SOURCES with access to the Presidential Palace have confirmed that President Nicos Anastasiades at one stage did threaten to resign during tense negotiations with international lenders on Monday morning.
Initial reports had Anastasiades telling International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde: “I table one proposal, you don’t accept it; I table another, same thing. What else do you want me to do? Do you want to force me to resign? If that’s what you want, let me know,” Anastasiades was quoted as saying.
His outburst reportedly came during a heated exchange with the IMF that their proposal to saddle the Bank of Cyprus with some €9 billion in emergency liquidity assistance owed by the Popular Bank to the European Central Bank, effectively signaled the lender’s closure in six months.
But it appears that what Anastasiades really said was: “If you think I will resign so that another one will come and you can continue the negotiations, you are very mistaken. Even if I did resign, the negotiations could not restart before 45 days have passed,” the President told Lagarde.
Anastasiades – known for his fiery temper – apparently lost it when Lagarde proposed a 60 per cent haircut on uninsured depositors with the Bank of Cyprus.
During a break in the talks, Anastasiades held a working dinner with European Council President Herman van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Sources confirmed to the Cyprus Mail media reports that, during the dinner, Anastasiades took van Rompuy and Barroso aside and told them something along the lines of: “Make her come to her senses, if we are to talk shop.”
He was evidently referring to Lagarde.
At least that was Anastasiades’ version during a conference call shortly after with political leaders who were gathered at the Presidential Palace.
During the same call to Nicosia, an exasperated President said half-jokingly that he wanted to pick up a chair and throw it.
At which point one of the politicians back in Nicosia taunted him: “Why don’t you throw an ashtray instead?”
It was an allusion to Anastasiades’ rumoured habit of tossing ashtrays whenever he throws a fit.
“There weren’t any ashtrays around,” the President retorted.
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