Cyprus will not leave the euro, says president

Queues outside a branch of Cyprus's Laiki Bank in Nicosia on 29/3/13
Image caption Queues formed again on Friday as Cyprus's banks opened for a second day

Cyprus has no intention of the leaving the European single currency, the country's president says.

President Nicos Anastasiades said: "In no way will we experiment with the future of our country."

The Cyprus central bank says credit and debit card transactions are now free of any restrictions domestically.

But a 5,000-euro (£4,223) monthly limit per person remains in place for card purchases abroad. Cash withdrawals are restricted under bank capital controls.

Mr Anastasiades said the financial situation was "contained" following the 10bn-euro bailout deal with the EU and IMF.

Banks opened on Thursday for the first time in nearly two weeks amid severe new rules imposed as part of the bailout deal.

Queues formed of people trying to access their money, but the mood was generally calm.

By Friday, banks had returned to their normal working hours and there were no longer reports of big queues.

"We have averted the risk of bankruptcy," Mr Anastasiades said on Friday. "The situation, despite the tragedy of it all, is contained."

He told a meeting of civil servants: "We have no intention of leaving the euro."

But he accused other members of the eurozone of making "unprecedented demands that forced Cyprus to become an experiment".

Cyprus needs to raise 5.8bn euros ($7.4bn; £4.9bn) to qualify for the bailout, and has become the first eurozone member country to bring in capital controls to prevent a torrent of money leaving the island and credit institutions collapsing.

As well as a daily withdrawal limit of 300 euros, Cypriots may not cash cheques and those leaving the country will only be allowed to take 1,000 euros with them.

Depositors with more than 100,000 euros will see some of their savings exchanged for bank shares.

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Thursday that such controls could gradually be lifted over the course of the month.

But many economists predict the controls could be in place for much longer.