|Tuesday, 20 February 2018|
Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 09-06-30
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 US SENIOR OFFICIAL - CYPRUS ISSUEUS Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza believes there is now a special opportunity for a Cyprus settlement, adding that the international community ``wants to make sure that this special opportunity is not missed``.
In a press conference on completion of his visit to Cyprus, Bryza praised the commitment shown by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to a solution to the Cyprus problem.
``We have never been at a point like this where the Cypriot people themselves, their leadership, have designed the ideas that are on the table, without any outside assistance. For the first time, we have two pro-solution leaders leading both communities, we could never say that in the past,`` he said.
President Christofias and Talat began UN-led talks in September 2008 with a view to reach a mutually agreed settlement to the Cyprus problem, in what has been called ``a Cyprus-driven procedure``.
``The international community is ready to do whatever the parties would like. But this sort of opportunities do not come all that often historically,`` Bryza said.
Welcoming the decision taken by the leaders of the two communities for the opening of Limnitis crossing point as ``a concrete contribution to accelerating the efforts of the parties to find a solution,`` Bryza announced that the US is ``ready to offer financial assistance, if the parties seek it, to help the reopening of Limnitis crossing go forward even faster.``
Replying to questions, Bryza expressed the conviction that a solution by the end of 2009 is possible. ``Seeing how the talks are proceeding, it is evident to me and my humble judgment that that is possible,`` he said.
``There are no deadlines but of course obviously the process cannot go on forever. I mentioned earlier that we have this special opportunity right now with two pro-settlement leaders of both communities and strong interest by the international (community) and an international timetable that has provided incentives for the parties to more forward. So there is a confluence of positive factors like this on any issue only on limited time on any issues,`` he said.
Bryza was asked whether this international timeframe concerns the European Commission`s assessment in December of Turkey`s compliance with its obligations emanating from the Additional Protocol to its customs union with the EU, which call for the opening of its ports and airports to ships and aircraft under the Cypriot flag.
``Everybody knows that Turkey has obligated itself to fulfill the additional Ankara Protocol and to reopen its ports to Cypriot vessels,`` Bryza said, noting that this issue does not concern the US government but the EU and Turkey.
Bryza reiterated his country`s support to Turkey`s accession to the EU, provided it fulfils the EU criteria, adding that ``the Turkish government has provided Mr Talat space to negotiate in good faith.``
Replying to a question how Turkey is granting Talat space to negotiate when Turkish officials speak of two peoples and two states in Cyprus, Byrza said the democratically elected government in Turkey encourages, presses and wants a solution.
Noting that during ``private meetings with senior Turkish officials it appears that they do support this idea of bi-zonal, bi-communal federation that would reunify the island,`` Bryza added that ``what politicians say in public, well, that differs some times.``
``Now is the time for all of the leaders who are committed to such a settlement by the Cypriot people to let the Cypriot people do this on their own and I do feel that is happening``, he said.
Asked whether the two communities in Cyprus requested any assistance from the US, Bryza said no help was requested, adding ``the parties are doing fine on their own.``
He noted however, that there are some proposals, according to which at a later at some point ``smart people of which there are many in all of our countries to offer ideas how to bridge the final gaps as the parties move forward.``
Asked whether Turkey`s objection to the Cyprus government`s oil exploration in the Exclusive Economic Zone, Bryza said the energy dispute is ``a commercial and legal matter,`` adding ``I see no reason why this dispute has an impact on the negotiations.``
 PRESIDENT - NEW POLICE CHIEFPresident Demetris Christofias has called for joint action in a bid to combat corruption in the Police Force, as he addressed a formal ceremony during which the new Chief of Police and his Deputy Miclalis Papageorgiou and Andreas Nicolaides respectively assumed office.
Papageorgiou succeeds Iacovos Papacostas who resigned earlier this month, a day before Attorney-General Petros Clerides announced his final decision on the prosecution of police and prison officers accused of inadequately exercising their duties, in the case of Antonis Prokopiou Kita, who while serving a life sentence for rape and murder, escaped from a private hospital.
``You assume your duties at a difficult time for the Police Force. The image and prestige of the Police have been tarnished,`` the President noted, adding that ``given the difficult situation, the state and society at large expect much from the new leadership of the Police Force.`` ``The citizens need a human and strict police force, a police force with human sensitivity but also impartial in observing the law without prejudice,`` he added.
 HOUSE PRESIDENT - HELLENIC PARLIAMENT PRESIDENTThe Hellenic Parliament will continue to support the struggle of the people of Cyprus for a viable solution, fully in line with European principles, the President of the Greek parliament Demetris Sioufas has said. Sioufas, on an official visit here at the invitation of his Cypriot counterpart President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian, had successive meetings today with the President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Garoyian. He was also made an honorary citizen of the Turkish occupied town of Morphou, on the northwest.
Speaking after his meeting with the President of the Republic, Sioufas said he assured him of the unwavering support of the Hellenic Parliament, the Greek political parties and the people of Greece in the common strategic goal to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus. The solution must restore the integrity and the full sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, it must demolish the last wall of division on European soil and it must also be viable and functional, he stressed.
Sioufas pointed out that the settlement must also be consistent with UN resolutions and the acquis communautaire, fully aligned with fundamental values such as freedom, democracy and justice. In his remarks after a meeting with Garoyian, Sioufas said the political settlement must reunite the islands two communities and ensure progress and development in the Republic of Cyprus.
 FINANCE MINISTER - IMF REPORTMany positive elements are included in the IMF report on the Cyprus economy, Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis has said. Commenting on the International Monetary Fund report, Stavrakis mentioned as positive references the fact that Cyprus will be the only EU country to maintain positive growth rate in 2009, it has a robust banking system and the government has followed a financial policy which has enabled it to reduce the impact of the global financial crisis on its economy.
He also reiterated that the government would not impose new taxes. We are determined and committed to maintaining the lowest tax rates in Europe, Stavrakis said. Invited to comment on IMFs estimation for a fiscal deficit of 3.9% in 2009, the Finance Minister pointed out that there is a divergence of views between the European Commission and the IMF. The Commission, he said, estimates a 1.9% fiscal deficit in Cyprus, while the IMF projects a deficit of 3.9%.
As we can see, two organisations having the same data can conclude in different projections, he pointed out and added that the government is closely monitoring public finances on a daily basis. Our target is to record in 2009 a deficit below 3%, which is the limit allowed by the EU, aiming to avoid European Commission supervision, Stavrakis noted and pointed out that of the 27 EU members only three have managed so far to restrain their budget deficit below the limit, one of them being Cyprus.
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