|Cyprus draws a blank at Russia loan talks
Cypriot Finance Minister Michalis Sarris failed to reach progress after two rounds of talks in Moscow on assistance from Russia after Nicosia rejected an EU bailout that slapped a painful levy on bank deposits.
Sarris met his Russian counterpart Anton Siluanov before holding talks with First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov about a possible new Moscow loan, AFP reports.
Cyprus also hopes to ease the terms of a 2.5-billion-euro loan Moscow afforded Nicosia in 2011 that matures in 2016.
“We had a very good beginning. We had a very good, honest and open discussion,'' Sarris said after meeting the Russian finance minister.
But a Russian government source told AFP that a second round of talks with Shuvalov – a close aide to President Vladimir Putin who oversees the financial sector – produced no results.
Sarris has vowed to stay in Moscow until some agreement is reached that could help his country's banks avoid bankruptcy and the island from going into default.
Russian news reports said the talks will continue in Moscow tomorrow.
The visit comes the day after furious Cypriot lawmakers rejected a highly unpopular measure that would have slapped a one-time fee of up to 9.9 percent on bank deposits over 20,000 euros as a condition for an EU-led 10 billion euro loan.
Cyprus is now scrambling for a Plan B that includes the option of turning to Russia.
Russians have US$31 billion in private and corporate cash deposited in the island's teetering banks.
The Kremlin said that Putin received a telephone call late yesterday from his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades in which the two leaders discussed what Russia could do to help.
Local media have speculated that one proposal on the table in Moscow was for the Russian natural gas giant Gazprom to come in and infuse Cypriot's banks with cash in exchange for interest in the island's offshore energy fields.
Gazprom has refused to confirm that this offer – also reported by Cypriot media – is under discussion.