President Nicos Anastasiades has offered an olive branch to foreign investors in Cyprus. He has announced that those who lost 3 million euros ($3.9 million) under an EU bailout can apply for citizenship.
Speaking at a Russian business conference in the coastal resort of Limassol Sunday, Anastiasodes said that his announced measures would "mitigate to some extent some of the damage the Russian business community has endured."
Most of the money Cyprus must raise as part of an EU bailout secured last month comes from bank deposits above 100,000 euros at the country's two largest banks. An estimated 20 billion euros out of the overall 68 billion in Cypriot bank accounts at the end of January were believed to belong to Russians.
"Non-resident investors who held deposits prior" to the bailout and lost "at least 3 million euros will be eligible to apply for Cypriot citizenship," Anastasiades said.
The president also told the conference that he would reduce the minimum amount foreign nationals would have to invest in Cyprus to be eligible citizenship from 10 million euros to 3 million euros.
Additionally, Anastasiades announced that a condition requiring citizenship applicants to keep 15 million euros in Cypriot banks for a fixed five-year term would be dropped, saying the amended law would allow for immediate access to that money.
The measures are to be approved at a two-day cabinet meeting starting Monday, Anastasiades said.
"These decisions will be deployed in a fast-track manner and other measures, currently under consideration," said the president.
Anastasiades told the conference he understood Russia's anger over its investors losing money, but shifted blame towards the EU.
"I wholly acknowledge and share their understandable bitterness and apprehension caused by the coercive manner with which the Eurogroup agreement was imposed on my government," Anastiasades said.
He added that Cyprus is "examining scenarios which could permit the compensation of part of the losses which shareholders of banks, holders of debt securities and depositors have suffered."
dr/av (AFP, AP)