After election win, Anastasiades faces Cyprus bailout quagmire

Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:42pm EST
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Michele Kambas and Deepa Babington

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cypriot president-elect Nicos Anastasiades faces weeks of difficult talks with foreign lenders on a financial rescue for the island nation after sweeping to a resounding victory in a run-off election on Sunday.

Eight months of inconclusive talks on a bailout package have turned tiny Cyprus into a big headache for the euro zone, triggering fears of a financial collapse that reignites the bloc's debt crisis.

In his first comments after his victory, Anastasiades pledged to hammer out a quick deal with foreign lenders and bring Cyprus closer to Europe, in a shift from the policies of the outgoing Communist government that first sought aid from Russia before turning to the EU.

"We want Europe on our side. We will be absolutely consistent and meet our promises. Cyprus belongs to Europe," Anastasiades told jubilant supporters blowing horns. "We will restore the credibility of Cyprus in Europe and internationally. I promise you."

Anastasiades, who will be sworn in on Thursday and assume power on March 1, will have little time to celebrate.

European officials want a bailout agreed by the end of March, but the 66-year-old lawyer will first have to overcome German fears that Cyprus is a hub for Russian money laundering and worries that it will never be able to pay back its debt.

Known for his no-nonsense style and impressive access to key European policymakers like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Anastasisades took 57.5 percent of the vote, 15 points ahead of his anti-austerity Communist-backed rival Stavros Malas.

The decisive outcome showed a clear mandate from Cypriots for an aggressive, pro-bailout approach to resolving the nation's financial quagmire, despite growing despondency over austerity measures that will have to accompany any such rescue.   Continued...

 
Cyprus presidential candidate Nicos Anastasiades (R), of the right wing Democratic Rally party, leaves a booth as his grandson Andis looks on at a polling station in Limassol February 24, 2013. Cypriots started voting in a runoff on Sunday to elect a president who must clinch a bailout deal for the island nation to avoid a financial meltdown that would revive the euro zone crisis. Conservative leader Anastasiades, who favors hammering out a quick deal with foreign lenders, is favored to win against Communist-backed rival Stavros Malas, who is more wary of the austerity terms accompanying any rescue. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis