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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 01-03-30
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>
Friday, 30 March 2001
 Norwegian Parliamentarian delegation in CyprusActing Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, Takis Klerides had a meeting yesterday with the Chairman of Norway's standing committee of Foreign Affairs Einar Steensnaes, who is visiting Cyprus at the head of a delegation.
Speaking to the press afterwards Mr Steensnaes said that they had discussed various issues including Cyprus' economy in view of the island's accession to Europe.
"I took the opportunity to congratulate Cyprus on the performance. They are adapting very well to the different acquis and we are sure that they will have the ability to close the rest of the chapters."
As regards the Cyprus problem he expressed the belief that the talks could continue in the framework set by the United Nations and that new opportunities for negotiation could open up. He said this is the only way to solve the problems that Cyprus is facing.
The Norwegian delegation also met with the Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs and EU matters of the House of Representatives, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, who said that although Cyprus does not benefit from the economic support the EU gives other candidate countries, it is gradually moving towards closing all the chapters under negotiation by the middle of 2002.
Mr Steensnaes said his country is willing to offer all possible help towards solving the Cyprus problem within the framework of the UN.
Mr Steensnaes also met with House President Spyros Kyprianou, briefed him on the latest development in the Cyprus problem and in Cyprus' progress towards EU entry.
 President Clerides meets Australian envoyAustralia is seeking ways to offer practical help to the UN peace process on Cyprus, aiming at a comprehensive settlement.
Australia's special envoy on Cyprus, Jim Short, speaking after a meeting with President Clerides yesterday, expressed the hope that the two sides will soon return to the negotiating table.
He also said Canberra wishes to be part of the international community in its efforts to encourage the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides to deal with the problem in a serious manner and try to find possible solutions.
 EU Parliamentarians visit CyprusThe Cyprus question and the question of the accession of Cyprus to the European Union is fast approaching its moment of definition and therefore needs a greater level of hands-on political focus and dialogue, the President of the European Liberal Democrat Group at the European Parliament, Mr Pat Cox, has said.
Mr Cox made this statement prior to visiting Cyprus (29-31/3/01) at the head of a man delegation consisting of Lex Corijn, General Secretary of the ELDR Party and Jan Willem Bertens, former ELDR Member of the European Parliament and the European Parliament's Rapporteur on the accession of Cyprus to the EU.
 British Foreign Secretary says talks offer excellent opportunity for Cyprus settlementThe British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Keith Vaz stressed on 27 March, that the UK strongly believes that the current UN settlement process, launched in December 1999 by the UN Secretary General, offers an excellent opportunity to achieve a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus.
In his written reply to Liberal Democrat MP Mr. Simon Hughes tabled in the House of Commons, Mr. Vaz stressed that the "UN process is currently at a sensitive and difficult stage but the UK has every confidence in the ability of the UN to find a way to resolve the current difficulties and move forward. To that end we will continue strongly to urge all those involved to remain fully and positively engaged in the search for a solution", he added.
 Another EU Chapter under negotiation closesCyprus yesterday provisionally closed one of the most difficult chapters in the accession talks with the European Union, the chapter on the movement of capital at the 11th Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Conference at deputy level, in Brussels.
Cyprus has now completed 18 out of 29 chapters that are to be examined, since opening accession talks in 1998, and is still leading the other candidate states.
Cyprus' chief negotiator with the EU, Mr George Vassiliou speaking at a press conference afterwards assured that Cyprus "will spare no effort in order to provide promptly all the information required on the remaining open chapters and proceed with the harmonisation and implementation of the acquis, the aim being the provisional closure of an additional five to six chapters during the Swedish presidency."
Vassiliou said an International Monetary Fund Mission has concluded that the anti-money laundering measures are effective and assured that Cyprus will continue its policy "in order to complete the liberalisation of our money markets and ensure that Cyprus remains a safe financial centre, which money launderers avoid."
Referring to the chapter on competition, also examined at the meeting, he said hard work is underway to finalise the regional aid map that will be submitted this year, instead of June 2002 as initially announced, and said the Cyprus government will appoint the first state-aid control Commissioner in the next few weeks.
He expressed regret that the chapter on transport, had not been closed yesterday, despite the fact that the Commission and member-states are satisfied with the work done by Cyprus and the measures taken in particular for increasing maritime safety. It is expected to close in mid May.
"We are now working on completing the work on all remaining chapters and are putting more and more emphasis on the effective implementation of the various commitments undertaken," the chief negotiator said.
Mr Vassiliou also had a meeting with Mr Javier Solana, EU Commissioner on Common Foreign Policy and Political Security and the EU Commission's Secretary General.
He stressed that Turkey is at loggerheads with the EU as regards its stand on the Cyprus problem, as expressed by the EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement, Mr Verheugen, who said that the EU cannot accept two separate Cyprus states as members, a position which Mr Solana also shared.
 Cyprus economy has performed well and has promising prospects, says MinisterCyprus' Finance Minister Mr Takis Klerides, has said that the Cyprus economy has proven itself capable of coping with the challenge of globalisation. Addressing a meeting in Nicosia yesterday of the Parliamentary Group of Christian Democrats and European Democrats of the EU Parliament, Mr Klerides said Cyprus has a high per capita income and ranked about 20th worldwide.
He said that in the period 1998-2000 the annual average growth was of the order of 4,5 -5%. Growth was strong despite the challenge of globalisation and liberalisation, the exchange rate fluctuations, such as the appreciation of the dollar and the sterling, the oil shock and adverse weather conditions. The most dynamic sectors fuelling growth were tourism, and the financial and business services.
He said on the whole, the economy has performed well and holds very promising prospects over the medium trend. In the labour market full employment conditions prevailed, notwithstanding the ongoing restructuring and necessary adaptation to the conditions of globalisation and despite the presence of 25,000 foreign workers (8,5% of the gainfully-employed population in 2000). Due to the satisfactory growth performance, the unemployment rate was contained at low levels of 3,4% in 2000.
He added that although inflation rose in 2000, mainly due to adverse exogenous factors, it is expected to revert to its underlying core rate of around 2% in 2001 thus fulfilling the relevant Maastricht criterion. The Minister expressed optimism as regards future prospects as there are many positive factors working in our favour such as a stable macroeconomic environment conducive to the development of private initiative, projected satisfactory growth in Cyprus' main export markets and favourable prospects for tourism. In addition, he said that competitiveness has improved in recent years, due to wage restraint.
Future priorities include harmonisation with the EU in all sectors. He said that no major exemption from the acquis communautaire is sought while further liberalisation of trade and the financial markets will be pursued as being the best way to promote socio-economic development.
From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/