July 10, 2013
On a visit to Athens this year, Marios Loucaides, a Cypriot businessman, saw an apartment he liked in the heart of the Greek capital and decided to buy it. He told the owner he would seal the deal with a bank transfer – the price was 170,000 euros, about $220,000 – once he got back to Cyprus.
After returning home, however, Loucaides discovered that the euros he had on deposit here in Nicosia, the capital, could not be moved to Greece, even though the two countries share the same currency and, in theory at least, the same commitment to the free movement of capital.
The apartment deal collapsed. And so, too, did Loucaides’ belief that Europe has a common currency. Tangled in restrictions imposed in March as part of a bailout for the country’s ailing banks, a euro in Cyprus is no longer the same as one in France, Germany or Greece.