TRNC News Today 4th June 2015

“Greece’s getting out of the EU would be better for everyone”

Johns Hopkins University economics professor and Cato Institute Director Steve Hanke emphasized moral weakness created with the Steve Hankefinancial support to Greece which is at the brink of bankruptcy once again and said “Greece’s getting out of the EU will be better for both Greeks and Europeans.”

The fact that the world’s most bankrupt country, Greece and its creditors haven’t reached an agreement after 4 months of negotiation, strengthens the possibility of leaving the EU and threatens lapsing into default for the 6th time. While one of the biggest creditors of Greece, Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel said her country is open for this possibility at the beginning of this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde also indicated the probability of Greece getting out of the EU is becoming increasingly realistic.

President Akıncı will attend the working breakfast organized by International Peace Institute

President Mustafa Akıncı who is in New York for a meeting with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon this afternoon Mustafa Akinciwill attend the working breakfast organized by International Peace Institute this morning. Representatives of foreign missions are expected to attend the breakfast which will take place at the UN Plaza in New York at 08.30 (15.30 Cyprus time).  International Peace Institute (IPI) which is established in New York is a non-profit research and policy organization. In the meantime, President Akıncı and the accompanying delegation had a meeting at the TRNC Representative Office yesterday afternoon.

Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot Chambers of Commerce are holding official talks in Northern Europe

Within the framework of contacts in Northern Europe, Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and the Greek Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and Industry moved to Finland after Sweden in order to Phidias Pilidis and Fikri Toroshave high level contacts and talks.

Presidents Fikri Toros and Phidias Pilidis who had high level talks in Finland’s capital Helsinki, met with Finland Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, parliamentarians, and directors of the “Crisis Management Initiative.”

The two Chamber Presidents first met with Crisis Management Initiative which was founded by Finland’s former President, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari within the scope of contacts in Helsinki.

Speaking at the meeting, the President of Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce Fikri Toros emphasized that in order to proceed as result oriented,  the peace process in Cyprus needs 4 main principles and he described these as “dedication, empathy, forgiveness and the use of synergies captured.”

Fikri Toros also emphasized that the effect of a solution in Cyprus will be great and as walking this path for making a sustainable and lasting solution, economic, cultural and social relations should be increased.

Indicating that a great duty falls on the European Commission for lifting the biggest obstacle in front of Turkish Cypriots which is the lack of standardization in trade, Fikri Toros said the EU harmonization process for Turkish Cypriots should begin as soon as possible. Toros also asked for support from Finland in this direction.

Caner Gönyeli Search and Rescue Exercise 2015 will start

It was reported that Martyr Lieutenant Caner Gönyeli 2015 Search and Rescue Exercise will be performed in the Mediterranean between 9-12 June.

The exercise will be held with the participation ofCaner Gonyeli Search and Rescue civil and military elements of the Republic of Turkey and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Search and Rescue Organization and the main Search and Rescue Coordination Centre of Ministry of Transport, Shipping and Communications.

The exercise which will take place in the Eastern Mediterranean, around Famagusta and TRNC territory and territorial waters and Turkish Search and Rescue Region which is located within the international waters, will be performed on the dates of 9-12 June 2015 and will be open to the press and foreign observers.

As part of the Turkish Armed Forces search and rescue system various types of ships, aircraft, helicopters, trained personnel teams on search and rescue, and the civilian and military elements of TRNC search and rescue organization will participate in the Exercise.

The aim of the exercise is to try the facilities and capabilities of elements of the search-and-rescue of Turkish Armed Forces, collaboration of joint search and rescue activities and to maximize the coordination and improve the training of the participants of the exercise.

Nobel is having negotiations to give some of its shares to Delek

It’s reported that Delek Company who wants to increase her share of the 12th parcel within the so-called “Exclusive Economic Zone” of Noble natgas platformSouth Cyprus is holding negotiations with Nobel Energy who has bigger shares at the same bed.

Greek Politis newspaper wrote that Nobel Energy is continuing efforts to sell a portion of its shares at 12th parcel which is 70%, for having liquidity at the steps to be taken in evaluating Aphrodite’s bed and for reducing the huge economic weight caused by the infrastructure.

The Newspaper wrote that Delek Group, who bought 30 percent of Nobel’s shares, announced that they have begun negotiations with the company in order to get 19.9 percent of Nobel’s shares.  The Newspaper also pointed out that in the case of success at the negotiations Delek will have 49.9 percent of Nobel’s shares.

Meeting on the issue of ammonium nitrate captured in South Cyprus

Meetings were held in the Greek Cypriot Police Headquarters in the previous days concerning the capture of vast amounts of ammonium nitrate in the possession of a 26 year old Lebanese in South Cyprus, the newspaper noted.

