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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 11-02-10

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) called on Turkey on Thursday to actively support the ongoing negotiations, to contribute in concrete terms to the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue and to facilitate a suitable climate for negotiations by immediately starting to withdraw its forces from Cyprus.

    With 51 votes for, five against and three abstentions MEPs voted on the amendments and motion for a resolution on Turkey`s progress report 2010 as submitted by Dutch EPP MEP Ria Oomen Ruijten.

    The resolution strongly urges the two communities in Cyprus to work intensively as asked for by the SG of the UN to capitalize on the progress already made in the negotiations in order to reach a sustainable solution, in line with relevant UNSC resolutions``, promoting in particular Resolution 550 (1984) and the principles on which the EU is founded, to the benefit of the Cypriot citizens, the EU and Turkey.

    UN Security Council Resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of the Turkish occupied town of Varosha (the fenced off area of Famagusta) by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN.

    Famagusta was captured by the advancing Turkish troops during the second phase of the Turkish invasion, in mid August 1974. Since then, it has remained sealed off, under the control of the Turkish military.

    Two amendments submitted by Cypriot S&D MEP Koulis Mavronikolas and S&D Vice Chairman Hannes Swoboda and Cypriot EPP MEP Eleni Theocharous and German EPP MEP Renate Sommer which call on Turkey to end the illegal settling of the occupied areas of Cyprus were also approved.

    The report encourages Turkey to intensify its support for the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, in particular by facilitating its access to military zones in the north with the addition of another amendment submitted by Cypriot S&D MEP Antigoni Papadopoulou asking for Turkeys contribution in the procedure by providing the Committee access to its records.

    In addition the AFET report deplores the fact that the Additional Protocol to the EC Turkey Association Agreement has still not been implemented by Turkey, which continues to affect the process of negotiations and calls on the government to fully implement it.

    The report is expected to be discussed in the Plenary of the European Parliament in March and new amendments are also likely to be submitted in the meantime.

    According to an official European Parliament Press release among the key remaining challenges, MEPs list the worrying deterioration of press freedom, which is leading to self-censorship of national media and internet sites, and criminal prosecution of journalists denouncing human rights violations, the situation of women and rising rates of honour killings and forced marriages and the lack of protection of religious minorities.

    The wording and specific demands of the text were according to the Press release hammered out in tough negotiations among Parliament`s political groups as just minutes before the vote, the EPP group agreed to withdraw an amendment calling on EU institutions to ``study the possibility`` of establishing a ``privileged partnership`` with Turkey, as an alternative to full EU membership.

    In exchange, AFET rejected several amendments by the S&D group that would have explicitly mentioned the ``common goal of full EU membership`` for Turkey, or called upon Member States to take an ``open and constructive`` approach to it.

    Instead, the same wording as last year is used, describing the opening of Turkey`s accession negotiations in 2005 as the ``starting point for a long-lasting and open-ended process``.

    Cypriot MEPs Ioannis Kasoulides, Eleni Theocharous, Takis Hadjigeorgiou and Antigoni Papadopoulou also issued statements commenting on the Report.

    MEP and EPP Vice Chairman Ioannis Kasoulides said that the Report is quite balanced, adding that once more efforts to directly or indirectly approve direct trade between the EU and Cyprus northern occupied areas have been quashed.

    The Turkish Cypriots maintain that direct trade between the occupied areas and the EU will end what they describe as isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community. The government of Cyprus does not share this position, saying that the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is a direct consequence of Turkeys invasion and continuing occupation of the islands northern part.

    EPP MEP Eleni Theocharous expressed the opinion that the Report has positive aspects for Cyprus which ought to be taken advantage of by the Government of Cyprus officially during the ongoing negotiations.

    MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou of the Confederal Group of European United Left and Nordic Green Left said the Report was sufficiently good, noting that the fact that there is no mention of EU direct trade with the occupied areas or putting an end to the so-called isolation of Turkish Cypriots in combination with the fact that the Turkish government is called upon to immediately start withdrawing its troops to Cyprus in order to facilitate the right climate for the negotiations make it a sufficiently good Report.

    S&D MEP Antigoni Papadopoulou expresses the view that the content of the Report is neutral as it does not contain stronger recommendations on the part of the rapporteur or sanctions against Turkey, adding however that it sends a clear message that Ankara as an EU candidate member has both rights and obligations which it will need to ultimately fulfill in order to complete its accession course.


    Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Demetris Droutsas will be visiting Cyprus on February 14, to discuss developments in the Cyprus problem and the next steps in the process for a solution. Droutsas is expected to be received by President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou.

    On February 17, Droutsas will be flying to New York for a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. On their agenda will be the Cyprus problem, developments in the Middle East and the issue of the name of FYROM.

    In view of his meetings, Droutsas met in Athens on Thursday with the UN Secretary General`s Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer, to hear his views and assessment concerning the Cyprus problem.

    According to Spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gregoris Delavekouras, the purpose of Droutsas` meetings is to discuss the Cyprus problem and express Athens` concern over the slow pace of the talks for a settlement and the absence of any will on the Turkish Cypriot side for substantive talks.


    The sooner longstanding problems are solved, the sooner Cyprus will be sending signals of trustworthiness to international markets, the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus Athanasios Orphanides said on Thursday, pointing out that some of the downgrading of the island`s economy can be reversed.

    Speaking after a lunch organised by the Nicosia Rotary Club, Orphanides said that ``over the past year we have had many challenges and great efforts are being made at this moment to improve the governance framework,`` adding that ``in Cyprus this development is especially significant because, as a financial centre in the region, the stability of the Eurozone is very important for the welfare of the country and the continuous growth of the financial sector.``

    Orphanides pointed out that ``very soon, over the next few months, we must all make efforts to restore the fiscal status of our country to a solid foundation,`` adding that ``such efforts are being made in all the other EU countries at this moment and it is important not to stay behind.``

    Replying to questions, Orphanides said that Cyprus has ``a negative watch by international credit rating companies`` and noted that ``other international organisations, for example the European Commission in its recent report, have indicated that we need corrective measures of a medium-term and long-term nature.``


    The population in the government controlled area of Cyprus is estimated at 803,2 thousand at the end of 2009, according to the Demographic Report for 2009 published by the Statistical Service.

    The report gives, inter alia, an account of population developments and provides data on a time series basis on fertility, mortality, marriages, divorces and migration, said an announcement issued here today by the Statistical Service, including the most salient demographic developments during 2009.

    It says that the population in the government controlled area is estimated at 803,2 thousand at the end of 2009 compared to 796,9 thousand in the previous year, recording an increase of 0,8%.

    The population increase in 2009 is mainly explained by an increased natural increase (4.426 persons) and to a lesser extent by the net migration balance (1.846 persons), as it explains.

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