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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-10-14

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The seventh crossing in the divided island of Cyprus has opened, marking an end to the long wait of the residents of Limnitis and Kato Pyrgos areas, in the northwest.

    Construction work on the road linking the towns of Kato Pyrgos and Limnitis began on 29 March this year, following a series of discussions that culminated on 24 March with the signing of a contract between the United Nations Development Programme Partnership for the Future and a joint venture comprised Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot contractors.

    The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Dervis Eroglu pledged to continue working for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue as residents expressed their appreciation, noting a new era began for their communities.

    President Christofias, in his speech under a sweltering October sun, expressed hope that the opening of the Kato Pyrgos Limnitis crossing point will give impetus to increased cooperation between organized groups and ordinary people in the region, who have played a significant role in the efforts to make the opening possible.

    The President stressed that his main goal is to find a comprehensive settlement which will enable Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to move freely in every corner of their common homeland, the united Federal Cyprus.

    In his speech, Eroglu said that the opening of Limnitis checkpoint is extremely important in terms of demonstrating peace, adding that it is also a step which will help improve relations between the two communities. The opening of the checkpoint, he added, helps access to hospitals and also benefits the lives of Greek Cypriots in the region.

    Eroglu pointed out that there are crossing points of equal significance for the Turkish Cypriots, such as one at Pyla and Lefka Gate. He reiterated his support for a comprehensive settlement, which will take into account the sensitivities of both sides, saying this is within reach by the end of the year/

    On his part, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule said that in early nineties he had witnessed another opening, one that led to the change and transformed a huge part of the European Continent.

    The opening, he said, was driven by the strong desire of the people to overcome an existing physical and political division in Europe, to tear down a wall that for a third of a century had kept apart half a city, half a country, half a continent. A European continent united, a European union of 27 member countries with nearly half a billion of people living peacefully together.

    The European project, he stressed, will not be complete without a solution to the Cyprus problem. Since 2004, has been the EU policy, to ensure that the people of Cyprus will soon achieve their shared destiny of a united Cyprus in the EU.

    Todays opening, said Fule, is an encouraging signal. Today, in the midst of this beautiful surrounding of the Tilliria mountains, we are witnessing another example of peace. Another physical barrier is gone, slowly but surely, confidence building measures are spreading.

    Fule said the EU is fully behind these confidence building measures and is proud to have contributed with its financial support to some of the major landmarks in the pursuit of peace. Since 2005, the EU has supported the opening of three crossing points, including this one.

    There are many other examples of local leaders working together. We can only conclude that there is progress in Cyprus. Your excellencies, that is encouraging, said the Commissioner, and thanked the local village leaders for wanting this to happen, adding the opening of the new crossing point will inject new life in your communities. He further thanked the UN and UNDP for their relentless work in facilitating CBMs.

    Fule praised the two leaders, Christofias and Eroglu for their determination to pursue an overall settlement of the Cyprus problem for the benefit of all Cypriots. I am convinced that you can manage the historic task to arrive at a comprehensive settlement, a settlement that reunites the island, that does away with all crossing points and the Green Line and makes the only green remaining the beautiful green of these magnificent mountains. We will spare no efforts to see this happen. The European Commission will continue being your ally and friend in this difficult and achievable task, he concluded.

    In his speech, the US Ambassador Frank Urbancic said that there is an old American expression for us, written by Benjamin Franklin, God helps those who helps themselves. I think the crossing that we are celebrating opening today is a good example of what happens when people with vision and people with determination come together to solve a problem.

    Those words, he said, ring particularly true today, adding he is very happy to be witnessing this single yet historically significant step in Cyprus journey towards the future.

    The opening of the crossing, he added, is result of direct negotiations between the leaders of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. It is Cypriots working with Cypriots. It is also concrete evidence that win win situations can and do exist in this island and they are possible in the future.

    The US, he added, remains committed to a prosperous and peaceful future for all inhabitants of this island. The US is pleased to have provided both moral and financial support to assist with the opening of this crossing and we are very happy that we able to work with Action for Cooperation and Trust programme which is implemented with the UNDP.

    The opening of this crossing, Urbancic added, is a concrete example of what can be accomplished through hard work, through determination, through difficult compromise and through collaboration. Standing here today, I am very proud. We are celebrating a metaphor for all the bridges that the leaders and the people of Cyprus can and must do to continue and what they must do in the future to create a future for their children. For it is on the basis of these linkages and it is on the basis of these contacts that reconciliation will take route and flourish on this island.

    Haoliliang Xu, UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS States Deputy director said that today we stand here to celebrate the opening the construction and upgrading of this 6km road aiming at allowing movement and making an important step in the reunification process.

    He said that the experience of the UNDP in the past 10 years is that bicommunal cooperation is possible. The UNDP is committed to supporting the communities in building a common future. We should not forget that much more can still be done in order to ensure peace, reconciliation and prosperity in Cyprus and more can be done only through cooperation. Today is a symbol of cooperation; it is so because of the commitment and determination of the leaders of the two communities.

