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Cyprus president to ask EU for 'extra assistance'

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday he will appeal to EU chiefs for extra assistance for the island as it faces ever more crippling terms for a eurozone debt bailout.

Anastasiades said he had already spoken to European Union Economy and Euro Commissioner Olli Rehn ahead of a key meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Dublin later Friday that is due to finalise the bailout terms.

He said he would also write to European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and to EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

"The letter to Mr Barroso and Mr Rompuy will refer to the need for EU policy to change towards Cyprus by giving it extra assistance, given the critical times we are going through as a result of the economic crisis and the measures imposed on us," Anastasiades told reporters.

He did not elaborate on what additional support he was seeking.

Asked about his conversation with Rehn, Anastasiades said: "It is a fact. The primary reason for the contact was our effort to achieve the best we possibly can under the current circumstances."

Under the preliminary bailout terms agreed with international creditors last month, Cyprus was already drastically downsizing its once lucrative banking sector, raising taxes, reducing the public sector workforce and privatising state-owned utilities to raise 7.0 billion euros.

But the government acknowledged on Thursday that the costs have now soared to 23 billion euros ($30 billion) and that the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are demanding that Cyprus fund the 6.0 billion euro shortfall too.

Anastasiades denied that the additional costs were the result of the uncertainty that has rocked the economy during the marathon negotiations since he took office in February.

"I do not think it is the last three months but a general delay that has led us here," he said. "It will be addressed."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130412/cyprus-president-ask-eu-extra-assistance-0