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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 09-06-09

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The Cyprus government expressed on Tuesday regret over the low turnout of the Cypriot voters in last Saturday`s European elections.

    In statements to the press, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said that this phenomenon should be viewed as a European one, given the reduced turnout in European-wide elections since the establishment of direct elections for the members of European Parliament (MEP) in 1979.

    Head of the EP delegation in Cyprus Tasos Georgiou said that Cyprus presents the highest voter abstention in the Euro elections. Cypriot turnout in June 2004 elections, a month after the island`s accession to the EU, reached 72.5% while in 2009 it shrank to 59.64%.

    ``This phenomenon should be viewed in the framework of the European-wide abstention and the critical analysis should focus on the EU relations with the European citizens,`` Stefanou said.

    The Spokesman acknowledged that the fact that the elections were held on Saturday prior to a long weekend - given that Monday was a religious holiday - should be considered as one of the reasons for the low turnout, adding however that this cannot be considered as the sole reason.

    Furthermore, Stephanou described the election result as ``a vindication of government policy regarding the Cyprus problem and domestic governance``, noting that ``during the election campaign the policies of the government and the President were under severe criticism.``

    Meanwhile, the Spokesman expressed satisfaction with the smooth way the elections were conducted, and conveyed the government`s congratulations to the six Cypriot members of the EP.

    He added that President Demetris Christofias has contacted all six Cypriot MEPs and communicated to them ``both the government`s and his own readiness to cooperate fully with a view to safeguard and promote the vital interests of the country and of our people.``


    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Tuesday that the decision of the European Court of Justice on a property case strengthens the positions the Greek Cypriot side, as these are submitted at the UN-led peace talks.

    However, he pointed out that the Cyprus problem cannot be resolved by any other means than negotiations.

    Stephanou`s remarks came after renewed objections in the islands northern Turkish-occupied areas that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat should abandon the UN-led direct negotiations with Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, aiming at an agreed solution that would reunite the country.

    The ECJ ruled last April that a judgment by a Court in the Republic of Cyprus must be recognised and enforced by the other EU member states even if it concerns land situated in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus. The ruling refers to the Apostolides vs Orams case and came after a dispute had arisen before the Court of Appeal of England and Wales between Greek Cypriot refugee Meletis Apostolides and British couple David and Linda Orams, in relation to the recognition and enforcement of the judgment of the District Court of Nicosia. The Court of Appeal addressed itself to the Court of Justice requesting a preliminary ruling on the case.

    ``The ECJ decision is based on European law and on the facts in Cyprus as the EU sees these facts through Protocol 10: Cyprus entered the EU with the whole of its territory, the application of the acquis communautaire has been suspended in the northern Turkish occupied areas because the Cypriot government cannot exercise effective control on the northern part of Cyprus, occupied since the 1974 Turkish invasion,`` Stephanou said.


    Two stolen Cypriot icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary, from the chapel of St. Iacovos (14th century) in the Turkish occupied Cypriot village of Trikomo, have been found and confiscated by the Swiss police.

    According to the Office of Monuments and Art of the Church of Cyprus, the Swiss Police authorities conducted last month an investigation into buildings of Russian collector Alexander Khochinskiy, in Zurich, where they found and confiscated the two icons, painted by Meletios in 1620.

    In 2004 the Swiss state ratified the UNESCO agreements (1970) and the Hague Agreement. The agreements came into force in 2005 and their provisions prohibited the sale of stolen cultural treasures. This development is seen as crucial to the process of repatriating these images and giving them back to the Cypriot Church, their legal owner and holder.

    The Office of Monuments and Art of the Church of Cyprus said that the so-called authorities of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime are using the chapel as a tourist office.

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