Sir Stelios Haij-Ioannou, founder of easyJet, said the situation in Cyprus was “better than he feared” as he last week made his first visit to his family’s homeland since it received a eurozone bail-out just months ago.

The entrepreneur, who was born in Athens to Cypriot parents, said he was cheered by the resilience of an island “very close to my heart” as its government imposes public sector job losses and other austerity measures to comply with the conditions of its €10bn (£8bn) March rescue.

“For someone who’s watching the situation from the outside, I was amazed at the resilience of the people of Cyprus,” he said. “The situation is better than I feared. It doesn’t mean it is good, we all know there are problems… [but] this is a country with very, very strong people. There is more optimism than I thought – but there is poverty, too.”

Sir Stelios said he is now feeding 500 people a day at the soup kitchen-style initiative he runs in Limassol, his mother’s home town, and that he has arranged for another three such operations to open on the island in the coming months.

“By losing their jobs [people] have fallen below the poverty line,” he said. “I’m talking about hunger now.”

Nonetheless, the public reaction to Cyprus’s reforms has so far been marked by the absence of the strikes and protests seen elsewhere in the eurozone, and there appears to be no widespread desire to leave the euro.

Daily Telegraph

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