• Bulgarian, Portuguese Justice Ministers Discuss E-Justice

    Lisbon/Sofia, September 30 (BTA) – Portugal hails the impressive progress of the judicial reform in Bulgaria and the efforts of Bulgarian Justice Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva toward introduction of e-justice, the Justice Ministry said Friday making public the details of a meeting between Zaharieva and her Portuguese counterpart Francisca Van Dunem.

    During the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on the highlights of the changes that are part of the judicial reform in Bulgaria and Portugal experience with introducing electronic judicial services since 2005. More…


  • Ciolos: Pirelli plant in Slatina, example of Romania-Italy good economic co-operation

    The Pirelli plant in southern Slatina is an example of the good co-operation between Romania and Italy in economic field, on Friday said Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos.

    “Italy is not only an opportunity for the Romanians who have chosen to work there, at least temporarily, but there — Italy is investing in Romania, creating jobs for the Romanians, here, at home. So, Italy is not only a very important commercial partner to Romania, but also an economic investment partner,” said Ciolos upon a visit to the southern Slatina-based Pirelli plant.

    He specified that the Pirelli investment in Slatina reveals that the economic and investments environment of Romania evolved a lot.

    “The economic and investments environment becomes more attractive not only for greenfield investments, but also for developing such investments. The fact that Pirelli is already during its fourth development and investments stage shows that the Romanian economic milieu is enough attractive not only from the cost, the workforce point of view, but also from the viewpoint of its quality, that has improved lately, and also from the legislative and economic predictability’s point of view, since the economic growth perspectives attract more investors to Romania,” stressed Ciolos. More…

  • AgriMin on African swine fever: We’ll ban animal products’ imports from Moldova, Ukraine

    Animal products’ imports by consumers from Moldova and Ukraine will be banned in order to prevent the African swine fever (ASF) enter Romania, said on Friday the Agriculture minister, Achim Irimescu in western Timișoara.

    “I’ve informed the President and the Prime Minister, too. The moment it would enter Romania (the African swine fever — author’s note) all pigs in the said area should be sacrificed. Losses would be unmeasurable, hard to estimate now. I know from the EU member states, the Baltic states, Poland which have had huge losses,” said the Agriculture minister.

    He told the media that the ASF is an extremely dangerous illness with no vaccine yet, and the moment it would enter the country damage will be immense.

    Achim Irimescu pointed out that the prevention measures firstly aim at halting the animal products’ from the two mentioned countries enter Romania, as well as the control upon the wild boars’ migration in the border area with the two states.

    The possibility for the African swine fever traced in Moldova to extend to Romania was the topic of a meeting this Tuesday, 27 September, at the Agriculture Committee with the Chamber of Deputies, at the initiative of its Chair, Liberal Nini Sapunaru, attended by the Agriculture minister and representatives of several bodies, among which the National Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Authority (ANSVSA), structures of the Home Affairs (MAI), the Border Police. More…

  • Eide: To miss this opportunity for a solution in Cyprus would be an historic failure

    To miss this opportunity for a Cyprus solution would be an historic failure, UN Secretary General`s Special Advisor for Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, has stressed.

    In an interview with the UN News Centre, Eide said that the Cyprus negotiations are in a very advanced stage, but noted that `I need to be honest saying that there are outstanding issues`.

    Asked if we are close to a final deal, he said that `it’s closer than ever before, but there’s still a way to go`.

    “And I don’t want to leave the impression that a deal is around the corner, because we still have to settle a few, but important issues. Numerically speaking, most issues are behind us; they are done and settled. So we have a big body of agreement already there. Volume-wise, most of the deal is written down. However, per usual, the most difficult issues are not those you take first, so of course we need to create the space, and I don’t necessarily mean the physical space, but the framework in which we’re able to deal with those final issues, in an expedited but also efficient and proper manner. That’s what we’re looking for right now”, he stressed.

    Asked if Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades` reference at the UN General Assembly that a deal could be done by the end of the year is realistic, he said that “absolutely, it’s ambitious but feasible”.

    Replying to questions, he said that “the great Powers have, in their perspective, bigger fish to fry, and would rather see this issue off the table, and hence I’m one of those envoys of the Secretary-General that has a united Security Council behind me”.

    “That’s no small feat, and that’s something I also impress on my Cypriot friends, that this is a value that we want to use when we have it. And we also have very constructive openings from the guarantor powers that they’re ready to discuss, when time has come, to agree on what their role will be, or rather, what it will not be – depending on whom you ask – in the future settlement”, he pointed out.

    Asked if there is a real danger that the last 50 years could be for nothing `and that we could face going back to the status quo, as it was in 1974 – a position of conflict between the two communities`, he said that `there is definitely a risk that we lose what we now have achieved because we have, in a sense, arrived at a plateau, from which you can either go to a solution or a downward spiral`.

