Kenny and European leaders in Cyprus for EPP solidarity summit

Sat, Jan 12, 2013, 00:00

European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and five other heads of government and officials yesterday attended the European People’s Party (EPP) solidarity summit in Cyprus, holder of the EU presidency before Ireland. Also there were German chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras.

While the summit’s agenda included the EU’s multiannual financial framework for 2014- 20 and preparations for the 2014 EU elections, leaders also held bilateral meetings.

A founding member of the EPP who has attended all its summits, Mr Kenny came early and held talks with Cyprus EPP head Nikos Anastasiades, who is expected to be elected president next month.

The Taoiseach said useful discussions had been held at the outset of the Irish EU presidency, including on Ireland’s banking problems.

Referring to the summit host, Mr Kenny said: “Clearly Cyprus has a financial problem and that needs to be addressed and, in order to address it, we have to assess the scale of the situation . . . that is ongoing. From Ireland’s experience, we understand that the situation should not be left to fester.”

Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton said it was “a good opportunity to show solidarity” with Mr Anastasiades, adding that similar meetings were held in Dublin when Ireland was facing its own financial crisis.

Timing crucial

The timing of the summit is crucial for Cyprus because several German politicians have adopted a negative stand on the possibility of a bailout for the state, heavily exposed to Greek bank and bond debt.

However, Dr Merkel expressed strong support for Mr Anastasiades’s candidacy, referring to his Democratic Rally as a “sister party” of her Christian Democratic Party.

Mr Anastasiades said Cyprus was prepared to take all “measures for the consolidation of its economy” and was not seeking “special treatment”, an accusation levelled at the leftist government.