Cyprus bailout debate rages on

By March 20, 2013

Cyprus (MNN) — Protests outside the Cyprus parliament in Nicosia greeted Tuesday's debate and vote on the bailout package.

The international bailout package involved taxing ordinary depositors to pay part of the bill. The plan would have hit bank depositors with a one-time tax on their savings.

However, after hours of debate, the Cyprus parliament rejected the bailout deal with 36 Members of Parliament casting "no" votes, and 19 abstentions.

Prior to the vote, eyewitnesses reported chanted slogans like: "Independence, freedom, democracy." After the vote, dozens of tweets indicated the chants had morphed into singing.

In an effort to stave off panic, banks remained closed through Thursday. Then came the rumor (apparently unverified) that Cyprus's finance minister resigned and that President Nicos Anastasiades planned to abstain from the vote, and tensions ratcheted higher.

Now, Cyprus and its partners would have to go back to the drawing board. There have been suggestions that bank runs are possible now and the European Central Bank could halt in liquidity to Cypriot banks. The reality is that Cyprus now faces bankruptcy and a potential exit from the euro.

The international office of SAT-7 is located in the capital city of Nicosia. The leadership team is actually in Cyprus with budget meetings this week, although this was planned well in advance of the vote. SAT-7 USA president Rex Rogers, speaking from Limassol, says, "Our financial people, in terms of our ministry being based here, have been watching this with the area banks for some time. We've already taken a number of steps, several weeks back."

Those measures were taken to safeguard funds given to keep SAT-7 moving forward. Their international identity is what's mainly protecting them now. Their funds are also international and so spread out across the network. So, explains Rogers, it alleviates the impact of what's happening in Cyprus. "At the moment, we're not being caught in the midst of this. On the other hand, whatever they decide to do in the Parliament could end up costing us some money, mainly because it's going to cost everybody money."

That's not to say that austerity measures, in whatever form they eventually take, won't impact the ministry. Rogers explains, "To participate in the bailout, it's going to cost the Cypriot citizens an additional tax. That includes organizations, and that's where monies that could get transferred in could be subject to some kinds of levies. As I say, we could lose some monies in the process."

Lawmakers are going to have to figure out how to cobble together a packag that will please both its citizens and the European Central Bank. It's not an enviable job. Rogers says, "Nobody likes so-called ‘austerity' programs. On the other hand, when you get upside-down financially, you've got to bite the bullet and do some things, and that's what's happening with respect to the so-called ‘bail out.'"

SAT-7 broadcasts Christian satellite television 24/7 throughout more than seventy countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. The network supports five channels: SAT-7 ARABIC and SAT-7 KIDS in Arabic, SAT-7 PARS in Farsi, SAT-7 TURK in Turkish, and the newest Arabic family channel, SAT-7 PLUS.

Working in a region characterized by high illiteracy rates and closed countries, SAT-7 broadcasts uncensored messages of the love, forgiveness, and hope of Christ to more than 17 million regular viewers–women and children, rich and poor, urban and rural–in the privacy of their homes. SAT-7's convergence of theology, technology, and timeliness positions it for greater impact for such a time as this.

In a time of financial upheaval, the ministry needs to keep the funding as efficient as possible. Their voice speaks at a time when others can't be heard. This applies to the coverage of things like Arab Spring, as well as holidays.

For example, while most Christians in the West are looking forward to celebrating Easter, Iranians all over the world are preparing for the Persian New Year, or Norouz, which falls on 21st March. Exchanging gifts and visiting family and friends are an important part of the festivities, as well as preparing a table set with seven items starting with the letter S in Persian, including samanu (a sweet pudding), serkeh (vinegar) and sīb (apples).

SAT-7 PARS will be marking the New Year with a special live program from its studio in London. It will be a double celebration as the New Year program will be the first broadcast from the studio after several months of refurbishment.

The channels provide a platform to address spiritual and emotional needs around the world. The greatest challenge to keeping all of them going is funding. A disruption could mean an interruption in programming and lost Gospel opportunity.

It's an impact that's not lost on the ministry team leaders, notes Rogers. "SAT-7 is a ministry. All the money goes to the mission of the ministry and the idea of sharing the Gospel with people throughout in the Middle East." They'll need prayer for wisdom as they navigate through uncertain times that face the ministry in the days ahead.

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