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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 09-03-13

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [02] CYPRUS RALLY 2009 - STARTS


    With the addition of two amendments the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Turkey`s 2008 progress report, urging Turkey to withdraw its military forces from Cyprus and stressing the need to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question based on UN Security Council resolutions and the principles on which the EU is founded.

    In a resolution included in the report, drawn up by MEP Ria Oomen-that was by 528 votes in favour to 52 against with 43 abstentions, MEPs expressed their support to the direct negotiations currently under way between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    The MEPs deplored the fact that the EC-Turkey customs union and its additional protocol have not yet been implemented fully by the Turkish government. They also pointed out that the non-fulfillment of Turkey`s commitments by December 2009 will further seriously affect the process of negotiations.

    MEPs also called on Turkey to comply with its obligations under international law and the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the Fourth Interstate Application by Cyprus against Turkey regarding investigations into the fate of missing persons. Furthermore member states are asked to urge Turkey to take action on this humanitarian issue.

    The first amendment adopted by the European Parliament stressed the need for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question based on UN Security Council resolutions and on the principles on which the European Union is founded.

    It also welcomed the renewed commitment of both political leaders on both sides to a negotiated solution and supported the ongoing direct negotiations by the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, noting that it will accept any agreement reached by them provided that it is in conformity with the principles on which the EU is founded, including the four fundamental freedoms, and that it is accepted after a referendum.

    Furthermore, called on Turkey ``to facilitate a suitable climate for negotiations by withdrawing Turkish forces and allowing the two leaders to negotiate freely their countrys future.

    In the second amendment approved, the European Parliament welcomed the continuous contribution of Turkey to the European Security and Defence Policy and to NATO operations, expressing at the same time its regret for the fact that, apart from the ``Berlin Plus`` agreement, the NATO-EU strategical cooperation continues to be hindered by Turkey`s objections, calling on Turkey to leave aside her objections the soonest.

    The European Parliament noted with concern the ``continuous slowdown of the reform process`` in Turkey, for the third consecutive year, and called on the Turkish government ``to prove its political will to continue the reform process`` to which it committed itself in 2005.

    It is also noted that Turkey has so far started only 10 of the 35 negotiating chapters with the EU. In 2008 only four new chapters were begun, of which two were under the French presidency (free movement of capital and information society and media). Only one chapter (science and research) has been concluded since talks began in October 2005.

    The MEPs regretted that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are still not fully protected in Turkey. They also expressed the belief that the amendment to Article 301 of the Penal Code, adopted in April 2008, does not go far enough as people continue to be prosecuted for expressing non-violent opinions, one such case being Leyla Zana, former winner of the European Parliament`s Sakharov Prize in 1995.

    The ongoing polarisation within Turkish society and between the main political parties, which has deepened in the course of 2008, is pointed out by the resolution. The MEPs also regretted that the initial effort to reform the constitution resulted in dispute over the headscarf issue and generated further polarisation of society.``

    The resolution also called on the Turkish government to resume work on a new civilian constitution and to take action to reduce the number of ``honour killings`` of women.

    The MEPs welcomed the approval of the National Programme for the Adoption of the so-called ``Acquis communautaire`` and the establishment of the Women-Men Equal Opportunities Commission in the Turkish Parliament.

    They also expressed disappointment that no agreement has been reached within the Council for the opening of negotiations on the energy chapter since October 2007.

    As it is noted ``Cyprus, which is currently prospecting for gas and oil off its coast, has reservations about the energy chapter``. MEPs called on Turkey to support this ``European priority project``.

    Turkey, which aspires to become an EU member, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, which joined the EU in May 2004. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    [02] CYPRUS RALLY 2009 - STARTS

    The Cyprus Rally kicks off today with 14 special routes of an overall length of 332.07 kilometers.

    After two years of participating in the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), this year the Cyprus Rally will again be part of the World Rally Championship (WRC), as Round 3 of the WRC Calendar.

    For the first time, drivers will run on asphalt roads during todays special routes.

    Organisers hope that the combination between asphalt and land routes will be crowned with success and that other countries will follow Cyprus example.

    The Cyprus Rally race part takes place from 13-15 March, with the participation of 35 teams and is organised by the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA).

    Regarding the starting order, in car number 1 will be defending World Rally Champion, 2009 Championship leader, and winner of the last three WRC Cyprus Rally events, Sebastien Loeb, in his Citroen Total World Rally Team C4.

    He will be followed by Mikko Hirvonen in car number 3 - the Finnish driver of the Abu Dhabi World Rally Team currently sits second in the championship in his Ford Focus WRC. Third up will be Loebs Citroen teammate Daniel Sordo.

    A group of Cypriot drivers will also be competing, including two past winners of the Cyprus Rally, Nicos Thomas and Charalambos Timotheou. Other local drivers who have confirmed their participation are Pantelis Pambouka, Yiotis Chartoupalos, Eraklis Velissariou and Aristofanis Avraam.

    Todays routes include six asphalt special routes, Panayia (30.33km), Milikouri (7.37km), Gerakies (29.40km) and back.

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