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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-07-04
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 CHINESE AMBASSADOR - INTERVIEWChinese Ambassador in Nicosia Zhao Yali considers developments in the Cyprus problem to be encouraging with the setting up and operation of bicommunal working groups and technical committees and, despite the fact that the solution of this chronic problem is difficult, he nevertheless remains optimistic that the problems can be overcome.
In an interview with CNA, Zhao Yali expresses China`s support to efforts to reach a Cyprus settlement and assures that his country`s policy on the problem is based on principles, a fact which cultivates mutual political trust between the two countries.
He advises the leaders of the two communities to be patient, face difficulties with sobriety, and remain committed to their aim, which is the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem on principles which will secure the interests of the people of Cyprus as a whole.
Zhao Yali notes that bilateral relations in various sectors are excellent, especially in the political field, and expresses China`s gratitude for Cyprus` stance on the issues of Taiwan and Tibet, its assistance during natural disasters, such as the recent earthquake in Sichuan, and its support in relations between China and the EU.
Regarding the Olympic Games, he wishes every success to the Cypriot athletes, adding that Cypriot President Demetris Christofias will be attending the opening ceremony and that the absence of other heads of state and government is due to political reasons, which is not right, since any political differences cannot be solved in the stadium.
Asked how China could contribute towards a Cyprus settlement, in its capacity as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Zhao Yali points out that ``it is a chronic problem and the process to reach a solution is difficult.``
``As a permanent member of the Security Council, China plays a constructive role in this issue for years now, because we insist on positions of principle,`` he says, adding that ``we support the principles and believe that the Cyprus problem should be solved on the basis of UN resolutions.``
He notes that high level agreements between the two communities are also on the negotiating table and that ``the two communities must take all these into consideration, as well as the interests and concerns of both the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots,`` adding that ``we have always steadfastly and clearly supported the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Cyprus.``
On recent developments in Cyprus with the setting up and operation of the working groups and technical committees, Zhao Yali says ``this is a new round of efforts aiming at a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem`` and that, despite the fact that the solution of this chronic problem is difficult, he nevertheless remains optimistic that the problems can be overcome.
``We believe that the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are aware of the difficulties and that is why they are trying. Nothing is easy. Especially in a political problem such as the Cyprus problem, efforts must be made continuously. The new developments are very encouraging,`` he points out.
Zhao Yali notes that with the election of Demetris Christofias ``new conditions have been created, which allowed for the creation, according to the agreement of the leaders of the two communities, of the working groups and technical committees.``
``The climate is positive. Of course, in some issues, such as issues of substance, it is not easy,`` he says, adding that ``this effort brings renewed hope and we welcome this effort and we support it.``
Asked if he is optimistic, the Ambassador of China points out that ``the Cyprus problem is very difficult and we know that there are objective difficulties, disagreements, even today, and that is why we attribute great importance to the meeting the leaders of the two communities will have on July 1,`` when they will exchange views and decide what to do next.
``President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have said they want a united Cyprus, but I believe the two sides must agree on the basis, that is what form of solution the two communities want. One must never lose hope and from this point of view I believe that the prospects with the new round of efforts bring new hopes and I personally am optimistic,`` he adds.
Zhao Yali`s message to the leaders of the two communities and the people of Cyprus is ``never lose hope, face the difficulties with sobriety, be patient and true to their aim, which is the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem on principles which will secure the interests of the people of Cyprus as a whole.``
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Asked if he agrees with the statement that Turkey is the key to a settlement, Zhao Yali points out that ``because this is a complicated problem, there are directly interested parties,`` adding that everyone has to play a positive role to facilitate an agreement, although ``it is up to the two communities to solve their problem.``
On Cyprus` accession to the EU and how this has affected China, Zhao Yali says ``our field of cooperation has expanded,`` noting that ``the accession has offered new opportunities.``
He says ``Cyprus always plays a constructive and positive role`` and that ``Cyprus always supports us in the EU and we appreciate this policy very much.``
Regarding bilateral relations, Zhao Yali says they are excellent, especially on a political level. ``There is mutual political trust and Cyprus supports in issues of concern to us, such as the question of Taiwan and recently the Olympic Games.``
``The Cypriot government has always supported the policy of one China. It does not recognise Taiwan, condemns secessionist actions and supports the unification of China. Furthermore, the government of Cyprus says that the Olympic Games must be kept away from politics,`` the Ambassador notes.
He notes that President Christofias and Minister of Education and Culture Andreas Demetriou will be attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. ``This cooperation establishes the development of our relations in the other sectors,`` he points out, adding that great progress has been made in trade and tourism.
