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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 01-02-16
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>
Friday, 16 February 2001
 Cyprus authorities to take over responsibility for granting political asylumThe Cyprus authorities will be in a position, by the end of the year, to take over from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees the responsibility for granting political asylum to legitimate refugees.
This was announced during talks yesterday between the Minister of the Interior Mr Christodoulos Christodoulou and the European Director of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Mrs Anne-Willem Bijleveld. Present at the meeting were officials from various government departments involved in the implementation of the Refugee Act approved by the Cyprus House of Representatives in January 2000, which provides for the creation of an application screening body.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Christodoulou reaffirmed that the government will examine applications for political asylum and that it will honour its obligations on asylum seekers to international conventions.
He also said that the government will apply to the European Union for technical and financial support and that a hotline will be set up between the Director of the Ministry of the Interior and the Spokesman of the UNHCR.
Mrs Bijleveld said that the issue of illegal migrants and asylum seekers comes up all over Europe and what is of critical importance is that governments ensure there are no genuine asylum seekers among persons sent back to where they came from. The Cyprus government has given its assurances that it would do everything possible to live up to its obligations, she said.
 Britain remains firm in its commitment to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem"We want to see Cyprus reunited-that is our vision. We continue to believe that the best basis is a bizonal, bicommunal federation. We also want to see Cyprus in the European Union. A just and lasting comprehensive settlement, which reunites the island, remains our central goal, but it is clear that reunification is not a precondition for EU accession, as was set out in the conclusions of the Helsinki European summit of December 1999", the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mr. Keith Vaz has stated.
Speaking during a debate on Cyprus on 14 February in the House of Commons, Mr Vaz said that last year there were hopes for real progress in the UN sponsored talks on Cyprus: "We welcomed remarks made last summer by the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Alvaro de Soto, that the change of gear for which we had been hoping had taken place, and that both parties had started to address the substantive issues at the heart of Cyprus's problems".
Mr Vaz expressed disappointment at the negative statements by the Turkish Government and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Denktash that the proximity talks could not continue on the same basis. "We regret that they have not yet responded to Kofi Annan's invitation to the parties to meet him again in early 2001" he said, adding that the "Turkish Cypriots have much to gain from a settlement".
"If there are misunderstandings, or if clarifications are required, those issues are best resolved through a continuation of the process. We have heard nothing that could justify a refusal to continue with those important talks", he added.
He reaffirmed that United Kingdom continues to give every support to the UN process and the efforts of the Secretary-General and his special Representative and expressed the hope for the continuation of the process in the near future. "We expect both parties to come to the table in a spirit of give and take, prepared to negotiate a just and lasting solution", he said.
"A just and lasting settlement would bring immense benefits to ordinary Cypriots and other countries in the area. Cyprus's continued division is a tragedy that must be overcome to secure a future offering lasting peace, security and prosperity for all. The Government remain firm in their commitment to finding a solution to the Cyprus question and to working with all those involved to achieve that", he said in conclusion.
 Cyprus and Iran to expand cooperationThe Iranian Parliamentary Friendship delegation led by Mr Mohammad Bagher Nobakht had a meeting yesterday with the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Mr Nicos Rolandis, to discuss the expansion of commercial and financial cooperation between the Cyprus and Iran.
During the meeting, the two sides reaffirmed the traditional friendly relations between the two countries, exchanged views and explored ways to enhance cooperation and strengthen relations in all fields and especially in the fields of commerce, industry and tourism.
Speaking after a meeting, Mr Rolandis said there was scope for enhancing bilateral exchanges and underlined that with its accession to the European Union, Cyprus would be the European country closest to Iran and could become the bridge for promoting Iranian products to the Mediterranean and Europe.
On his part Mr Nobakht underlined his country's potential for cooperation in the fields of commerce, tourism and industry and noted that the promotion of joint ventures between Cypriot and Iranian businesspersons for projects in the fields of industry and high technology will be beneficial for both countries.
The two sides also agreed to step up efforts to increase the exchange of visits at government and business level.
 Presentation of credentialsThe Ambassador of Cyprus to Egypt Mr Demerits Drousiotis presented his credentials to the President of Ethiopia Mr Negasso Gidada, as Cyprus' new ambassador to Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian President expressed his country's full support for the efforts made by the United Nations Secretary General for finding a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem based on the United Nations resolutions. Ethiopia is in favour of a just solution, which safeguards the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus, he said.
From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/