The newspaper stated that the Israeli Government expressed, through the medium of Israeli Prime Minister and Israeli Minister of Defense, that it is sure that there is a Lebanese terrorist organization behind the issue, however it is not clarified whether the Lebanese plans to hit the Lebanese targets in South Cyprus or not and if he/she plans to hit the targets what will be these targets.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Hezbollah supports the 26 year old Lebanese and added that Iran uses Hezbollah for its dirty work.

On the other hand, Israeli Minister of Defense Moşe Yalon made a statement concerning the issue and noted that the ammonium nitrate captured in South Cyprus is planned to be used for bomb making.

“39th TRNC International Fair” opens on Friday

“39th TRNC International Fair”, which will take place at Atatürk Culture Park and Fairground and continue until 14 June, will open on Friday. 107 firms from TRNC and 30 firms from Turkey will attend the fair and will introduce their products and services.

Eide and Schulz say there’s hope for solution this time

For the first time in a long time there is hope for a constructive solution in Cyprus, said European Parliament President Martin Schulz, on Wednesday 3rd June, after a meeting with UN Special Adviser to the Secretary General on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide regarding the latest developments on the Cyprus question.

Martin Schulz

“It is not yet done, there is still a lot to do, there are still a lot of problems ahead, but there is the option for a real constructive solution”, he said.

Schulz said that the world “hope” described his estimation for the next necessary steps and the possibilities to come to a constructive solution in the foreseeable time.

“It`s the first time in a long time that there’s a real chance. Whatever the EP can do within the framework of the EU institutions, we will do”, he pointed out.

Espen Barth Eide imageHe added that the EP was supportive and constructive in finding a solution.

“This is not only a Cyprus issue but a European issue at its very heart”  said, on his part, the UN Special Adviser.

He added that the leaders in Cyprus, were really working hard to solve the Cyprus problem.

“I feel on a daily basis their joint commitment to do so”, he said adding that what UN,  EU and everybody that cares about the Cyprus question could do was to help and support them in that very important process.

“This is the moment. We either use this moment well or there will be big disappointment again”, he noted, sending at the same time “the message of strong opportunity and strong hope”.

Greek court orders conditional release of Dinos Michaelides

A Greek court on Wednesday ordered the conditional release of a former Greek Cypriot Interior Minister jailed for helping a leading Greek politician take millions of euros in kickbacks from arms deals more than a decade ago, but his family says it is unable to raise the €700,000 bond.

In a majority vote, a court in Athens upheld a petition by Dinos Michaelides, 80, that he be released on health grounds and on account of his advanced age.

In February, Michaelides and his son Michalis were found guilty of money laundering and each sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Dinos Michaelides

The court ruled that under the terms of his release Michaelides would be barred from leaving the country and must appear at a police station twice a month.

But Michaelides’ lawyer Yiannis Mantzouranis said on Wednesday that his client’s release was hollow because the family’s inability to raise the sum, “nullifies the court’s positive decision”.

He added that his client’s health is deteriorating and that this decision “sends him back to prison”.

CNA (Greek Cypriot News Agency) reported that his family aims to appeal for the reduction of the bond amount.

His son had also appealed for conditional released but his request was declined.

The two men were accused of facilitating payments by a Syrian-born businessman to Akis Tsohatzopoulos, a founding member of Greece’s Socialist PASOK party who served as Defence Minister from 1996 to 2001.

The charges related to the purchase by Greece of the Russian TOR-M1 surface-to-air missile system and the alleged kickbacks given.

The former minister and his son were suspected of money laundering, involving kickbacks of €7.7 million believed to have eventually ended up in the hands of Tsohatzopoulos who signed the agreement for the supply of the missile system.

Greek investigators found that the millions in kickbacks were sent from one offshore company to Michalis Michaelides’ account, to which his father Dinos also had access.

Tsohatzopoulos was arrested in April 2012 on money laundering charges in the biggest scandal in Greece involving a politician.  On October 2013 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Details of lavish spending that emerged during his trial helped make the corruption case a symbol of the injustice felt by ordinary Greeks, who have seen pensions and wages cut during the economic crisis.

His cousin, businessman Nicos Zigras, testified to Greek authorities last year that Michaelides transferred cash linked to the acquisition of the missile systems.

Michaelides served as Interior Minister in two governments, the latest in the late 1990s. He was extradited to Greece in 2013.

He was forced to step down as Interior Minister in 1999 during Glafcos Clerides’ administration after ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou questioned planning changes to land which Michaelides later bought and built a luxury home on.

Michaelides said at the time he was being “defamed”. He also served as Interior Minister between 1985 and 1988 for the Spyros Kyprianou government and between 1993 and 1997, again for Clerides.

The Syrian-born businessman, named in court as Fouad Al-Zayat, was tried in absentia and sentenced to life for bribery and 17 years for money laundering.

(Cyprus Mail, 04/06/2015)

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