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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 12-05-01
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 President: Turkey might create tension during Cyprus' EU presidencyTurkish diplomacy is investing in a weak or even an unsuccessful Cyprus presidency of the Council of the EU, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has stressed.
He has also warned that Ankara may even attempt to create artificial tension around Cyprus to disorientate Nicosia from exercising successfully its six monthly EU rotating presidency, which begins in July this year. This is the first time since Cyprus joined the EU in May 2004 that the Republic will assume the presidency of the Union.
In an interview with CNA, the President noted that Turkish diplomacy has never stopped attempts to consolidate the faits accomplis of the 1974 Turkish invasion, pointing out at the same time that Cyprus is prepared to face all scenarios and is already making pre-emptive moves in Europe and at the UN.
The President, who talked to CNA to mark 8 years since the Republic's accession to the EU and to highlight the upcoming Cyprus Presidency, has sent a clear message to Ankara that Nicosia will not be engaged in a pointless dialogue with Turkey on the issue.
This, he added, concerns the EU exclusively and relates to EU institutions. "Questioning the EU rotating presidency is a matter that has to do primarily with the EU," he said.
Asked if Cyprus can act as an honest broker, President Christofias stressed that Cyprus will only promote EU interests. Nicosia, he said, has no hidden agenda, explaining however that this does not mean that the Cyprus problem and the continuing Turkish occupation of Cyprus' northern part will be hidden under the carpet.
Replying to another question, he said Cyprus during its presidency may be called upon to manage new crises in the Eurozone, which the Republic joined in January 2008.
He pointed out that a successful presidency would strongly strengthen the Republic's statehood and its sovereignty.
In his interview with CNA, the President referred to a difficult juncture at which Cyprus assumes the EU presidency and indicated that, given the current financial crisis which he believes has political ramifications, the EU financial policy has to be reassessed.
Cyprus' presidency, he said, will promote social convergence and social cohesion in the EU.
On the cost of the presidency, Christofias said the budget amounts to 61.7 million euro for the period 2011-2013.
Invited to assess 8 years of EU membership, President Christofias was unequivocal: "Our accession to the EU is undoubtedly the most significant milestone in our recent history, since independence in 1960. This achievement was accomplished through the hard work of the people of Cyprus, past governments, the House of Representatives, political parties and civil society at large."
EU membership, he pointed out, has been achieved with the very important support from Greece.
"EU accession can act as a catalyst to modernise the country and accelerate structural reforms needed to address successfully the 21st century's challenges," he said. He pointed out that the acquis communautaire, legislation, regulations and directives aim at improving the quality of life for the European citizen, noting nonetheless that the interests of the big member states influence EU political and economic policies.
"What we need now is not to impose the policies of wealthy states at the expense of those countries facing problems. We have to offer assistance to those countries facing serious economic problems to overcome their difficulties with the least social cost," he pointed out.
Invited to comment on aspirations the people of Cyprus had cherished at the time of accession about a political settlement, the President said that Turkish intransigence has not allowed such a settlement to be achieved. "We continue to work to turn Turkey's accession course into a catalyst for a solution," he said.
Asked about the Eurozone, Christofias said that austerity policies applied currently to tackle the financial crisis cannot solve existing problems, in fact they make them worse, since they lead to stagnation and dismantle the social state. Thus, he said, it is necessary to revise the financial policy, an approach which he believes is gaining ground.
Replying to another question, President Christofias said the Cyprus EU presidency main slogan is "A better Europe", with a two-fold aim. The first target is to reinforce the principles of solidarity and social cohesion in the EU and the second to render common policies more efficient, coupled with measures to promote development.
"This would help to create new conditions of economic development in Europe and effectively tackle unemployment, mainly among young people," he noted.
Asked whether Cyprus with limited experience can successfully handle various EU challenges, he assured that the government is making very careful moves, in close cooperation with the Trio countries (Poland and Denmark) and in constant consultation with the EU Secretariat and the Commission.
