Cyprus banks reopen: Live Report
- Published: 28/03/2013 at 04:49 PM
- Online news:
1738 GMT: We are now ending this Live Report on the reopening of Cyprus's banks following a eurozone bailout.
People queue up outside a Laiki bank branch in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, on March 28, 2013, as they wait for the bank to open after an unprecedented 12-day lockdown.
Although the Mediterranean island has been hit with unprecedented capital controls to prevent a bank run, the atmosphere has been calm, with members of the public queuing patiently outside banks.
President Nicos Anastasiades even took to Twitter to thank citizens for their "maturity".
And Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said the restrictions on the movement of money could be lifted within a month "if everything goes as well as it did today."
Keep following AFP's coverage of the story in the coming days online.
1722 GMT: Europe's stock markets have closed up on the reopening, and the euro has recovered against the dollar.
At close in the last session before the Easter break, London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies rose 0.38 percent to 6,411.74 points.
In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 edged up 0.08 percent to 7,895.31 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 climbed 0.53 percent to 3,731.42 points.
The euro recovered to $1.2820 from $1.2776 late in New York on Wednesday.
1657 GMT: With the banks now closed for the day, AFP's Denis Barnett tells us they are due to reopen again at the normal time -- 0830 local time -- on Friday.
1638 GMT: The IMF's Rice admits the retrenchment forced by the plan "will be a difficult process for the Cypriot people over some period of time."
"We're mindful of that but it would ultimately result in an economic model that is more sustainable and more growth-promoting," he asserts.
1636 GMT: The capital controls slapped on Cyprus banks could be lifted within a month, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has just told a news conference.
"Expect restrictions to be lifted within a month if everything goes as well as it did today," Kasoulides said, referring to a calm reopening of banks after a 12-day lockdown aimed at preventing a run on deposits.
The restrictions, which include a limit of cash withdrawals of 300 euros a day and a 1,000-euro ceiling on money being taken out by travellers, were gazetted to last for a week but the authorities have made it clear this is very likely to be extended.
1635 GMT: IMF spokesman Gerry Rice says teams from the "troika" of official lenders are in Cyprus now finalizing the technical details of the rescue agreement.
That work could be finished in early April, and after that the IMF executive board will make an official decision on its share of the financial package for Nicosia, he says.
1621 GMT: CYPRUS BANKING CURBS COULD BE LIFTED WITHIN A MONTH: FOREIGN MINISTER
1600 GMT: Cypriots are staying calm as banks reopen after a nearly two week lockdown.
Dozens of people lined up outside bank branches in Nicosia then filed inside eight at a time when bank doors swung open at 12 noon (1000 GMT), while G4S security guards posted outside most branches had little to do.
President Nicos Anastasiades showed his contrition by slashing his own salary by a quarter and dishing out a 20 percent salary 'haircut' to his ministers.
As the feared bank run failed to happen, the cabinet appoineds a panel to investigate whether criminal activity led to the Cyprus meltdown.
World markets largely rise on the apparent success of the first capital controls ever used by a eurozone economy
1547 GMT: The Bundesbank has now confirmed it supplied its counterpart in Cyprus with banknotes as the banks reopened.
"The banknotes come from the logistical reserves of the European Central Bank, which are stored by the Bundesbank," a German central bank spokeswoman told AFP.
Financial sources told AFP that the amount was less than 5.0 billion euros.
Euro banknotes are not printed and stocked by the ECB in Frankfurt, but by the different national central banks which make up the eurosystem. But a number of central banks are supplied by others, as is the case for Cyprus.
1539 GMT: IMF spokesman Gerry Rice says the Cyprus crisis illustrates the need for a more region-wide, systematic approach to dealing with failing banks.
"It showed the need for Europe to continue moving towards a banking union, that includes not only the single supervisory mechanism but also a single resolution mechanism," he tells reporters in Washington.
1525 GMT: Cyprus's banking sector employs around 13,000 people, equivalent to around 1.5 percent of the population. Laiki alone accounts for 2,300 employees on the island, while BoC has 3,300.
