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Chrysostomos Urges Russians To Stay In Cyprus

Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos
Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos

Ahead of a deal in which Cyprus’ government agreed to confiscate up to 30 percent or more of bank deposits over 100,000 euros, Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos said he would plead with Russian investors who hold more than $25 billion in assets not to leave the country.
Under intense pressure from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) to come up with 5.8 billion euros ($7.5 billion) to trigger release of a 10 billion euros ($13 billion) bailout, the government also agreed to close one of its banks, limit withdrawals to prevent a run on the banks and wipe out bondholders. Some analysts said the deal could mean businesses on Cyprus will now be strangled without capital flow.
Russians, including some who European Union officials suspect are part of money-laundering operations, but also legitimate businesses who preferred Cyprus’ low 10 percent corporate tax rate.
Anastasiades had campaigned against the confiscation tax when he was campaigning only a month ago but quickly relented when he took office and the EU told him he had no choice but to accept it or the country would go under.
The leader of the Church of Cyprus said after the Sunday mass in Nicosia that on March 28 he is going to host a dinner with the chiefs of Russian companies that are active in Cyprus to convince them against taking their money away from the island so that the situation does not deteriorate further.
He added that he intends to remind them that their capital has for a long time been growing through interest, they have benefitted from their presence in Cyprus and that had they gone to another country the interest they would have got would have been just above zero.
“With the process of consolidation, the depositors over 100,000 euros will wait for several years to see how much of their deposits they will collect,” said Averof Neophytou, deputy leader of the ruling Democratic Rally party.
Chrysostomos reiterated that the previous government of Communist Demetris Christofias, should stand trial for bringing the country to this dire financial situation. “They should all be punished,” he stated, the newspaper Kathimerini said. The church leader had pledged to put up all the church’s assets to help and said that Cypriots should prepare for a life of austerity instead of comfort.
The Church of Cyprus is the island’s biggest investor and the major stakeholder in the country’s third bank, Hellenic, which is far healthier than Bank of Cyprus and Cyprus Popular Bank (also known as Laiki.) It has traditionally been involved in Cypriot politics,since Archbishop Makarios led the Greek Cypriot community’s effort for its liberation from British colonial rule in the 1950s and the island’s unification with Greece.
Cypriots were stunned by the apparent U-turn the Parliament is ready to make after rejecting confiscation of bank deposits, and as ATM machines were running out of cash and supplies dwindling on the island at supermarkets.
“Our so-called friends and partners sold us out,” Marios Panayides, 65, a protester at the Parliament told Reuters. “They have completely abandoned us on the edge of an abyss.”

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