NEWS

Gov’t drafting bill for Cyprus fallout

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras remained tight-lipped on Thursday about developments in Cyprus though behind the scenes government officials were reportedly preparing legislation aimed at protecting deposits in branches of Cypriot banks based in Greece in the event that lenders in the Eastern Mediterranean island nation collapse.

The government has earmarked an estimated 600 million euros for the recapitalization of Cypriot banks in Greece.

The conservative-led administration avoided taking a clear stance on the upheaval in Cyprus for another day though the leader of junior coalition partner Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis, insisted that a contentious eurozone proposal for a tax on Cypriot bank deposits be revoked. Kouvelis also called on European countries to show solidarity to Cyprus.

The leader of leftist opposition SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, condemned the government for failing to show solidarity with Nicosia but said he would not back a motion for the censure of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras proposed by the right-wing anti-bailout party Independent Greeks. Still Tsipras was scathing in his criticism, claiming that “Stournaras has aligned himself absolutely with the threats and blackmail of [German Finance Minister Wolfgang] Schaeuble against the Cypriots.” He asked what the government would do if the troika demanded a bank deposit tax in Greece. “Would they agree?”

Tsipras said he would not back the censure motion as “if there is an issue of the government’s adequacy. That is for the people to judge.” He also lashed out at Northern European countries, calling them “gangsters” trying to colonize countries in the south.