BERLIN Feb 25 German Finance Minister Wolfgang
Schaeuble has not changed his view that Cyprus may not be
systemically relevant for the euro zone as a whole, his
spokesman said on Monday, after Schaeuble called for swift
agreement on a bailout deal for the island.
Earlier, Schaeuble and his French counterpart Pierre
Moscovici issued a joint statement welcoming the outcome of
Cyprus's presidential election on Sunday and saying talks must
begin soon on an international bailout.
"There is no change of mind. The minister will not be pushed
... but one can strive for (negotiations) to go as quickly as
possible," Schaeuble's spokesman Martin Kotthaus told a regular
news conference on Monday.
"The minister and his French colleague wanted to express
hope with their statement that you will get real momentum into
the discussion, that that process will be quick (and that)
questions such as money laundering, tax issues, sustainability
and systemic relevance and such will be addressed quickly,"
Eight months of talks on a Cypriot bailout package have
turned the tiny island into a big headache for the euro zone,
triggering concerns of a financial collapse that could reignite
the bloc's debt crisis.
But Schaeuble has repeatedly questioned whether Cyprus, with
gross domestic product of barely 0.2 percent of the euro zone's
output, is large enough for a potential default there to
unsettle the 17-nation euro zone, such a risk being a
precondition for a bailout.
After the last meeting of euro zone finance ministers
earlier this month, Schaeuble said there was no urgency in
dealing with Cyprus.
In their statement on Monday, Moscovici and Schaeuble called
for discussions to resume shortly "with a view to reach an
agreement before the end of March".
"We call on the troika and the Cypriot authorities to make
progress towards finalising the draft Memorandum of
Understanding," the ministers said in their statement.
Cypriot conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades won an
overwhelming victory in Sunday's presidential run-off and
promised to quickly finalise a financial rescue to stave off
bankruptcy for his heavily indebted island.