• Belgium expresses support to the negotiating process in Cyprus

    The Belgian authorities wholeheartedly support the negotiating process that is under way in Cyprus, and that was accelerated in 2015, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Republic of Cyprus, stationed in Athens, Luc Liebaut said on Monday.

    He added that together with the European institutions and the other member states, Belgium stands ready to offer its assistance, “but it does not forget that for the first time in the history of the Cyprus question the two leaders are solely in the driving seat. The leaders negotiate a ‘Cypriot solution to a Cypriot problem’ and this looks to my country the best recipe for success,” he noted, speaking at an official ceremony, during which he presented his credentials to Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.

    Liebaut said that Belgium hopes that the negotiations will be successful as a solution would not only bring peace, reconciliation and prosperity to the Cypriot people, but it would also prove that diplomacy, patience, perseverance and a reconciliatory stance can contribute to the resolution of the most difficult problems.

    “A just, viable and long-lasting solution to the Cyprus issue would be a light of hope in a region that has been facing growing instability, violence, civil war and massive violations of human rights. But first and foremost, a solution to the Cyprus issue would eloquently confirm the vitality of the European idea and of the European values,” he noted.

    Referring to the bilateral relations between Cyprus and Belgium, the Ambassador said that “our countries are trusted friends that have stood side by side in difficult moments and are linked by a dense network of bilateral agreements, frequent political contacts, economic and commercial relations that are bound to be deepened, academic exchanges and interpersonal relations. Moreover, Cyprus is for many Belgians a highly appreciated tourist destination,” he added.

    Furthermore, he noted that “our countries and our people are keenly aware of the grand design that lies at the heart of the European Union; a design that has allowed us to create a unique area of peace, of stability, of prosperity and of liberty.”

    “It is therefore with apprehension that our countries have observed the growing challenges that the European Union and its member states have to face; challenges of a global nature such as the economic downturn and the migration crises, challenges of a regional nature such as the ones we are facing in our southern and eastern neighbourhood, and even internal challenges that risk to undermine the European Union’s cohesion and its inter-European solidarity. Our countries share the same analyses and the same concerns as well as the determination to tackle jointly – in the true European spirit – the challenges and to consolidate the European edifice”, he noted.

    On his part, President Anastasiades stressed that “we count on our European partners – we count on Belgium – to support our committed efforts to reunify Cyprus.”

    “Belgium’s interest in the Cyprus problem has been demonstrated through the years by the principled position that successive Belgian Governments have maintained on the efforts to solve the problem and reunite the island,” he noted.

    Anastasaides reiterated his sincere willingness and determination to work tirelessly to achieve a settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council Resolutions, the High Level Agreements and the Joint Declaration of February 2014, with a single international legal personality, a single sovereignty and a single citizenship.

    Referring to the bilateral relations, he noted that “our countries, both as partners within the European Union and on a bilateral basis, have developed very close and warm relations, based on our shared values and principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We stand ready to continue our cooperation, and extend our relations to other areas, especially in the fields of renewable energy, in which Belgium is known for its expertise.”

    As regards the Cypriot economy, he said that “we are confident that the economy will be on solid ground in the medium and long term.”


  • BTA

    Bulgaria, France Deepen Scientific Cooperation in Food Safety, Stock-Breeding

    Sofia, February 29 (BTA) – The Bulgarian Agriculture and Food Ministry and France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) will deepen their scientific cooperation in the sphere of food safety, it was agreed at a meeting between Deputy Agriculture and Food Minister Tsvetan Dimitrov and INRA President Francois Houllier in Paris on Monday. The two sides signed a framework agreement on cooperation to this effect, the Agriculture and Food Ministry reported.

    Dimitrov proposed the establishment of joint research structures and training of agricultural producers, which is important for the deepening of the cooperation between the two countries and within the EU. More…

  • ForMin Comanescu pays visit to Iran to discuss relaunch of political-diplomatic relations and economic cooperation

    Foreign Affairs Minister Lazar Comanescu pays a visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran Monday through Wednesday, to discuss the relaunch of political-diplomatic relations and the economic and sectoral cooperation in areas of common interest.

