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Indebted Cyprus downsizes independence day parade

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September 20, 2013 07:41 AM EST | AP

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — Celebrations to mark Cyprus' 53rd year of independence from British colonial rule are not immune from the country's economic crisis.

To save money, authorities decided to drop for the first time tanks and other vehicles from a parade held annually in the ethnically split country on Oct. 1.

Defense Minister Fotis Fotiou says a people-only parade, as is common practice in most other EU countries, is enough to honor the country's independence and buoy public morale.

Fotiou said Friday that all the money saved will go toward providing morning meals to school children in need. Cyprus' jobless rate stands at 17 percent and is rising.

Cyprus in March agreed with international creditors on a multibillion-euro financial rescue that gutted its banking sector.