Cypriots vent anger over EU bailout levy



Images showing:

- VAR of protest

SOUNDBITE 1 - Joanna Samara (woman), lawyer from Limassol (English, 22 sec):

"Take from the deposits of people? It's against any policy and against law. In the future in universities they are going to study what happened in Cyprus, something which is not logical and against law and unfair."

-VAR of protesters

SOUNDBITE 2 - Eleana Christofi (woman), lawyer from Limassol (English, 16 sec):

"With this pretence of getting six billion dollars, they are destroying us, and if they did this to us, they will do it to other countries as well. Next is Spain and Italy and Greece and France and all the other countries which are not that stable right now."

- VAR of protesters

SOUNDBITE 3 - Robert Baier (man), ships electronics salesman from Germany (English, 16 sec):

"I'm here to protest against the cartel of politics and banks that are saving banks on the shoulders of the people, of the small people who are saving some money for the future."

- VAR of police guarding the parliament

- VAR of art demonstration in front of the parliament

- VAR of protesters





Cypriots vent ire at being EU bailout 'guinea pigs'

by Fanny Carrier

NICOSIA, March 18, 2013 (AFP) - Hundreds of furious Cypriots protested outside parliament on Monday against a tax on their savings imposed under an EU bailout deal, accusing eurozone creditors of treating them as "guinea pigs" for the unprecedented levy.

"We won't be your guinea pigs," said a sign in English held by a protester, with other placards warning that other EU countries hit by financial crises like Spain and Italy could be next in line.

As a condition for a desperately-needed 10-billion-euro ($13 billion) bailout for Cyprus, fellow eurozone countries and international creditors Saturday imposed a levy on all deposits in the Mediterranean island's banks.

Balances of more than 100,000 euros will be hit with a 9.9 percent charge, while under that threshold the levy drops to 6.75 percent.

But the proposal that has triggered shock and a feeling of betrayal must still be approved by parliament.

President Nicos Anastasiades was hoping for a vote as early as Sunday but it was later postponed to Monday and amid growing opposition rescheduled for Tuesday, as MPs debate the terms of the bailout.

"It's a clear violation of human rights and international laws. This is an experiment for the rest of the world," said Nicolas, a student.

"They want to see whether they can do this elsewhere. Anastasiades had a choice, he could have taxed only the accounts above 100.000 euros. Everyone is paying for someone else's mistake."

Protesters began to rally outside parliament from the early afternoon and as the hours dragged on their numbers swelled to several hundred, while policemen guarded the building.

A group of demonstrators from leftwing parties chanted: "Wake up they are sucking out blood."

Some protesters accused communist former president Demetris Christofias of having dragged his feet and failed to take action as Cyprus inched towards bankruptcy during his term of office which ended in February.

Others accused his conservative successor Anastasiades of having conceded too quickly to the demands of the troika of international lenders -- the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

"The problem is not just the money, it's how they treated us," said journalist Despo Protopapa. "They came by night, and put their hands on our bank accounts. We trusted the EU to be a nice community and they blackmailed us."

Protopapa said parliament should vote against the deal that was announced in the early hours of Saturday as Cypriots began a three-day weekend holiday.

"Parliament should refuse the deal to show that we have pride," she said.

Next to her a woman belted out in Greek "lira, lira", or pounds, the currency Cyprus used before joining the eurozone in 2008, four years after the eastern Mediterranean island became member of the EU.

Robert Baier, a German who has been living in Cyprus for the past nine years and runs a business selling nautical equipment, said the bailout deal should be binned.

"Bank officials are gambling with money they don't have (and when) they lose it, nothing happens to them," said Baier. "Let the banks collapse, and put in jail those responsible."

Louisa, a telecom employee, expressed fear of more drastic demands.

"This is unacceptable for us, beyond any reasonable treatment. We know this is just the beginning, They will lead our country to bankruptcy."

Some 100 protesters also rallied outside the German embassy in Nicosia with one of them scaling the building to bring down the German flag, witnesses said.

Many Cypriots blame Germany for leading the crippling demands imposed in return for the bailout.