credit rating agencies downgraded Cyprus
during the year.
Cyprus announced in December that natural gas had been
found on its own water off the southeast coast near an
Israeli gas field. Turkey, which believes that Cyprus'
natural resources should also benefit the Turkish Cypriots,
protested against the Cypriot drilling plans and sent its
own vessels to nearby waters. No breakthroughs were reached
during the year in the negotiations for a united island
nation between President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish
Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu.