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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 11-09-05

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias appeared on Monday before a Commission of Inquiry, set up by the Cabinet, to look into the circumstances that have led to a massive explosion at a naval base, which killed 13 people and injured dozens.

    This is the fifth day of the Commissions public hearings concerning the deadly blast at the Evangelos Florakis naval base, near Limassol.

    Following the blast, on July 11, the government appointed a commission of inquiry, headed by lawyer Polis Polyviou, to investigate the circumstances that led to the massive explosion of munitions, which killed 13 people and destroyed the islands main power station. The commission will also look into possible political responsibilities.

    The blast occurred in containers full of munitions, which Cyprus stored at the naval base, after confiscating the load from Monchegorsk, a vessel sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009. Cyprus was acting according to UN Security Council resolutions, imposing sanctions on Iran.

    Head of the commission of inquiry Polys Polyviou has stated that the report of the commission will be concluded by September 30, and according to a recent decision by the Cabinet, it will become public.

    Polyviou has said that that President Christofias might be asked to answer specific questions by the commission. Several government and army officials have also been called to testify.

    The President himself has told me to investigate everyone, including himself, and I believe it is an honour for the Republic that the first citizen of the country is asked questions that fall within the framework of the mandate set by the Cabinet and the President, Polyviou pointed out.

    He has however emphasised that the commission is not a court of justice, clarifying that he will attribute political responsibilities which have led to the tragedy.

    I am determined to prepare a report which will apportion responsibilities where those exist, without fear, without passion and without prejudice. This is my commitment, this is what I have told the President of the Republic, the President of the House of Representatives, the Attorney General and the relatives of the victims, Polyviou said.


    President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu are to meet on Tuesday, in the context of UN-led direct talks to solve the Cyprus problem.

    The two leaders are set to continue discussions on the issues of territory and property, following their previous meeting on Friday in which they presented documents.

    According to UN Secretary Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer, their representatives are due to meet today to take on the discussion in relation to these documents in order to ensure not just clarifications but with a view to come into convergences.

    Downer is to meet with Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Stavros Lambrinides in Athens today and discuss the Cyprus issue with the UN Security Council via a telecommunications link up on Wednesday.


    The government is following closely developments in the wake of Turkish threats concerning oil and natural gas exploration in Cyprus` exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Minister of Defence Demetris Eliades said on Monday.

    Eliades` comments came in response to remarks by Turkish officials as the Houston-based Noble Energy is expected to begin drilling at the end of September. Noble Energy has a concession to look for hydrocarbons in an offshore field in Cyprus` EEZ, south-east of Cyprus, known as Block 12.

    ``The government, acting in concert with Athens, is monitoring closely developments and takes all necessary actions on all levels as appropriate,`` Eliades said.

    On Thursday, Turkish EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis said that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy warships in the Mediterranean, if the Republic of Cyprus enters Turkish territorial waters during their oil exploration efforts in the Mediterranean.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and has said it will not talk to Nicosia, when it will assume the rotating six monthly EU presidency in the second half of next year.

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