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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 07-05-30

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    European Commissioner on Science and Research Janez Potocnik said on Wednesday that Cyprus` challenge within the EU`s 7th Framework Programme for Research (FP7) is to beat the record of 30 million euro funding in 188 projects during FP6.

    In a speech on ``FP7 - A new approach to European research`` at an event in Nicosia, organised by the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation, Potocnik said research in Cyprus has been moving up the political agenda and that Cyprus has been making great efforts to catch up, with research spending as a percentage of GDP doubling in the past five years.

    Potocnik said FP7 is part of the freedom of knowledge, noting that freedom of knowledge goes well beyond research programmes and that research and knowledge are now central components of Europe.

    He said free knowledge is important because ``we will live in a different Europe without it`` and that ``our standards of living, our lifestyles, our health, our choices depend on us being one of the leading parts of the world economy.``

    ``Let us remember that the EU is the largest trading bloc in the world. The key trade now is in knowledge,`` he added.

    Referring to the EU Framework Programmes, Potocnik said ``it is estimated that each Framework Programme euro leads to a mid to long-term return of 4 to 7 euros, and FP7 is the largest transnational publicly funded research programme in the world.``

    ``The Framework programme is also a leading example of European cooperation. In FP6 we received over 50,000 applications in more than 200 calls for proposals, with over 360,000 participations from around the EU, wider Europe and the world. And already, with FP7 just a few months old, 42 calls are open worth over 4 billion euro. Around 30,000 proposals are expected,`` he pointed out.

    Potocnik explained that FP7 is a new type of Framework Programme, having a higher budget than previous programmes, of 54 billion euro, lasting longer, seven years rather than four, having a more business and risk-friendly approach, leading to real innovation, and introducing major new instruments, such as the European Research Council, which provide more freedom to researchers.

    He said the four main programmes in FP7 are Cooperation, Ideas, People and Capacities, with Cooperation accounting for 60% of budget and focusing on 10 strategic areas, such as ICTs, energy, health and transport.

    The Ideas programme offers a new remedy for old problems, the People programme is all about improving conditions for researchers, and the Capacities programme focuses on providing infrastructures and facilities that single nations could not achieve.

    ``In FP7, we want to see more SMEs take part in research themes specially dedicated to their areas of interest. We have increased research funding available to them, to up to 75%. And we have introduced a new guarantee fund, which will help many SMEs who previously found providing financial guarantees difficult,`` he said and expressed hope that ``the changes we have made will ensure a healthy Cypriot participation in FP7.``

    ``Your record to beat is the 30 million euro funding in 188 projects during FP6,`` he said and pointed out that it is much easier to participate in FP7, with less reporting and auditing, a single help desk and clearer documentation.

    Potocnik said he was pleased to see that research in Cyprus has been moving up the political agenda. ``Cyprus is making great efforts to catch up. Research spending as a percentage of GDP has doubled in the last five years. And this rate of increase, for both public and private financing, is far above the EU average,`` he added.

    ``Freeing knowledge completely requires effort from everyone,`` he concluded, adding that the on-line public consultation opened by the Commission will lead to concrete proposals, probably next year.


    Chairman of the Pancyprian Association of Hotel Owners (PASYXE) Charis Loizides has pointed out that three out of ten arrivals of tourists in Cyprus spend their holidays in tourist villas or non permanent tourist accommodation, with hotel reservations dropping to 41% of their capacity in 2006. Speaking at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association, Loizides said Cyprus` share in the tourist market is continuously shrinking, while other destinations are increasing their inflow of tourists, such as Turkey, Egypt and Greece.

    Loizides referred to the problems arising from the illegal tourist development in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, where hotels are expected to reach a capacity of 30,000 over the next three years. He said Cyprus` tourism was facing serious difficulties and that it appears that the sector has lost 250 million pounds in revenue since 2001 from spending by tourists, while there has been a 4% drop in arrivals during the first three months of 2007 compared to 2006.

    ``We are in danger of being erased as a destination from the map of winter tourism,`` he said, noting that in 1996 winter tourism accounted for 24% of total tourism and today represents a mere 16%. Loizides said the state should undertake a dynamic and creative initiative and give incentives to hotels and other businesses to stay open in the winter. He furthermore pointed out the need for the scheduling of events and the upgrading of the infrastructure with golf courses, casinos, marinas and conference centres.


    Italian Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs Famiano Cruicianelli has reaffirmed his countrys support for a Cyprus settlement and the reunification of the island, on the basis of international law. The Italian official, on a two-day official visit here, met Tuesday with Cyprus House President Demetris Christofias, who briefed him on the Cyprus question and the so-called isolation of Turkish Cypriots.

    The Italian Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs expressed his understanding for the positions outlined by Christofias. He also expressed support for Turkeys EU accession course, provided that Ankara meets its commitments to the EU. An official press release said that Christofias expressed appreciation for the support Italy provides to efforts for a Cyprus settlement, on the basis of UN resolutions and the principles on which the EU is founded.

    Christofias explained that in April 2004 the Greek Cypriots rejected a UN-proposed solution, the Annan plan, because they believed that it did not serve the interests of the country nor did it lead to reunification. The Turkish Cypriots approved the plan. The House President expressed the readiness of the Greek Cypriot side for a settlement of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.


    Defence Minister Christodoulos Pashiardes has briefed Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Andrey Nesterenko on current issues regarding bilateral relations in the field of defence and assured him of increased cooperation between the two countries.

    In a meeting Tuesday, the Russian Ambassador congratulated Pashiardes on the assumption of his duties, wished him good luck in the difficult task ahead and handed to him a congratulatory letter from his Russian counterpart. He also expressed his intention to further improve the already very good relations between Cyprus and Russia and enhance cooperation and mutual support.

    Pashiardes and Nesterenko discussed various defence related issues.

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