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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-02-07

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] CHRISTOFIAS - INTERVIEW WITH CNA
  • [02] EPP-ED - MEETING - NICOSIA
  • [03] GOVERNMENT - T/C

  • [01] CHRISTOFIAS - INTERVIEW WITH CNA

    Demetris Christofias, President of the Cyprus House of Representatives and presidential hopeful, will, if elected, undertake initiatives to press with the need for a political settlement that would reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    The leader of the leftwing AKEL party said he will take his international campaign to the UN Secretary-General, the Security Council`s five permanent members and the European Commission to whom he will declare his readiness to work for a solution on the basis of UN resolutions, the High Level Agreements between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities and the international and European law.

    ``Either personally or through my envoys, I will call on them and I will be very persistent. My credentials will be those of a man who wants a solution. Our credibility in Europe, with regard to a political settlement, is at its lowest and we have to rectify that,`` Christofias has told CNA in an interview.

    On his links with the Turkish Cypriots, he said he will work very hard to convince them that it is in their interests as well to settle all aspects of the political problem in a way that will serve the countrys interests and not those of Turkey or others.

    The AKEL General Secretary said his government, if elected, will comprise progressive personalities from a wide spectrum and he appeared ready to talk to the rightwing Democratic Rally party, without however preempting the outcome of such a discussion.

    Responding to questions, the House President said while sharing power with the government of President Papadooulos he addressed himself to Russia, China and the Arab world to help Cyprus cause for justice and appeared disappointed that now his former coalition partner is very critical of him on various counts. AKEL was the main government partner for four and a half years under President Papadopoulos.

    Cypriots will go to the polls on February 17 to elect their president for a five-year term. The three main presidential hopefuls are current President Tassos Papadopoulos supported by the centre-right Democratic Party (DIKO), the Social Democrat EDEK, the European Party and the Environmentalists, Christofias backed by his party, left-wing AKEL and other groups, and Ioannis Kasoulides, former Foreign Minister and currently a Euro MP, supported by the rightiwng Democratic Rally (DISY) party and other movements.

    A candidate to be elected to the Presidency needs more than 50% of the votes. If none of the candidates attains the required majority, the two candidates who will secure the greater number of votes shall proceed to a run-off election the following Sunday. The candidate who receives the greatest number of votes will become the new president.

    The main focus of Christofias campaign is the Cyprus problem and in response to questions, he expressed the view that things are going from bad to worse and believes that division is at our doorstep.

    Now I am risking everything because I believe that we can make a last-ditch effort, having regained our credibility at home and at abroad, to avert permanent partition, he pointed out.

    Asked where he would address himself seeking support for a solution, he referred to the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), which he describes as ``a time-delay bomb for Cyprus,`` especially after an OIC resolution which talks about a ``Turkish Cypriot state when referring to the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime, in occupied Cyprus.

    ``If Turkey is seeking diplomatic recognition of the illegal regime, it will start from the OIC. So I will address our friends at the OIC and ask them to support the principles of international law, UN resolutions`` he explained.

    Replying to questions, he said he would undertake an initiative to break the current deadlock and push for the implementation of a UN-brokered agreement in July 2006 between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. In Christofias` view, Turkey is unwilling to implement the agreement since it does not want to engage in in-depth discussions ``because some countries, including EU member states, have promised to upgrade the occupation regime through an end of the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.`` The July agreement, which provides for the establishment of technical groups and working committees to deal with all aspects of the problem is a tool which we can apply during our initiatives, he added.

    He believes that Turkey before 2009, when the EU Commission will issue a new assessment on Ankaras European bid, will instruct Talat to proceed with the implementation of the agreement.

    Christofias said that the current stalemate is due to the stance of the Turkish side and believes that this situation serves only Turkeys interests.

    The House President told CNA that no one can set a timeframe for the solution of the problem because the solution is not solely up to the Greek Cypriot side.

    Regarding his relations with the Turkish Cypriots, Christofias said that his candidacy on this point ``clearly supersedes`` that of his rivals. ``I come from a political party which has never promoted nationalism or chauvinism. My party has been a common springboard with the Turkish Cypriots to gain human, social and economic rights.

    AKEL, he noted, has also been a messenger of peaceful coexistence between the two communities and a forum which teaches the spirit of cooperation with the Turkish Cypriots.

    He believes that the worst mistake made by the Greek Cypriots since independence in 1960 was that they never tried to win the trust of the Turkish Cypriots. ``If we could do that, I think that the hands of Turkish imperialism would be tied,`` he observed. Referring to AKEL`s contacts with the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) in the occupied areas, Christofias said that after the 2004 referendum, despite the fact that the Turkish Cypriot party did not respond to AKEL`s calls for a dialogue, AKEL continued its efforts with a view to explain the Greek Cypriot concerns.

