EU Gives Cyprus Ultimatum to Secure Bailout or Face Exit from Eurozone
The European Central Bank has given Cyprus until Monday to raise the funds it needs to secure an international bailout, or funds for its banks would be cut off.
The banking sector dominates Cyprus' economy and the country's two biggest banks, the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki, are believed to be reliant on the ECB's assistance.
An ECB withdrawal would mean that the funds that have kept Cyprus' banks solvent, would stop flowing as early as next month.
A senior EU official said the ECB withdrawal from Cyprus would lead to the collapse of the country's financial sector and probably force the country to abandon the euro.
The official also said the EU is ready to ban Cyprus from the eurozone to contain the damage to the wider European economy.
Meanwhile, the Cypriot finance minister is in Moscow to discuss possible assistance from Russia, where investors there are believed to hold about a third of all Cypriot deposits.
But this also seems unlikely, as the chairman of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, told the European parliament that Moscow had indicated it was not willing to extend "another loan or an investment in the banks."
Reflecting the risks of capital flight, the international credit agency S-and-P downgraded Cyprus' credit rating one notch to CCC from CCC-plus on Thursday.
The credit agency also advised Cyprus to reach an alternative agreement with the Eurogroup over the next few days.
All Cypriot banks have been shut until next Tuesday to prevent mass withdrawals, but long lines have been forming at cash machines.
Cyprus' parliament postponed a vote on Friday to devise a new plan to raise funds for the bailout.
Paul Yi, Arirang News.
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