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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 11-10-13

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Democracy must remain a system that allows people to fully enjoy their civil and social rights and freedoms and lead a dignified life, allowing them in turn to contribute to public life, President Demetris Christofias has stressed.

    In his address at the Council of Europe`s Forum for the Future of Democracy, President Christofias said that as the negotiator of the Greek Cypriot community, he tries his utmost to convince the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community that in a real, united, democratic and federal Cyprus, democracy and freedoms must prevail.

    Otherwise, he added, a solution without democracy and without the implementation of these freedoms creates conditions for turmoil.

    President Christofias welcomed all participants and pointed out that Cyprus, with very close political and historical ties with countries in this part of the Mediterranean and also as a member of both the European Union and the Council of Europe, is in a unique position to act as a bridge between these organizations and the countries of the region.

    ``The development of the Southern Dimension within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy will be one of the priorities of our Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the second Semester of 2012``, he said.

    The President said that the topics to be discussed at the Forum are high on the agenda of the government of the Republic.

    Strengthening the representation and the democratic participation through public dialogue and civic engagement is a priority, as well as a challenge for all the member states of the Council of Europe, he pointed out.

    This years theme which is the Interdependence of Democracy and Social Cohesion acquires particular importance, he noted, since these two concepts are put to the test by the severe, global financial and social crisis and the interrelated pressures faced by our governments and institutions.

    ``These challenges are, amongst others, aggravated by political tensions, ethnic conflicts, environmental degradation, illegal immigration, xenophobia and intolerance. These pressures have eroded the social fabric of our societies``, he added.

    Democracy and social cohesion, he continued, are interrelated since you cannot have one without the other.

    ``The core values of the Council of Europe, human rights, democracy and the rule of law are a sine qua non for safeguarding social cohesion and ultimately the well-being of our citizens. Democracy cannot remain a static concept but it must be an ever evolving process, able to tackle the new challenges``, he stressed.

    Achieving social justice, democratic security and sustainable development, the President said, is the ultimate goal and the result of our commitment towards achieving social cohesion.

    Minimizing disparities and avoiding marginalization can only be achieved, he stressed, by strengthening solidarity and shared responsibility and by avoiding the division of society, imposed by social inequality and poverty.

    In meeting these challenges, he said, we need to empower people to actively engage in the democratic process.

    However, he noted, the democratic process and all its benefits can never be successful unless they take place within conditions of security; security within states as well as between states.

    ``One must never have to choose between democracy and security. Security without democracy could amount to autocracy. Democracy without security could lead to anarchy``, he pointed out.

    Today, President Christofias said, the security environment continues to be extremely volatile and disregard for international law in the behavior of states certainly contributes to aggravating existing pressures.

    Foreign policy, apart from national interests, he said, must have as its main goal, the cultivation of friendly relations between states.

    ``The international community must find the way to ensure the implementation of the norms and principles of international law which in itself will contribute to creating a more secure environment amongst states``, President Christofias concluded.


    Cyprus is hosting Thursday and Friday a Council of Europe Forum on the Future of Democracy, entitled ``The Interdependence of Democracy and Social Cohesion: strengthening representation and democratic participation through public dialogue and civic engagement``.

    The Forum, which takes place in the southern coastal town of Limassol, is organized by the Council of Europe (CoE) in cooperation with the Ministries of Labour and Social Security and Foreign Affairs with the participation of more than 200 delegates.

    The proceedings of the Forum will be opened by President of the Republic Demetris Christofias.

    The Council of Europe Forum for the Future of Democracy is a multi-partner process which aims to strengthen transversal understanding of the issues under review and foster cross-sectoral approaches.


    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, will hold Friday a new meeting in the framework of the UN-led talks, aiming at reaching a solution that would reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    UN Secretary General`s Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said after the leaders meeting on Tuesday, its been our assessment that todays meeting was a pretty useful meeting, a lot of different ideas and views that have been exchanged; I think that our overall take is that it has been constructive.

    Asked about a meeting in New York between the two leaders and the UN SG Ban Ki-moon at the end of October, Downer said that the UN SG himself wants to make up his mind how he is exactly going to handle it, once he has seen what the leaders have achieved by the end of their meeting on the 21st of October.

    Downer added that he will provide the UN SG with some advice once the meetings are over and he will then make up his mind on how to handle the meeting with the two leaders in New York, due to probably take place on October 30 and 31.


    Cyprus is stepping up procedures for the second hydrocarbon licensing round in the country`s Exclusive Economic Zone, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Praxoula Antoniadou has told CNA, adding that decisions on this issue are expected before the end of 2011.

    Antoniadou was commenting on press reports that the Ministerial Committee dealing with the issue of hydrocarbon exploration decided to expedite the second hydrocarbon licensing round in offshore blocks.

    ``What is certain is that the next steps with regard to the exploitation of possible hydrocarbon reserves are being discussed at a high political level as well as at the level of the Ministerial Committee,`` she said.

    ``What is currently under discussion is how to expedite procedures so we can proceed with the second licensing round soon,`` she explained.

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