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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-04-09

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The National Council, top advisory body to the President on the Cyprus issue, is meeting here Wednesday for the first time since President Demetris Christofias was elected in late February.

    Participating in the meeting are the ruling AKEL party, the main opposition Democratic Rally party, the Democratic Party, Socialist EDEK, the European Party and the Ecologists Environmentalists Movement.

    The session is also attended by former Presidents Tassos Papadopoulos, Glafcos Clerides and George Vassiliou, Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou, Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou, Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou and Undersecretary to the President Titos Christofides.

    The meeting comes after President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met on 21 March when they agreed to set up a number of working groups and technical committees to deal with aspects of the Cyprus problem.

    They also agreed to meet again in three months to review the work those groups and committees. Their results will be used to start negotiations under UN auspices for a solution.


    President of the European Union Committee of the Regions (CoR) Luc Van den Brande has welcomed the opening of the Ledra street crossing point, in Cyprus, saying this will have a major impact on local and regional authorities on both sides of the divide. He expressed the view that ``it is crucial to seize this window of opportunity and to further contribute to the reunification process of Cyprus``. The Committee of the Regions, van den Brande said, encourages both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to continue their efforts to reach a settlement as soon as possible and firmly supports further cooperation between local and regional authorities on both sides, since they are the closest to the citizens.

    I invite the Cypriot members of the Committee of the Regions to continue on the path to reconciliation``, van den Brande said, according to a press release by the CoR. The opening of the Ledra street crossing point, in the divided capital Nicosia, is a symbolic act for the reunification process, he stated. The Committee of the Regions warmly welcomes the opening of a crossing point on Ledra street in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 3 April. This initiative is of a highly symbolic value for the reunification process of the island and it will have a major impact on local and regional authorities on both sides of the Green Line he concluded.

    Ledra is one of the capitals main commercial streets. The road had been blocked for decades and was seen by many as a symbol of the islands division. The Ledra street crossing point opened April 3rd for the first time in nearly 40 years, following an agreement between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat. The crossing point at Ledra will facilitate movement to and from the islands northern Turkish occupied areas.


    Frank Urbancic, US designate Ambassador to Cyprus, has promised to work for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem, which he described as one of the US foreign policy priorities. Urbancic was speaking at the special hearing of the Committee for Foreign Affairs of the US Senate, where the candidacies of four ambassadors were ratified. Urbancic stressed the need for the US to work closely with the leaderships in Cyprus, for a bizonal bicommunal federation.

    He also pointed out that the United States recognise a single state in Cyprus, the Republic of Cyprus. Urbancic said that the US have to involve the Turkish Cypriot community in the reunification efforts and prepare it for that by strengthening the Non Governmental Organisations, and by promoting the economic prosperity on the whole island. Urbancic said also that the de facto division of the island causes suffering for both the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots, and at the same time, harms the US strategic interests in the region.

    The unacceptable status quo, he continued, also threatens the efficiency of the cooperation between EU and NATO, and hinders cooperation between Greece and Turkey. After the latest developments in the Cyprus issue and the agreement between the leaders of the two sides, Urbancic said there is a reason for optimism. In addition, Urbancic stressed the need for US strong support on the United Nations reunification efforts. However, he admitted that the negotiations for the details of a comprehensive settlement will be a difficult task.


    Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama believes that the time has come for new optimism for a solution to the Cyprus issue. In his opening remarks at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the confirmation hearing of Ambassador designate to Cyprus Frank C. Urbancic Jr, Obama, who was chairing the session, said he thought that this is a time for new optimism during a long time of estrangement for Cyprus.

    Referring to the recent opening of a crossing point at Ledra street in Nicosia to facilitate movement to and from the islands northern Turkish occupied areas, Obama stated that after four decades this was a tangible indication of the goodwill of both communities. He indicated that the two communities share a common home, history and destiny.

    Addressing Urbancic, Im sure you will do everything in your power to help the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot community to reach a just and lasting peace.

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