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Cypriot government in favour of giving Tsipras time to implement own reforms

By Stelios Orphanides

European creditors should give Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras a chance to implement his reform programme which includes scrapping austerity and taxing the rich, a government source in Nicosia said.

“Our position is that Greece has to get support but the main negotiations will be with the creditors,” the source who spoke on condition of anonymity said today in a telephone interview. “We are going to argue that since Greece has a new government it deserves to get a chance but again, it does not depend on us”.

The government official said that while the Cypriot government will argue in favour of Greece, it will be up to the “International Monetary Fund and Germany” to do the talking at the extraordinary euro area finance minister meetings, also known as eurogroup, scheduled for Wednesday, February 11, to discuss Greece’s request for a bridging financing which will allow the government implement its own reform programme.

The prime minister who was visiting Cyprus a week ago, said during his meeting with president Nicos Anastasiades that “all he wanted was time to implement his reform plan but you can never know for sure”.

Tsipras told Anastasiades that unlike his predecessor Antonis Samaras, he intends to clamp down on tax evasion instead of slashing salaries and pensions.

Tsipras, who is the leader of Syriza, which is the acronym of the Coalition of Radical Left, told lawmakers yesterday that he revert reforms agreed with international creditors as part of Greece’s 240 billion euros bailout, including a hiring freeze in the public sector, increase the minimum wage and scrapping an unpopular tax on real property.

While the Cypriot government is in favour of a compromise at the eurogroup which would allow

Greece remain in the euro area “the final decision will be taken by Greece,” the government source said adding that the prime minister’s speech at the parliament yesterday “didn’t leave any margins for a compromise, unless all this is part of their negotiation tactics”.

Still, the Cypriot government is not talking currently about a Grexit, as Greece’s probable exit from the euro area is also called, the official said adding “we are prepared for all contingencies”.

Cyprus was one of the countries which helped bailout Greece in 2010 and 2012. In 2010, Cyprus extended a direct loan of 109 million euros to the government in Athens, and provided 283 million euros in guarantees to the European Financial Stability Fund, which financed the second Greek bailout as well as those of Ireland and Portugal.

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