Fotoula Voskou and her husband are in a similar situation to Thenia and Andreas Chrysafis. Fotoula has worked for Laiki since graduating from university 25 years ago and he has worked for BoC for the same length of time.
"We never thought something like this would happen to us -- we had jobs, and a good employer," said the mother-of-three.
1523 GMT: Caroline-Nelly says that for Thenia Chrysafis, the bailout's terms are doubly worrying as her husband also works at Laiki. The couple met at the bank.
"We are trying to find jobs, but it is difficult for both of us," Thenia Chrysafis told her.
Her husband Andreas has worked for Laiki for 28 years, rising through the ranks to reach executive level.
Faced with the dim prospects of finding a new job in a tanking economy, he is being forced to look further afield.
"I am preparing my CV to send to Arab countries -- Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar," he told Caroline-Nelly. "Somewhere I can find a job. What else can I do?"
1520 GMT: AFP's Caroline-Nelly Perrot has been investigating the impact of the crisis on bankers, auditors and accountants. Many are facing unemployment, with some being forced to consider leaving the island for good, she reports.
"We had a good life with our salaries and our jobs," said Thenia Chrysafis, who has worked for 30 years at Laiki, Cyprus's second-largest bank. "Now, everything has changed."
1518 GMT: Unnamed financial sources have told AFP that Germany's central bank the Bundesbank supplied the banknotes for the Cypriot banks when they reopened.
"The operation was led by the Bundesbank and the transportation of the notes was coordinated by the European Central Bank," one of the sources says.
According to the business daily Handelsblatt, five billion euros ($6.4 billion) worth of banknotes were flown to Cyprus in a Lufthansa jet though other media reports put the amount at down to 1.5 billion euros.
1509 GMT: Hala met a couple of tourists wearing shorts and T-shirts. She asked them where they were from and the man said: "We're from Germany, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"
They came to Cyprus on Saturday and said they felt bad about the way Cyprus had been treated.
Asked about the anger in Cyprus towards German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the woman said: "She's making us angry as well and we hope by October she'll be out."
They joked that they would say they were from the Netherlands if anyone asked.
1508 GMT: "In 1974 we survived the invasion of Turkish troops and we will survive again," Laiki Bank branch manager Pambos Michael added.
"This whole thing is a disaster but I am sure we will come out of it in a matter of time," he told Hala.
1502 GMT: By late afternoon, with an hour to go before closure, there were no queues and people were entering banks freely, says AFP's Hala Boncompagni. Most were withdrawing money or paying their utility bills.
"I will not say it was difficult day, it is the whole situation that is difficult," Pambos Michael, a manager at a Laiki branch in Ledra street, told Hala.
1449 GMT: The International Monetary Fund has said the controversial plan to penalize depositors and bondholders to rescue Cyprus's banks is "unique" and not likely applicable elsewhere, Paul Handley of AFP's Washington bureau tells me.
"It would be difficult to extend the case to the rest of Europe or to to the world," spokesman Gerry Rice has said in Washington, amid concerns that depositors elsewhere in Europe could be hit if banks fail.
1442 GMT: IMF: CYPRUS PLAN UNIQUE, HARD TO APPLY ELSEWHERE
1436 GMT: RECAP of the capital controls, the first ever imposed by a eurozone country:
* Daily withdrawals are capped at 300 euros and the cashing of cheques is banned.
* Travellers can take no more than 1,000 euros in banknotes abroad.
* Non-cash payments or money transfers outside Cyprus are forbidden, with some narrowly defined exceptions.
* Credit or debit card purchases while abroad are capped at 5,000 euros monthly.
* Cyprus must raise 5.8 billion euros to qualify for the full 10-billion-euro loan from the "troika" of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
* Depositors with more than 100,000 euros in the top two banks -- Bank of Cyprus (BoC) and Laiki or 'Popular Bank' -- face losing a large chunk of their money, reportedly up to 80 percent for Laiki customers.
1430 GMT: UPDATE: Cypriots have been acting calmly as banks reopen after a nearly two week lockdown.
Dozens of people lined up outside bank branches in Nicosia when banks opened at 12 noon (1000 GMT) but guards posted outside had little to do.
