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Cypriot report
by Euro Reporter
2015-02-07 12:11:04
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Creditors Urge Cyprus to Put Foreclosure Laws in Gear

International creditors urged Cypriot authorities to keep their word and push through crucial foreclosure laws as Cyprus' finance minister insisted that the rescue program is bringing the country back to financial health. Officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund said in a statement Friday that they couldn't complete the latest review of Cyprus' financial rescue deal because the foreclosure laws, aimed at helping ailing banks collect on a huge number of sour loans, haven't been implemented yet.

Cyprus has won plaudits over five previous reviews for its adherence to the terms of the 10 billion-euro ($1.14 billion) bailout it got nearly two years ago, that saved the country from bankruptcy but crushed its banking sector. Lawmakers have delayed implementation of foreclosure legislation until March and want to have insolvency laws in place to protect small debtors from losing their homes.

The Cypriot government has criticized the delay, saying it only serves to erode the country's credibility since banks can't proceed with foreclosures before insolvency laws are enacted. Unlike the new Greek government's push to overhaul its own rescue, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said the Cypriot economy is getting back on its feet because authorities are sticking to the bailout's terms. "The implementation of the program isn't leading our country into even deeper recession but quite the opposite," Georgiades said in a statement Friday. "Our economy is gradually rebounding."


Cyprus arrests Syrians for people trafficking

Cyprus police said they arrested two Syrians Friday on suspicion of immigrant smuggling and people trafficking during sweeps in the capital Nicosia and the coastal city of Limassol. The arrests come after authorities recently closed a camp that had temporarily housed some 345 Syrian and Palestinian refugees rescued in stormy waters off the eastern Mediterranean island in November. However, police said nothing about possible links between the arrests and those people, who were headed for mainland Europe when their ship became distressed and most of whom still want to make their way there.

The unnamed men, aged 23 and 28, were taken before Nicosia District Court and remanded in police custody for three days. Police said they face possible charges of circulating false documents, immigrant trafficking, people trafficking and profiting from illegal activities. They said they had discovered forged passports and other documents, a number of mobile phones, computers, a replica gun and 7,500 euros ($8,550) in cash in the men's possession.

The eastern Mediterranean island has become a stepping stone for Syrians seeking to escape the conflict in their country for a safer future in Europe. The island lies just 100 kilometres (60 miles) off the Syrian coast but has not seen a major influx of refugees from the conflict.


Cyprus aims to become regional search-and-rescue hub

Cyprus is setting up a satellite earth station that will anchor a search-and-rescue control centre covering Europe's southeaster edge, the defines minister said Monday. The earth station will be Europe's third such facility, complementing ones in Norway and Spain that improve authorities' response to regional emergencies, Christoforos Fokaides told The Associated Press in an interview. He said Cypriot authorities will relay received distress signals to search-and-rescue crews in the countries closest to any emergency.

Fokaides said Cyprus is perfectly positioned geographically to host the satellite earth station. "The completion of this project will significantly upgrade the role that Cyprus can play as a search and rescue hub," the defines minister said.

He said a key component of its enhanced role is the fact that Cyprus has signed search and rescue agreements with Israel, Syria and Greece and is in the process of concluding such agreements with neighbouring Lebanon and Egypt. Fokaides said Cypriot authorities are also working closely with other countries including Britain, France and the U.S. in improving the region's response to emergencies.

The Cypriot Defence Ministry announced Monday that it will be conducting a joint search and rescue drill with the French navy later in the week. Cyprus has recently held similar drills with Israel and the U.S. Fokaides said the need for added maritime security in this volatile region and the discovery of offshore gas deposits is evolving the Cypriot National Guard's land-based focus to include a stronger maritime dimension. He said Cyprus is looking to upgrade its seaborne operational capacity "through the procurement of the necessary means."


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