• Prime minister Victor Ponta, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meeting in Riyadh

    AGERPRES special correspondent, Doroteea Purcarea reports: Prime minister Victor Ponta has had a meeting on Thursday with the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

    At the meeting which took place at the Royal Palace in Riyadh, the Romanian Prime minister was accompanied by Economy minister Mihai Tudose, Health minister Nicolae Banicioiu, Education minister Sorin Cimpeanu, State Secretary with the Interior Ministry for political analysis and relation with the Parliament Radu Podgorean, and the former Foreign Intelligence Service head Teodor Melescanu, currently a PM’s counselor on Defence and Security matters.

    The visit to Saudi Arabia is an important stage in the bilateral relationships’ level, as it is a first visit of a Romanian Prime minister since the diplomatic relations with this country were established, 20 years ago. More…

  • Three Cypriot projects head for the NASA international space apps challenge

    The three Cypriot winner projects of the Limassol Space Apps Challenge will head for the international competition of space applications organized by NASA.

    The International Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration focused on space exploration that takes place over 48-hours in cities around the world. In Cyprus, this year, it took place in the coastal town of Limassol the first weekend of April.

    The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space.

    NASA is leading this global collaboration along with a number of government collaborators and over 100 local organizing teams across the globe.

    The three Cypriot winning teams are Space Forester Team (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYxdZJHxLr0), Arachnobeea, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc3HosYOPOk) and Chromosky (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxdnxjM43Tg).

    In statements to CNA, the members of the organization committee of the Limassol space apps noted that the contest is very popular around the world, since it provides researchers with a great opportunity to get involved with real missions of NASA.

    They added that the applications created during the Space Apps competitions involve various fields such as planetary exploration, exploitation of resources from asteroids, environmental protection, warnings of weather phenomena, monitoring seismic activity and volcanic activity, etc.

    It is noted that Cypriot project MarsSense, which was the winner of the Space Apps Limassol 2013, was given the second international award in the category People`s Choice Award of the NASA International Space Apps Challenge.

    The Cypriot team of MarsSense was invited in 2014 to the biggest space conference, called Space Ops, which is organised by NASA. There, the Cypriot team presented its work and was excelled as one of the four leading academic projects related to Space Exploration for the biennium 2013-2014.

    In addition, Greek project Popeye on Mars, which won the Space Apps Challenge Athens 2013, ranked first in the International Space Apps Challenge in the category Best Mission Concept. The project concerned the creation of a greenhouse for growing vegetables on Mars.

    CNA/AAR/GCH 2015

  • President: Tripartite Summit puts in practice Cyprus – Greece cooperation for stability in region

    The realisation of the 2nd Cyprus-Egypt-Greece Tripartite Summit Meeting, in Nicosia and the Declaration adopted at the level of the Heads of States, puts in practice the cooperation between Cyprus and Greece to achieve stability and prosperity of the peoples and our region, said Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, receiving the credentials of the new Ambassador of Greece in Cyprus Ilias Fotopoulos at a formal ceremony at the Presidential Palace.

    Anastasiades stressed that the sincere desire of Cyprus and Greece to promote peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean was not confined to wishful thinking, but it was proven through their active role to strengthen regional cooperation.

    “Shortly, we expect that the expansion of this cooperation will be achieved, consolidating the benefits that will emerge from the peaceful coexistence and cooperation with almost all the neighbouring countries. In this context, we emphasize that this cooperation is not directed against any other country, to the contrary, it is an opportunity that should be seized by all”, said the President.

    Expressing his appreciation for the selfless support over time of the Greek Government, the political leadership and the Greek people of Cyprus` struggle against the Turkish occupation and for the reunification of Cyprus and the Cypriot people, Anastasiades said that his recent visit to Athens and his meetings with the state and political leadership reaffirmed the strong fraternal ties and the fact that the fate of the two nations and peoples was common, just like the national vision and struggles were also common.

    “The resumption of the dialogue is now possible, since the illegal actions of Turkey have ceased It is, however, essential that Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot community show respect for the agreements and the commitments and demonstrate at the negotiations’ table that they truly desire an honest, but promising compromise. In this regard, it is imperative that the illegal actions, through unjustifiable pretexts, that had led us to the suspension of the negotiations, will not be repeated”, said the President.

    At the same time he said that the new Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci creates positive expectations for a fruitful and productive dialogue.

    Presenting his credentials Fotopoulos said that the post he assumed was the highest national honor for every Greek Ambassador.

    “Common values and principles, common history and common struggles make up the fiber of the long-lasting bonds between the two countries. Bonds which are the components of our cooperation at the bilateral as well as the regional level, particularly today that Greece and Cyprus, as members of the European Union, constitute a guarantee of stability and security in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region”, he said.

    He added that Athens and Nicosia firmly believe in the possibility of solving the Cyprus problem, on the basis of the international law principles and within the framework of the European principles and values.

    “The cornerstone of our policy on the Cyprus problem is the respect and defence of the international personality of the Republic of Cyprus and that is why I am convinced that we will continue steadfastly the cooperation and coordination between our Governments”, he said.

    He reiterated that Greece`s strategic goal was to achieve a just, viable, permanent and functional solution to the Cyprus problem that will respect the Decisions and Resolutions of the United Nations and would be compatible with European values and principles. He added that that solution could only be the result of unobstructed talks between the two sides, expressing the free and sovereign will of the whole of the people of Cyprus for the fate of their country.

    Fotopoulos said that his aim was to maintain and further strengthen the presence and role of the Greek Embassy in Nicosia, as an open channel of communication, as a link between Athens and Nicosia, between the Greek and Cypriot authorities.


  • Bulgaria, Switzerland Sign Agreement on Project for Swiss Support for Introduction of Dual-Track Principles in Bulgaria Vocational Education System

    Sofia, April 30 (BTA) – Bulgarian and Swiss officials signed Thursday an agreement between the two countries on
    implementation of a project entitled, “Swiss Support for the Introduction of the Dual-Track Principles in Bulgaria Vocational Education System”. The agreement was signed in the Presidency building, in the presence of President Rosen Plevneliev, by Swiss Ambassador here Denis Knobel, and four Bulgarian ministers – of EU funds management, Tomislav Donchev, of labour and social policy, Ivailo Kalfin, of education, Todor Tanev, and of economy, Bozhidar Loukarski.  At the ceremony Ambassador Knobel noted that this is the first agreement signed with two deputy prime ministers and two ministers, which is a mark of the commitment and support of all Bulgarian institutions for the introduction of dual education in this country. More…

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    This Year’s First Bulgarian-US Military Exercise Held at Graf Ignatievo Air Base

    Graf Ignatievo, South Central Bulgaria, April 30 (BTA) – For two weeks ending this Thursday, Bulgaria hosted a bilateral flying exercise with the participation of the 122nd Fighter Squadron of the United States’ Louisiana Air National Guard. This was the first out of three exercises with a US squadron at the Graf Ignatievo Air Base this year. More…

  • Paraguay expresses support to the resumption of Cyprus negotiations

    The Government of Paraguay advocates the resumption of negotiations to reunify Cyprus in accordance with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, shares the spirit of the Joint Declaration of February 2014 and lauds the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in his search for a just, stable and lasting solution for both Cyprus and the entire region, the new Ambassador of Paraguay to Cyprus, stationed in Paris Emilio Gimenez Franco has said.

    Presenting his credentials on Thursday to Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Franco noted that for Paraguay, cooperation in economic, commercial, cultural, educational and scientific fields, is the appropriate framework in which to deepen and strengthen a bilateral relationship. He noted that in this context, it is the intention of the Government of Paraguay to subscribe instruments on judicial cooperation regarding extradition and the exchange of imprisoned persons as this is, inter alia, also of interest to the Government of Cyprus.

    The Ambassador said that trade between the two countries is still not significant, there is, however, a potential to expand and deepen two-way contacts. He noted that Paraguay is a world class producer and exporter of food and clean energy and is first in its export of electricity and organic sugar and fifth in its export of meat, soya, corn, wheat and other agricultural products. It is also one of the most stable economies in the region that provides constant and sustained economic growth and it maintains an excellent climate for business and investments, he added.

    Replying, President Anastasiades stressed that the recent assumption of the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community by Mustafa Akinci creates expectations and hopes for cooperation and joint collaboration, through engaging in substantive negotiations, with good will and determination,”so to finally reunite our homeland, free from any occupation forces, and for Greek and Turkish Cypriots to peacefully live and co-exist together, as they had been doing for centuries.”

    Moreover he reiterated “our strong belief in the adoption of bold confidence measures aiming at building trust, confidence and good will between the two communities, thereby providing a much needed stimulus to the prospect of reaching a settlement” and welcomed Akinci’s public statements in support of such a prospect.

    He noted however that the above-mentioned do not absolve Turkey, which still militarily occupies the northern part of Cyprus, from its obligations and responsibilities concerning the efforts to find a just solution and we do hope and expect that it will demonstrate genuine political will and negotiate in good faith, so as to contribute constructively to the efforts to reach a settlement as soon as possible, not only in theory and rhetoric, but through practical and substantial actions.

    Anastasiades expressed his sincere willingness and determination to work tirelessly to achieve a settlement reuniting Cyprus. “It is the historically shared responsibility of the leaders of the two communities and all stakeholders involved to uphold these ambitions and find the right forward. It is a responsibility which I am whole-heartedly committed in undertaking,” he added.

    Referring to Cyprus economy, Anastasiades said that it is now on the road to full recovery. He noted that Cyprus has made great progress on its reform program during these past two years, noting that at the same time, “we are aware of the challenges ahead. Unemployment is high; the private and public sectors are heavily indebted. Given the high percentage of non-performing loans, credit institutions are stepping up their recovery efforts.”