President Nicos Anastasiades slashed his own salary by a quarter and dished out a 20 percent salary 'haircut' to his ministers.
As the feared bank run failed to happen, the cabinet appointed a panel to investigate whether criminal activity led to the Cyprus meltdown.
World markets largely rose on the apparent success of the first capital controls ever used by a eurozone economy
1412 GMT: Mind you, the jobs of Cyprus priests look safer than those of workers at Cyprus Airways, which earlier this month unveiled a loss of 55.8 million euros after tax for 2012, more than double the net loss of 23.88 million of the previous year.
A couple of weeks later the European Commission barred the Cyprus government from paying any more subsidies to the airline until completion of a probe into whether the payments broke European law.
1359 GMT: The move by President Nicos Anastasiades to cut his and the cabinet's salaries echos a decision by the country's Orthodox Church last September, when it cut salaries of bishops and most priests by 15 to 25 percent, sparing only those who received 1,500 euros or less in monthly salaries.
Its leader Archbishop Chrysostomos said earlier this week that the church stands to lose more than 100 million euros in the bailout deal.
"There will be many difficulties, some will lose their jobs, the hungry will be multiplied and the church has to take care of people," he added.
The Orthodox church has substantial shareholdings on the island, including in the banks. Its other interests range from hotels to brewers, and it is also the island's biggest landowner.
1347 GMT: "The whole range of decisions, acts or omissions at all levels -- political decisions, to the decisions of the boards of banks and supervisors and all others that the committee considers -- should be investigated" by the newly-appointed panel of investigators, says presidential undersecretary Petrides.
The members of the panel are George Pikis, Panayiotis Kallis and Yiannakis Constantinides.
1342 GMT: Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has decided to cut his own salary by 25 percent, while cabinet members will take a 20 percent reduction, Petrides adds.
The president "has already authorised the accountant general to reduce his own salary by 25 percent," the president's undersecretary tells media.
Both Anastasiades and the cabinet are also renouncing the 13th month salary to which they are entitled.
1340 GMT: The Cypriot cabinet has appointed a panel of three ex-supreme court judges to investigate whether criminal activity was involved in the island's banking meltdown, a presidential aide has announced.
The panel will look at whether there are "criminal, civil and political responsibilities" to answer for, undersecretary to the president Constantinos Petrides tells reporters.
1334 GMT: CYPRUS CABINET APPOINTS PANEL TO PROBE BANKING MELTDOWN: AIDE
1332 GMT: CYPRUS PRESIDENT CUTS OWN SALARY BY 25%: AIDE
1321 GMT: More from Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades following his earlier tweet:
The "maturity and responsibility the people have demonstrated today... sends a clear message of optimism and certainty for the future and to those who have been watching events internationally," Anastasiades said in a later statement.
1310 GMT: Words of sympathy from German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who says he understands Cypriot anger over the tough terms of its international bailout but predicts it will fade eventually.
When times are very tough "then you look for someone to project your anger onto," he told local radio broadcaster SWR2, when asked about public ire in Cyprus against Germany, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
"That will pass. It is of course completely unfounded," he added.
1306 GMT: AFP's Joslyn Massad has gathered some more views from today's customers at Cyprus banks.
"I've just come to withdraw some money out that I needed to pay my rent and my bills. I have other money but I'm not worried about that. I'm not worried about that," said pensioner Valentinos Theodorou.
Marios Panayides, a retired Ministry of Finance employee, says: "I had very little money at home, just kept there for any emergency and I tried to survive with this little money I had at home."
1303 GMT: According to official figures, around half of the 12 billion lats (17 billion euros, $22 billion) worth of deposits in Latvian banks come from non-residents, and they grew by more than 20 percent in 2012.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), up to 90 percent of these come from Russia and other CIS states.
However, Kristaps Zakulis, the head of the Latvia's FKTK financial market regulator, says: "In Latvia we're talking about tens of millions (of euros in Russian deposits). In Cyprus, we're talking about tens of billions - it isn't comparable."
