Greek Cypriot president hopes for EU bailout deal 'soon'
NICOSIA/BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse/Reuters
Cypriot man carries the EU flag with the word "No" written on it during a protest outside the parliament building in the capital Nicosia on March 22, 2013. Cyprus' two biggest lenders urged lawmakers to adopt a tax on bank deposits, a controversial deal with the EU that the MPs rejected this week, as their employees protested outside parliament. AFP photoGreek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said late March 23 that he hoped for a deal "soon" on a troubled 10 billion-euro ($13 billion) bailout as he pressed marathon 11th-hour talks with eurozone officials.
"We are here and we are working vigorously to save the economy," the conservative president said on Twitter.
"We are making every effort. I hope to have a result soon," he said on the eve of crunch talks he is to hold in Brussels with EU leaders.
Representatives of the troika of the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund were at the presidential palace ahead of a planned briefing by Anastasiades of party leaders on the progress of the talks.
EU sources have said if no deal is reached, the 27-nation bloc is ready to eject Greek Cyprus from the eurozone to prevent contagion of other debt-hit members such as Greece, Spain and Italy.
Greek Cyprus media said various options had been discussed for raising the remainder of the 5.8 billion euros it must find in return for the emergency loans.
State television said an across-the-board 11 percent levy on deposits above 100,000 euros in all banks, good and bad, had been ruled out for fear of legal action by those with sound loan books, so attention focused on the island's troubled largest lender, Bank of Cyprus. Privat Ely run Mega TV said a levy of 18 to 22 percent had been discussed for Bank of Cyprus.
State television said it might be deducted as a "contribution" with depositors receiving government bonds in return to avoid the need to seek approval from a hostile parliament.
Those with joint accounts might also benefit from a proposal to deduct the levy per person and not per account, the public broadcaster added.
Greek Cyprus faces hard choices, tough future: EU's Rehn
Meanwhile, Greek Cyprus faces a very difficult near-term future and must take hard decisions, with no perfect solution available, European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said.
Rehn said the European Commission was working hard to bring about a solution to help Greek Cyprus and that it was essential that euro zone finance ministers reached an agreement on March 23 evening on a rescue deal.
"Unfortunately, the events of recent days have led to a situation where there are no longer any optimal solutions available. Today, there are only hard choices left," Rehn said in a statement.