Another European Union train wreck approaches. Cyprus, a small, financially precarious euro-zone member, assumes the rotating EU presidency today for six months.
Leading the 27-member EU pack is a big challenge for any small nation. But Cyprus is basically broke: It needs $12.5 billion for its banks and public obligations, and must come up with $2.3 billion this month. Its penury is a result of the links of its banks and finances to Greece, which itself is in dire straits.
Cyprus is led by the only Communist president in the EU, Demetris Christofias. It would rather borrow from Russia than from the rescuers of other messed- up euro-zone countries -- Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, which are kept afloat by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
Russia lent Cyprus $3.1 billion last year. It does not impose the same sort of sharp austerity terms on its debtors as the international institutions do.
Cyprus shouldn't have been admitted to the EU until it sorted out its differences with the Turkish northern part of its island, and with Turkey itself. It is rapidly becoming another European deadbeat.
The international lenders now have the privilege of competing with China and Russia, which seek to expand their economic interests on and around Cyprus by offering to bail Greek Cypriots out of their costly, self-inflicted difficulties. What a mess.