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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 07-04-27

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>


CONTENTS

  • [01] PAPADOPOULOS - SLOVENIA
  • [02] FOREIGN MINISTER - CYPRUS EU

  • [01] PAPADOPOULOS - SLOVENIA

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos described his visit to Slovenia as ``very useful``, noting that "we have a lot to learn from Slovenia, especially as far as introducing the euro is concerned".

    He was speaking at the end of his three day official visit to Slovenia which he described as perhaps Cyprus` main competitor in the field of complying with the acquis communautaire and economic development.

    Making an assessment of his visit to the country, the President said that Slovenia was the first country (of the ten new EU member states) to introduce the euro with success while other countries had problems.

    He said that together with the Slovenian leadership, they agreed to exchange experiences and expressed the conviction that "this is the time to further enhance our already good and developed relations with Slovenia".

    President Papadopoulos said that he discussed with President Janez Drnovsek and Prime Minister France Cukjati exchanging visits by techocrats and Cypriot officials to visit Slovenia since the latter country`s experiences as far as adopting the euro are closer to Cyprus` conditions.

    He said that "when Slovenia introduced the Euro, it had a strong currency and instead of reporting an increase in prices there was decrease by one percent".

    The Cypriot President said the Slovenian officials explained to him the preparatory measures they took "and I fully agree with them that a more direct and active involvement on the part of the consumer and citizen is necessary".

    Explaining this, the President said that the people must develop the habit of reporting profiteering and any phenomena of increased prices and this is exactly what Slovenia achieved.

    Asked if Slovenia, which will undertake the EU presidency the first term of 2008 is willing to take any initiative towards the Cyprus issue, the President explained that he could not predict if there would be a change in climate as far as efforts to solve the Cyprus issue in the first six months of 2008.

    President Papadopoulos and his entourage, which included Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Antonis Michaelides, visited the town of Piran and Lipica while tonight he will attend a dinner given in his honour by Foreign Minister Prof. Dimitrij Rupel.

    President Papadopoulos returns to Cyprus Saturday afternoon via Austria.

    [02] FOREIGN MINISTER - CYPRUS EU

    The European Union can act as a catalyst in the effort to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus, Foreign Minister Yiorgos Lillikas believes, pointing out that in the 50 years of history since the establishment of the then European Economic Community, its most impressive contribution has been to unify countries who would have otherwise been hostile to each other.

    In an interview with CNA, Lillikas ponders on the achievements and the tribulations of the Union, in particular where these relate to Cyprus since the country joined the Union in May 2004, and stresses that the acquis communautaire and the mechanisms of the united Europe, provide a sound basis for a political settlement on which to reunite the divided island of Cyprus, in that they secure the fundamental human rights of the individual, the state as well as the ethnic communities.

    The minister expressed Nicosias strong support for the EUs primary vision which is the consolidation of peace and stability on the continent, based on respect of international law, an achievement he said was the best gift the EU has given to the continent.

    Cyprus, he said, belongs to Europe and as such its accession was a natural development, given that the country is among those nations that should participate in the collective effort to create a unified European area.

    Lillikas recalls that Cyprus effort to join the Union was not easy and commends the people of Cyprus for their hard work, in conjunction with the government and the House, to accomplish the best possible membership terms.

    There are no doubt political benefits in that Cyprus is now part of the decision making process, on an equal par with its European partners, and we hope to join the euro soon, in January next year, he added, pointing out that the Republic has strengthened its statehood and exploits all available opportunities to form new alliances and association with other members but also to have a say in areas outside the EU where its vital interests are at stake.

    On the economic front, Lillikas says that EU membership was in fact the springboard for reform and restructuring of the local economy and modernisation for the business community, which rendered the economy more competitive.

    He did acknowledge however that some sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, need to adapt more, but said he had faith in the ability of the Cypriots to adjust.

    Responding to questions about Cyprus role as a member in relation to its partners in Europe, he said the objective was to expand its circle of associates both within the Union and outside its borders, with a view to serve the main goal which is none other than the reunification of the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    The minister explained that the EU leaves room for alliances among its members, through dialogue and consensus and this offers plenty of opportunities to develop such ties, given that special majority or even unanimity is a must, in many cases where important interests of various member states are to be safeguarded.

