Cyprus says in ‘hard negotiations’ with troika of lenders

Cypriot shop owners chat about the dire financial situation of their country in Nicosia's shopping district March 22, 2013. (Reuters)

Cyprus is locked in “hard negotiations” with a troika of lenders to save the Eurozone member's banking system and economy in general from ruin, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said on Friday.

“In a few hours we will be called upon to take the big decisions and reply to the hard dilemmas,” Stylianides said in a statement at a news conference, as the government raced to secure a bailout to meet a Monday deadline for a deal.

“The House of Representatives will soon be called upon to take the big decisions. Undoubtedly, there will also be painful aspects in any decision taken, but the country must be saved,” he said.

He was referring to an emergency session of parliament expected later Friday to examine a raft of eight bills aimed at raising billions of dollars to secure a vital EU-IMF bailout.

“The next few hours will determine the future of this country. We must all assume our responsibility,” Stylianides said.

The European Union has given Nicosia until Monday to raise 5.8 billion euros ($7.47 billion) to unlock loans worth 10 billion euros or face being choked from European Central Bank emergency funding in a move that would bankrupt the island.

EU sources have said the bloc is ready to eject Cyprus from the Eurozone to prevent contagion of other debt-hit members such as Greece, Spain and Italy.

Last Update: Friday, 22 March 2013 KSA 15:45 - GMT 12:45