``We have signed over 20 bilateral agreements which cover almost all sectors. In the financial sector, last year imports from China to Cyprus reached 700 million dollars, which is an historical record. The increase, compared to the previous year, exceeds 90%. Imports from Cyprus to China were 7 million dollars. The increase, compared to the previous year, reached about 160%. There is room for further improvement and strengthening of our relations in all sectors,`` he notes.
On the issue of Tibet and criticism against China, Zhao Yali says the incidents of March 14 were ``criminal`` and that ``we have proof that all this was organised and instigated by Dalai Lama supporters to mar the image of China and exert pressure on China before the Olympic Games.``
``Unfortunately 18 people were killed and many shops were burnt. No responsible government can tolerate such criminal acts. What happened in Lhasa has nothing to do with what they call a peaceful gathering, a demonstration. Their aim was to cause trouble,`` he says, adding that order has been restored and a dialogue will begin with the Dalai Lama.
``There are foreign forces instigating these secessionist actions. They want to take Tibet out of China. This is not possible,`` he notes.
Asked about the intention of heads of state and government to abstain from attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, Zhao Yali says, according to protocol, they have been invited and ``who will come and who will not is up to them, but unfortunately we see that there0 is an effort by some countries to use the issue as an instrument to exert some pressure on China.``
``It is not right, because we know that we are not going to solve our political differences in the stadium,`` he points out.
On the Olympic Games, the Chinese Ambassador says that the various infrastructure works are almost complete. The Games will be spread over seven cities, but mainly in Beijing. The Olympic Games will start on August 8 and the Paralympics on September 7, while the opening ceremony is expected to be spectacular.
``The magic, the secret, is the way in which we will light the Olympic Torch. This must remain secret until the last moment,`` he adds and is sorry that he will not be able to attend the opening ceremony in person.
He dismisses remarks that China has been ready for the Olympics for some time now. ``What people have been saying that everything has been ready for some time now is an exaggeration. We finished according to schedule,`` he points out.
Zhao Yali says that unfortunately it was not possible for Cyprus to be represented during the opening celebrations, despite efforts made, but wishes every success to the Cypriot athletes, who have good changes of successful performance and ``why not even a medal.``
On the May 12 earthquake that shook Sichuan registering 8 degrees on the Richter scale, followed by forceful aftershocks, Zhao Yali notes it left behind 80,000 dead, 370,000 injured, 4 million homeless and 40 million affected by the quake, which was felt 1,500 km away in Beijing.
``We believe that in three to five years the huge project of reconstruction will be completed. We have housed the inhabitants in temporary shelters. From May 19 to 21 a national mourning was declared for the first time since the death of Mao Tse Tung, a gesture appreciated very much by the Chinese,`` he says.
Zhao Yali also mentions the support from the Chinese people themselves and from foreign countries. He says he was touched by the people in Cyprus who visited the Embassy to offer their condolences and give contributions for the victims. Furthermore, the Cypriot government has announced a contribution of 100,000 euro.
``We see that the Chinese and the Cypriots are people with feelings, they sympathise with their fellow man. I was touched. I would like to thank the Cypriot government and the people of Cyprus for their help and support in the difficult hours the people of China suffered. We will never forget it,`` he concludes.
 NATIONAL COUNCIL - MEETINGThe National Council, top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem, will be reconvening on Friday afternoon.
During the meeting, under President of the Republic Demetris Christofias, the members of the National Council will express their views and evaluations on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem.
The meeting had begun on Wednesday with a detailed briefing of the members on the latest developments by President Christofias.
 HOUSE - LISBON TREATYThe House of Representatives ratified on Thursday the Lisbon Treaty, after a debate which lasted over five hours.
Opposition right-wing Democratic Rally party DISY, Democratic Party, Social Democrats EDEK Movement and the European Party voted in favour of the Treaty. Ruling leftwing AKEL party voted against the ratification of the Treaty. The Ecologists and Environmentalists Movement MP abstained. In total 31 parliamentarians voted in favour of the ratification, 18 against and 1 abstained.
 CYPRUS - INTANGIBLE HERITAGECyprus` Permanent Representative to UNESCO Edmee Leventi has assured that Cyprus will contribute to the best of its ability towards achieving the goals of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The Cyprus National Committee of UNESCO says in a press release, issued on Friday, that Cyprus was elected a member of the Committee, during elections held during the second session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding for the Intangible Cultural Heritage, from 16 to 19 June 2008 at UNESCO headquarters.
It notes that Cyprus now has an important role to play in safeguarding and protecting intangible cultural heritage. The Republic of Cyprus, with a group of experts, will set up national intangible cultural heritage archives and will then organise a series of events.
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