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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 07-12-31
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 CYPRUS WELCOMES THE EUROCyprus welcomes at midnight on December 31st, 2007 the euro, which will replace the pound and become the Republic` s legal tender.
To mark the occasion the Ministry of Finance is hosting special celebrations, attended by President Tassos Papadopoulos.
Cyprus pounds can be used by the public for payments in cash until the end of January 2008 but all other transactions will be in euro. Cheques in pounds can be cashed, in euro, until the end of June next year, the Central Bank has announced.
President Tassos Papadopoulos has welcomed the introduction of the euro, saying it will have a positive fallout on efforts to reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
We are optimistic that the adoption of the euro will create more favorable conditions leading to a solution that will actually reunite Cyprus, its economy, territory, institutions and society at large. Any solution cannot but provide for a unified economy, he said.
He did acknowledge however that there will be problems during a transitional period from the pound to the euro but pointed out that progress comes with reform.
Shops, businesses and banks have been displaying their prices in pounds and euro for the past three months to help consumers get used to the new scale of values while the Ministries of Finance and Commerce are monitoring price developments.
The Central Bank has said that after January 1st, businesses must give change exclusively in euro. Banks have supplied Cypriots with 40,000 pre-packed euro coin starter-kits for business, worth 172 euro each, and 250,000 mini-kits for the general public worth 17.09 euro each.
The exchange rate of the Cyprus pound to the euro has been set at 0.585274. One Cyprus pounds corresponds to 1.71 euro.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in May 2004, is one of the smallest economies in the euro-area, contributing 0.17% to the areas Gross Domestic Product and 0.24% to its population.
In 2006, Cyprus GDP per capita was 92% of the EU average.
The number of euro-area members on January 1st 2008 will be 15, with an estimated population of 318 million people. Denmark and the UK have opted to stay out of the euro-area for the time being.
Each member state wishing to join the euro-area must achieve a high degree of price stability, sustain public finances, observe the normal exchange rate fluctuation margins provided for by the ERM for at least two years and ensure durability of the convergence achieved by the state and of its participation in the ERM, as reflected in long-term interest rate levels.
The common side of the eight euro coins, in circulation at present, depicts maps of Europe, symbolising European unity.
In Cyprus there will be three national sides on the euro coins minted by the Republic one for the small denominations (1, 2 and 5 cent), one for the medium denominations (10, 20 and 50 cent) and one for the high denominations (1 and 2). The themes for the three sides are drawn from nature, history and civilisation.
On the 1, 2 and 5 cent coins, the national side will depict the moufflon, as the most characteristic species of Cyprus wild life.
On the 10, 20 and 50 cent coins, the national side will depict the ancient ship of Kyrenia, representing the islands relationship with trade, shipping and the sea, throughout Cyprus history.
On the 1 and 2 coins, the national side will depict the idol from Pomos, a cross-shaped idol from the chalcolithic period (3000 B.C.) which is a characteristic example of Cypriot prehistoric art and represents the heritage and civilisation of a country endowed with a history of over 10.000 years.
 PRESIDENT - NEW YEAR - MESSAGECyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has expressed hope that a functional and viable solution will become a reality in 2008, saying he would contribute to this goal with reasonable proposals and with an initiative to facilitate effective implementation of a UN agreement, reached in July last year between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities. The President also said that the objective is to ensure the survival of the Republic of Cyprus and the physical and natural survival of Cypriot Hellenism, stressing that a bad solution in Cyprus would consolidate and legalise the prospect of destruction.
Addressing in particular the Turkish Cypriots, Papadopoulos assured them of his sincere friendship, saying that Greek and Turkish Cypriots can, working together, demolish the wall of artificial division and build a happier future for everybody in a common reunited homeland, which has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
In his New Year message, President Papadopoulos, says "We have both the strategy as well as the alternative proposals for properly solving the fundamental aspects of the Cyprus problem. This solution cannot be the outcome of abstract initiatives or ceremonial and social meetings that may create fleeting impressions but cannot produce substantial results.``
President Papadopoulos points out that ``in the New Year we will renew and intensify our efforts in order to fully materialise the 8 July Agreement. The entire international community insists on promoting the implementation of this Agreement. We also persist precisely on fulfilling this goal.`` ``We will not abandon and render useless an important tool for making progress, which we have achieved, simply because the Turkish side does not wish to honour its signature. We will not limit ourselves to the demand that the Turkish side should comply with the provisions of this Agreement. At the right time and with the appropriate preparation we shall proceed to taking initiatives, through specific and reasonable suggestions, that will facilitate the effective promotion of the agreed procedure``, the President says.
The fact that due to the unacceptable Turkish stand and attitude an early and correct solution to the Cyprus problem is blocked, does not mean that we are obliged to ``close`` the Cyprus problem with a distorted compromise just for the sake of time, the President says. ``Our effort does not aim at winning time but losing the substance. Our effort aims at safeguarding the survival of the Republic of Cyprus and the physical and national survival of Greek Cypriots in our country. If the passage of time consolidates the fait accompli of the invasion and occupation, a bad solution consolidates and legalises the prospect for destruction,`` he stresses.
 EU - CYPRUS - AGREEMENTThe European Commission, together with 26 participating EU member states, including Cyprus, and JT International (Japan Tobacco)(JTI) have signed a 15-year agreement providing for an efficient system to fight cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting. Through the Agreement, JTI will work with the European Commission, its anti-fraud office OLAF and law enforcement authorities of the member states to help in the fight against contraband.
The Agreement includes substantial payments by JTI, which total USD 400 million over fifteen years. I welcome the conclusion of the negotiations of this important agreement. It is to the advantage of the EU because it protects its financial interests, said Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. This Agreement represents a further major step forward in the continuing battle against contraband and counterfeit cigarettes, said Vice-president Siim Kallas, responsible for the fight against fraud.
Contraband and counterfeit products cheat everyone: governments, consumers and legitimate businesses. This new agreement will further enhance the ability of the European Commission and that of member states to combat illegal trading in cigarettes, which results in the loss of substantial tax and customs revenue each year. The Agreement sends a strong signal to the world that agreements between authorities and industry to fight illegal trade work and bring substantial benefits, he added.
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