Arab Today, arab today anxious cypriots blame eu fear for the future
Last Updated : GMT 17:53:56
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Arab Today, arab today

Anxious Cypriots blame EU, fear for the future

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Anxious Cypriots blame EU, fear for the future

Nicosia - AFP

Cypriots expressed fears for their jobs and their businesses Monday after the island agreed to a tough bailout, while accusing other European nations of trying to destroy their country. Although there were none of the violent protests that have hit other bailed-out euro nations, anger bubbled below the surface of the cafes in Nicosia where hundreds of young people gathered on what was a national holiday. \"We laugh about it because if we did not laugh we would lose our minds,\" said Antonia Epaminondou, 28, who was with a group of friends sitting in bright sunshine on Ledra street, downtown Nicosia\'s busiest shopping area. Epaminondou said she worked for a subsidiary of debt-stricken Laiki, or Popular Bank, the Mediterranean nation\'s second largest bank. Laiki will effectively be shut down under the deal agreed in the early hours of Monday. \"Of course I am afraid I will lose my job. But it is the same for all of Cyprus -- we are all afraid,\" she said. The government has defended the 11th hour deal, which will also deal a major hit to investors in depositors in the island\'s top bank, the Bank of Cyprus, as necessary to avoid a default and remain in the euro. Most Cypriots put the blame on the \"troika\" of the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, saying they had bullied an island whose economy is just a fraction of a percentage of the EU\'s. \"Cyprus is a victim of the Germans,\" said George Evagorou, 50, who runs a transport company. \"They want to be leaders of Europe. The Germans and the French want to conquer us through the economic system.\" Evagorou said capital controls imposed to stop a run on struggling Cypriot banks meant he had been unable to get enough cash to prepare his fleet of vehicles for the coming tourist season. Other Cypriots had more immediate worries as they tried and failed to get money out of ATM machines. \"It\'s a disaster,\" Tudor Neagu, a client of Laiki Bank, as he unsuccessfully tried to withdraw cash from an ATM in Ledra Street. Cypriot authorities closed banks for 10 days as the government scrambled to seal a deal. Banks have also imposed tough daily ATM limits of 100 euros a day for Laiki bank and 120 euros a day for Bank of Cyprus. \"I\'m unable to withdraw cash as the machine doesn\'t work. I doubt Cyprus will ever revive again,\" he lamented, before the customer who was in the queue behind him was also unable to get any cash from the machine. The controls also threaten Cyprus businesses, with the possibility that many will not be able to pay employees or conduct normal business. \"Personally I don\'t know whether I will have work in the future, because the company I work for has accounts with one of the banks, said Maria Makri, 33, an employee of a fertilizer export company. \"The payroll of the company, the provident fund of the company, we do not know what will happen,\" she said at a cafe in Nicosia. Makri added that the \"European idea does not exist any more\" after the behaviour of Cyprus\'s European partners. Travel agency employee Maria Spyrou, 31, said foreign clients had been calling to cancel contracts because of uncertainty over Cyprus\'s future. \"We have been treated very badly. I don\'t know the reason that other countries want to destroy us,\" she said, adding that she blamed \"the German government, although not the German people.\" Ilias Toursidis, the owner of a shop in one of the Old City\'s narrow lanes that sells only Russian products, and his assistant Melina were also very concerned. Russian clients stood to be among the biggest losers as many had put their money in banks in Cyprus because of its reputation as a tax haven. \"If people have their jobs, we also have work. If they don\'t have their jobs, then we don\'t have (them),\" a flustered Toursidis said as he took his cap off and wiped his brow. Melina added: \"If the Russians leave, then we will probably close because only Russians buy from here,\" she said. The situation also affected Cyprus\'s significant migrant workforce, which includes many Filipinos and South Asians. \"No money in the bank. I need food, I need to pay my rent. I need everything. I came but the bank did not give us our money,\" said Fawzi Allada, a Pakistani who showed his anger by pretending to tear up his Bank of Cyprus cheque book.

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