"It is my personal assessment – something I do not of course wish to happen – that Cyprus might be called to focus on new crises in the Eurozone. We shall, needless to say, cooperate with the Eurogroup and the European Council," he said.
On the agenda of the Cyprus presidency and especially the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, the President said the agenda will be finalized in a month's time but he revealed its four main pillars. The first pillar, he explained, is to promote political moves to make the European Union more efficient and viable, part of which is the Multiannual Financial Framework, the Common Agricultural Policy, the issues of Research and Innovation, Energy, Connecting Europe, climate change and one of Cyprus' main priorities, the new Maritime Policy.
The second pillar, according to the President, is a more efficient economy and governance, part of which is the implementation of Europe 2020 and the support of small and medium enterprises which can contribute to the creation of new jobs, especially for the youth.
"Our third priority includes action to bring Europe closer to its citizens, a part of which is the European Asylum System. We hope, in spite of difficulties, to successfully complete negotiations by the end of the year in line with the goals set by the European Council," he added.
Finally, he said, the fourth priority relates to the reinforcement of Europe's role in the world and Cyprus will seek to bring Europe closer to its neighbours, promoting peace and international law. "Furthermore, we wish to continue the enlargement policy promoting Iceland's accession course and the accession prospects of countries of the Western Balkans, in particular Serbia and Montenegro," Christofias said.
Questioned on the possible impact of the longstanding Cyprus problem on the EU presidency, the President of the Republic warned that promoting one's purely national objectives and priorities would most certainly lead to disaster during one's presidency.
"We have made it abundantly clear that Cyprus' presidency will be a proper presidency that will promote exclusively the Union's interests as a whole," he stressed, noting also that Nicosia has its own important requests which it expects to be met, such as issues relating to the Multiannual Financial Framework. However, the President pointed out, Cyprus has no hidden agenda, no strong red lines on various legislations, which it will handle during its presidency.
"I am convinced that we will respond efficiently and successfully to the politically sensitive role of the presiding country," President Christofias stressed.
The role of the EU president however is not tantamount to hiding under the carpet the Cyprus problem or the continuing Turkish occupation of Cyprus' northern part, the President said, adding that the anachronistic division of the country exists de facto and is evident in many different ways, including the fact that a divided capital will play host to EU officials.
Asked about Turkish threats to promote, inter alia, the recognition of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus, President Christofias said that Turkish diplomacy has never ceased to seek the consolidation of the faits accomplis created by Turkey's invasion in 1974. "We are prepared to face all scenarios," he said.
"We are monitoring closely all political and diplomatic moves by Ankara and we are already taking pre-emptive measures on the level of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and our (EU) partners," he said, adding that EU member states, which are briefed on Turkish moves, maintain a principled position advocating the unity and the national sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
"I would agree that Turkish diplomacy invests in a weak or a failed Cyprus presidency and one cannot rule out attempts by Ankara to create artificial sources of tension around Cyprus to distract us from exercising successfully the EU Presidency," he noted.
"I want to convey to Ankara a clear message. The EU through the Conclusions of the European Council last December has given a clear answer to Turkish threats and plans regarding Cyprus' presidency," the President pointed out.
He pointed out that "we will not engage in a pointless dialogue with Turkey on the matter. This is solely an EU issue and is linked to the core of the functioning of EU institutions. Therefore, any doubts cast on the Council's rotating presidency by Turkey is a matter that must concern mainly the Union and in this context I consider that Turkey's rhetoric on the issue exposes Ankara itself and damages even further its accession course".
Asked about the total cost of the presidency and the impact it might have on public finances in Cyprus given the difficult financial conditions, President Christofias told CNA that the 61.7 m euro budget for 2011-2013 includes expenditure for the renovation of the conference centre "Philoxenia" and the press centre "CYPRESS" in Nicosia. Excluding this expenditure, Christofias said, the budget is one of the smallest compared to funds previous presidencies have had.
