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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 12-02-22
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 Christofias - Barroso joint conferencePreparations for the Cypriot Presidency are at an excellent state, EU Commission Presidenty Jose Manuel Barroso has said.
According to a press release issued here on Wednesday, Barroso was speaking during a joint press conference with President of the Republic Demetris Christofias, following a meeting they had in Brussels.
“I can tell you that we have seen at first hand the excellent state of preparations for the Cypriot Presidency which will begin on the 1st July”, he said, adding that “I am sure this will be a success and the Commission will provide all the help it can, both before and during the Presidency”.
Referring to the ongoing UN led negotiation process aiming to reunify Cyprus, divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third, Barroso said that “I fully support the UN process and the need for both sides to make steps forward”.
He said it is “important not to let the sands of history to slip through our hands”, acknowledging that “it is a difficult and very challenging process, but I have always encouraged different parties to remain committed to that project”.
“I also made it clear that the European Union, and not only the Commission, will support Cyprus as a member of our Union and in its role of Presidency of the Council”, he stressed.
Referring to the ongoing EU efforts to face the economic crisis and to promote growth and the creation of new jobs Barroso further noted that during the next presidency it is important “to make clear and to explain to our citizens that we are going through a very challenging period where some structural reforms are in fact very challenging, but that there will be light at the end of the tunnel and that together we should work for growth enhancing reforms in Europe”.
“I thank Mr. Barroso warmly for his position with regard to the EU-Turkey relationship” President Christofias said, on his part.
He explained that “we do not want Turkey to stay out of the EU”, adding that “what I have declared many times is that we support the full accession of Turkey into the EU always of course with the condition that Turkey will fulfill its commitments to the EU, which result also from the criteria and from the agreement for the Customs Union of Turkey with the EU”.
President Christofias also thanked the EU “for the position of principle that it has with regard to the explorations for the discovery and extraction of natural gas in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus”.
Referring to the meeting the Cypriot representation has had with the College of Commissioners, President Christofias said that “we have ascertained a convergence of views with regard to the goals of the Commission and the goals of the Cypriot Presidency”.
“It is true that we have before us a very ambitious program of action during the Cypriot Presidency”, he noted, adding that “very important issues of EU policy must be concluded and decisions be taken during the Cypriot Presidency”.
He mentioned the conclusion of the negotiation of the new multiyear financial framework 2014-2020, the conclusion of the Common European Asylum System, the promotion of the strategic goals for Europe 2020, the new sustainable Common Agricultural Policy and the issue of strengthening the small to medium businesses and addressing youth unemployment.
President Christofias further said that “we talked about energy issues and energy conservation and further protection for the environment, increased support for research and innovation, further promotion of economic governance, the promotion of a comprehensive sea policy, for which I aspire that Mr. Barroso will be with us at a conference that will take place in Cyprus during our Presidency, and a deepening of the neighborhood policy with emphasis on the southern dimension”.
He also referred to the ‘Arab Spring’ saying that “Cyprus is the southernmost tip of the EU and we aspire to become a bridge of joint cooperation between the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and the EU”.
President of the Republic Demetris Christofias, accompanied by a ministerial delegation is paying a visit in Brussels between Tuesday, February 21 and Thursday, February 23 for contacts with the College of Commissioners as regards the Cypriot EU Council presidency at the second half of 2012.
The delegation includes Foreign Minister Erato Kozako Markoullis, Acting Finance Minister and Communications and Works Minister Efthymios Flourentzou, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Praxoula Antoniadou, Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment Minister Sofoklis Aletraris and Labour, Social Insurance Minister Sotiroula Charalambous, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou and Deputy Minister for European Affairs Andreas Mavroyiannis.
 FM for Cyprus PresidencyThe Cyprus EU Council rotating presidency, due at the second half of 2012, aims to highlight EU relations with its southern neighbours and the Arab Gulf countries, Cyprus Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou – Markoullis has said. According to an official press release on Wednesday, Markoullis, who was addressing the College of Commissioners in Brussels during a working lunch attended by President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and a ministerial delegation, said that “taking over the EU Council presidency during the second half of 2012 constitutes a historic challenge for Cyprus”.
At the same time, she added, it is an excellent opportunity for Cyprus to contribute to the achievement of EU visions and goals.“The EU enlargement process and the European Neighbourhood Policy will constitute top priorities for the Cyprus presidency”, she said.
Referring to the `Arab Spring`, she said that its tensions affected not only the societies of the countries concerned but also created the prerequisites for a transitional political process through democratic reform. Cyprus , she noted, will continue to play an important role due to is geographic position and its traditionally close relations with countries of the region, aiming to significantly contribute to the stability and the prosperity of these countries.
“Our goal during the Cyprus presidency is to highlight EU relations with our Southern and Arab partners with an aim to jointly proceed with policies and programmes”, she said. The Republic of Cyprus supports the full accession of Turkey in the European Union, provided ofcourse that the candidate country respects and fulfills all the responsibilities it has undertaken towards the EU and its member states, Markoullis pointed out.
 Interior Minister for European Asylum SystemThe completion of the Common European Asylum System by the end of 2012 is high in the priorities of the Cyprus EU Council rotating presidency, due at the second half of 2012, Minister of Interior Neoklis Sylikiotis has said. An official press release issued here on Wednesday, states that Sylikiotis, who was addressing the ‘college’ of Commissioners during a working lunch, said that “achieving the completion of the Common European Asylum System within the timetable given by the Stockholm Programme and the Council’s Conclusions, that is to say by the end of 2012, is high in our priorities”.
He expressed his optimism that the Danish presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament on the most possible legislative proposals which have been submitted in the context of the second phase of the Asylum System. Sylikiotis further informed the ‘college’ that he has had a first round of talks with the coordinators of the political groups within the LIBE Committee at European Parliament with whom he discussed the progress of the process and exchanged points of view as to what needs to be done in order for completion to be achieved.
He expressed the view that discussions so far have highlighted the need for the coexistence of two basic principles, of community solidarity and mutual trust, which as he pointed out, are key elements to reaching a successful conclusion. “These two principles should be implemented as part of the CEAS in a balanced way, so that each member state’s sensitivities and particular problems are addressed adequately”, he pointed out.
Sylikiotis further said that the Cypriot presidency’s general perception is that negotiations as regards the various aspects of CEAS are proceeding in a constructive way, particularly as regards the directive proposal on reception conditions. He further added that the matter will be high in the agenda of both the Informal SCIFA as well as the Informal Ministerial Council due to take place in Cyprus, in July.
 EU Commissioner for Regional Policy to visit CyprusWith an aim to contribute to the preparations of Cyprus for the upcoming Presidency of the EU, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn will pay a visit to Cyprus on Friday 24 February 2012. According to an official press release, issued here Wednesday, “the aim of the visit of Commissioner Hahn is to prepare the upcoming Cypriot Presidency of the EU, which will come at a point in time when the European Parliament and the EU Member States will have to decide on the new proposals for Cohesion Policy, for the period after 2013”.
“The effects of these proposed changes for Cyprus itself will be discussed as well. Furthermore, one of the major points of attention will be the uptake of EU funds by Cyprus during the current funding period”, added in the announcement. During his visit to Cyprus, Commissioner Hahn will meet President Christofias and Minister of the Interior Neoklis Sylikiotis.
The Commissioner will take part at the Conference for the Presentation of the New Regulatory Proposals for Regional Policy due to be held at the Ministry of Finance, where he will meet with high-ranking Ministry officials. Hahn is also due to meet with the Union of Cyprus Municipalities and its President Alexis Galanos, mayor of the occupied city of Famagusta, as well as the mayors of some of the other major municipalities.
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