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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-02-09

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has expressed regret over a decision by the Social Democrats Movement EDEK to withdraw from government, saying that he was not surprised.

    The President also said that such moves make the pain-staking effort towards a political settlement in Cyprus even more difficult, adding that unfortunately we are not as close to a solution as some, at home and abroad, would like to think.

    In a statement read out to the press, President Christofias said EDEK had from the very beginning, when he assumed the presidency in March 2008, been acting as if it belonged to the opposition, despite the fact that it participated in the government, with regard both to the Cyprus problem and domestic issues.

    He said he would respect EDEKs decision, but noted that this was a hasty move, adding that it would have been more appropriate if EDEK President Yiannakis Omirou were to have decided on the matter after a meeting of the leaders of the governmental coalition parties. The meeting was scheduled to take place on February 1st but was postponed due to the arrival in Cyprus of the UN Secretary General.

    He thanked the two ministers from EDEK ranks, namely Communications and Works Minister Nicos Nicolaides and Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Michalis Polinikis, who had submitted their resignations to him earlier today, for their work and their contribution to the implementation of the governmental programme. He said that he accepted their resignations but asked them to remain at their posts until he appoints new Ministers and they agreed.

    Referring to the Cyprus question, the President noted existing differences with EDEK, adding however that there is no gap in out approach, as presented in public. There has been no development in the recent past in the negotiations on issues on which EDEK has disagreed to justify the decision to leave the government, he pointed out.

    He underlined the fundamental principle on which negotiations on Cyprus are taking place, which is nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, noting that this was reaffirmed at the joint statement during UN Secretary Generals visit to Cyprus.

    ``We are not as close to a solution as some - both here and abroad would suggest, but we are working for a solution and this process is ongoing,`` President Christofias stressed, adding that ``no one can pre-empt the outcome, and no one can claim that we are trapped in a dangerous path. That is unsubstantiated and I regret to say wrong,`` he stressed.

    President Christofias said that government policy on the Cyprus problem has reinforced the Greek Cypriot side as regards the essence of the problem as well as the process and the tactics followed. This is why EDEKs decision to withdraw from government, especially at this time, raises questions and makes me feel regret, he added.

    He noted that raising doubts continuously sends negative messages to the international community, and added that he expects more support from the domestic front.

    The President rejected allegations that political parties and the National Council are briefed about developments in the Cyprus question ex post facto, noting that during his term in office the National Council has met eighteen times, while three meetings of the Informal Political Party leaders Council and other private meeting with political party leaders have also taken place.

    I do not claim to be infallible. I am guided by the saying nobody is infallible. However, it is unfair to suggest that political parties and the National Council are briefed ex post facto. With all due respect, this is does not reflect reality, he stressed.

    Christofias called on political parties at least as regards the handling of the Cyprus question to continue our dialogue in an effort to achieve mutual understanding and unity to be able to overcome difficulties ahead of us.

    He assured citizens that he will abide by the programme of his government and will continue to defend the principles, rights and freedoms of the people of Cyprus.

    EDEK`s decision was taken at a meeting of its Central Committee, with 115 votes in favor, eight against and three abstentions.

    In his speech, EDEK President Yiannakis Omirou talked about his partys ``total disagreement`` with President Christofias` strategy on the Cyprus problem.

    Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.


    The two Socialist Ministers, members of the Council of Ministers, submitted Tuesday their letters of resignation to President of the Republic Demetris Christofias.

    Their resignation came one day after Cyprus Socialists Party, EDEK Social Democrats Movement, decided by majority vote to withdraw from the government coalition.

    Minister of Communication and Works Nikos Nikolaides and Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment Michalis Polynikis thanked President Christofias for the excellent cooperation at the Cabinet.


    Serbian Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac arrives Tuesday on an official visit.

    On Wednesday morning he will be received by the President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and later on sign a bilateral defence agreement with his Cypriot counterpart Kostas Papacostas.

    He will meet President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian and Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou.


    The Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB) has awarded the annual Financial and Business Excellence awards.

    The Bank of Cyprus, a leading financial institution, was presented with the award for the best business in Cyprus. It was also presented with the award for best financial services.

    Deloitte secured the award for best professional services, Apollonio Private Hospital for best medical services, the University of Nicosia for best educational services and the Four Seasons hotel for best tourist services.

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