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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-09-10

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The road ahead will be pot-holed and sometimes perilous, but it does not look blocked, UN Secretary General Special Representative in Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun said referring to efforts to achieve a political settlement.

    Addressing the aides of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, George Iacovou and Ozdil Nami, respectively, during a bicommunal event on road safety under the title Respect for Speed, Zerihoun said initiatives such as the one you have embarked upon demonstrate that the pursuit of the greater good of the people of Cyprus is key in upcoming past rancor and division, and in ushering in a new era of cooperation, prosperity and peace based on respect for diversity and shared principles.

    President Christofias and Talat began on September 3 direct negotiations with a view to reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The two leaders will meet again on Thursday.

    Zerihoun described the process of finding a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus problem as complex and challenging, and noted that for the UN the bicommunal project aiming at reducing road traffic accidents demonstrates the commitment of the UN family to support Cypriot efforts to bring the people of the island together.

    That commitment will be in evidence again tomorrow, just a short distance from here, as the leaders, Mr Christofias and Mr. Talat, hold their first substantive meeting since launching full-fledged negotiations last week, he added.

    Noting that road traffic accidents have become a major problem in Cyprus and that the average number of road traffic fatalities in the country has consistently surpassed the average in other European countries.

    This is why I applaud the foresight of the two communities in understanding the need to take action to arrest and reverse this trend, he noted, adding that this initiative is also of major significance in demonstrating the value of Cypriot ownership of projects to support inter-communal mechanisms to find solutions to some of the daily problems faced by ordinary people.

    Such an approach, combining pragmatic and constructive problem solving with efforts to foster mutual understanding, will contribute to efforts to help prepare the ground for a future united island, he added.

    Both Iacovou and Nami underlined the importance of such bicommunal projects, while Director of the Road Safety in Cyprus project Jaco Cilliers said that young people must learn to respect life and as a result the speed limit. He underlined the engagement of the UN Programme Action for Cooperation and Trust to take action in fields that promote cooperation all over Cyprus.

    This is the first time, Respect for Speed is pilot tested in Cyprus in the framework of the two-year project Road Safety in Cyprus, which is based on the Danish experience. The Danish Embassy also facilitated a number of exchanges visits to Denmark.

    The Foundation of Social and Political Studies, in collaboration with the European University Cyprus Research Center in the Greek Cypriot community, and the Road Traffic Accident Prevention Association (RTAPA) in the Turkish Cypriot community have taken the responsibility for the design, implementation and coordination of the project Road Safety in Cyprus.

    The programme is funded by the United Nations Development Programmes initiative, Action for Cooperation and Trust which is supported by USAID and consists of several outputs, aiming at further development and promotion of road safety across the island. The dramatic statistics presented by both communities in terms of fatal accidents and injuries called for immediate island-wide interventions and actions, that would trigger citizens and experts from both communities to think critically and get involved in an effort to reduce traffic accidents, which have become one of the major social problems in Cyprus.

    The Respect for Speed programme targets young drivers aged 18-25, and involves a driving drill, screening of short video clips featuring severe accidents, as well as educational modules. First the participants are briefed on the realities of car accidents by ambulance doctors and police officers who then work to engage them in a dialogue on the subject. Under the supervision of experienced driving instructors, participants take part in a driving drill on the airport runway to experience the effects of having to unexpectedly stop to avoid hitting somebody at a short distance while driving at 110km per hour.

    They are then schooled in first-aid and listen to the traumatic experience of a young public information officer who has to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair as a result of a road accident. Finally, the groups come together to view short films featuring interviews with young drivers who, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or too fast, have caused the loss of the life of another person in a road accident. Since Respect for Speed was introduced, it has had a 100% success rate: none of the young drivers who have been through the program (more than 10,000) have since been involved in a fatal car accident.


    Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou has dismissed press suggestions that there has been talk about a possible appointment of an EU envoy on Cyprus.

    Kyprianou was invited to comment on press reports that the Commission is considering the appointment of a special envoy on Cyprus and that the first candidates proposed were not entirely approved by all the parties concerned.

    ``No sounding has been made to the Foreign Ministry,`` he said, adding that ``I will discuss with (Commissioner for Enlargement Oli) Rehn whom I will meet next week whether there are such intentions on behalf of the EU.``


    Australia is strongly supportive of attempts to reach a settlement of the Cyprus issue, Canberras Special Representative for Cyprus David Ritchie has said, after successive meetings with President Demetris Christofias and Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou.

    We want to express our compliments to all sides. I have viewed that great leadership has been shown and our encouragement is for the process to go further, Ritchie added, who referred to a particularly fortuitous and favorable moment at present, as far as efforts towards a settlement are concerned.


    Cypriot Paralympic Games gold medalist Karolina Pelendritou won the bronze medal in Women`s 200m Individual Medley - SM12, in the Beijing Paralympic Games with 2:35.30.

    This is the third medal Cyprus has won at the Beijing Paralympic Games.

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