By Poly Pantelides
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades travelled to Paris yesterday to meet with his French counterpart Francois Hollande and hold a series of meetings with stakeholders, including Total’s CEO.
Anastasiades will be flanked by the Cyprus ambassador in France, his foreign minister, the government spokesman and other state officials, and is due to return to Cyprus on Friday.
Anastasiades meets Total CEO Christophe de Margerie tomorrow, ahead of a meeting with French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. Total has concessions blocks 10 and 11 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and is expected to conduct exploratory drilling by late 2014, and is due to run seismic surveys of the seabed this year.
Meanwhile, deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said that Anastasiades had sent a letter to Cyprus’ paymasters, the international monetary fund’s head Christine Lagarde and the European Central Bank’s Mario Draghi, and the head of the European Council’s Herman Von Rompuy. Finance minister Harris Georgiades said he has been authorised to forward the letter on to his EU counterparts.
If Draghi is aware of Cyprus news then he will be taking in Anastasiades’ letter with the knowledge that Cypriot lawmakers want the state to sue him for authorising emergency liquidity assistance last year to the former Laiki bank.
Cypriot MPs believe the European Central Bank (ECB) broke its own rules to offer the assistance to solvent banks, which the ECB has denied. Cyprus has been forced to wind down Laiki as part of its €10 billion bailout loan with a struggling Bank of Cyprus landed with the over €9 billion the ECB allowed Laiki to amass.
Neither Papadopoulos nor Georgiades would say what Anastasiades’ latest letter said although Georgiades said that there were “open matters” such as capital controls that needed to be addressed. “We want of course to do away with capital controls sooner but it is not just a matter of a decision. (This) needs to be based on assurances we need,” Georgiades said.
Capital controls were placed in the country’s financial system in March to stop the flight of capital during eleventh hour efforts to secure a bailout for the island. Though relaxed and meant to be temporary the measures are still in place. Georgiades said that the government was trying to engage its EU partners on a number of matters. Papadopoulos said the president was working towards kick-starting the economy and had informed all parties in Cyprus on the letter.