While Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is dealing with the same international lenders squeezing Cyprus to confiscate part of bank accounts to help pay for a bailout, remained mostly silent about the island’s crisis, his administration was said to working feverishly to protect deposits in branches of Cypriot banks in Greece.
Concern was building that Cyprus could default, a prospect that could cause turmoil in Greece, suffering its own economic crisis, and as the government is trying to get a Greek bank to take over the Cypriot branches, which remain closed as did those on Cyprus.
The Greek government said it has set aside about 600 million euros ($773 million) for the recapitalization of Cypriot branches and earlier promised depositors would not lose any money. Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative party leader, is walking a delicate line as he readies to continue negotiations with the Troika when they return next month and as they are seeking more reforms.
One of his coalition partners, Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis, came out and said he opposed the confiscation tax in Cyprus although Samaras didn’t take a stance.
Alexis Tsipras, leader of the major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) blistered Samaras for not coming out to support Cyprus, but the leftist leader refused to back a call by Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos to censure Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras for not opposing the confiscation tax during a meeting of Eurozone officials March 15 in Brussels.
But that didn’t keep Tsipras from going after Stournaras who he said “has aligned himself absolutely with the threats and blackmail of (German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schaeuble against the Cypriots.” Tsipras asked what the government would do if the Troika demanded a bank deposit tax in Greece. “Would they agree?” There was no answer from Samaras or Stournaras.
Tsipras said he would not back the censure motion as “if there is an issue of the government’s adequacy. That is for the people to judge.” He also lashed out at Northern European countries, calling them “gangsters” trying to colonize countries in the south.”