1259 GMT: Eurozone hopeful Latvia is insisting today that the Baltic state is not in danger of becoming a new offshore haven for Russian cash amid the crisis racking zone member Cyprus.
"There is a very, very minor inflow of Cyprus money," Latvia's Finance Minister Andris Vilks says.
"If we're talking about non-resident deposits (in Latvia), the money from Cyprus accounts for something around 10 or 15 percent only," he said this morning during talks with his Baltic counterparts in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
1255 GMT: Another major question is what the crisis will do to property prices in Cyprus, already under pressure since the global credit crunch in 2008. A flat I used to rent in the Lykavittos district of Nicosia is currently being advertised to let at 150 euros a month less than I used to pay.
1252 GMT: It might be calm on the streets of Cyprus but it’s a different story in the corridors of power.
In parliament, the Greens have tabled a motion calling on the Central Bank governor Panicos Demetriades to resign or be sacked, writes AFP’s Cyprus correspondent Charlie Charalambous.
That might fall foul of the constitution however, as the bank is seen as an independent authority. Party leaders are reported to be seeking a meeting with the attorney general to examine the legal aspects.
1244 GMT: The Cyprus stock market remains shut today. As well it might, given that Cyprus listed shares were bearing the brunt of the island's financial problems for many months before the crisis became global news.
While major indexes around the world have risen this year, the Cyprus Stock Exchange General Index has sunk 11.14 percent in 2013 and has plummetted a frightening 62.63 percent from this time last year, according to Bloomberg data. Never mind haircuts - if you had money in the Cyprus stock market you've already lost most of it.
1242 GMT: Despite the renewed eurozone problems fuelled by Cyprus' controversial bailout terms, stocks markets have risen solidly since the start of 2013, largely thanks a slowly improving US economy and some better European economic data.
The London stock market has risen 8.62 percent since the beginning of January, Frankfurt by 2.59 percent and the CAC 2.13 percent. Madrid though has fallen 3.53 percent.
1239 GMT: European stock markets are mostly higher today but the euro has dipped versus the dollar as Cyprus' banks reopened and traders prepare for a long Easter weekend as the first quarter draws to a close.
"It has been a good quarter for equities, so money managers everywhere will be pretty happy to bank some profits before they tuck into their Easter eggs," said IG trader Will Hedden.
1235 GMT: President Nicos Anastasiades has tweeted his thanks to Cypriots for showing "maturity".
"I would like to thank the Cypriot people for their maturity and collectedness shown in their interactions with the Cypriot Banks," Anastasiades said in English on his official @AnastasiadesCY26s Twitter account.
1231 GMT: Households and companies withdrew as much as one billion euros ($1.3 billion) from their bank accounts in Cyprus last month, according to data just released by the European Central Bank.
The volume of private deposits held on bank accounts in Cyprus declined by 2.1 percent month-on-month to 46.4 billion euros in February, after already declining by 2.0 percent the previous month, the ECB data shows.
Still pretty hefty though, considering that Cyprus's total annual GDP is only around 17 billion euros.
1230 GMT: UPDATE on the overall situation as banks in Cyprus reopen after being shuttered for an unprecedented 12 days as the government of the Mediterranean holiday island battled to prevent financial collapse.
Banks reopened in a calm and orderly fashion after queues of at most a few dozen people built up at branches cross the island ahead of the 12 noon reopening.
However, comments from customers suggest the stability of the two big banks is far from guaranteed, with one man vowing to withdraw the maximum 300 euros every day.
And noone can yet quantify the long-term impact on the reputation of Cyprus as a place to do business.
Yet to be quantified is the size of the haircut facing depositors with more than 100,000 euros in the Laiki (Popular) Bank. Some reports say they could lose as much as 80 percent of their holdings - meaning they would lose 80,000 euros and be left with only 20,000 euros for each 100,000 euros of their investment.
1211 GMT: AFP's Bryan Pearson has identified one possible reason for the shortness of the queues outside Cyprus banks this morning. The authorities have set the daily cash withdrawal limit at 300 euros, the same as the maximim amount that can be withdrawn at an ATM.