"We will host around 15 Informal Ministerial Meetings and some 180 meetings of high ranking officials and experts," he noted.
Asked about preparations in the public service, President Christofias said he is satisfied with the work done so far, adding that preparations continue in earnest in the past six months. "We are confident that we will do well. On July 1, Cyprus will be ready to respond to this historic challenge", he stressed.
On coordination with other institutions involved in the presidency, Christofias said that the House of Representatives, which will play an important role since it will host a number of meetings of national parliaments, is also preparing intensely.
Asked if the presidential election campaign could have an impact on the successful outcome of the EU presidency, Christofias explained that waging an election campaign during one's EU presidency is not a unique phenomenon to Cyprus, recalling that Poland and Denmark have both found themselves in a similar situation.
Christofias expressed the belief that the EU presidency will not be affected by the election campaign for a new president of the Republic, scheduled for February next year. He also called on the political parties and presidential hopefuls not to include in their campaign the EU presidency.
"The EU presidency is a national issue and we all have an obligation to ensure its successful outcome," he added.
Concluding his interview to CNA, he noted that the successful completion of the EU presidency will have a positive fallout on both the European Union and Cyprus since it will consolidate the Republic's national sovereignty and its statehood as well as its image as a serious, modern and responsible democratic society in Europe and internationally.
 President: Cyprus will not submit to Turkish threatsPresident Demetris Christofias has condemned Turkey's latest provocative moves with regard to Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone, saying Ankara has to shift its policies and pointing out that both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots will benefit from the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves, already found from exploratory drilling.
Speaking to CNA, the President called on Turkey to help find a political settlement in Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, pointing out that Ankara and Nicosia, due to their geographical proximity, are condemned to cooperate.
The President of the Republic warned Ankara that, if it wants to join the EU, it has to contribute "here and now" to a Cyprus solution and relinquish threats.
"We will not submit to Turkish threats," President Christofias told CNA on Monday, pointing out at the same time that Turkey would also benefit by the exploration of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone if it changes its stance and contributes to the solution of the Cyprus problem.
 Cyprus - Eight years to the EUCyprus' accession to the EU, eight years ago, signaled a momentous milestone in the island's history. Cyprus joined the EU on May 1st 2004, along with other nine countries from Central and Eastern Europe.
``As from this moment, the Republic of Cyprus becomes a full, integral and inseparable member of the great European family. This is the second most important historic landmark after the proclamation of the Republic of Cyprus", the late former President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos was stressing in an address to the Cypriot people on Cyprus` accession to the European Union.
Eight years after its accession, Cyprus prepares to undertake for the first time the presidency of the Council of the EU.
In an interview with CNA, former President of the Republic of Cyprus George Vasiliou said that Cyprus' EU presidency would be a difficult task with many advantages as well.
"There is no doubt that a successful presidency would contribute essentially to the strengthening of Cyprus' position and prestige" he stressed. Vasiliou, who also served as Cyprus' Chief Negotiator for Accession to the EU, noted that Cyprus, as the EU presidency, will have to promote the decision making process of the EU and address any problems may arise during its six monthly presidency. In addition, he said that Cypriots will have the opportunity to better understand how the different EU institutions work, while the citizens of the rest 26 EU states will get to know Cyprus and its people.
 Shipping Chamber welcomes ratification of Maritime ConventionThe Cyprus Shipping Chamber has welcomed the ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and its integration into the national legislation.
This, the Chamber said, will further enhance Cyprus' maritime infrastructure, as well as its image as a reliable and constantly developing maritime centre.
According to a press release, the ratification bill includes mechanisms that will allow the Flag State to effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control over ships that fly its flag by establishing a system for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Convention, including regular inspections, reporting, and legal proceedings under the applicable law, as well as, ensure that ships that fly its flag carry a "Maritime Labour Certificate" and a "Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance" as required by the Convention.
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