UK

Cyprus Bailout: Orthodox Church Offers To Mortgage Property Portfolio To Help Relieve Crisis

21/03/2013 10:06 GMT | Updated 21/03/2013 11:19 GMT

The Orthodox Church of Cyprus has said it is prepared to mortgage its property portfolio to help overcome political deadlock in the island's bailout crisis.

Cyprus is in economic turmoil after MPs vetoed a plan to impose a one-off levy on resident's savings as part of an EU-imposed rescue package.

Parliament's decision came after Cypriots angrily rallied against the plan leaving president Nicos Anastasiades desperately scrabbling for a plan B.

cyprus bailout orthodox

Archbishop Chrysostomos II

The government must raise €7bn of a €10bn package to bailout the banking sector.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II, head of the Church said: “The entire property of the church is at the disposal of this country to prevent the economy from collapsing,” reports the Times (£).

The Orthodox Church is a strong influence over the island's 1.1m population and is the largest landowner in the country with "sizeable" investments in " banking, construction, hotels and wine-making".

Its assets are believed to be worth in the region of tens of millions of Euros.

Banks in Cyprus remain closed as a deal is formulated to prevent a run on them as people try to withdraw their savings.

The Cypriot government is also in talks with Russia over possible financial assistance.

The Island hosts a sizeable number of Russian nationals as well as €31bn in bank deposits.

The crisis has resonated closer to home as there are 3,500 Army personnel and 59,000 British ex-pats on the island.

The government had already assured that those working for the armed forces and government would have their savings compensated for any levy imposed.

The UK also took the drastic step of sending an RAF plane with €1m onboard to provide cash in the absence of open banks and empty cash machines.