    Cyprus has made the most out of this practice on issues of interest to us and to other partners, he told CNA, stressing that Nicosia does not maintain a unilateral or one-dimensional intervention in EU affairs but is an active partner, participates and contributes to the shaping of proposals and policies on all issues affecting the Union, even on those which apparently it does not have a direct or indirect interest.

    Solidarity among member states is a particularly important notion for Cyprus, he said, especially where a country has vital interests or its own interests or sovereignty are at stake.

    During the recent past, we have given ample proof of that on various issues of interest to our partners and we expect from them the same treatment when our vital interests are affected, he remarked.

    Responding to questions about difficulties Cyprus has had to deal with since it joined the Union, he recalled the hostile climate the country had to face in the period immediately after the April 2004 referendum on a UN-proposed solution plan, which the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots has rejected but the majority of the Turkish Cypriots approved.

    EU membership came with a climate that was not exactly friendly disposed towards us as some circles had succeeded in presenting a wrong impression within the EU as to what this solution plan entailed, he explained but hastened to add that as time elapsed this has changed.

    Greek Cypriots rejected the UN plan saying it served Turkeys interests and not the interests of the people of Cyprus, Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike, it did not lead to reunification of the society, its institutions, its economy and its people.

    Lillikas also noted that even today there are some quarters in the Commission which maintain such approaches that are contrary to UN resolutions on Cyprus and EU decisions.

    There are various disagreements and friction because we believe that the principles and the values of the EU as well as the policies applied that directly relate to Cyprus must respect the sovereignty of the country and serve the objective of reunification, he stressed, adding that there is still the notion that Cyprus should be penalised for saying no to the UN plan.

    Nonetheless I believe that this hurdle will be overcome too as the EU operates on the basis of international law and order, its own legal framework and any negative approaches as far as we are concerned is not tolerated, either by us or the large majority of our partners, simply because this goes against the Unions fundamental principles, he added.

    On EU-Turkeys relations, he said that there are different approaches to Ankaras accession course, and reiterated that Nicosia continues to believe that this course must proceed provided that Turkey recognizes the need to meet its European commitments.

    Turkey cannot have preferential treatment, he stressed, noting that the message to Ankara should be that its membership course will progress if it fulfills its obligations to Brussels and to member states, he noted.

    Cyprus, he explained, maintains that the prospect of Turkeys accession must be left open without however removing the incentive to adopt and implement the acquis.

    Asked about expectations Cyprus has from the EU, Lillikas said Nicosia has always backed the European vision to consolidate peace and stability in Europe, on the basis of international law, something he described as the most important gift the EU has given the European continent.

    We demand respect of international law and order, we do not anticipate that the EU will solve the question of Cyprus or to undertake an initiative to settle the problem. We want the initiative to come under the auspices of the UN, he pointed out, adding that Cyprus expects the EU to contribute in a positive manner, based on its own conclusions and unanimous decisions on the question of Cyprus, that provide for a settlement that will lead to reunification, founded on EU principles.

    The minister said that EU could make sure that the solution of various aspects of the Cyprus question is in line with its principles, and noted that the EU has what he called a unifying power which has turned former foes into partners.

    We hope that Cyprus can benefit from this as well. The acquis and EU mechanisms safeguard the fundamental human rights and the rights of ethnic communities, something I believe provides a sound basis on which Greek and Turkish Cypriots can trust in relation to a political settlement, he added.

    Lillikas said that if Turkey really wants to join the EU, then its accession course can help create the conditions which would allow the resolution of various aspects of the question of Cyprus on the basis of the acquis.

    Turkeys accession course could act as a catalyst but we do not want the solution to be identified with the countrys accession. We want the solution to be served by this course, he stressed.

    On efforts to resume negotiations on the substance of the Cyprus problem, with a view to solve it, the minister pointed out that the UN have an important role to play in attempts to implement a UN-brokered agreement between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides (Gambari agreement).

    He reiterated that the government and the five permanent members of the UN continue to believe that the Gambari agreement and the process it provides (setting up working groups and technical committees) is at present the only way forward to help make headway towards a solution.

    Lillikas expressed hope that a momentum that has been witnessed in the past few weeks will be maintained after elections in Turkey.


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