|Thursday, 22 March 2018|
Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 12-05-31
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 Schulz: Certain Cyprus presidency of European Council will be excellentEuropean Parliament President Martin Schulz has expressed certainty that the Cypriot presidency of the European Council starting in July will be a very good presidency.
He also praised Cyprus for the high level of preparation, noting that it is facing huge challenges ahead and has an excellent level of knowledge of the issues.
The EP president, who was speaking during a joint press conference with President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias after the Conference of the Presidents of the European Parliament held in Nicosia, said that the EU would support Cyprus in the event Turkey implemented its threats against Cyprus, which it does not recognize.
In his remarks, Schulz said that he was not going to speak simply in words of praise but was going to make an honest statement based on observations.
He said he has been a member of the EP for the last 18 years and was in the chair of a political group for 7,5 years. "I have experienced many preparations for presidency of the Council and seldom have I seen such a well prepared government as this Cypriot government this evening".
"Everybody who took the floor was of the same view", he added.
Regarding the issue of a small country taking over the presidency of such a huge European Union, Schulz said, "we can't talk about small presidencies or large presidencies. We can only talk about good or bad presidencies. I am absolutely certain that the Cypriot presidency will be a very, very good presidency", he added.
Schulz said that currently in the EU, "we are facing huge challenges", noting that there are questions regarding the Euro, Greece and what will be done, Spain, the question of employment, how is it possible in the wealthiest economic area of the world, some countries have 15% or sometimes 50% unemployment among young people. How long are we going to allow this", he wondered.
The EP president said, "We have to think about the question of growth and how we are going to generate employment, because without growth there is no employment or sustainable fiscal consolidation without employment. We were discussing these this evening and we can say that we more or less reached the same conclusions, the Cypriot government and the majority of representatives of the EP, agreed on most of these issues".
He said President Christofias talked about the community method, "a very important term. Many people are not aware of this", he said, adding that it is simply the desire of the 27 member states to see a fair balance between the larger, wealthier states and the smaller, poorer states. All working towards the same goal".
Shultz said that if you are taking over the presidency from 1st July until 31 December, and saying that you are going to apply the community method, "that is exactly what the EP thinks is the right thing and wants to support".
He said that in the next six months "we will have to take a decision on the financial structures of Europe. How are we going to finance the EU the next seven years, from 2014-2020", noting there are many differences of opinion on this.
"But the Cypriot presidency has taken on a huge challenge", he said, noting that together with President Christofias, they will carry out negotiations, that first will be conducted at a finance ministers' level but at the end of the day, "it will be the heads or ?bosses' that will be discussing all these issues".
"I have spoken to Mr. Christofias' advisors and "I have to say that if I had a hat on I would take it off to the skill and confidence that I have seen in this country in regards to the financial structures in Europe".
On the Cyprus problem, he said, from the point of view of the EP, "Cyprus is a full member of the EU. Cyprus takes over the presidency of the EU for the next six months and it is not possible for a country to say that it wants to become a member of the EU and turn around and say ?we don't recognize the presidency of the EU". That's a very bizarre position to take, and I am certain that we will have intense discussions about this".
He said he has been discussing this with Ankara the last few days and will discuss it again in the future.
Asked whether the EP is thinking of raising before the European Commission and the Council an issue of suspending Turkey's accession negotiations since it is continuing the illegal occupation of Cyprus, Schulz said that Turkey's minister for European Affairs Egemen Bagis, suggested that Turkey would not be negotiating during the presidency of Cyprus. I said what I thought to Mr. Bagis and I have said this before. I think it is just not possible that a state, which wishes to become a member state of the EU to say that it is not going to negotiate with the country, which is already a member, when that country has the presidency of the EU. There was a rather tense discussion with myself and Mr. Bagis a few months ago and I did have the impression at the time that Mr. Bagis had understood that this was not really acceptable for the EU".