    In April 2004 Greek Cypriots in their overwhelming majority rejected a UN proposed solution plan (the Anna plan) which the Turkish Cypriots approved by majority vote.

    For the past two years the two left-wing parties entered a dialogue with a view to promote common positions in the framework of efforts for a Cyprus settlement.

    ``It is impossible to accept a solution granting the right of intervention to the guarantor powers or a solution not uniting the state and its people under a federal bi-communal umbrella, nor can we accept military presence on the island. The solution cannot be viable unless the refugees are given the right to choose whether they want to return or not to their homes under Turkish Cypriot administration. Turkish settlers cannot be turned into citizens of the Republic,`` Christofias said.

    Christofias dismissed criticism that he is a euro-skeptic, recalling that Cyprus` accession to the EU was unanimously ratified by all Cypriot parties, including AKEL.

    I am a man of consensus who can apply wisdom to solve problems, he said.

    The AKEL General Secretary assured that if elected he will not attempt to change the system into a socialist model, noting that he advocates a mixed economy, that is cooperation between the state and the private sector. ``We will administer the system in a progressive and modern way,`` he said.

    Christofias said that he will increase funding for research and technology, attract investment to make Cyprus a regional services centre and help middle size and small size entrepreneurs. He added that his focal point will be an educational reform that would promote a knowledge-based society but at the same time people with human values.

    Having in mind that Cyprus introduced the euro as its legal tender on 1 January 2008, Christofias believes that this change in Cyprus` economy cannot prevent the government from proceeding to strengthen social welfare and at the same time fulfill the economic criteria set out by Cyprus membership in the EU.

    The welfare state and in particular low pensions were one of the main disagreements between Christofias and his former coalition partner President Papadopoulos, who was elected to the presidency in 2003 with the votes of AKEL and other parties and movements. ``I am not saying that we will reach a 3% deficit (a criterion for Euroarea membership) but it is tragic to have a fiscal surplus while facing all these social problems. I disagreed with the President over these issues,`` he said, adding however that his government will not incur costs that would put the economy at risk.

    ``We will maintain fiscal discipline aiming at macroeconomic stability but we cannot take the bread out of the people`s mouths,`` he said.

    On the prospects of discussions with the right-wing DISY party, should he go through to the second round of elections, Christofias said he would talk to DISY and the parties backing the President, if their candidates fail to pass to the run-off election.

    ``If DISY President says `let`s talk`, I wouldn`t say no, just as I wouldn`t say no to DIKO or EDEK. But of course I cannot predict the outcome of these talks,`` he concluded.

    [02] EPP-ED - MEETING - NICOSIA

    The two-day meeting of the Bureau of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament began on Thursday in Nicosia, with the participation of 65 leading European politicians, who will discuss inter alia the Cyprus problem, the role of the UN, the special role the EU can play towards a political settlement in Cyprus and the issue of missing persons.

    Opening the meeting, Chairman of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament MEP Joseph Daul referred to the current instability in Lebanon and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, noting that the European Parliament was closely following developments. Daul noted that Cyprus is an outpost of the EU in the Eastern Mediterranean and must and does play a key role in efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region.

    Addressing the meeting, Democratic Rally (DISY) President Nicos Anastasiades said small Cyprus could play a role in the region, adding that it was high time that Cyprus` accession to the EU was utilised towards achieving a settlement to the island`s political problem.

    He said he expected the Turkish Cypriots to cooperate towards a settlement, adding that, although DISY supports Turkey`s EU accession course, Cyprus has been witness to behaviour on behalf of Ankara that did not suit a European state, and that it was Turkey`s obligation to facilitate a settlement.

    Addressing the delegates, Head of the Cypriot delegation of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament MEP Panayiotis Demetriou said the topics to be discussed at the meeting were directly linked to Cyprus.

    He pointed out the island`s geographical position in the Eastern Mediterranean, adding that the EPP was interested in the solution of the region`s problems and furthermore wanted Cyprus to be free of foreign troops, united, respectful of human rights and EU principles and values, where all citizens of the island could live in peace.

    [03] GOVERNMENT - T/C

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said on Wednesday that direct trade between the islands northern Turkish occupied areas and Europe is out of the question.

    He noted, however, that the Turkish Cypriots would continue to have contacts abroad to promote trade with the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic.

    Replying to questions, Palmas said this kind of activity by the Turkish Cypriots takes place at intervals.


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