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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 11-04-29

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The crisis in the Middle East and the situation in Syria in particular are the focus of an informal meeting of Foreign Ministers of Mediterranean countries, currently underway in Limassol, on the south coast, at the initiative of the Cypriot Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou.

    The meeting is attended by the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Malta, Israel and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Bulgaria.

    In statements to the press on the sidelines of the meeting, Kyprianou said that there is no formal agenda and participants exchange views and brief each other on various aspects of regional developments, without keeping minutes.

    He noted that the objective is to have a clear picture of the situation in the region and not to arrive at any concrete decisions.

    ``It is useful and necessary to have the views of Israel too, a country located in the middle of the region and inevitably will be affected by any developments,`` he added.

    Kyprianou said that it was decided to continue this kind of meeting, describing as very useful the fact that a small group of countries - with the Mediterranean as their common denominator - are able to meet and exchange views.

    He also said that all parties to the meeting had expressed their intention to host the next meetings.

    Asked if they discussed the agreement between Hamas and Fatah and the decision of Egypt to open its border with the Gaza Strip, Kyprianou said that they had not focused on these issues, adding that Israeli Foreign Minister in statements he made yesterday expressed reservations about the cooperation between Hamas and Fatah ``because Hamas has not accepted the Quartet`s conditions``.

    ``We have not yet seen the details of the agreement. The issue that comes up is whether the government of national unity to be formed in Palestine will accept the Quartet`s conditions. This is Israel`s reservation, ``he said.

    Replying to questions, the Minister said they did not discuss cooperation in the energy sector, adding that ``today we focused on issues of political developments in our region``

    He went on to say that they discussed the consequences of immigration because of the situation in the Mediterranean region.

    He expressed concern over the possibility of an influx of refugees from Syria and assured that the Foreign Ministry is already considering various plans on how to react in the case of a crisis in Syria

    Kyprianou said that the situation in Syria is being handled by the EU, adding that ``we have an open dialogue with Syria, we have a special relationship with Syria and I believe that I convey the positions and views of EU in a more convincing and more honest manner``.

    Replying to a question, he said that Israel is concerned about the situation in the region and not only the situation in Syria. ``The issue of Syria is of Cyprus`s concern too and one of the issues which was the focus of our discussions,`` he added.

    Asked whether there is a common policy on how to address the immigration issue, he said that this issue is handled by the responsible EU ministers, noting that there should be peace, stability and economic development in the countries where waves of immigration come from in order to tackle this problem.

    ``The root of the problem should be addressed and the EU itself will have to implement an immigration policy to address the problem and provide support to the countries which receive these migratory pressures,`` he concluded.


    British Minister of State responsible for European issues David Lidington has assured that ``the United Kingdom strongly supports the efforts to achieve a settlement`` of the Cyprus problem, based on ``a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality as defined by the relevant Security Council resolutions.``

    ``We are committed to a settlement for Cypriots by Cypriots to deliver a stable, prosperous and united island. We must be realistic about what is likely to be achieved in the few weeks before elections in Cyprus and Turkey. What is important is for the negotiations to remain in a robust form to be ready to move forward rapidly after the elections,`` he said.

    Lidington was speaking in the framework of a lecture titled ``Cyprus - Time to seize the moment``, in memory of historian and journalist Keith Kyle, organised by the Association of Cypriot, Greek and Turkish Affairs at the House of Commons.

    ``Just before the meeting of the two leaders with the UN Secretary General in Geneva, it was hoped that the two sides could agree on a practical plan to overcome the remaining points of disagreement across all chapters. Sadly, that did not happen and the Geneva meeting did not deliver the strategy that we all hoped for,`` he said, adding that, ``despite this setback, we do not believe that the window of opportunity is now closed.``


    President Demetris Christofias inaugurated the fishing shelter in Zygi, on the southern coast of Cyprus, on Friday, noting that it was the largest fishery infrastructure project in Cyprus and one of the main aims of his government`s programme.

    Present at the opening was European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Maria Damanaki, who assured that ``we will work together for the welfare of all European citizens residing on the island`` and also that ``we will work together for peace in the region, so that our children can have the future they deserve.``

    In his speech, President Christofias said that ``as of today, the fishers of the Zygi area and the broader Larnaca and Limassol area will have a safe base with modern facilities, which will help increase their income and improve their living conditions.`` ``For our displaced fishers, the fishing shelter in Zygi is a temporary solution because our aim is to continue every possible effort to solve the Cyprus problem, rid ourselves of the Turkish occupation, so that in a free and reunited Cyprus, the Cypriot fishers, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, will be able to fish without restrictions in our seas,`` he said.

    Referring to the fishery sector, President Christofias said that ``it is a relatively small sector of the economy and its contribution to the gross domestic product is not large, however it provides significant social benefits and contributes substantively to the socioeconomic development of the costal areas, and by offering at the same time healthy and safe products to the consumers.``


    Unemployment in Cyprus in March was 7.2% of the active population, remaining unchanged compared to February, according to figures released by Eurostat on Friday.

    The data indicates that average unemployment in the Eurozone in February was 9.9% of the active population, unchanged compared to January, while for the whole of the EU it was 9.5%, also unchanged.

    In Cyprus, unemployed men were 7.0% in March, compared to 6.8% in February, while unemployed women were 7.5%, compared to 7.6% in February. Unemployed young persons under 25 years of age were 20.2%.

    Eurozone countries with the best performance were The Netherlands with 4.2% and Austria with 4.3%, while the worst were Spain with 20/7% and Ireland with 14.7%.

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