    According to a Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) release sent to AGERPRES, the Romanian chief diplomat will be welcomed by President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, and will have extended consultations with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. The visit agenda also includes meetings with the Ministers of Economy, Finance and Oil, respectively.

    The Romanian official will be accompanied by a significant economic delegation, made up of high officials of the ministries with activities in the economic area — the Energy Ministry and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Relations with the Business Environment, the management of Romania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as representatives of the business environment of Romania.

    Comanescu will participate in the opening of a Romanian-Iranian economic forum at the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture of the Islamic Republic of Iran. More…

  • Canada pledges to help efforts for Cyprus settlement

    Canada will do what it can to support reunification efforts underway in Cyprus, pledged the country`s High Commissioner, stationed in Athens, Keith Morrill.

    Morrill was speaking during the presentation of his credentials to President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades as the country`s new High commissioner in Nicosia.

    Replying, President Anastasiades said the Government looks forward to further enhancing bilateral relations in all fields.

    Presenting his credentials, High Commissioner Morrill said Canada and the Republic of Cyprus have been loyal friends for many years. He reminded that thousands of Canadian Peacekeepers served in Cyprus as part of the UNFICYP mission between 1964 and 1993.

    He also said the Canada-Cyprus friendship continues to grow and referred to the vibrant Cypriot-Canadian community that enriches Canada’s diverse multicultural fabric, and the numerous Canadians that make Cyprus their home.
    Morrill said Canada appreciates the important contribution of Cyprus in areas related to international security and counter-terrorism as well as the extensive security cooperation between Canada and Cyprus, including during the 2006 evacuation from Lebanon, and more recently during the evacuation of Syrian refugees from Lebanon and Jordan. Canada’s continued participation in the annual Argonaut exercise, led by the Cypriot Civil Defence, highlights the unique relationship Canada has fostered with Cyprus on Emergency Management. “We recognize that, as a stable EU member state in a geo-strategic location, Cyprus continues to make an important contribution to regional and global security”, he added.

    Canada and the European Union have enjoyed a strong partnership, which has led to the conclusion of a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) as well as a strategic partnership agreement. These two agreements, once ratified, will serve to bring great benefit to both of our countries, and Canada is grateful for your country’s strong support in this regard, he said. He also welcomed efforts by Canadian companies to consider large-scale investment in Cyprus’ healthcare infrastructure and expressed hope that success in this area will serve to attract more Canadian business.

    Regarding Cyprus` offshore hydrocarbon resources Morrill said there is considerable potential for collaboration between the two countries in terms of technical cooperation, specialist training, and the procurement of equipment and services to support exploration and development.

    On the recent opening of a resident High Commission in Canada, Morrill said upgrading your diplomatic representation in Canada reflects your country’s concrete desire to deepen our bilateral relationship.

    Regarding the Cyprus problem, he said he is “heartened by the progress which has been made in the past year in the reunification talks, which represent a genuine opportunity to secure a settlement. My country and I will do what we can to support reunification efforts”.

    Receiving the credentials, President Anastasiades said the two countries have developed and established relations of substance and trusting dialogue, based “on our shared values and beliefs of justice and peace, evident through our close cooperation in international fora and especially within the Commonwealth and the United Nations”.

    He expressed the government’s appreciation with the record of support between Cyprus and Canada in International Organisations, and gratitude for the contribution of Canada over the years to the peacekeeping force in Cyprus, taking into account that Canada was part of the first UNFICYP contingent in 1964, and pay tribute to the Canadians who lost their lives in the Turkish invasion of 1974.

    “My Government looks forward to further enhancing our bilateral relations in all fields, considering also the recent upgrading of the diplomatic representation of the Republic of Cyprus to Canada, with the opening of our High Commission in Ottawa”, he added.

    Regarding the state of the economy in Cyprus, Anastasiades said three years ago today the country was faced with nothing less than economic collapse. “Today, I can proudly and confidently state that Cyprus has become a success story of economic reform”.
    “Our path to recovery has been faster than anyone could have predicted three years ago. After almost four years of recession, the Cyprus economy returned to positive economic growth rates in 2015 by registering GDP growth of 1.6%”.

