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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-03-14

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Cypriot President Demetris Christofias has said that after his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on March 21 it might be possible to announce the opening of a crossing point to and from the northern Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, at one of Nicosias main commercial streets, Ledra.

    The President also said that if the Turkish Cypriot side managed to release itself from the tight hold of Turkey, then the deadlock in the Cyprus problem could be broken.

    Speaking in Brussels at the end of the first day of the European Council, President Christofias said he briefed officials he had met on the latest developments in Cyprus, and noted that there was great interest from everyone on his election to the presidency of the Republic last month and a lot of hope concerning future developments.

    President Christofias said ``this Council is dealing with issues that are not too difficult and do not create much discussion and conflict, it is dealing with the implementation of the revised Lisbon Strategy.``

    He said there were successes concerning the implementation of the revised Lisbon Strategy, as well as new challenges, adding that there was also the issue of ``new forms of energy, combined with climate change, in conjunction with security and energy concerns.``

    ``The conditions have been created for the EU to move forward on these issues in a creative manner. From thereon, there was also an issue concerning the rekindling of the Barcelona Process and the creation of the Mediterranean Union, which will cover the EU and the countries of the Mediterranean, as well as the countries of the Mediterranean non members of the EU. This idea is still at an initial stage. It will take on form in June at the new Council,`` he added.

    Regarding the Lisbon Strategy, President Christofias said ``we stressed the necessity for the governments and the EU to give more attention to the social face of Europe.``

    ``We have proposed a specific amendment to the conclusions that will be discussed tomorrow, it was accepted by the presidency and we expect to see it in its final form on Friday,`` he added.

    President Christofias said ``there was great interest by everybody on the election of the new President of the Republic and many expectations concerning developments in the Cyprus problem.``

    ``I have stressed that we are ready to proceed in the direction of the implementation of the July 2006 agreement in a constructive manner and with good will, for a solution based on UN resolutions, the high level agreements, international and European law, but this does not depend solely on us. We will truly have that which we all hope for, a break of the deadlock and the promotion of substantive discussions for the solution of the various aspects of the Cyprus problem, if Turkey really wants to maintain a creative stance,`` he added.

    Asked if he was pleased with his bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Council, President Christofias said he was ``very pleased,`` adding that the officials he met expressed hope for developments.

    ``I make sure to stress that we share the expectations but their implementation does not depend solely on us. It also depends on the stance Mehmet Ali Talat will maintain as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. If he releases himself from the tight hold of Turkey, then I hope we will truly break the deadlock,`` he said.

    President Christofias said he briefed his interlocutors on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and of ``the possibility, during the first meeting, if all goes well, to announce the opening of Ledra street and the prospects of opening the Limnitis crossing point,`` on the north-west of the island.

    Responding to questions, President Christofias said he was making sure that the officials he talked to understood that things depended on the Turkish side. He added that they believed his election to the presidency of the Republic ``will give a push`` to efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

    Asked if he might veto a decision on the direct trade regulation (trade between the EU and Turkish occupied Cyprus), President Christofias said ``we never exercise the right to veto, we discuss as equal members of the EU,`` adding that it was wrong to speak about so-called embargoes against the Turkish Cypriots, since they enjoy all privileges as citizens of the Republic of Cyprus and can trade their goods through the legitimate and officially recognised ports and airports of the Republic.

    Asked about his upcoming meeting with Talat on March 21, President Christofias said he would be proceeding to the meeting ``full of good will,`` noting that his main aim was to find a solution to the Cyprus problem and that throughout his political career he has been struggling for rapprochement with the Turkish Cypriots.

    ``Unfortunately, I have to point out that over the past few days we have heard some messages, which I cannot say are positive or promising. Mr. Talat, returning from Ankara, and Ankara itself stressed that they are going to once again put on the table the rejected Annan plan (a UN proposed solution plan) as the basis for the negotiations,`` President Christofias said and expressed hope that these statements were ``statements of tactic and they don`t mean what they say.``

    President Christofias pointed out that if the Turkish side insisted on this position, then ``it will not be so easy to overcome the deadlock.``

    He furthermore said he would honour the signature of his predecessor, Tassos Papadopoulos, on the July 2006 agreement, and expressed hope that Talat, who also signed the agreement, would honour his own signature. The agreement provides for discussions at committee level to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations.

    Replying to questions regarding the recognition of Kosovo, President Christofias reconfirmed the position of the previous government of the Republic.

    ``I reconfirm the position of the previous government of the Republic of Cyprus. According to the Helsinki Final Act, there are borders and states which must be safeguarded and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states must be respected. Thus, we took the decision to avoid any recognition of this action, which we consider unfair and, according to international law, not legal,`` he pointed out.

    Replying to questions about the Mediterranean Union, President Christofias said Cyprus would support this proposal. ``We are a Mediterranean country and we want to take part actively in this Union,`` he pointed out.

    ``We discussed this proposal in a very open-minded way and the decision taken is that the proposal must be implemented. The Commission and the presidency took the responsibility to work on it, in order to present the final structure of this new institution of the EU together with the Mediterranean countries of Africa and the Middle East, to the next Council in June,`` he added.

    Asked if he felt ``lonely`` in the EU being a leader of a communist party, President Christofias said he is ``the head of a state, the Republic of Cyprus,`` adding that he is proud of his party, AKEL, and its struggles and achievements, and he felt ``on an equal par with other leaders of the member states.``


    A team from the UN is expected to arrive on the island at the end of March or early April to assess the situation and report back to the UN Secretary General.

    Jose Luis Diaz, spokesman of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), told CNA we expect a team from the UN to come at the end of the month or very beginning of next month.

    The aim of the visit, he said, is to assess the situation, take the pulse of the situation, see where everything stands, tour the region and report back to the Secretary General.


    Relations between Cyprus and Italy were reviewed during a meeting between Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Antonis Pashalides and Italys Ámbassador to Cyprus Luigi Napolitano.

    An official statement said during the meeting suggestions were made to further strengthen and upgrade bilateral relations in the field of commerce, energy and tourism.

    The two officials discussed trade relations as well. Imports of Italian products reached 630,2 million euro in 2006, a percentage which makes Italy the second most important supplier of goods to Cyprus, after Greece.

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