Crisis hits Cyprus New Year's Eve festivities

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-1-1 9:44:55

For the first time since Cyprus became an independent state 52 years ago, several municipal authorities canceled traditional festivities to mark the end of the year and the beginning of a new one on Monday in the face of an unprecedented economic crisis.

With unemployment standing at over 12 percent and most of the unemployed having lost their jobs during 2012, many families in a country which had one of the highest living standards among EU members now depend on handouts by charity organizations for their basics.

Cyprus government is also expected to sign a bailout agreement with international lenders early in the New Year as it is running out of money within the next two months.

The Mayor of Nicosia Constantinos Yiorkadjis said the money allocated for the annual New Year's celebrations in the city's main square was divided among several hundred needy families.

He said the decision was taken by the capital's municipal council after elementary school children sent a petition saying they preferred to have no festivities and the money to go to fellow pupils who were going hungry to school in the morning.

A local supermarket matched the sum donated by the City Council with food distributed to needy families.

New Year's Eve festivities, which used to start an hour before midnight and continue well into the morning hours, drew many thousands of townspeople, including many foreign workers who live in the city's old part encircled by a medieval Venetian wall.

It was the same case with the western tourist city of Paphos, better known as the site of a famous ancient temple of Greek goddess Aphrodite. The city's Mayor said the money budgeted for festivities was distributed to parents' associations of local schools caring for pupils in need.

Several other municipalities scrapped celebrations because of the lack of money, but some other cities decided to go ahead with New Year's festivities, even on a cut down budget.

Andreas Christou, the Mayor of the southern coastal city of Limassol said celebrations had a dual purpose -- to send out a message of optimism and hope and to provide recreation for townspeople who did not have the means to joyfully greet the coming of the New Year.

"The crisis is here, but we are here too, and we say that we will overcome the difficulties in front of us as we have done many times before in the past," Christou said.

Posted in: Europe, Economy

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