To a question how will the EP react if Turkey implements its threats and creates problems during the Cyprus presidency, Schulz repeated the above position, noting that three months ago he had expressed his views to Bagis noting "it is impossible for a country that aspires to become a country of the EU to say that it does recognize a country that is already a member of the EU and takes over the presidency, then we will interrupt all our activities."
The EP President said that "I can only speak on behalf of the EP and for the EP this is totally unacceptable. And that's what all the political leaders of the EP state. If Turkey took measures then the EU would certainly support Cyprus. But I cannot imagine what measures Turkey might or could take. And I don't think we should exaggerate. We are all aware of the Turkish positions", he noted.
Schulz said it is in all of our interests to "achieve reasonable forms of cooperation with Turkey. I was and still am an advocate of Turkish accession to the EU because that as a member of the EU Turkey would find it easier itself to solve the problems it is facing. But he knows just how difficult this is for all involved.
The EP President said that it is always easier to solve problems through dialogue. So, if someone threats then I strive to establish dialogue. And if the Cypriot presidency was to face genuine problems, then I as the President of the EP, would discuss, talk and see what is wrong and which steps I could take to find a solution".
 President comments on Turkey and EU PresidencyPresident of the Republic Demetris Christofias has stressed that Cyprus will not allow its Presidency of the Council to be affected by the problems that occupier Turkey is creating.
President Christofias was speaking during an opening statement at a joint press conference with President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz at the ``Filoxenia`` Conference Centre".
He also said that Cyprus shall preside over an entirely European Presidency of the Council and any problems that Turkey might create shall be problems managed in a collective, European way.
In his opening remarks, President Christofias welcomed the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz as well as the Presidents of the Political Groups, members of the Conference of Presidents that together with Schulz, constitute the Parliament's delegation visiting Cyprus.
"It is true that in the last years, we have built with Mr. President a close relationship of trust and a true friendship", he said, reminding that Schulz will be in Cyprus at the beginning of July, when Cyprus assumes the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the E.U.
 Government: New package of financial measures to be announced soonThe Cyprus government will announce soon a new package of financial measures, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Thursday.
Speaking to the Press, Stephanou noted that the announcement should not be expected today or on Friday and added that the main issue at stake right now was not the consolidation of public finances but the recapitalization of banks.
The present government, he said, has taken a series of measures for the economy, more than any government in the past. Commenting on a package of proposals, issued on Wednesday by the European Commission, Stephanou said it was clear that the main problem facing the Cypriot economy was the exposure of local banks to Greece.
 Cyprus EU presidency priorities on research and innovationInvestment in research and innovation is of fundamental importance, Cypriot Minister of Health Stavros Malas said on Thursday. In a written statement Malas said he had presented Cyprus' EU Council presidency priorities on research and innovation at EU Council of Competitiveness level in Brussels. "The economic crisis that we are going through and the economic, political and social turmoil that the crisis generates are placing on our shoulders strong responsibility to meet the expectations of European citizens", he said.
Under these circumstances, he added, "investment in research and innovation is of fundamental importance, contributing to the economic growth and competitiveness of Europe, creating more and better jobs, and increasing the quality of life of European citizens". Malas pointed out that "the main priority of the Cyprus Presidency will be ?Horizon 2020', the European funding programme for research and innovation for the period 2014-2020".
"In this respect, building on the progress achieved by our Trio partners, Poland and Denmark, we will pursue agreement in the Council on the different legislative components of the programme", he added. The Cypriot minister further noted that Cyprus will try to reach agreement on both the Regulation and the Strategic Innovation Agenda of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, which is an integral part of ?Horizon 2020'.
At the same time Malas said that "in the context of deepening European integration, the Cyprus Presidency will work towards the realisation of the European Research Area, placing particular emphasis on researchers' mobility and cross-border cooperation of research actors in Europe". He noted that "we attach great importance to the International cooperation with third countries in research and innovation, in particular with the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean neighbourhood".
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