    He said that the government is confident that the recently adopted legislation on the reformed foreclosure law and the insolvency framework are important in addressing the issue of the non-performing loans.

    “Our emphasis is now turned towards the necessary structural reforms. The focus of my government is on administrative structural reforms with the overall aim of setting the foundations for sustainable growth over the long run, attracting foreign direct investment and eventually creating a new economic model for the country,” the President noted, adding that the government`s top economic priority is the gradual return to capital markets, and the smooth completion of the macroeconomic adjustment program.

    Referring to the bilateral relations, Anastasiades said that they are based on common democratic values and principles that both countries cherish and adhere to. “It is my Government’s objective to work towards the further enhancement of these ties and of our cooperation in various domains,” he stressed, adding also that as a member state of the European Union, Cyprus is willing and ready to contribute to the further development of Paraguay’s multidimensional relations and cooperation with the European Union.


  • “Countryside Vacations,” starting from 175 lei per person, over May 3 – June 19

    The National Association for Rural, Ecological and Cultural Tourism (ANTREC) is conducting the 25th edition of the “Countryside Vacations” programme, in the period May 3 – June 19, 2015, and the prices start from 175 lei per person for five nights in 2 daisy guest houses.

    All tourist categories can benefit from the programme, being able to discover rural life, the traditions of the respective places, the hospitality specific to this kind of tourism and last, but not least, serve a traditional meal with foods specific to each area they choose, shows an ANTREC release remitted to AGERPRES on Thursday.

    The recommended rates for the current edition of the “Countryside Vacations” programme are of 175 lei per person in the 2 daisy guest houses, 225 lei per person in 3 and 4 daisy guest houses and 290 lei per person in 5 daisy guest houses. The rate includes 5 nights of accommodation in a double room, respectively 6 days, the first night of accommodation being on Sunday. The stay will end on Friday. Each guest house participating in this programme will provide free breakfast. More…

  • DefMin Dusa: The four servicemen in Kandahar suffered superficial injuries; their situation is stable

    The four servicemen caught in a car bomb attack in Afghanistan on Thursday suffered superficial injuries, National Defence Minister Mircea Dusa said on Thursday, while participating in an anniversary ceremony of two battalions.

    “Four Romanian servicemen on a mission in the Kandahar airport area were caught in a car bomb attack. Following this attack the four military were injured. Of course, there are rather superficial injuries. They are already in a military hospital and their situation is stable. Depending on their medical assessment which is currently undergoing, we shall decide whether we repatriate them or whether they continue their mission,” Mircea Dusa said. More…

  • Public financial management and public service reform reviewed by Cyprus’ lenders

    A Troika (EC, ECB and the IMF) mission continues meetings in Cyprus, as part of a new review mission that began last week following the implementation of the insolvency bill and the foreclosure framework that has set the €10 billion financial assistance programme back on track.

    During their meetings on Thursday, Troika technocrats are reviewing the progress in the public service reform, mainly issues concerning wage reform, the appraisal system and labour mobility. According to the renewed time frame, decisions on the reforms should be approved by the Council of Ministers in June.

    A separate Troika team will discuss with Cypriot officials reforms that would foster growth.

    In contacts in the Finance Ministry, Troika technocrats will discuss with MoF officials issues such as public financial administration and government guarantees, as well as the practises that govern the operation of the Public Debt Management Office.

    Later in the afternoon Troika technocrats will discuss with officials from the MoF, the Central Bank macroeconomic projections for the Cypriot economy as well as the renewed fiscal targets.

    The Troika mission will leave the island tomorrow and return on May 6 to continue discussions with the Cypriot authorities in the presence of the Troika mission heads, Jacob Friis of the European Commission, Mark Lewis from the IMF and Fransesco Truti from the ECB.


  • Unemployment drops slightly in Cyprus in March

    Unemployment in Cyprus fell slightly in March 2015 and stood at 16,0%, compared to 16,1% in February 2015.

    The euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 11.3% in March 2015, stable compared with February 2015 4, but down from 11.7% in March 2014. The EU28 unemployment rate was 9.8% in March 2015, stable compared with February 2015 and down from 10.4% in March 2014, according to figures published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

    Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rate in March 2015 was recorded in Germany (4.7%), and the highest in Greece (25.7% in January 2015) and Spain (23.0%). Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate in March 2015 fell in twenty-two Member States, increased in five and remained stable in Austria. The largest decreases were registered in Ireland (12.0% to 9.8%), Spain (25.1% to 23.0%) and Poland (9.6% to 7.7%). The increases were registered in Croatia (17.3% to 18.2%), Finland (8.4% to 9.1%), Italy (12.4% to 13.0%), France (10.1% to 10.6%) and Belgium (8.4% to 8.5%).

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