After election win, Anastasiades tackles Cyprus bailout

Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:46pm EST
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By Michele Kambas

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cypriot president-elect Nicos Anastasiades, armed with a clear mandate from voters to spare the island from insolvency, said on Monday he was committed to reforms in return for a financial bailout.

The Conservative Anastasiades won decisive backing in a presidential election on Sunday for an aggressive approach to resolving the island's worst financial crisis in four decades.

Less than 24 hours after his resounding victory on Sunday, Anastasiades said he would appoint Michael Sarris, a former World Bank economist who enjoys broad respect at home and abroad, as his finance minister.

Anastasiades has promised a quick deal with foreign lenders and to 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 European Union.

"Long-term prospects for Cyprus are excellent as we are committed to carrying out necessary structural reforms. We only need a helping hand now," Anastasiades told Germany's Bild newspaper, according to advance excerpts of an interview to be published in Tuesday's edition.

Christopher Pissarides, a Nobel laureate for economics in 2010, was appointed head of a group of consultants to the government on the economy.

Sarris, a soft-spoken and down-to-earth economist known to many Cypriots by his first name, successfully ushered Cyprus into the euro zone during a stint as finance minister between 2005 and March 2008 under a previous center-left government.

He had refused a ministerial appointment by the outgoing Communist-led government in mid-2011, saying he needed a clear mandate to handle a then-looming financial crisis.   Continued...

Newly elected President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades waves to supporters during a proclamation ceremony at Eleftheria stadium in Nicosia February 24, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis