Cyprus Mail

Anastasiades: I was handed a time bomb

By George Psyllides

PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades said he had been handed a time-bomb upon coming to office and his choice was to either let it blow and destroy the country or neutralise it, albeit with painful effects.

In a statement submitted to the committee investigating the island’s economic collapse, Anastasiades highlighted his discontent with the previous administration and its inaction.

“I consider it unnecessary to stress that I do not feel at all happy about the decisions, which we were forced to accept,” the president said. “Decisions, which were the product of the inexcusable behaviour of those responsible to act when conditions required them to do so.”

Former president Demetris Christofias, who stormed out of the committee last week, and his party, AKEL, are widely believed to be responsible for the economic debacle.

They reject the charges, suggesting that it was the banks’ huge exposure to Greece that was to blame.

The island’s two biggest banks, Laiki and Bank of Cyprus, lost around €4.5 billion from the write-down in Greek debt in October 2011.

Christofias was criticised for agreeing to the write-down without securing support for the banks in return.

The committee asked Anastasiades whether Greece could be held responsible.

The president said Greece should not be blamed.

“The main responsibility does not lie with the Greek government but with the Cypriot side,” he said.

Anastasiades said he could not say who was responsible as that was the work of the committee.

The documents he submitted showed the course Cyprus had followed and where it ended up, he added.

Promoted by a member of the panel to give his position on what was to blame, Anastasiades said: “The diffidence, fear of political cost, ignoring the opposition and its willingness to contribute in taking timely measures, and possibly ideological obstinacy, which did not allow us to take specific measures despite” advice from finance ministers, the EU and others.

“I would say that on March 1, I was handed a time-bomb and the choices before me were two: either I let it blow with devastating effects on the whole country, or carry out a controlled explosion with painful consequences but with prospects for recovery,” Anastasiades’ statement said.

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