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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 09-03-29

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias described his visit to the Vatican as ``very good, creative and effective,`` and expressed hope that a visit to Cyprus by Pope Benedict XVI would soon be announced.

    Speaking at Larnaca Airport on his return to Cyprus, President Christofias said the Pope showed great interest in developments in the Cyprus problem, issues concerning the island`s cultural heritage and the cooperation between the Republic of Cyprus and the Vatican, as well as the Community of Sant` Egidio.

    President Christofias also said he held a ``private, very friendly meeting`` with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, ``who was the man who stood and strongly supported our request for more assistance to Cyprus in issues of energy, and indeed had asked the other leaders to support`` Cyprus` request, which ``they did and the amount was doubled.``

    The Cypriot President also met with the Mayor of Rome, who presented him with the emblem of the city and ``we had the opportunity to answer several questions concerning the Cyprus problem, Cyprus` position and the role it can play in exchanges between Europeans, as well as a bridge of peace and cooperation with the peoples of the region.``

    President Christofias said he also saw the Vice-President of the European Parliament, representatives of the Community of Sant` Egidio, which is a Vatican organisation for the implementation of policies.


    Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou, who participated in the two-day informal session of the EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Gymnich), held in the Czech Republic, has expressed Cyprus` support to the European prospects of the Western Balkans.

    The main topic of the meeting was developments in the Middle East and the Western Balkans, as well as the development of the EU`s non-military capacity, in the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy.

    During the first part of the meeting, the EU Ministers reviewed developments in the broader region of the Middle East and exchanged views on current developments in the peace process, expressing their support to the solution of two states. They also discussed the relations between the EU and Syria, in the light of positive developments in relations between Syria and Lebanon.

    During the second part of the meeting, a broad meeting and working lunch were held, with the participation of candidate for EU accession countries and the Western Balkans. The aim of the EU Czech presidency was to hold an open discussion, focusing on the EU`s future approach and strategy regarding enlargement to the Western Balkans. Kyprianou expressed Cyprus` support to the European prospects of the Western Balkans, noting that this would secure stability and prosperity in the region and the EU itself.


    Minister of Finance Charilaos Stavrakis said President of the Republic Demetris Christofias, the government and the ministers were doing much to limit the consequences of the global financial crisis, noting that figures spoke for themselves.

    Addressing a trade union meeting, Stavrakis said that "in the last quarter of 2008 we had the highest growth rate in the Eurozone, in 2009, according to official European Commission projections, we are again expected to have the highest growth rate among the old members of the Eurozone."

    Stavrakis pointed out that "the higher the growth rate, the less pressure you have towards unemployment."

    "It has been estimated that we will have a growth rate of about 2.5% to 3%, taking into consideration the increase of inflation. Unemployment remains stable," he said.


    Ambassador Sotos Zackheos, Special Envoy of President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias for Arab matters, will be representing the Republic in the Preparatory Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Arab League, which will be held on Saturday in Doha, Qatar.

    According to an official press release, the meeting, held ahead of the Arab League Summit of March 30 and 31, will deal with key issues concerning the Arab world, such as inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

    On the sidelines of the meeting, Zackheos will hold contacts with Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Arab League member states, to exchange views on bilateral relations and regional issues, and will brief them on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem.

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