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Cypriot report Cypriot report
by Euro Reporter
2011-10-20 07:12:11
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Cyprus promises 'fully-fledged' EU Presidency

Cyprus’ EU Presidency will be a “fully fledged presidency” and Nicosia will not allow the Cyprus problem to jeopardise its role, Deputy Minister to the President for European Affairs Andreas Mavroyiannis has stressed. Speaking during a seminar on the “Perspectives of the Trio Presidency” at the University of Nicosia, Mavroyiannis referred to Turkish threats to freeze ties with the EU during the Cypriot Presidency. "Our objective and our deliberate and firm position is to act during the presidency in a purely presidential manner, not allowing our national problem to define our Presidency or to infiltrate the way we are dealing with issues," he said.  He added that Cyprus will not allow its EU Presidency to be jeopardised by the Cyprus problem. “We are going to run a fully fledged presidency and we are going to be serious, responsible, and reliable in spite of our problem” Mavroyiannis said.

He added that the Cyprus problem will not be put aside, “but we are going to keep two separate tracks”, noting that this is of fundamental importance to Cyprus. Speaking on the Presidency preparations, Mavroyiannis noted that so far significant progress has been achieved in various areas. He added that the Trio Presidency 18-month program of Poland, Denmark and Cyprus is already in place, saying that this constitutes the basis for Cyprus’ own Presidency program. Moreover, he said that the chairmen of the Council Working Groups have been already selected and that the majority of them have been posted to the Permanent Representation in Brussels. Mavroyiannis also noted that Cyprus plans to host around fifteen informal Council Meetings during the Presidency, adding that a provisional schedule of events already exists.

On the Presidency infrastructure, he noted that the conference and press centre in Nicosia are being renovated, with work progressing at a satisfactory pace. As Mavroyiannis said, infrastructure work is expected to be completed by the end of January 2012.  Mavroyiannis noted that the Presidency will be a very big challenge for the state engine, adding that the challenge becomes even greater in times of financial austerity.  He said finally that the weight of the challenge has been easier to manage due to the transition of the Trio Presidency and the constructive cooperation with the Trio partners. Andreas Theophanous, Director of the Cyprus Centre for European and International Affairs at the University of Nicosia, said Cyprus aspires to line up to the challenge of the EU Presidency successfully, adding that it will be essential for Cyprus to enlist the solidarity of its partners. He said moreover that the government should engage the whole society to achieve a successful outcome.  Theophanous said that it is essential for Cyprus to grasp the broader context of the serious economic crisis Europe is going through, along with the debt crisis and the problem of unemployment. Under such difficult circumstances, he said, it was imperative to understand how to take the debate on the future of Europe forward. 

He said moreover that it is questionable whether there can be a monetary union without a fiscal union in the long run and added that the Cyprus Centre has been working on the concept of maintaining a 3% deficit as an average over a period of time and not annually. Other speakers at the seminar included the Polish Ambassador to Cyprus Pawel Dobrowolski, Elvire Fabry, Senior Research Fellow at “Notre Europe” in France and Ulla Holm, Senior Research Fellow at the Danish Institute for International Studies. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and has said it will not talk to Nicosia, when it assumes the Trio EU Presidency, in the second half of 2012.


Cyprus pull plug on Nikiforos

The Republic of Cyprus has decided to cancel ''Nikiforos - 2011'' military exercise, expecting Turkey to follow suit and cancel its military exercise ''Taurus''.  An official press release, issued here today, said that the Republic had proposed to the UN the cancellation of both ''Nikoforos'' exercise as well as of the Turkish military exercise ''Taurus.''

It is added that despite the fact that Turkey has not replied to the proposal of the Republic of Cyprus, the latter has decided, in view of the negotiations on the Cyprus problem and the need to maintain calmness and normality in the region without tension, that the exercise will not take place.

''The Republic of Cyprus expects Turkey to respond to its proposal,'' the press release concluded. Nikiforos is the annual military manoeuvres of the National Guard. The exercise has not taken place in the past few years, following government decisions to cancel it.


Cyprus State Budget

Cypriot Minister of Finance Kikis Kazamias handed over the 2012 state budget to the President of the House of Representatives. The state budget aims at reducing budget deficit to 2.8% of GDP, below the Eurozone benchmark of 3%, while it features cuts in all sectors of state expenditure.

However, as the Finance Ministry notes, the achievement of the 2.8% target is under the condition of the approval of a government bill for a 2% increase to the Value Added Tax rate, currently at 15% submitted to the parliament, as well as an estimated 10% increase in state revenues, compared with 1% in 2011.

Amid adverse financial conditions, the Finance Ministry revised its earlier projections for a 1.5% growth to 0.2% in 2011, as well as a 2.8% budget deficit instead of 2.3%.  ``The budget of the coming year obtains particular importance due to the difficult fiscal period,`` the Finance Ministry states in a press release, adding that the deficit is the main problem the Cypriot economy is facing today. Public debt is projected to increase by 560 million euro in absolute numbers, reaching 12.48 billion euro or 66.6% of GDP, compared to 11.89 billion or 65.5% GDP. According to the Finance Ministry, the public debt will embark on a downward course by 2013 declining to 66.5% and to 65.7% in 2014.

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