By Marie Kambas
Parliament speaker Yiannakis Omirou yesterday defended the track record of lawmakers in handling the fallout from Cyprus’ chaotic bailout last year, comparing the island’s predicament to a “gun to the head”.
“That we are going through a period of anomaly given the dire financial situation of the country is a fact,” said Omirou, who was giving an account of parliament’s activities from August 2013-July 2014. He also said Cyprus’ present economic problems could not be used as a means of coercion into forcing the island’s hand in accepting a ‘bad and non-viable settlement to the Cyprus problem.
“The Cypriot legislature continued to robustly defend that the policy of strict and barren austerity will not solve problems, if they are not accompanied with counter-balancing measures to boost growth and employment,” Omirou said.
Cyprus, he said, expected solidarity from its partners and that the ‘injustice’ perpetrated was rectified. “This parliament was on many occasions forced to take decisions with a pistol to its head, so to speak,” Omirou said.
The House of Representatives brought Cyprus to the brink of crisis in March 2013 when it rejected softer bailout terms proposed by the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund. Omirou chairs socialist EDEK, one of the parties that voted against the bailout terms.
A week later lenders demanded Laiki bank, then Cyprus’ second largest lender, to close down, and a bail-in of large deposits in Bank of Cyprus be implemented.
Crisis was again narrowly avoided in late 2013 and earlier this year, when parliament initially rejected, but then accepted lenders key demands for the consolidation of Cooperative Banks and privatisations.
A new storm is brewing over conditions attached to foreclosures legislation passed by lawmakers two weeks ago.
During the parliamentary session under review parliament approved 266 draft bills and rejected three others, Omirou said.