Christofias sheds tears during trade union speech

Christofias sheds tears during trade union speech

Greek Cyprus President Demetris Christofias broke down in tears during a speech to delegates of the PEO trade union while commenting on new austerity measures, according to a Cyprus Mail online report yesterday.

“The head of state became emotional while talking about looming austerity measures resulting from an expected foreign bailout,” the report said.

“My concern and priority has always been for the good of the workers, of the common people,” Christofias was quoted as saying before choking up and stopping to wipe tears from his eyes with a handkerchief.

“I assure you that I shall continue to fight for these values to my last breath,” he said.

Greek Cyprus must impose harsh austerity measures under the terms of an agreed EU bailout as it faces an unprecedented recession, Finance Minister Vassos Shiarly told Parliament on Dec. 6. Shiarly urged members of Parliament to pass the 2013 austerity budget to help Cyprus rebuild its economy, which is unusually exposed to the ongoing crisis in Greece, Agence France-Presse reported.

Shiarly called it the “most crucial” budget that Parliament had been called on to approve in the island’s modern history. The three-day budget debate is scheduled to start Dec. 17.

“2013 will be especially difficult due to the external environment, unavoidable corrections in the construction and banking sectors, plus fiscal corrections due to the negative economic climate,” Shiarly said in a speech to Parliament. The draft budget includes tax hikes coupled with public sector job and salary cuts as part of an in-principle bailout agreement with the troika of international lenders.

Greek Cyprus has yet to reach a final agreement with the troika but needs to push through measures before the end of the year. The term president of the European Union has been unable to borrow from international markets since July 2011.