    Looking ahead, he said, “we are confident that the economy will be on solid ground in the medium and long term”. Major goals of the Government for 2016 are to entrench growth and create conditions for sustainable development. Our key policy priorities include: the macroeconomic and financial stability, the promotion of structural reforms (including, inter alia, the reform of the public service administration, health system, social policy and the promotion of the privatization programme) as well as the promotion of investments”.

    The President said “we still need to tackle significant challenges. And yet, we choose to see this crisis as an opportunity to pursue reforms, to sharpen our competitive edge, to attract foreign direct investments with the ultimate goal of achieving sustained growth and prosperity for all Cypriots”.

    On the UN led talks “intensive negotiations to reach a comprehensive settlement on the Cyprus problem”, he said while “a common understanding on an important number of issues has been reached, there are still remaining differences in all chapters and we have yet to embark on substantive discussions in a number of core issues”.

    At the same time, he said, there are also issues on which even if we reach a common understanding, the complexities associated with their implementation require time and careful planning.

    Thus, he added, “is vital to be well-prepared and present to the people a clear Plan, so as to avoid reaching a solution with considerable gaps or ambiguities that will negatively affect its viability”.

    “It is our sincere hope that Turkey, an occupying force in Cyprus, will demonstrate genuine political will to reach a settlement, not via rhetoric assurances, but through the adoption of concrete steps which will positively underpin the negotiating process and the climate of hope prevailing in the island”, the President pledged.


  • European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Jourova expected in Bucharest

    European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vera Jourova is expected today in Bucharest on an official visit to meet Romania’s Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, Justice Minister Raluca Pruna, Labour Minister Claudia-Ana Costea, as well as MPs.

    ”The focus of the meetings will be on several themes that include Romania’s progress with judiciary reforms, the justice contributions to the priorities of the European Commission chaired by Juncker, such as the Digital Single Market and the European Security Agenda as well as priority actions related to gender equality,” reads a press statement posted on the website of the European Commission Representation in Bucharest.

    Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Valeriu Zgonea is scheduled to meet Jourova to discuss the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism, under which Romania’s judiciary reform is gauged, and justice reform in Romania.

    Insolvency, recent legislative proposals of the European Commission related to the contracts for the supply of digital content and online and other distance sales of goods contracts will also be discussed, the Chamber of Deputies reports in a press statement. More…

  • Nothing will keep us from the effort to reach a solution in Cyprus, says President

    Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has said that an effort to heal decade old wounds is currently underway through the ongoing negotiations for the reunification of Cyprus, noting that it is not easy and promising at the same time that nothing will keep him from the task ahead, to peacefully resolve the island’s political problem.

    Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN backed talks resumed in May last year aiming to reunite the island under a federal roof.

    President Anastasiades was delivering a speech on Sunday at a memorial service for Grigoris Afxendiou, who was burnt alive during the EOKA 1955 – 1959 liberation struggle against British colonial rule when he refused to surrender.

    “In the context of the ongoing dialogue in which we have engaged for the solution of the Cyprus problem we seek to heal decade old wounds. As you may realise, this is not easy because we have to deal with faits accomplis,” on the ground, he said.

    However, he stressed, “nothing will disappoint us and nothing will deter us from the effort to peacefully resolve the Cyprus problem.”

    There is no other way forward for a country but to rid itself of occupation armies, from the barbed wires of division, he said, adding that such a homeland would be an example of peaceful co-existence and progress.

    “This is the only win – win recipe for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Any other option will merely perpetuate insecurity, uncertainty and inability to make the most of this land`s capabilities for growth,” he stressed. Today, he said, there is an opportunity for a political settlement.

    “I do not claim that there will be no other opportunity, but at this moment at least the concurrent circumstances are such that they allow us to hope that through this effort, which takes place with EU involvement for the first time through the acceptance of the acquis communautaire, we can protect our country`s unity, freedom of movement, freedom of establishment, the right to property and work throughout the island’s territory. We will make the most of it,” the President added.

