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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-03-12
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 Blair urges leaders to create peaceful EuropeLondon, Mar 12 (CNA) -- Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair has called on the leaders of aspiring members of the European Union to seize the "historic opportunity" before them and create a peaceful, prosperous and stable Europe.
Addressing a dinner last night he hosted for his guests attending the European Conference, Blair also made special mention of the progress Cyprus has made.
"We watched with enthusiasm how barriers in Europe have come and how the European Union seeks to expand its frontiers," he said, noting his country's pride in presiding over the EU at the time of launching the EU enlargement process.
He said candidate countries seeking EU entry aim at creating "a genuine, peaceful and steady European future" and added "it is extraordinary to think of all those changes that have taken place, of the progress that Cyprus has made."
"We have a tremendous historic opportunity to create a Europe which will be a model for the rest of the world, a group of countries cooperating together for mutual benefits, for peace and stability and economic prosperity," Blair said.
Welcoming the eleven heads of state, the British PM said the process of enlargement in Europe necessitates reforms and expressed the hope that "this process of reforms will be good for the existing countries of the European Union as well as the countries coming into the Union."
He said the dinner provided an opportunity for those present "to talk about some of these issues of enlargement and how that process will work through."
"For us to be president of the EU at such a time it is an honour and a privilege and we intend to discharge this responsibility in a way that benefits your countries as well as the EU," he concluded.
Earlier on Wednesday, Blair met for 25 meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, one of the participants in the European Conference Britain is hosting.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said after the meeting "the friendly discussion covered prospects for a Cyprus settlement and accession negotiations."
The Prime Minister, he added, stressed the need for progress towards a settlement despite the difficulties and looked forward to the beginning of accession negotiations.
Cyprus is due to start membership talks on March 30.
This morning President Clerides is scheduled to meet British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
 Traditional homes offer alternative vacationby Myria Antoniadou
Nicosia, Mar 12 (CNA)-- Tasos Constantinou used to earn for his living solely by cultivating his land until about three years ago when he turned his 100-year-old stone-built inn into a picturesque eight-room hotel catering for alternative tourists.
"I don't expect to make money from the "Vasilias (King) Nikoklis Inn", but enough for my family to live off," he told CNA over a coffee on his inn's small verandah.
The inn is only one of about 30 old traditional houses that have been restored and renovated in the past few years as part of a government-backed project to promote agrotourism as a means of maintaining the dwindling population in rural villages.
Tasos, a young looking 50-year-old father of three, was brought up in this western district of Paphos and inherited the inn from his family.
He believes "Vasilias Nikoklis", named after the nearby village of Nikokleia, is over 100-years-old and said it was used to serve as an inn for travellers bound for Paphos.
The inn overlooks lush hills and vineyards as well as the derelict Turkish Cypriot village of Souskiou deserted over 40 years ago after a vendetta with Greek Cypriots of the region.
Tasos and his wife Dora run the hotel, serve home-made meals, and at the same time work in their fields growing citrus fruits and grains.
"People who come here don't want swimming pools, bars and a wild life. They are intellectuals who seek peace and quiet in a pollution-free and green environment," he said.
He added that apart from Cypriots his clientele mainly comes from Switzerland, Germany, Holland and Belgium.
"Next month a group of British bird-lovers will be staying here. For the past three years they have been coming to study migrating birds," Tasos said.
The agrotourism project targets persons who want to become familiar with the island's rich culture and tradition and enjoy its environment, away from busy mainstream tourist centres.
A Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) official told CNA that no new homes are used as the agrotourism or rural tourism project does not aim at quantity but quality, and seeks to enrich the island's booming tourist industry.
Constantinos Katamis, the CTO representative in the "Cyprus Agrotourism Company" a public company set up in by the owners of the houses in a bid to set up a common booking and promotion system, said about 300 beds are available within the agrotourism project.
The CTO, which had the initiative to set up the 30-member company holds its presidency and vice-presidency and provides technical and financial support.