"Why queue if you can achieve the same result by punching numbers into a cash machine?"
1206 GMT: "Significant withdrawals are likely to force Cypriot banks increasingly to rely on ECB emergency liquidity," Lawson says. As I said earlier, the fact that there is media talk of an 80 percent 'haircut' on Laiki Bank deposits over 100,000 euros implies a very severe cash shortfall.
1159 GMT: “What we are seeing today is just the beginning for Cyprus. As soon as people can withdraw their cash, there is a risk of significant capital flight," according to a note just in from Brian Lawson, chief global economist at Exclusive Analysis.
1151 GMT: Sounds of hammering and sawing followed me all the way as I walked from Ayia Napa earlier this month along the coast through the upmarket Nissi Beach district to picturesque Ayia Thekla beach.
Beach front kiosk and restaurant operators were busy smartening up their premises for the coming season. Will their efforts be rewarded with a big influx of visitors or will people opt to go somewhere else this year? That's one of the ongoing questions.
1145 GMT: The next immediate question is whether the debt crisis will scare tourists away. As I mentioned earlier, tourism already comprises 12 percent of Cyprus GDP and is clearly the biggest hope for the island's future following the collapse of the financial sector.
1140 GMT: AFP's Hala Boncompagni says stores remain mostly devoid of customers today along the Makarios Avenue shopping street, where many designer shops and cafes have closed in the past months as the island's debt crisis intensified.
1133 GMT: The Cyprus government has set a cap of 10,000 euros per quarter on the amount people can send to their children studying overseas, rather suggesting that the capital controls may be in place for a lot longer than seven days.
1127 GMT: Another unresolved -- and reportedly quite large problem -- is the so-called Title Deeds scandal, affecting many British people and Greek Cypriots who have bought new properties over the past 12 or 15 years. These people have paid for their homes but have yet to receive the title deeds, retained by the construction companies and allegedly used as collateral against loans from Cyprus banks.
Campaigners say the problem affects properties with a total value of around 6 billion euros. It is certainly true that if you look in any Cyprus estate agent's window you will see some properties advertised as coming "with title deeds," implying that the others are on sale without their title deeds.
1124 GMT: Auspices for a rapid restoration of economic stability are not good in the light of the ongoing division of Cyprus since 1974. Greek-speaking Cypriots voted overwhelmingly against the 2004 Annan Plan for reunification and talks on a new plan during the recently-ended Cyprus presidency of Demetris Christofias dragged on without any visible result.
1114 GMT: Hundreds of Chinese nationals have purchased second homes on Cyprus thanks to a national law revised last year granting permanent resident status to foreign buyers of homes costing at least 300,000 euros ($390,000), says Caroline-Nelly.
"The Chinese are not interested in houses as such in Cyprus. They are interested only in the permanent residency. They buy houses through visa firms," real estate agent Antonis Loizou told her.
1106 GMT: Just one more Cyprus expat community to mention: Chinese people. AFP's Caroline-Nelly Perrot went down to the ancient southwest Cyprus city of Paphos earlier this month and gleaned some very interesting insights from Chinese people living there.
"It is much easier to get a European visa" with Cyprus residency, said Wuang Hong, a longtime resident and telecoms employee who says she assists Chinese investors.
1058 GMT: The air of calm certainly doesn't mean people are unworried. Another group potentially badly affected by the Cyprus is the several thousand Bulgarians who work in construction and tourism in Cyprus, sharing with Cypriots a devotion to the Orthodox church.
A waitress at an Ayia Napa restaurant told me the other week that there would be no chance at all of a job in the small Bulgarian town where her parents live.
1055 GMT: AFP's Fanny Carrier says there are also largish queues outside Bank of Cyprus and Laiki branches in Engomi, another Nicosia district, but fewer people at other branches. No reports of trouble so far.
1052 GMT: Kyriakos Vourghouri, owner of a minimarket, waves a deposit slip showing an amount of 678 euros ($869) as he emerges from the bank.
"I didn't withdraw any money. I deposited money," he told AFP. "The problem is not in Cyprus, it is in Europe, which has become gangrenous."
