Nicosia, Cyprus - The shiny toasters that bank customers received for opening new accounts are being confiscated by the financial institutions that gifted them. Objective: to help ease this country's multibillion euro debt crisis.
"No, this is not a case of re-gifting or so-called Indian giving," said Milos Dmitri, Cyprus' Financial Minister and Taxi and Limousine Commissioner. "The European Union's Commission on Bread and Bagels has issued a study on toaster safety and we wanted to be sure that every toasting unit In Cyprus meets the new standards. So we're taking them in for close inspection."
But opposition leader Nikolai Farkas provided a different perspective on the appliance seizures.
"A toaster is one of the few objects of value that a Cypriot possesses in these hard economic times," he said. "The government tried taxing bank accounts, but realized all it was taking in were more useless euros. But when you confiscate a toaster, you've got breakfast."
The Cypriots in the street, meanwhile, are devastated at losing their ability to add heat and crunch to the most important meal of the day.
"The people of Cyprus have suffered for centuries with our Mediterranean diet, and now we are forced to stomach cold Pop Tarts," said one middle-age man, who asked that his name and toaster model not be mentioned.
Another banking customer also requested anonymity: "This isn't just about toast. We Cypriots live in the cradle of democracy, yet we don't have the means to thaw a frozen waffle. That's rocking the cradle in the wrong direction if you ask me."
Outside Cyprus, reaction to the toaster grab was mixed:
A spokesman for the Italian Foreign Minister remarked that "Cyprus is one Toaster Strudel away from a complete financial meltdown."
The French Fry Minister declared: "Let them eat cake." And took off for his favorite bakery.
German Prime Minister Angela Merkel took a more pragmatic stance: "Germany is famous for its toasters and ovens. We will sell the Cypriots the finest toasters money can buy, as soon as they have the money to buy the toasters."
In Brussels, the European Union voted to create a "Commission On Small Kitchen Appliances, the Service Contract and the Social Contract." The panel immediately bogged down on debating the benefits of juicing.
Meanwhile, Cyprus banks are considering closing down costly branches and opening banking outlets in the homes of their customers. "They have computers, they have Internet access and they have lots of time on their hands," said one finance minister. "All that's missing is the money."