Nicosia - Cypriots, reeling from news an EU-led bailout
clinched on Monday will close one major bank and cream off money from private
deposits at another, hold out little hope their economy will be saved.
"It's a disaster. To me it's too little and too
late," Tudor Neagu, a client of Laiki Bank, the island's second largest
lender that is to be shut down, said as he tried and failed to withdraw cash
from an ATM in Nicosia's Ledra Street.
"I'm unable to withdraw cash as the machine doesn't
work. I doubt Cyprus will ever revive again," he lamented, before the
customer who was in the queue behind him was also unable to get any cash from
Under the deal reached between Cyprus and eurozone
bosses, Laiki, which is also known as Popular Bank, will effectively be split
into a "good" lender and another that holds "bad" assets
and would be slowly dissolved.
That transition is to be assisted with €9bn
of Emergency Liquidity Assistance provided by the European Central Bank.
The Bank of Cyprus, the country's No 1 lender, survives
but will have to endure a "haircut" on all deposits of more than €100
000, in a massive blow to investors including Russians.
The bailout for Cyprus, an eastern Mediterranean island
with a reputation as a tax haven, was largely necessitated by huge losses on
investments in Greece.
The critical situation has left many people frustrated
and worried about their plight in Cyprus, which also has a significant migrant
"No money in the bank. I need food, I need to pay my
rent. I need everything. I came but the bank did not give us our money,"
said Fawzi Allada, a Pakistani who showed his anger by pretending to tear up
his Bank of Cyprus cheque book.
Michael Loizos, a Cypriot pensioner, said he expected
there to be massive job cuts in the financial sector once the deal takes
"I foresee that people from the banking sector and
civil service will lose their jobs. Salaries will be reduced as will be [the]
standard of living," he said.
Most cafés, restaurants and shops in downtown
Nicosia were largely empty on Monday morning as Cypriots digested the details
of the bailout, an alteration of hugely unpopular plan that would have targeted
all bank deposits.
The Cypriot authorities closed banks for 10 days as the
government scrambled to find other more palatable sources of financing to hold
up its end of the deal.
"To me, the earlier deal was better. At least we
would have avoided this uncertainty. But let us see how the new deal goes. A
lot depends when the banks open tomorrow," said the owner of a department
The store was virtually empty, but for some school
"People are still coming to terms with the gravity
of the situation. I hardly had any customers this week or even today," she
told AFP as behind her two schoolgirls purchased sweets.
Ilias Toursidis, the owner of a shop in one of the Old
City's narrow lanes that sells only Russian products, and his assistant Melina
were also very concerned.
"If people have their jobs, we also have work. If
they don't have their jobs, then we don't have [them]," a flustered
Toursidis said as he took his cap off and wiped his brow.
Melina was more anxious.
"If the Russians leave, then we will probably close
because only Russians buy from here," she said.