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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-10-26

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    In matters of utmost importance, such as education, everyone must show proper accountability and the necessary consensus, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias said on Monday, noting that there was no room for political expediency in the field of education.

    In his address at an event titled ``Fifty years of Cypriot education: A creative course and challenges ahead``, the President said that ``this year, along with the 50th anniversary of the Republic, we also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Cypriot education.

    ``We honour those who served Cypriot education, especially former Ministers of Education and Culture, who actively participated in the creative and often uphill and difficult course of the 50 years of education,`` he added.

    The President said that he feels proud of the achievements made by the people of Cyprus in economic and social cohesion fields, despite several tragedies experienced during the short history of the Republic of Cyprus, such as the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation.

    He also noted that at the same time he feels uncomfortable when he sees that that the rapid economic growth of Cyprus has not been coupled by similar development in culture in the broader sense. There is nonconformity, a gap which we must cover, he added.

    President Christofias said that he is not satisfied with Cyprus` ranking in education, at least as it is presented by international surveys.

    ``It is ranked, as it is well known, in the last positions of the member countries of the European Union in mathematics, in science and language,`` he said.

    The President noted that this is not a position we deserve, this is not a position that belongs to us, this is not the future we want for our children and our country,`` adding that ``this negative situation must change without delay and this goal is being served by the educational reforms currently underway.``

    He also said that cultivating acceptance of diversity, of culture, reconciliation and the spirit of people, Cypriot people, comprising the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, is an important component of educational reform.``

    ``Our belief,`` he said, ``is that both the education community and the political forces have to contribute effectively and offer in the joint effort to upgrade our education.``

    ``In matters of utmost importance, as is the area of education, we all must show proper accountability and the necessary consensus. There is no room for political expediency in the field of education. Education needs the active involvement of society and the participation of all citizens,`` he concluded.

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


    Cyprus` Minister of Finance Charilaos Stavrakis announced on Monday that the issuing of the five-year cover bonds worth one billion euro with an interest rate of 3.84% was completed with success.

    The Republic of Cyprus passed an extremely difficult test in the midst of an uncertain economic crisis, where other Eurozone countries are having a hard time to borrow with rational interest rates, he told reporters.

    Stavrakis said that the bonds have managed to help Cyprus cover its medium term needs for the next 12 months.

    He said that 80% of the bonds were allocated to foreigners and 20% to Cypriots.

    The Finance Minister translated the profit to ten million euro or 50 million during the bonds validity.

    The biggest investor is a German insurance company which invested 170 million euro in the government bonds, he revealed, noting that this was something that shows the trust which the Cypriot economy enjoys overseas.


    Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus Athanasios Orphanides said on Monday that Cyprus` fiscal course was such that it would be best for all to take corrective measures the soonest possible.

    He also noted that the public deficit did not appear to be improving in 2010 and that prospects for 2011 were not promising either, adding that the public deficit was possibly the greatest challenge for the Cypriot economy and a serious problem of a structural nature.

    Speaking during a meeting of the Committee on Finance of the House of Representatives, which is discussing the state budget for 2011, Orphanides said Central Bank projections indicated that the public deficit may exceed 6% in 2010, with consequences spilling over into 2011 and deteriorating to 7% of the GDP if additional measures were not taken.

    Orphanides noted that the economy was showing signs of recovery and called for a comprehensive programme to straighten out public finances, with emphasis on restricting expenditure, because the gradual recovery alone would not be able to solve the problems.

    He said unemployment was expected to remain high in 2011, at around 7%, while inflation would escalate even further compared to 2010 and the respective inflation in the Eurozone.

    Drawing on September 2010 figures released by the Statistical Service, Orphanides said there appeared to be an increase in the number of civil servants, and that since 2007 the number of civil servants has increased by 5,000 persons, and noted that references in the budget to decreasing the number by 1,000 per year were significant.

    Orphanides suggested drafting a package of measures for the public finances, noting that as time passes the measures which will have to be taken would be harder. He pointed out the need for structural measures to focus on restricting public expenditure, mainly through cutting back on non productive expenditure.

    In statements to the press after the meeting, Orphanides again pointed out the need for a comprehensive package of measures to correct public finances, adding that the Government`s thoughts were on the right track.

    Minister of Finance Charilaos Stavrakis commented on Orphanides` statement regarding the public deficit reaching 7% in 2011 if measures are not taken. Stavrakis said efforts were being made to keep the deficit around 6% for 2010. He added that projections brought the deficit to around 7% or 8% without additional measures, and assured that the Government was doing everything possible to reduce expenditure.

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