News / Europe

Cypriots Wait and Worry as Default Looms

Cypriots Wait and Worry As Default Loomsi
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March 21, 2013 12:39 AM
While the politicians posture and negotiate, the people of Cyprus are watching anxiously. Many are wondering if, like the cash reserves at the country's banks, their hopes and dreams for a better future are also about to vanish. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
While the politicians posture and negotiate, the people of Cyprus are watching anxiously. Many are wondering if, like the cash reserves at the country's banks, their hopes and dreams for a better future are also about to vanish.

At a shop in Nicosia, flowers are in bloom. But the spirits of those who work there are wilting.

"We have a problem when the banks are closed. It's like we are the living dead. We can't make any withdrawals, we can't make deposits, pay our suppliers," said florist Stelios Stylianou.

One shoe store in the capital is open and empty, as it has been for days. Totis Pelacanos owns the store.  He wonders if lawmakers will find a solution. "I should hope so that they have a plan B after saying no. Otherwise, I don't know what's going to happen?," Pelacanos said.

Even though the banks are closed, cash machines have been open though some appear to be running out [of money].

In the seaside town of Limassol, the sun has been shining. But for many of the Russians who flocked there after the fall of the Soviet Union, a European Union bailout plan that would have taxed their savings, though rejected, still has them rattled.

"From what I see from my friends, who are Russians and Ukrainians here, yes they are in a panic and I think it will affect the Cypriot economy because now people do not trust anymore. They do not trust banks, they are not secur,'' said Ekaterina Vitebskaya-Melas, who works as a luxury rental car company

Until a solution is found, many in Cyprus are anxiously waiting, wondering just how much worse the cash crunch can get.

  • Bank of Cyprus employees sit in front of riot police during a protest outside Greece's Finance Ministry as the bank remains closed for third day in central Athens, March 21, 2013.
  • People line up at an ATM outside a closed Laiki Bank branch in Nicosia, Cyprus, March 21, 2013.
  • Employees of the Bank of Cyprus take part in a rally in solidarity with Cyprus outside the headquarters of the bank in Athens, Greece, March 20, 2013.
  • International Monetary Fund mission chief Delia Velculescu arrives for a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, March 20, 2013.
  • A man walks by graffiti that reads "Troika out" in the old city of capital Nicosia, Cyprus, March 19, 2013.
  • Demonstrators raise their arms in protest as Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades's convoy drives to the parliament in Nicosia, Cyprus, March 18, 2013.
  • A protester shouts slogans outside of parliament during a meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus, March 18, 2013.
  • Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades arrives at parliament in Nicosia, Cyprus, March 18, 2013.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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