|Tuesday, 12 November 2019|
Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 96-11-22
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>
 Greek Defence Minister begins talks in NicosiaGreek Minister of National Defence Akis Tsohatzopoulos promised that Cyprus' defence capabilities will be bolstered as a deterrent to Turkish expansionism.
Speaking at the outset of his four day official visit on Thursday (21.11.96), he emphasised the importance of the joint defence doctrine between Greece and Cyprus. "Strengthening Cyprus' defence capability through the joint defence pact, is the political reply from Hellenism to Turkey's threats and expansionist designs".
Under the defence pact agreed in 1993 Greece will come to Cyprus' aid in the event of a Turkish advance southward on the island.
His first round of contacts in Nicosia included a meeting with the President of the Republic, talks with the Cypriot Minister of Defence Costas Eliades and a meeting with Archbishop Chrysostomos.
Speaking to the press after his meeting with Eliades, Tsohatzopoulos said strengthening the island's defence capability is "exercising a right based on internationally accepted principles, and this enables us not to succumb to pressures or be tempted by proposals, whatever their origin".
Tsohatzopoulos pointed out, however, that "this does not mean we nurture any aggressive intentions. On the contrary, we exercise the sacred right of defence and we wish for peaceful developments in the region".
Without referring to the content of his talks, the Greek Minister said "it was very positive that the two countries, right at this period, have taken decisions on their next five-year armaments planning, the application of which will offer the possibility of completing our defensive sufficiency".
 Harmonisation with EU acquis communautaire is Cyprus' priorityCyprus' economic policy priority is harmonisation with the EU's acquis communautaire, Cyprus' Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday.
Mr Christodoulou, who was addressing a Conference in Athens organised by the Economic University of Athens, the Cyprus University and the Bank of Cyprus on "Cyprus' entry into the EU and Greece's role", stressed that Cyprus has a sufficiently high degree of economic development as to make it eligible for entry into Europe.
The Minister also referred to Cyprus' economic achievements in recent years, such as an average growth rate of 5 percent, a low inflation rate, and full employment conditions, but also mentioned weaknesses resulting from comparatively low level of technology and productivity and reduced competitiveness.
Referring to co-operation with Greece, he said that Greece's support in helping Cyprus to gain entry in the EU had so far been invaluable and will continue to be so, adding that what was needed was for this co-operation to be put on a more practical basis so that future steps may be better planned and have specific targets.
Addressing the same forum in Athens, Cyprus Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Alecos Michaelides referred to the steps and measures Cyprus is taking for its harmonisation process with the EU as well as to the close co-operation and free and open communication between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Greece and Cyprus. He stressed that due to its geographical position Cyprus is becoming the bridge of the European Union to the Middle East.
Mr Michaelides noted that the tolerance shown by some powerful countries towards the behaviour of Turkey (invasion, expansionist policies, violation of human rights) has made Turkey even more provocative than before.
The message Turkey should be getting, Mr Michaelides stressed, is to stop hindering the solution to the Cyprus problem.
The Foreign Minister also said that what is needed is the effective involvement of the US, the EU and the UN which could lead to a permanent and just solution.
Mr. Michaelides also stressed: "To those who wish a Cyprus settlement before accession, we say, we want a solution now. The period until entry negotiations start, which is more than a year, provides the best time to solve the problem".
During the same forum Greece's Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, stressed that the European Union would find itself in our 'unprecedented crisis' if its future enlargement did not include Cyprus. Mr Pangalos also strongly rejected any attempt to link Cyprus's future membership of the European Union with a prior political solution of the island's problem.
 Unficyp dismisses reports that military talks are falteringThe UN has dismissed suggestions in the press that the military dialogue between the National Guard and Turkish occupation troops is faltering.
The talks involve a package of proposals which Unficyp is discussing with the military authorities on both sides and refer to extending an unmanning agreement, in existence since 1989, to cover the length of the 180 kilometre long UN-controlled buffer zone, the ban of loaded weapons in areas where the military is in close proximity and the definition of a code of conduct by soldiers serving along the demarcation line.
Press reports have suggested that talks were not going well, and that the diplomatic community was disappointed by the way the dialogue was progressing.
However, an Unficyp spokesman said yesterday that the rumours are unfounded. He pointed out that both sides had agreed to a black-out on the course of the talks and that should agreement be reached on the adoption of some measures, these will be announced.
 Cyprus is the only prospective EU member which fulfils Maastricht criteria, says EU Commission President SanterThe President of the European Commission, Jacques Santer has said that Cyprus is the only candidate for entry into Europe that fully satisfies the Maastricht criteria.
Mr Santer, who was speaking at an International Economic Conference in Vienna, also stressed that the timetable for entry negotiations between Cyprus and the European Union has been set and expressed the conviction that no problem will arise.
He also said that how to solve the Cyprus problem is a question that concerns the EU.
 Germany: EU accession an opportunity for solving Cyprus problemThe German Foreign Ministry's First State Secretary Dr. Peter Hartman spoke of Germany's position on the Cyprus problem and its EU accession prospects. During a farewell dinner for Cypriot Ambassador to Germany Andros Nicolaides, Dr. Peter Hartmann at first referred to the recent violent incidents in Cyprus which, he said, demonstrate the urgency of a peaceful settlement to the Cyprus question".
The German Minister reiterated his country's and the European Union's unqualified support to the UN Secretary-General's search for a lasting solution and added : "Proposals have been made, and as has already been said a number of times, the elements of a solution are from the outside only. The most important thing is for both ethnic groups to play an active part in developing a minimum of mutual confidence so as to make possible a negotiated and lasting solution."
On the island's European course, the German Foreign Ministry State Secretary said: "By offering Cyprus the prospect of accession, the European Union has introduced a new element into the efforts to find a solution. Negotiations on accession are to begin six months after the Union's intergovernmental conference. All of us want a united Cyprus to become a member. 1997 will therefore be a particularly important year for progress towards a viable solution acceptable to both sides. The urgency of this matter should be seen by all concerned as an opportunity to achieve progress through constructive and courageous steps. We for our part will do everything in our power to ensure that fresh endeavours are crowned with success."
 Parliamentary vote to 18 year oldsThe voting age requirement for parliamentary elections has been lowered from 21 to 18, after a law was passed by the House of Representatives yesterday. Eighteen year olds have already been given the vote for municipal and presidential elections.
 Occupying regime's new demand restricts further the movement of the enclaved.The Cyprus government denounces emphatically the pseudo-state's latest act of degrading the enclaved people in the Karpass. Government Spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides said today that the occupation regime did not allow teacher Eleni Phokas to travel from her village to the free areas of the Republic. Cassoulides said that Eleni Phokas very rightly refused to accept an identity card issued by an illegal entity.
The "authorities" of the pseudo-state demanded that the enclaved should obtain an identity card of the "TRNC", humiliating in this way the enclaved. This is contrary to every principle of human rights and international law, Cassoulides declared.
From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/