Stournaras: Athens has Plan B for banks

Stournaras says Nicosia has ‘hours’ to find solution but Greece ‘fortified' anyway

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras stressed on Wednesday that Greece was “fortified” against the repercussions of a possible failure by Cyprus to find the necessary funds to protect its banks, adding that Athens had an alternative plan for Cypriot banks based in Greece.

“There is a Plan B for Greece which I cannot reveal you to now,” Stournaras told Parliament’s European Affairs Committee. He said it was important that Cyprus find a solution “within the next few hours,” noting however that “Greece will do what it has to do” for Cypriot banks in Greece if it has to.

There was no official statement on the situation in Cyprus by conservative New Democracy, which leads the fragile coalition and has been cautious in its response to the burgeoning crisis in the neighboring country, expressing support for Nicosia but avoiding criticism of the contentious eurozone proposal for a tax on Cypriot bank deposits.

Evangelos Venizelos, who leads PASOK, the second party in the coalition, focused on the situation in Cyprus in a speech to the Socialists’ political council on Wednesday, referring to “political unity” in the Cypriot Parliament which, he said, was lacking in Greece. The PASOK chief also touched on Greece’s pledges to its foreign creditors, noting that any divergence would have to be “absorbed” by 2016. The government is bracing for the return of troika envoys early next month for talks that are expected to focus on a delayed overhaul of the civil service, one of several pledges made by Greece in a bid to clinch a 2.8-billion-euro tranche of rescue funding for March. The government has already sent troika officials a revised version of plans for streamlining the Greek civil service, Kathimerini understands.