    `I wouldn’t say conflict as in the violent, physical conflict, but I think it is clear for all of us – and that is not only me saying it, but it is also well known to other people who are dealing with it on both sides – that the alternative is not any longer just the status quo; it’s not just a stable, safe status quo that will continue forever, in the sense that, the Cypriots have been living in a state of exception` he said.

    He added that `they have quite correctly stated – both the North and the South – that the current situation is unacceptable and must be overcome, and I would be very worried if people think that they can just cool down this and there will be a new chance in five or ten years”.

    “This is in no way to suggest that I know what the future will look like, but my sense and my own experience with international relations, suggest that losing this opportunity is not good for you; neither for Cypriots nor for somebody trying to be helpful in the neighbourhood. So the region needs this and it is so close that to miss this opportunity would be a historic failure”, Eide stressed.

    Referring to the UN-proposed solution plan (the Annan plan), that was rejected in 2004 by the Greek Cypriots but approved by the Turkish Cypriots, he said that `the final version of the Annan plan was written by the UN, and neither leader on either side actually endorsed it`.

    `So maybe, with hindsight, it was not that surprising that we got the outcome it gave` he pointed out.

    The Cyprus process, he said, `has to be leader-led; it has to be owned by the Cypriots themselves. But our job is to help them, to facilitate and, I would also say, coordinate the overall international effort`.

    The UN in Cyprus, he said, not only facilitates the meetings between the leaders and the negotiating teams, but a vast array of 16 working groups, five technical committees, and all possible issues.

    `So basically almost all the formal communication between the North and South happens through the UN. Not only in the search for a settlement, but also on the daily basis. For instance, the only police cooperation that exists between the two sides goes via the United Nations, so you can imagine what would happen on a small and de-facto, heavily integrated island, if there was no contact on this issue`, he explained.

    He added that “both in the current and in the future, I think the UN has a role”.

    Concluding, he said that a settlement in Cyprus will be a source of inspiration for the neighbourhood and for the world.


  • Romania on the list of countries with substantial potential to be an emerging market

    Romania was officially included in the Watchlist of countries that show a substantial potential to be an emerging market, according to the FTSE Russell decision, published on Thursday, the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) informs.

    “Romania’s capital market was included on the list of the countries that have a substantial potential to get to emerging market statute in a short or medium time. It’s the effect of the immense progress made for reforming the market’s infrastructure, according to the objectives established in the barriers elimination process that prevented the development of the capital market, as well as in the BVB business strategy,” stock exchange representatives mentioned.

    According to the BVB, the promotion to the upper category will be achieved by meeting the liquidities conditions of the overall market, as well as by the presence in the market of the large companies with significant individual trading values. More…

  • Cyprus’ lenders conclude their first post-bailout evaluation

    Representatives of Cyprus` international lenders complete Friday their first post-bailout evaluation of the eastern Mediterranean island`s economy, by briefing Finance Minister Harris Georgiades and Central Bank Governor Chrystalla Georghadji on the conclusions of their visit that started on Monday.

    The main issues discussed during the meetings of international lenders this week, were the reform effort of the Cyprus government after the country`s exit from the bailout programme and the issue of non-performing loans that continue to be a burden for Cypriot banks.

    The international lenders met early Friday with the Finance Minister, and at 1100 am will visit the Central Bank to meet the CBC Governor.

    The lenders will return every six months, until Cyprus repays 75% of the money it received in loans, amounting to 7.6 billion euros from ESM and IMF.

    While no measures or timetables will be imposed to the Cypriot authorities, a positive report will contribute to upgrading the country`s economy from the rating agencies in the investment grade, meaning that cost of Cyprus`s borrowing will go down.


  • CIPA attends “Markets Most Influential 2016” events

    Cyprus can become an alternative destination for international professional and financial services for businesses, given the progress it has achieved in economic issues, and the UK`s decision to exit the EU, Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) believes.

    According to a press release, CIPA sponsored and attended “Markets Most Influential 2016” events organized by Bloomberg, in the framework of its mission for targeted promotion of Cyprus as an attractive investment destination abroad.

    The events took place simultaneously on September 28 in Hong Kong, London and New York, and during them prominent figures from the business and investment sector from all over the world participated in discussions on the world economy and the investments.

    CIPA attended the events in Hong Kong and London, along with representatives of the Cypriot professional and financial services sector.

    During the events, the Cypriot delegations had the opportunity to listen to presentations and express their positions on issues regarding the repercussions in Asia from Brexit as well as the threats and opportunities for the City of London, the emerging investment markets and developments which affect investments globally.

    They also discussed fiscal policy, possible repercussions from the US elections result on the international markets, recent developments in the European and the international bank sector and the role of technology in investments.

    Addressing a lunch for participants in Hong Kong, CIPA Chairman Christodoulos Agastiniotis referred to the increased interest of Chinese investors in Cyprus, in the fields of energy, the maritime sector, professional services, infrastructure and immovable property.