1037 GMT: The biggest crowd we've found so far is at a Bank of Cyprus branch in the Nicosia suburb of Strovolos, from where AFP's Fanny Carrier tells me that a queue of a few dozen people bult up just before the brank opened at 12:05 pm local time.
"There's a big confusion," says one woman aged about 30. "We are all waiting for our 300 euros. I'll be back tomorrow for 300 more."
A man of about 50 with a tanned and wrinkled face complains: "I have five children, what can I do with 300 euros ? Nothing ! What can Cyprus do ? Nothing ! Everybody is angry but there's nothing we can do. It has never been that bad in Cyprus".
1033 GMT: A blonde lady in expensive four-wheel-drive stops traffic temporarily to take a picture of a Laiki bank queue with her phone, Denis Barnett reports. "She is moved on by hornblasts from the irritated drivers behind….only sign of anger on Nicosia streets so far on a balmy spring day."
1029 GMT: More from AFP's Hala Boncompagni, outside a Laiki Bank branch. Hala says there is a lot of German-bashing in the queue, linked to reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the driving force behind the severe bailout terms.
"I have a Mercedes but from now on I will never again buy anything from Germany," says an elderly man with white hair.
Another man standing in the queue says that in the long run Germany will be the loser. "Look on the streets and you will see that 70 percent of the cars are Mercedes and BMWs. People will stop buying them and dealerships will close one by one," he says.
1024 GMT: Somebody asked me the other day if angry Russian mobsters are out on the streets of Cyprus or if there has been a flare up in violence along the buffer zone separating the Republic of Cyprus from the unrecognised Turkish Cypriot north of the island. The answer, thankfully, is that so far I haven't seen reports of any such troubles.
1022 GMT: AFP's Danny Kemp notes that some of the guards outside bank branches are carrying weapons -- an alien sight in the generally peaceful tourist island.
1018 GMT: At one branch of Laiki Bank, yet to open, media people outnumber the clients, says AFP's Denis Barnett. "Reporters and crews from Russia and Japan show the world is watching."
1014 GMT: Analysts say they believe the Cyprus credit controls, due to last seven days, are indeed very likely to be extended given the scale of the problems facing Cyprus and the risks involved.
"In our view, the restrictive measures will last as long as the banking sector restructuring is not completed (which should likely last more than 7 days, maybe several weeks) in order to make sure the banking sector is stabilised during the process," Alan Lemangnen of Natixis investment house says in a note this morning.
1011 GMT: More from the European Commission statement: "The Commission will insist at all times that any restrictive measures are strictly proportionate to the legitimate objectives of preventing the immediate risk to the financial stability of Cyprus and strictly limited in duration to the time necessary for that purpose."
"While the imposed restrictive measures appear to be necessary in the current circumstances, the free movement of capital should be reinstated as soon as possible in the interests of the Cypriot economy and the European Union's single market as a whole," it adds.
Possibly they are worried about the precedent set by non-EU Iceland, where capital controls are still in place more than four years after they were imposed during the 2008 credit crunch.
1010 GMT: Statement just out from the European Commission: "The Commission will monitor closely with the Cypriot authorities, other member states, the European Central Bank and the European Banking Authority the implementation of the imposed restrictive measures on capital movements."
1009 GMT: Banking employees union ETYK says staff were ready to go back to work but it urges the public not to blame them for the tight controls imposed on people's money
1005 GMT: This is a worrying period for everyone in Cyprus, not least the many thousands of immigrant workers, particularly from Sri Lanka and the Philippines, who rely on their wages to send remittances home to help support their families.
1002 GMT: CYPRUS BANKS REOPEN AFTER 12-DAY LOCKDOWN: AFP
0955 GMT: "With five minutes to go, people are standing in an orderly line, with the security guards saying they will let in eight people at a time to prevent a stampede," reports AFP's Hala Boncompagni, out and about in Nicosia.
The guards are dishing out Greek-language copies of the decree issued by Finance Minister Michalis Sarris, which imposes limits on how much of their capital they can touch.
