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Media Watch 2003

14 May 2003
Source: Cyprus News Agency
Comment: The following a report of the Cyprus News Agency of 14 May 2003.
Benefits from peaceful meetings evident, says President

Nicosia, May 14 (CNA) -- The benefits that have emerged from recent peaceful encounters between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots far outweigh the problems arising from presenting passports to the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus, President Tassos Papadopoulos has said.

The President also said that there are political expediencies in the decision by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to ease restrictions on free movement to and from the island's occupied areas and he reiterated his readiness to participate immediately in substantive negotiations, under UN auspices, on the basis of a UN peace plan, the Kofi Annan proposal.

Addressing the Annual General Meeting of the Employers and Industrialists Federation, Papadopoulos said that the government would work hard to ensure harmonization with the acquis communautaire and to see Cyprus join the Euro by 1 May 2006, if possible.

Referring to the economy, he said the basic macroeconomic indexes would sustain an important change, compared with the initial predictions of the Finance Ministry.

''The government, having assessed the situation with decisiveness and objective criteria, believes that the advantages gained from the practical collapse of the myth Denktash has been nurturing for years that Greek and Turkish Cypriots cannot live peacefully together far exceed the legal and technical problems that arise from his illegitimate demand to present passports when Greek Cypriots cross into the occupied areas of the Republic,'' the President said in his speech at the AGM, read by Communications and Works Minister Kikis Kazamias.

Papadopoulos said ''any official prohibition or restriction of free movement would undermine, perhaps irrevocably, the foundations of our policy on the question of Cyprus, which is nothing more than the implementation of human rights and fundamental freedoms without any conditions or restrictions.''

''These measures (easing of restrictions) and other steps to show good neighbourly relations is not the solution of the problem, it cannot even be regarded as a step towards a solution,'' he added.

He said the government, the UN and the European Union understand that there are political expediencies behind Denktash's decision to ease restrictions.

The President repeated his resolve to sit immediately at substantive talks, under UN aegis, on the basis of the Annan plan, which, as he pointed out, should be improved and amended following the new circumstances within which a viable and workable solution should be sought.

Referring to the economy, he called on the private sector to undertake ''investment risks'' and make ''courageous moves'' in order to meet new challenges from the EU.

He said dependency on tourism must be abolished gradually, the public sector must become economically healthy and flexible, development and social projects must be accelerated and Cyprus should aim at joining the Euro in May 2006.

''The rate of growth as things stand today is expected to range between 2-5 per cent, unemployment between 3,5 - 3,7 per cent, inflation around 4,5 per cent and public deficit about 4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product,'' he said.."