By Stefanos Evripidou
THE EUROGROUP’s bailout decision on Cyprus may have left a bad taste in his mouth but President Nicos Anastasiades remained adamant yesterday that the country’s future remains in the eurozone.
Speaking at an award ceremony for the former deputy minister of EU affairs Andreas Mavroyiannis in Limassol last night, Anastasiades highlighted that the government has no intention of leaving the eurozone.
“Cyprus belongs to Europe, without experiments, regressions or exceptions and I want to repeat categorically, there is no intention of exiting the euro.”
He added, however, that last March’s Eurogroup decision rocked the confidence of the people of Cyprus in European institutions and principles, “as well as towards a number of our EU partners”.
The president said he could not hide the fact that the government also experienced disappointment with its EU partners and the institutions “for the unprecedented handling” of Cyprus with the imposition of a ‘bail-in’ of its two most systemic banks and the “manifest lack of solidarity demonstrated”.
He noted that Cyprus has requested additional EU assistance via the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 as well as additional funding in the framework of cohesion policy and rural development.
Anastasiades said he was in “full agreement” with the positions of French President Francois Hollande that austerity alone is not an adequate response to the eurozone crisis but economic growth and job creation were also imperative.
In a clear dig at Germany’s Angela Merkel, who like Anastasiades, is a member of the European People’s Party (EPP), he noted that his views were much more aligned with Hollande on this point than with other leaders “even if they belong to my own political family”.
The president said he was willing to take a leadership role in reviving the so-called Olive Group of Mediterranean and southern EU member states to ensure greater coordination in confronting the actions and policies of northern and central European countries.