BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday her country wants to help bailed-out Cyprus’ struggling small to medium enterprises and that talks between the two finance ministries are ongoing.
“Germany wants to help, we recognise the difficulties. There are talks between the finance ministries of the two countries on how to support SMEs,” Merkel told a press conference after a working luncheon with President Anastasiades in Berlin.
“Such agreements exist with other countries that have financial difficulties,” she added.
Anastasiades – on a four-day official visit to Germany - was officially welcomed with all the appropriate honours by Merkel in Berlin.
The performance of the National Anthems of the two countries followed and then the two EU leaders reviewed a military guard (photo).
Merkel also backed Anastasiades’ demand for a more active role by the bloc in the new round of UN-brokered Cyprus peace talks.
“Cyprus expects a more active support from the European Union and we are willing to do all we can to push this drive ahead,” she said.
Stalled reification talks resumed on February 11 after agreement was reached between the two leaders on a joint communiqué listing key principles of a federated Cyprus.
But the ride seems to be far from smooth despite an apparent interest by the international community to keep the momentum going.
Another crucial issue discussed between the two leaders was the crisis in Ukraine as regards tougher sanctions the EU may decide to impose on Russia.
This would certainly burden small and big European economies but could be fatal for Mediterranean ones heavily dependent on tourism.
Merkel said their views are similar and backed a diplomatic solution to the crisis. And that extending sanctions already imposed on Russia should be decided if the need arises, but it should not be an end to itself.
“We have to show them that action can be taken but we have to know the repercussions, too,” Merkel said.
Anastasiades said the EU should carefully consider the repercussion on each specific member state from further Russian sanctions.
“I’m very concerned about the Cyprus economy…We are doing okay with the implementation of the bailout agreement but possible new sanctions would most possibly be a blow to the our economy’s recovery,” Anastasiades said.
At the working luncheon present, on the part of Cyprus, were also Minister of Finance Haris Georgiades, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides and Ambassador of Cyprus to Germany Minas Hadjimichael.
Today, Anastasiades’ contacts include a meeting with Bundestag President Norbert Lammert and a speech before the think-tank Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politike. He will travel to Hamburg in the evening. It's the first official visit by a Cyprus president to Germany in 24 years.