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Brussels, 25 March 2013
Remarks by Vice President Rehn on Cyprus at the Eurogroup Press Conference on 25 March 2013
Thank you for your patience, ladies and gentlemen.
It's been yet another hard day's night. I'm not saying a long and winding road, but it was absolutely essential that an agreement be reached tonight on a financial assistance programme for Cyprus. We now have such an agreement in place, which means that we can now work, starting today, to help the Cypriot people to rebuild their economy.
The agreement was based on a joint proposal of the three institutions, the Commission, the ECB and the IMF. The Commission has been working hard for many months to facilitate a sustainable solution to help Cyprus. In fact I recall that I raised the issue of a financial assistance programme for the first time in November 2011 with the then finance minister of Cyprus, because of the concerns over fiscal sustainability and financial stability. This has been a particularly complex process in the most challenging of circumstances. Already last week, we found ourselves in a situation where there were no optimal solutions available, only hard choices. And that has been even more true in recent days.
It's clear that the depth of the financial crisis in Cyprus means that the near future will be very difficult for the country and for its people. The Commission will do everything possible to alleviate the social consequences of this economic shock and help to protect the most vulnerable people. Cyprus is part of the European family, and Europe will stand by the Cypriot people.
In this context, I can inform you that President Barroso intends to create a Commission Task Force for Cyprus, in agreement with President Anastasiades. The Task Force for Cyprus will provide technical assistance to the Cypriot authorities, with a strong focus on employment, competitiveness and growth. It will be necessary for the Cypriot people to build their economy on a new basis and the Commission is ready to mobilise all the resources at its disposal to help them face that challenge.
I want to say this to our fellow Europeans in Cyprus: Cyprus and the Cypriots have gone through very difficult times before – and you know what I mean – and the Cypriots have overcome these difficult times. There will be tough times ahead now as well, but I'm sure that by working hard together, we shall overcome these difficulties.