    In his remarks, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General Alexander Downer said that it is with a genuine sense of satisfaction that I attend this ceremony for the opening of the Yesilirmak/Limnitis crossing.

    Downer said that it is a great tribute to the work of the leaders, the two communities, including the local communities that this project should ever come about. I can remember not all that long ago some people saying that this project would never be complete. Others said it was a test of whether it would be possible to reunite Cyprus. That if it wasnt even possible to build this crossing and to open it, then it wouldnt be possible to reunite Cyprus - probably a fair point. But it was of course the pessimists that were wrong and the determination of the two sides that made this possible.

    The project does demonstrate a point that none of this work here in Cyprus, bringing the two sides together, is easy work. I have certainly discovered that. But it is a project which can be achieved.

    Downer said there is hope that the two leaders now can bring this country together and reunite Cyprus. That is possible and the success of this project simply demonstrates that point and I think demonstrates it very clearly. Downer said it will require a lot of political will, a lot of political courage and the leaders can rest assured that they will get great support, not just from us in the United Nations, but from the broader international community.

    The ceremony was concluded with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a young girl, dressed in Cypriot traditional costume, giving the leaders two pigeons to release into the sky. Her grandmother said we are free at last.

    The leaders first visited a coffee shop in Limnitis where they were greeted by the mukthar (chief) of the village and residents, calling for the opening of more checkpoints. A Turkish Cypriot told reporters now we are free, we were prisoners before.

    President Christofias told reporters that the opening of the checkpoint is good for both communities and we must continue in the same direction, that of good will, for the final reunification of our island, without checkpoints.

    The leaders and their entourage were then driven to a coffee shop in the town of Kato Pyrgos. President Christofias expressed hope that there will b no checkpoints in Cyprus. This means that we must solve our problem and I pledge to intensify our efforts, towards this goal, he said..

    For the past 45 years, Greek Cypriot residents in the area of Limnitis, on the northwest, had to travel to Pafos, on the western coast, and Limassol, on the south, in order to reach the capital Nicosia. The opening of the crossing cuts this journey down to under an hour.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    The leaders of the two communities have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunify the island.


    Finance Minister Harilaos Stavrakis believes that there are indications that the rate of economic growth in the second half of 2010 will be accelerated. He also indicated that the fiscal deficit in September has, according to preliminary data, improved by 35 million compared to the year before.

    Speaking before the Parliamentary Committee on Financial and Budgetary Affairs, which has initiated the debate on the 2011 state budget, Stavrakis said that for the first 9 months of 2010 ``the deficit-GDP ratio is similar or slightly improved compared with the corresponding period of last year and hence the target`` for a budget deficit of 6% in 2010 ``is possible``. Referring to the budget for 2011, Stavrakis said that its main aim is to improve public finances in the context of the goals set by the European Commission, meaning to reduce the budget deficit from 6% this year to 4.5 % in 2011.

    The government, he said, drew up a stringent budget, noting that the total increase in expenditure is only 1.1%, the lowest increase in spending over thirty years. He also said that government policy aims at reducing the number of public servants by 1,000 people. The Minister noted that ``if the House approves this budget with total expenditure increased by only 1.1%, the deficit will be 5.4%`` indicating that based on the target deficit of 4.5% set by the European Commission, the state will fall short 150 million euro.


    EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule has stressed that the EU welcomes any proposals that would move us closer to a comprehensive solution in Cyprus. The EU Commissioner, who paid Cyprus Thursday an one- day visit on the occasion of the opening of the Limnitis crossing point between the Turkish occupied areas and the Cypriot governments controlled areas, was invited to comment on President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias proposal on the opening of the Famagusta port.

    We welcome any proposal that will move us closer to a comprehensive solution, any proposals which will help both leaders to make that extra steps in that effort and that is what I discussed with both leaders, he said. President Christofias has recently put forward a three-tier proposal in a bid to help make headway at the talks. The second proposal calls for the implementation of Security Council resolution 550 which provides for the return of the fenced off area of Varosha - under Turkish occupation since 1974 - to the UN. The objective of the proposal is to restore the town and return it to its legitimate inhabitants. The proposal envisages also the opening of the citys port for trade for the Turkish Cypriots, under EU supervision, as well as the restoration of the walled city of Famagusta (old part of the city).

    In statements at a press conference in Nicosia, Fule also reassured that the EU would assist Cyprus implement a political solution once it is reached, noting that non solution in Cyprus is not an option and that the status quo has come for too long. In his opening remarks at the press conference, he said he shares the same view as the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu that the settlement process under the UN auspices provides the best chance in years to solve this long running conflict. Non solution is not an option and the status quo has come for too long, he stressed. Fule added he shares the leaders desire to find a solution in the shortest time possible.

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