Cyprus president ‘committed to stability’

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iol news pic Cyprus Election~8 AP Newly-elected Cyprus' president Nicos Anastasiades waves to his supporters at Elephteria stadium in capital Nicosia, Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Nicosia - Cyprus's new President Nicos Anastasiades vowed on Thursday to work for a swift conclusion of a bailout for the cash-starved island which is threatened with a financial meltdown.

“We are seeking the solidarity of our (EU) partners, and within that framework we will negotiate for the conclusion of a loan agreement the soonest possible,” Anastasiades said in his investiture speech to Cyprus's parliament.

Conservative Anastasiades, 66, swept to victory in a presidential runoff on Feb. 24, armed with a strong mandate to conclude desperately needed aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Cyprus sought aid last June, after an EU-sanctioned decision to write down Greek sovereign debt blew a 4.5 billion euro - or 25 percent of GDP - hole in balance sheets of the island's two largest lenders which then turned to the state for support.

Amid the worst recession in 40 years, that figure has snowballed, and the island could need up to 17 billion euros in aid, almost equalling the size of its economy.

“We are not seeking special treatment, but we are asking we treated fairly,” Anastasiades said.

Talks with lenders have been overshadowed by concerns the bailout could be too big to ever pay off, giving rise to speculation of how to make it manageable, including debt or even deposit haircuts, or paying back less to investors.

“I want to be absolutely clear. Absolutely no reference to a haircut on public debt or deposits will be tolerated. Such an issue isn't even up for discussion,” Anastasiades said. - Reuters

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