SAARISELKA, Finland Ireland's expected exit from a European bailout program later this year should be a morale boost to other euro zone countries in crisis, its European affairs minister said on Saturday.
Speaking as politicians in Cyprus scrambled to meet a Monday deadline to secure a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout and avert financial meltdown, Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton said Ireland's "tough medicine" had worked.
"We're really confident that we will get out of the program this year," Creighton told reporters at a meeting of European policymakers in Finnish Lapland.
"Hopefully we'll provide not so much an example but an inspiration for other countries who are going through difficult times," Creighton said. "If they see Ireland re-enter the market, hopefully they'll have the resolve and also the sense of hope that they can do it too."
Rescued two-and-a-half years ago with loans from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, Ireland earlier this month took a major step towards exiting the bailout with a successful sale of 5 billion euros of new benchmark 10-year bonds.
Creighton said Ireland's experience proved that austerity measures were never easy but that debt-burdened euro zone members had no choice.
"I think we all know about tough medicine in Ireland. Unfortunately there are no easy solutions," she said. "I think that we simply have to get on with it."
(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)