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NICOSIA – With political instability reigning in Greece as it negotiates its future with international lenders, Cyprus is trying to show it’s not inextricably linked with its cultural neighbor.

Cypriot officials are worried, just as its own country is trying to rebound from an economic crisis with help from the same creditors propping up Greece, that it could be dragged down too.

“(Sharing a) language is one thing but being the same economy is completely different,” Cypriot Finance Minister Haris Georgiades told Reuters in an interview.

“There are cultural ties but that’s it. We are following our own course,” Georgiades said. Unlike Greece, Cyprus has been largely diligent in implementing reforms demanded in return for a 10 billion euro bailout in 2013 from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was closely linked to former Greek Premier Antonis Samaras, a fellow Conservative, whose party was beaten in January by the Radical Left SYRIZA party that was formerly against the austerity policies imposed in Greece on Troika orders.

Anastasiades’ Administration blames former President Dimitris Christofias for delaying a cleanup of Cypriot banks that made the eventual bailout more painful and led to confiscation of 47.5 percent of bank accounts over 100,000 euros. Anastasiades opposed that while running but imposed it as soon as he took office, reneging on his promise.

Cyprus hopes to return to borrowing on bond markets this year, Georgiades said, while Athens has little such prospect.

Cyprus has also severed its banks’ links to Greece that resulted in heavy losses when Greek bonds were devalued 74 percent, nearly bringing down the Cypriot economy.

“We hope that there will be no problems in Greece,” said Chrystalla Georghadji, the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus. “But if there are any problems, the banks here are ring-fenced.”

Source: The National Herald
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