    He also noted that if the UK loses, due to Brexit, its access to other European markets, then it may also lose its position as the centre of Chinese investments in Europe. Agastioniotis said that Cyprus, as other European countries, has all the necessary means to pursue become such a centre and benefit from the UK`s exit from the EU.


  • Prime Minister Ciolos: Activation, settling premiums for unemployed, employers hiring jobless, commuters

    Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos says that the Government approved incentives and measures that will lead to the creation of jobs, adding that it’s for the first time when European funds and the funds from the state budget are coherently directed in order to have a real impact on the market and on people’s lives.

    “A package of measures was approved today by the Government, in order to support the job-seekers, the employers, but also the Romanians abroad who want to work in Romania. There are incentives and correlated measures that will lead to job creation and which are coming with an actual support for the vulnerable categories. For instance, we propose a consistent financial support for those employing jobless persons, but also for the unemployed who find a job far from home. Moreover, the employment programs will aim at the vulnerable groups — already identified — through the Anti-poverty Package — such as young people who don’t have a job and aren’t enrolled in any form of education or vocational training. All this in a framework combining for the first time the European funds and the state-budget funds coherently directed for a real impact in the market and in people’s lives,” Ciolos wrote on Wednesday on his Facebook page.

    The Government approved on Wednesday an Emergency Ordinance, which comprises a series of measures in order to fight unemployment and stimulate the employment by the vulnerable categories,” Labour Minister Dragos Paslaru announced in a briefing at Victoria Palace.

    “Directly in the Ordinance, technically speaking, we are introducing a 500-RON activation premium for any long time unemployed compensated with the MIG (Minimum Income Guarantee), who signs a labour contract”, mentioned the minister, also adding that in order to benefit from this money the person has to be employed minimum 3 months with the same employer.

    Paslaru announced that in the Ordinance adopted by the Government a so-called mobility package could be found and involves the state support for commuting and to relocating from one area of the country to another.

    “We introduce and redefine, for the first time, the concept of commuting support. We are talking about a premium that allows any person from this country who wants to get hired, being unemployed, at more than 15 km from their residence to receive an allowance worth 0.5 RON per kilometer, which is capped at 55 RON per day, that will allow them to go and work far from home,” Dragos Paslaru explained. More…

  • Cyprus and China seek to further enhance their relations

    The seventh Cyprus-China Intergovernmental Joint Economic Committee meeting took place on September 28, with a view to further tighten relations between the two countries, enhance and develop their cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, tourism, energy, agriculture, education and other sectors.

    According to an official press release issued here today, the two sides reaffirmed the potential to further develop cooperation in existing and new fields, as the ones of energy and renewable energy sources, agriculture, telecommunications, civil aviation and education. They also underlined that there are favourable conditions to increase trade exchanges and enhance cooperation in the fields of investments and tourism.

    The meeting was presided on the part of Cyprus by George Georghiou, Permanent Secretary of Cyprus` Directorate General for European Programmes, Coordination and Development and the Chinese International Trade Representative Zhang Xiangchen.

    Speaking at the beginning of the meeting, Georghiou referred to the very good relations between Cyprus and China and the very close friendly relations between the two countries. Zhang confirmed the friendly ties of his country with Cyprus and underlined their excellent cooperation in the political sector as well.

    Georghiou and Zhang expressed their satisfaction with the spirit of cooperation which prevailed during the meeting, and underlined that the result of these meetings will contribute to the development of the two countries` economic and other relations.


  • Cypriot MEPs on Panama Papers, the Junker Plan and the cost of a Cyprus solution

    The Panama Papers, the proposed new tax legislation in the EU, the Junker plan and the financial aspect of a Cyprus solution were the main issues Cypriot Members of the European Parliament discussed with a group of journalists representing local media, who are currently visiting Brussels.

    The six Cypriot MEPs, Lefteris Christoforou (EPP), Takis Hadjigeorgiou and Neoklis Sylikiotis (GUE), Costas Mavrides (S&D), Demetris Papadakis (S&D) and Eleni Theocharous (ECR) referred to the Panama Papers as a scandal, pointing out the risk that Cyprus could be unfairly targeted.

    Different views were expressed as regards the Junker plan with the majority of MEPs expressing the opinion that it has weaknesses that affect the ability of small countries to be eligible for funding. Cyprus is a good example of this as it has not been able to get any funding, they noted.

    Eleni Theocharous, who initiated the discussion with the press, said that “Panama Papers is a big scandal”. She referred to the Ad hoc committee that is studying the issue, pointing out that tax evasion reaches 3 trillion Euros. Corruption and tax legislation are factors contributing to the phenomenon of tax evasion, as well as the lack of transparency, the refusal of the so-called tax havens to cooperate and provide information, she said.

