ATHENS, March 22 The euro zone stands ready to
help bail out Cyprus but the burden must be shared by its banks,
otherwise the island's economy will collapse under its public
debt, Germany's Finance Minister told a Greek newspaper on
"The perception that this (Cyprus) problem can be solved
only by taxpayers in the euro zone without the participation of
major creditors of Cypriot banks cannot be accepted by Europe's
citizens," Wolfgang Schaeuble told daily Ta Nea in an interview.
The European Union has given Cyprus until Monday to raise
the 5.8 billion euros it needs to secure a 10 billion euro
international bailout, or face a collapse of its financial
system that could push it out of the euro currency zone.
Schaeuble said that the 17-nation euro zone was willing to
help Cyprus but the bailout must address Cyprus's core problem.
"In Cyprus, the problem has to do with an overbloated and
partly bankrupt banking sector. Taxpayers, including Cypriots,
should not bear all of the burden, bank creditors should bear
part of it," he was quoted as saying.
On Tuesday, angry Cypriot lawmakers rejected a tax on
deposits, calling an EU-backed bailout proposal "bank robbery".
Cyprus is struggling to come up with a "Plan B" to raise the
5.8 billion euros.
Chances of raising the money from Russia looked slim on
Friday, Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris prepared to fly
home empty-handed from Moscow, having failed to win support in
two days of talks on prolonging a bailout loan or on a possible
new financing package.
The Cypriot parliament reconvenes later on Friday to debate
a raft of government crisis measures.