Scrambling to avert a financial meltdown, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades held talks Wednesday with European and IMF officials. The eurozone and IMF must sign off on any Plan B the Cypriots come up with if it is to be approved as part of the bailout.
Some sort of deal must be approved within days because Cyprus is running on borrowed time — literally.
The European Central Bank is keeping the Cypriot banks alive by allowing them to draw on emergency support from the local central bank. But the ECB has said it would cut off that aid if there was no bailout deal soon and it became clear the banks had no hope of becoming solvent again.
In Nicosia, residents waited anxiously to see what lay in store for them.
Avetis Bahcecian has been running his Armenian restaurant in Nicosia for years. Now, with the uncertainty swirling around Cyprus, he's worried about his business.
"Whatever they do, they have to do it quickly because this uncertainty is hurting business," the 41-year-old said as he kneaded dough to make lahmacun, a traditional Armenian pizza-style food. "Our business is down by 40 percent in the last couple days."
ATMs have been dispensing cash and debit and credit cards have been working, so Cypriots have not faced any immediate cash shortage for day-to-day living.
Tensions remained high as Cypriots wondered whether the country's final rescue deal would include the hated bank deposit seizures.
Under the initial bailout plan conceived in Brussels last weekend, Cyprus was to have funded its part of the bailout by seizing 6.75 percent of all deposits up to 100,000 euros and 9.9 percent of those above that threshold. That caused outrage, leading the government to propose an amended version that would have spared deposits up to 20,000 euros. That plan was rejected by lawmakers on Tuesday.
As uncertainty grew over the country's future, even the country's influential Orthodox church offered to help.
Its head, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, said the church was willing to mortgage its assets to invest in government bonds. The church has considerable wealth, including property, stakes in a bank and a brewery.
"The wealth of the church is at the disposal of the country," Chrysostomos said.
Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, contributed to this report.
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