Gilmore urges Cyprus solidarity
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has called on Europe to show solidarity to Cyprus during its time of financial crisis.
As the struggling country balances on the brink of unlocking much-needed funds from the EU to bail out its sinking banks, the Foreign Affairs Minister said Ireland identifies with its plight.
"I believe it's important that the rest of Europe stands in solidarity with Cyprus and the people of Cyprus," he said.
The Cypriot government is locked in negotiations with banks in a bid to shore up the money it needs to trigger its 10 billion euro bailout. Politicians had overwhelmingly rejected demands from Europe to impose a levy of more than 10% on deposits above 100,000 euro.
It shot down the proposals in the hope it would receive assistance from Russia instead, which has billions of euro tied up in Cypriot banks. But the government has been forced to consider a compromise with eurozone chiefs over how it intends to raise the necessary 5.8 billion euro by Monday - after officials in Moscow shot down its hopes for assistance.
The Tanaiste said: "Irish people have sympathy for the situation in Cyprus and certainly we identify. The people in Cyprus are facing a really difficult set of circumstances right now.
"I can identify with that because two years ago when the Government, which my party is part of, took office, we were facing a situation where our banks were in serious trouble. The country was running out of money, we had to make very difficult decisions and we had to make them quickly, the first month in office."
Mr Gilmore said it was important that European countries work together and help each other out.
He was speaking during the first day of an informal meeting of the EU's 27 foreign ministers.
Ireland played host to the event where officials discussed the ongoing crisis in Syria, including whether arms should be provided to the rebel forces of the war-torn country.