March 21 - Hundreds of employees of the beleaguered Cyprus Popular Bank and other protestors clashed with police outside parliament on Thursday, after rumors spread that the island nation’s second biggest lender may be shut down. Mana Rabiee reports.
Tensions mount in Cyprus. Employees of Cyprus Popular Bank clashed with police outside parliament Thursday. They were reacting to rumors the island nation's second biggest lender may be closed down. The country's central bank issued a quick denial of any such plans. But by nightfall, the protest by bank employees and other protestors grew to several hundred. SOUNDBITE (English) Angela Toniou, Employee of the Bank of Cyprus, saying: "The whole system is collapsing and it's today, it's the Cyprus Popular Bank, and tomorrow, the rest of the banks. And if the banks collapse, the whole Cyprus, everything collapses, that's what we're afraid." Banks have been closed for several days here. They're trying to prevent a mass exodus of funds, after talk of a possible tax on savings deposits sparked outrage. Nervous depositors wait in long lines at ATM machines to withdraw what little money they can. (SOUNDBITE (Greek) GEORGE MARANGI SAYING "I have lived through occupation and war, and now psychological war. I hope your children do not suffer the same as ours" The European Union has given Cyprus until Monday to raise the billions of Euros it needs to secure an international bailout -- or face the collapse of its financial system.