It is estimated that over two million tourists visit Cyprus each year, with a bed-capacity of about 85 thousand.
"There are very strict criteria for the renovation of old houses so that they maintain their original character and blend in with the environment," Katamis said.
He described people seeking a rural holiday as "environmentally conscious, with a high standard of education, who are not interested in the sun, sea and bar package tour."
Traditional rural houses that have been converted into accommodation establishments operate in around 16 villages in four districts, most of which within easy reach of the sea.
The project does not only aim at attracting foreign visitors but also locals, as in the past few years Cypriots have become more conscious of and have learnt to enjoy their traditions, cultural heritage and traditional architecture, and their rich and diverse natural environment.
Journalist Andreas Charalambous, who recently spent a weekend with friends in the Kostaris complex in Goudi village, also in the Paphos district, told CNA its main attraction was the fact that they stayed in a cosy village house.
He said the house they had rented at a very reasonable price was one of three stone-built renovated homes, built in the 1900's, situated in a valley with orange-groves.
"It was accessible, extremely well renovated, with all modern amenities, while at the same time its traditional character has been maintained," he said.
Charalambous, who said he also enjoys a holiday in the mainstream tourist centres, noted mostly elderly people living off agriculture have remained in Goudi, which takes its name from its first inhabitant.
He added the complex where they stayed also had a swimming pool, despite the fact that it is not far from the sea, and has its own traditional oven and wine-press.
The government backs these efforts since 1991 by offering subsidised interest rates and financing projects such as the embellishment of village squares and the creation of small museums.
It has also been helping the locals with special programmes for marketing, organising and promoting their agro-business and provides technical advice and guidelines.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
 Cyprus proposal on Turkish Cypriot participationLondon, Mar 12 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides made an "honest and solemn" invitation to the Turkish Cypriots to participate as full members of the Cypriot team which will negotiate the country's accession terms with the European Union.
The President also assured the Turkish Cypriots that their views will be discussed "freely, seriously and in good faith" and expressed the hope they will accept the invitation.
The British EU presidency has described Clerides' proposal as "very constructive."
In a written statement, read to the press after a 45-minute meeting with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook here today, President Clerides said he repeated his "wish that the Turkish Cypriot community nominate representatives to be included as full members of the Cypriot team which will conduct the negotiations."
He said his position on Turkish Cypriot participation in accession talks was outlined taking into account the conclusions of the Luxembourg EU summit in December which stipulated that "the accession of Cyprus should benefit all communities and help bring about civil peace and reconciliation."
The Cypriot President stressed to Cook that regarding the participation of the Turkish Cypriot community in the delegation "I was making an honest and solemn invitation to my Turkish Cypriot compatriots to participate for I firmly believe that they should take an active part and make their contribution to the negotiating process for acceding to the EU."
Addressing directly the Turkish Cypriot community, the President said "should the Turkish Cypriot community respond favourably to the proposal, they may rest assured that their points of view and the opinions of their representatives will be discussed freely, seriously and in good faith."
He also assured them that the conclusions reached will constitute "an important element in formulating the negotiating positions of the Cypriot team."
"I hope that the response of the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community will be positive," Clerides added.
Noting the historic challenge at hand, the President said "there is no doubt in my mind that the forthcoming enlargement of the EU will certainly shape the future of Europe."
He said entry of the Republic into the Union "will most certainly benefit enormously both communities."
Replying to questions, Clerides said Cook considers the statement by the government of Cyprus as "very constructive."
Asked if he made a statement to Cook or submitted a proposal, the President said "this is the proposal we are making to the Turkish Cypriots."
Invited to specify the terms of the proposal, he said "we do not have the terms, first they would respond that they accept and then we shall discuss."
He said the proposal will be submitted to the Turkish Cypriot side by Britain as the current EU rotating presidency.
No details on the matter were touched upon and the modalities of the proposal will be discussed once the Turkish Cypriots accept the invitation, the Cypriot President added.
Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, applied for full EU membership in July 1997.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCYCNA ENDS
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