    He also said that it is time to work with sincerity and under conditions of unity because as – he put it – he believes that despite ideological differences there is one goal uniting everyone and that is to free the island of Turkey’s occupation.


  • Tennis: Andreea Mitu, Ana Bogdan and Sorana Cirstea, through to Sao Paulo ITF semifinals

    Romanian tennis players Andreea Mitu, first seeded, Ana Bogdan, third seeded, and Sorana Cirstea, eighth seeded, qualified on Friday for the semifinals of the ITF Tournament of Sao Paulo, Brazil, with total prize money worth 25,000 dollars.

    Andreea Mitu (24 years, WTA’s 107th) defeated in the quarterfinals sixth seeded French player Myrtille Georges (25 years, WTA’s 195th), 6-3, 6-0, in one hour and 7 minutes.

    In the semifinals, Mitu will play against Ana Bogdan (23 years, WTA’s 156th), who defeated Sloven player Tamara Zidansek (18 years, WTA’s 277th), 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, after a two hour and 48 minute match.

    Sorana Cirstea (25 years, WTA’s 153rd) had an easy match in the quarterfinals, with Swiss Jill Teichmann (18 years, WTA’s 414th), whom she defeated 6-2, 6-0, in only 56 minutes.

    In the semifinals Cirstea will play against Spanish Sara Sorribes Tormo, aged 19, WTA’s 194th. Sara Sorribes Tormo, fifth seeded, defeated in the quarterfinals fourth seeded Dutch player Cindy Burger, 6-4, 6-2. More…

  • Baghdatis faces Wawrinka for Dubai Championships final

    Cypriot tennis player Marcos Baghdatis faces on Saturday Swiss tennis player and world no. 4 Stan Wawrinka in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, after rallying past sixth seed Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-1 on Friday.

    He is guaranteed to return to the Top 40 of the Emirates ATP rankings for the first time in nearly three years, a press release on his website says.

    Baghdatis is set to clash against Wawrinka after firing eight aces and converting on five of nine break chances to prevail after two hours and two minutes.

    He appears in an ATP World Tour final for the second straight year, following a run to the championship match in Atlanta last July.

    He is set to meet Wawrinka for the sixth time, seeking his first victory. They last faced off on the grass of Queen`s Club in London in 2014.


  • Sofia Responds to Moscow’s Reaction to Formation of Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee of Inquiry into Russia’s Alleged Interference in Bulgaria

    Sofia, February 26 (BTA) – In connection with a statement made at a Thursday briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, reacting to the formation at the National Assembly of an Ad Hoc Committee of Inquiry into Russia’s and Turkey’s alleged interference into Bulgaria’s internal affairs, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Betina Joteva released the following statement on Friday, which was published on the Ministry’s website:

    “Bulgaria is a parliamentary democracy, in which the National Assembly adopts sovereign resolutions based on its powers and prompted by the country’s national interests. More…

  • Over 700 people vying online for Antarctica cruise; AGERPRES photojournalist among favourites to win

    More than 700 people are vying online for a 30-night Antarctica cruise, with photojournalist Silviu Matei of the AGERPRES National News Agency ranking 4th in the vote count.

    “In those 30 days of expedition I have the opportunity to see through my camera the wonders of Antarctica, to watch the greatness and also the fragility of this complex ecosystem,” Silviu Matei says in his motivation posted on the contest website.

    “I believe that if someone has a chance to go to “World’s End” he should share this experience with as many people as possible, hoping that at least some of them will understand that the world around us is fragile and deserves more care. I would be happy to be a part of such a journey. Antarctica is one of the places I wish to visit and a place that challenges your limits, challenges you to discover its beauty but it puts to test you and your skills as a nature and a journalist photographer,” he says.

    The online contest held by Oceanwide Expeditions started last December and ends on February 29. To access the contest to win the 25,000-US-dollar cruise, applicants have to submit one entry on Oceanwide Expeditions Antarctica contest by completing the entry form provided and clicking “Create profile” — oceanwide-expeditions.com/contest/, where they can be voted on by supporters.

    From all entries, five final contestants will be chosen that will have an equal 20 percent chance of winning the 1st prize. More…

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