    She also said that banks in Cyprus` northern Turkish occupied areas act as money laundering establishments.

    Cyprus, Theoharous said, is also described as a tax haven “but I do not believe this is true”, and outlined the relevant laws and legislation that regulate these issues.

    As to the Junker plan, Theocharous noted that SMEs did not receive the necessary help with their applications that would make eligible for funding.

    Neoclis Sylikiotis described the Junker plan as “fireworks”, explaining that the plan Junker had proposed as a candidate for the post of EC President was different to the plan which was adopted after his election. He expressed the opinion that funds had been cut from other plans to sponsor the Junker plan.

    “The plan’s structure is wrong as it requires private funds when the weakest financially countries, which are in greater need for funding, cannot tap this money”.

    As to the Panama papers Sylikiotis said that the Ad hoc Committee will submit its report in 12 months after paying visits to countries mentioned in the Papers. Cyprus, he said, is not included in the list of countries the Committee will visit, however it is included in the papers and the state is called upon to take action.

    Sylikiotis made it clear that his position is that tax legislation should remain the responsibility of the state.

    Answering a question on the cost of a Cyprus solution, he noted that the island would advance financially after a solution is reached. The most important thing, he said, is to request EU funds for infrastructure, acknowledging at the same time that international sponsors are also needed, and expressing the belief they could be found.

    Demetris Papadakis, in a general remark on the current situation in the EU, said that the Union faces serious problems as regards its economic policies, adding that this is the result of the fact that the policies are determined by the strongest member states. The EU, he said, should change direction because now the people are paying a huge price, citing the example of Greece “which should reform, but the formula applied is the wrong one”.

    The Junker plan, Papadakis went on to say, has faults in its structure and philosophy because it favours financially stronger countries. Cyprus did not manage to take advantage of the Plan and the responsibility lays both with the lack of private initiative but also with the government that did not establish a platform to help the effort.

    He described the Panama Papers as mainly an issue of transparency. The Cyprus government, he said, should have taken initiatives to take hold of all the relevant documents and make efforts to reinforce Cyprus` image in order to protect the country from any related attacks.

    As to the Cyprus issue and the possible cost of a solution, Papadakis said that “the more unfair a solution is, the more expensive it will be” and described the possibility of finding international sponsors “a myth”.

    Costas Mavrides pointed out that not a single Euro went to Cyprus in the context of the Junker Plan, saying however that the plan’s philosophy i.e. the combination of public and private capital is correct.

    As to corporate taxation, he explained that the aim of the legislation promoted in the EU would hit mainly small countries such as Cyprus whose competitive economic advantage is the taxation rate and the tax system. Cyprus, he said, can offer incentives to attract companies that transfer their headquarters and have a base in Cyprus.

    As to the economics of a solution of the Cyprus problem, Mavrides said that the only possible source of funding is the natural gas reserves and that bonds could be issued, pointing out that at the end it all comes down to whether a solution will be fair.

    Takis Hadjigeorgiou, a member of the Ad Hoc Committee set up to study the Panama Papers, said that what happened is that money has been taken from the pockets of people and it can be traced in countries listed in the Panama Papers.

    Some 74 countries are named in the documents, he said, adding that many countries are described as tax havens.

    He also said that out of all the countries mentioned in the documents, particular emphasis is placed on Cyprus with claims about money laundering, while the main players are banks of other member-states, for example German banks.

    As to the possible cost of a Cyprus solution, Hadjigeorgiou said that “we do not have the full picture” and express the opinion that a solution should be considered in terms of the future and in terms of whether it can lead to a common homeland for all, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    Lefteris Christoforou, also a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Panama Papers, representing EPP said that they are being exploited in order to hit Cyprus.

    Referring to the issue of taxation, he pointed out that Cyprus applies and respects European laws. It offers low tax rate as its economy is based on the services sector but everything is in the context of the law, he noted.

    The EU should remain a free economy, he stressed. “A common taxation rate cannot be applied and this should be respected. We support healthy tax competition”, he said and added that in a globalised environment the EU stands to lose its competitive advantage if it persists with this. If it continues down this path, it will lose even European companies, he said, pointing out that this is a huge risk which should be taken into consideration.

    Furthermore, Christoforou said that the Junker plan was approved at the European Parliament by a big majority and gave some numbers that highlight the Plan’s size and importance. In a year, he said, some 115 billion euros were given, adding that the Plan will be extended. He also pointed out that funds were given to SMEs, small projects and start ups. In Cyprus` case, private initiative was not undertaken, he said. If the state cannot find a private investor, funds cannot be claimed, he explained.

    Answering a question on the possible cost of a Cyprus solution, Chritoforou said that the cost paid over the past 42 years, since the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of the island, is enormous whereas a solution will secure the future, stability and security in the country. A solution, he said, creates prospects.


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