By George Psyllides
CYPRUS will do anything it can to contribute towards keeping Greece in the eurozone, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Monday, expressing the hope that there was still time to bridge the country’s differences with international lenders.
“We will do anything, anywhere, according to size and capability, to contribute to Greece remaining in the eurozone but also to draft a programme (of assistance),” Anastasiades said.
The president has agreed to support a request from Greek prime minister for his country’s programme to be extended.
He said he hoped that there was still time to bridge Greece’s differences with international lenders.
“Of course we have the referendum ahead of us, which has somehow suspended the negotiations,” he said.
The administration and, in particular, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades have been accused by opposition parties of not doing enough for Greece.
Main opposition AKEL accused Georgiades of siding “with the Germans and Europe’s other neo-colonialists.”
AKEL was referring to Saturday’s failed Eurogroup meeting held to discuss the expiration of the Greek programme.
The statement that followed the meeting was agreed upon by all countries except Greece, whose delegation had left.
“The decision not to grant any extension or other facility to Greece was unanimous, and this says a lot,” AKEL said. “As does the fact that Cyprus agreed with throwing out the Greek minister from the Eurogroup.”
The party accused the government of lying and letting Greece down once more.
Georgiades strongly denied AKEL’s version of events.
Cyprus’ position was to give Greece an extension and Eurogroup convened to examine that he said.
And Cyprus was the only member-state that had a clear position in relation with Greece’s debt.
Georgiades said Cyprus was prepared to accept any arrangement that would ease Greece’s debt. Before seeking Cyprus’ own bailout in 2013, Cyprus had contributed €330 million (2 per cent of GDP) that went to Greece in the form of assistance.
The island’s banks had suffered some €4.5 billion in looses as a result of the Greek debt write-down in 2011. The money was eventually paid by bank depositors in 2013.
Regarding Greece’s departure from Saturday’s Eurogroup, Georgiades had said on Sunday that he was under the impression that there was an understanding “and the Greek delegation left after the break.”
DISY chief Averof Neophytou asked AKEL if Cyprus must blame the Greek finance minister at the time for the Eurogroup decision to seize deposits in March 2013.
He urged those “looking for a scapegoat for the tragedy the Greek people is going through” to reflect on what would have happened if people had listened to their suggestion to send international lenders packing.
“I was under the impression that all these people who care about the public are against the oppressors, the Troikans, and they wanted to send them packing from Cyprus and Greece,” Neophytou said.