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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 09-03-27
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 PRESIDENT VATICAN VISITCyprus President Demetris Christofias said Friday that Pope Benedict XVI expressed his deep interest in developments regarding the Cyprus question, expressing hope that the ongoing direct negotiations between President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, aiming to solve the Cyprus problem, will bear fruit.
President Christofias, who was speaking at a press conference, after his meetings at the Vatican, where he paid an official visit, heading a delegation, said that he agreed with the Pontiff to join efforts to convince Turkey, which holds the key for a Cyprus settlement, to follow a policy of respect towards the position of the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, for the evolution of the Cypriot state to a federal state, comprising two constituent states.
President Christofias said that that the Turkish government however supports a confederation, comprising two equal states, something which contradicts the agreements reached so far between the two community leaders for a bizonal, bicommunal federation and the UN resolutions that have adopted these agreements.
Noting the Pope`s interest in the Cyprus question, Christofias said the Pontiff wished for a successful outcome of the negotiations held between him and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat since September last year, `which are aiming at terminating an unacceptable situation which is the occupation of part of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkish troops, in violation of the international law and of course the European law, something which means violation of the human rights of all Cypriots, and at the restoration of the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
President Christofias said the Pope was interested in how Catholics and other people of Cyprus are living on the island, showing also his fervent interest in the cultural and religious heritage of the island which has been immensely destroyed due to the ongoing Turkish occupation.
Regarding a possible visit of the Pope to Cyprus, President Christofias said that this is an open issue and that both the Pope and the Prime Minister of the Vatican are positive towards this possibility.
The Cypriot President said that the Pope praised the Cypriot Churchs role in bridging differences between the Christian churches.
He also said that the positions of Vatican and Cyprus regarding the Middle East are identical, noting that both sides wish for Cyprus to become a bridge of peace and cooperation between the EU, the Middle East and the northern African countries.
Regarding Turkeys EU accession course, the President said that both Cyprus and the Vatican support Ankaras EU course, provided that Turkey functions in a European way and fulfills its obligations towards the EU and the Republic of Cyprus.
He said that Cyprus is a full EU member state and the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus are part of the EU as well.
Turkey, in order to be accepted in this big European family, has to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Cyprus, he noted.
He also stressed that the Cypriots themselves must determine their fate, without any control from outside and especially from Turkey
Asked about the statements made yesterday by President of the European Commission Jose Barrosso, President Christofias noted that Barrosso has always been helpful regarding efforts to reach a Cyprus solution, showing a lot of understanding.
``I do not believe that Barrosso has changed his stance on Cyprus. Turkey has the duty to fulfill its obligations. This remains the policy of the Commission, headed by Barrosso, he pointed out.
The Cypriot President was also asked about Cyprus stance on the opening of more EU Turkey negotiating chapters, especially the opening of the energy chapter.
He pointed out that Cyprus wants Turkey to respect its sovereign right to proceed to the exploration of its hydrocarbon reserves in its own exclusive economic zone.
Unfortunately, he added, Turkey has tried to prevent vessels, which were exploring the area, by threatening with military ships.
We want Turkey to guarantee it would stop this harassments and violations of Cyprus sovereign rights and we would not object to the opening of the energy chapter under this condition, he stressed.
Asked about the issue of missing persons, Christofias recalled that there is a process under way for detecting graves, conducting exhumations and identifications through the DNA method and that dozens of remains of missing persons have been identified so far, adding that much more are expected to be identified.
He said that this is a humanitarian issue and must not be linked with efforts to solve the Cyprus question, adding however the ascertainment of the fate of the missing persons may be one of the issues that will help the reconciliation between the two communities of Cyprus.
President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat began direct negotiations in September last year with a view to solve the question of Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the islands northern third.
 PRESIDENT POPE MEETINGPope Benedict XVI granted Friday an audience to Cyprus President Demetris Christofias at the Vatican City.
President Christofias, who was paying Vatican an official visit, was received by the Pope earlier today. Initially, the two held a private conversation and were subsequently joined by their respective delegations. The Cypriot President offered the Pope a copy of an amphora of 750-600 B.C, found in the area of Goudi, which portrays a goat and a lion.
Pope Benedict XVI offered President Christofias a golden Pontificate medal, which depicts the Pope, given to heads of states. Later on, President Christofias met with Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Artchbishop Dominique Nanberti Secretary for Relations with State.
 BRITISH MINISTER TURKEYBritish Minister for Europe, Caroline Flint, called on Turkey again to show in a more practical way its support to the ongoing talks between Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which began last September with a view to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem.
Caroline Flint was speaking at a questions and answers session during a visit to the bicommunal Cypriot Community Centre, in Wood Green, London, accompanied by British High Commissioner to Cyprus, Peter Millet, and Ambassador to Ankara, Nick Baird.
Answering a question about Ankaras stance on the talks, Baird said he believes Turkey is supporting the talks and wants them to succeed. Commenting on that, Minister for Europe said that she very much welcomes what Nick Baird had outlined and added: Âut I also think Turkey needs to show that support in a more practical way. I am not naive to that.
 COE CONFERENCE CYPRUSThe Conference of the Council of Europes Subcommittee on Tourist Development was held Friday in Cyprus, in the coastal town of Limassol.
Addressing the Conference, Acting President of the Republic of Cyprus and President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian referred to the Cyprus economy, saying that although the general assessment is that the economy is robust and has increased resistance towards the world economical crisis, there is evidence that Cyprus will be affected in 2009, especially in the fields of infrastructure and tourism.
Garoyian added that the economic problems faced in the United Kingdom as well as in other tourist markets are due to affect Cyprus` tourism and noted that the government has taken a series of measures to boost Cypriot tourism. He said that our country offers to quality and high standard of services and hotels, as well as an infrastructure for conferences and tourism for athletes.
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