0954 GMT: Some people are saying there was no point in queuing withdrawals are so tightly restricted.
"I'm not going to the bank today. I have to be in the shop these hours. There's going to be queues so I'm not going to spend so many hours there to get 300 euros," says Roula Spyrou, 50, a jewellery shop owner.
0949 GMT: All the attention has been on the Russians in Cyprus but many other nationalities have large communities on the island. Around 25,000 British people live here, and the British government is making special arrangements so that UK citizens' pensions are not ensnared in the turmoil.
0945 GMT: Traffic police are seen at a Nicosia carwash having their motorcycles cleaned. One says they are doing this "in case we appear on television" - referring to the fact that the Cyprus capital is swarming with foreign TV crews to cover the bailout story.
0943 GMT: AFP's Denis Barnett tells me "orderly queues" have now started to form outside banks along Makarios Avenue, one of the biggest shopping streets in Nicosia.
0935 GMT: What I'm waiting to see is comments by anyone who actually has more than 100,000 euros in Bank of Cyprus or Laiki. With Laiki customers facing a 'haircut' of up to 80 percent of their deposits you would think they would be very angry, but they seem to be keeping a low profile.
0930 GMT: Small queues are beginning to form outside banks, with people subdued rather than angry.
Philippos Philippou, an unemployed electrician, waiting in the queue outside Laiki Bank in downtown Nicosia, tells AFP: "It will be a very bad day -- there will be swearing and a lot of anger."
A bearded man, wearing a blue sweatshirt, who would not give his name, says he plans to "take all my money slowly, slowly."
He says he believes the panic will last a week or two. "After that things will return to normal, but with less money."
0928 GMT: Banks in Cyprus will open for a short six hours today, at least allowing hotel and restaurant operators access to some money as they gear up for the busy Easter tourism period. Tourism accounts for around 12 percent of Cyprus GDP and is much the island's biggest industry after the finance sector.
0924 GMT: European stock markets seem to be shrugging off fears about the Cyprus crisis contaminating other eurozone countries, with the Britain's FTSE 100, France's CAC-40 and Germany's DAX little changed in morning trade.
0917 GMT: Five shipping containers reportedly filled with billions of euros were delivered to the central bank in Nicosia late yesterday.
Under a deal agreed in Brussels on Monday, Cyprus must raise 5.8 billion euros to qualify for a 10-billion-euro bailout from the "troika" of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Depositors with more than 100,000 euros in the top two banks face losing a large chunk of their money, reportedly up to as much as 80 percent in the case of Laiki Bank.
0917 GMT: The Association of Cyprus banks calls on the public to show “patience and understanding” when making transactions after the banks reopen.
0914 GMT: Employees at Moneygram and Western Union offices in Nicosia tell AFP's Haro Chakmakjian they have not been told to stop their limit of 3,000 euros a day in foreign transfers, despite the tight capital controls imposed by Cyprus authorities which bar all payments abroad with a few exceptions for education and accommodation costs.
0909 GMT: A man drawing cash from an ATM in downtown Nicosia looks at the bills and says with a smile: "Fresh from Frankfurt" -- referring to reports that billions of euros were shipped in from the German city during the night to provide liquidity for Cyprus banks.
0904 GMT: G4S became notorious last year when it admitted it could not provide the contracted number of guards for Olympic venues but today most banks in Nicosia have between one and three guards posted at their entrances, though but there are as yet no crowds yet for them to control.
Finance Minister Michalis Sarris has imposed temporary limits on daily withdrawals to 300 euros ($385) to prevent a run on the banks that could wreak havoc on the island's already fragile economy.
He also banned the cashing of cheques and ordered those travelling abroad not to take more than 1,000 euros out of the country.
WELCOME to AFP's Live Report on the Cyprus crisis as banks reopen after being firmly shut for an unprecedented 12 days while the Mediterranean holiday island agonised over a bailout for the government and a restructuring plan for its two biggest banks.
So far all is calm as guards from private security firm G4S of London Olympics fame outnumber bank clients waiting outside big branches of Bank of Cyprus and Laiki (Popular) Bank.
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- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency