BRUSSELS, March 24 Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades embarked on last-minute crisis talks with international lenders in an attempt to save the Mediterranean island from financial meltdown.
The talks with EU, European Central Bank and IMF leaders in Brussels will be followed by a meeting of euro zone finance ministers, intended to help Cyprus meet a Monday deadline to avert collapse of its banking system and potential exit from the euro.
Following are comments from officials and ministers ahead of the finance ministers' meeting:
FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER PIERRE MOSCOVICI
ON OUTLINES OF A BAILOUT DEAL:
"We are here to find a solution that must be comprehensive, that must be just."
"It's about sharing the effort. The euro zone will play its part with 10 billion euros. The Cypriots will play their part, but the effort must be just. The stance of France from the start was that it was not reasonable, not desirable to touch the depositors of the small deposit-holders, those with less than 100,000 euros."
ON CONTAGION RISKS:
"The Cypriot economy is totally specific. There is no other economy in the euro zone that has the same characteristics. There is no risk of contagion for other depositors."
"It is conceived as a tax on fortunes above 100,000 euros. It's right that there's been a confusion between the two."
"The parameters of a solution exist, but the devil is in the details."
"I'm not worried at all about the risk of contagion because the economy of Cyprus, the banking sector of Cyprus, all this is very specific."
AUSTRIAN FINANCE MINISTER MARIA FEKTER
ON OUTLINES OF A CYPRUS AGREEMENT:
"We cannot rule anything out. There is no clear direction."
"We want to prevent bankruptcy of the banks so that there's not more harm."
"We will have to look at what the whole package looks like. We are still of the opinion that the pensions shouldn't be touched, that the pensioners should be safe. On the other hand one saw from the media discussion that a levy is not desired as a contribution from the savers."
ON EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK FUNDING FOR BANKS IN CYPRUS:
"The emergency tap has been turned on for weeks, albeit with a degree of stomach ache and with the clear demand to Cyprus to come to an agreement quickly. The ECB cannot just provide drawn-out euthanasia for the ailing banks. Therefore it is necessary that stable reforms are carried out."
ON EFFORT TO REACH A BAILOUT DEAL:
"The entire situation is serious. We are all trying to help the whole of Cyprus, to prevent the state from going bankrupt and we all want it to remain in the euro zone."
GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE
ASKED ABOUT THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A BAILOUT:
"We haven't got much further in the last week. The numbers have not changed, if anything they have worsened."
"I hope we will achieve a result today. But that, of course, depends on the people in Cyprus having a somewhat realistic view of the situation."
ASKED WHAT HE EXPECTED IN TERMS OF A SOLUTION:
"What we agreed last week."