Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Cyprus President Irks E.U. with Bailout Talk ; Only Communist Leader in Bloc Says His Country Would Take Russian Aid

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Cyprus President Irks E.U. with Bailout Talk ; Only Communist Leader in Bloc Says His Country Would Take Russian Aid

Article excerpt

Scorning critics of his friendliness with Moscow, Demetris Christofias insisted that his country could take aid from whatever country it chooses, including Russia.

The Cypriot president, Demetris Christofias, said Friday that Russia remained a candidate to step in and bail out his country, amid signs of a widening rift with the international authorities about where the aid should come from, and under what terms.

At a news conference, Mr. Christofias, who is the only communist leader in the European Union, scorned those who were critical of his friendliness with Moscow and insisted that his country could take aid from whatever country it chose.

"Don't worry, we won't be bringing communism to Cyprus because we are in relations with Russia," Mr. Christofias said. "Please, give us a bit of margin and allow us to solve the financial problems the country is facing."

Cyprus has asked to borrow EUR 5 billion, or $6.1 billion, from Russia, the Russian finance minister, Anton Siluanov, said Friday, according to Bloomberg News. He said the request was being considered.

The comments by Mr. Chistofias received a frosty response from Jose Manuel Barroso, the head of the European Commission, who addressed the same news conference. He suggested that nations in the same position as Cyprus should accept full European bailout programs, including conditions, rather than rely on aid from other countries with fewer strings attached.

"The best way to address the issue is not to just think that the issue is going to be solved by any kind of external assistance," said Mr. Barroso, who was in Nicosia to mark the takeover by Cyprus of the six-month rotating presidency of the Union.

Mr. Barroso called on Cypriots to accept the reforms often demanded by the international financial authorities as "the only way in the medium and longer term to have sustainable growth."

Mr. Barroso praised the steps taken so far by Cyprus to shore up its economy, but he suggested that leaders of troubled economies like Cyprus could do more to show citizens why tough medicine is needed.

"Some political leaders are weak and they don't have the courage to explain why the countries find themselves in that situation," said Mr. …

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