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MOSCOW, March 19 (Itar-Tass) – Cyprus Finance Minister Michalis Sarris will meet with the head of the Russian Finance Ministry, Anton Siluanov, in Moscow on Wednesday. Sources in the Russian Finance Ministry’s press service confirmed to Itar-Tass that this meeting is planned.
Sarris visited Moscow to hold talks with the Russian leadership on the terms of repaying the loan Russia gave to Cyprus in 2011, and also to discuss a complicated economic situation in Cyprus.
Cyprus has been in the grips of recession since mid-2011. The three leading Cyprus banks - the Bank of Cyprus, the Cyprus Popular Bank and the Hellenic Bank – were the holders of Greek state bonds, and with the writing off of the bonds the Cyprus banking sector lost 81 percent of the total volume of investment, which exceeds 4 billion euro, or 24 percent of the country’s GDP.
In the autumn of 2011 Cyprus reached an agreement with Russia on being granted a low-interest loan to service the debt. The loan of 2.5 billion euro was granted for four and a half years at 4.5 percent annual interest. The first tranche was received on December 29.
The Cyprus side expected that the loan would enable the country not to seek financial aid of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund but it had to do so in June 2013. (Cyprus has become the fifth country of the eurozone to ask its partners for assistance).
On March 16, 2013 the Eurogroup decided to allocate up to 10 billion euro to Cyprus, while initially the sum of 17.5 billion euro had been meant. The unprecedented decision was made to oblige depositors of the banks of Cyprus to finance the authorities’ measures to overcome the country’s crisis. The depositors are to pay in a one-time anti-crisis levy various sums depending on the deposit’s amount. This measure is expected to bring approximately 5.8 billion euro, which will significantly ease the debt burden and will enable Cyprus to repay its indebtedness in future.