By Xinhua

 If Cyprus can be an example to judge by, Greece would need many months or even years to lift capital controls imposed at the height of the Greek debt crisis after the banks were closed for three weeks early in July.

Greek banks reopened on July 20, but all capital controls imposed earlier were kept in place, including a daily limit of 60 euros, or 240 euros per week, in withdrawals from deposits accounts.

Cyprus was bailed out in March, 2013 and its two main banks remained closed for about three weeks and capital controls were introduced.

Bank customers could withdraw 300 euros each day in the aftermath of a bank resolution which included the winding down of the failing Cyprus Popular Bank, known as Laiki and its folding into Bank of Cyprus (BOC).

BOC was forced to recapitalize by seizing 47.5 per cent of deposits over 100,000 euros and turning it into bank stock.

The Cyprus bail-in precedence has been set down by the Eurogroup as the standard method of recapitalizing the Group’s “systemic banks” in the future.

Cypriot authorities had said at the time they expected capital controls to be lifted within weeks.

But it took two years – until April, 2015 – to fully lift capital controls, although they were gradually scaled back at the end of each month.

It also took a further recapitalization of Cypriot banks to pass European Banking Authority stress tests in late, 2014.

Greece’s Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis has acknowledged that capital controls will be maintained for “months”.

Greek banks are currently kept alive by a 89-billion-euro Emergency Liquidity Assistance offered by the European Central Bank.

Their needs for recapitalizing are being assessed in an ongoing stress test which is expected to be completed by the end of October, according to a decision made by Central Bank governor Yiannis Stournaras and technocrats of international lenders.

Cypriot financial and banking authorities are closely watching developments in the banking system of Greece, as four Greek-owned banks are currently operating in Cyprus, sources in Nicosia said.

They are Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank, National Bank of Greece and Eurobank, which are owned by the respective banks in Greece.

Though they account for about only 6 per cent of bank transactions in Cyprus, any serious upheaval in the Greek banking system is bound to have an impact on Cyprus.

The Greek debt crisis in 2012 had a severe impact on Cypriot banks.

Bank of Cyprus and Laiki suffered a combined loss of 4.5 billion euros when Greek bonds were devalued by about 75 per cent – about one quarter of the eastern Mediterranean island’s Gross Domestic Product.

This loss was one of the main factors which forced Cyprus to conclude a 10-billion-euro bailout deal with the Eurogroup and the IMF, the other factor being the fact that Cyprus faced a 4-year long recession and was shut out of international markets since 2011.