Cypriot Leader Says EU Must Change Way It’s Dealing With Crisis

The European Union must change the way the 27-nation bloc is dealing with the financial crisis, Cypriot President Demetris Christofias said.

“The strict austerity policies pursued in recent years in a number of countries have proved inadequate solutions to the problems of these countries,” Christofias said in a speech in Nicosia today, according to a transcript of his comments posted on the Cypriot government’s website.

“The EU is obliged to change the ways and means of addressing the crisis,” Christofias said. “The basic issue is rationalizing public finances with the fairest possible burden-sharing on the one hand while not driving economies into deeper and longer recession.”

Cyprus in June became the fifth euro-area nation to request a financial rescue since a 2010 bailout of Greece. The government is in talks with the troika, which consists of officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to fix the size of the bailout. Christofias has promised to defy a troika demand to rein in wages.

EU member states need to pursue diverse and growth-friendly fiscal policies, such as investing in sectors of the future, in order to promote economic activity and competitiveness, fight unemployment and address the social impact of the crisis, Christofias said.

Cyprus, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, will seek to put citizens at the center of European policy making, he said. “Any detachment of European citizens from European affairs creates a democracy deficit which sooner or later will impair European institutions and European integration efforts,” he said.

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