Cyprus - Slovakia: 30 years of diplomatic relations

20 POLITICS 4 Friday, November 12, 2010 CYPRUS MAIL Home (continued fron front page) Friday night during violent clashes on the Larnaca seafront between anti-immigration and nationalist protesters, and people attending an anti-racist festival that saw numerous people injured, including a Turkish Cypriot man who was stabbed. Though widely condemned, the incident also prompted widespread criticism against the government, which stands accused of lacking a proper immigration policy. Sylikiotis rubbished the charges yesterday. “For the first time, Cyprus has acquired a comprehensive and structured immigration policy in the past two and half years,” he told reporters, challenging anyone to deny this. The minister did not go into why such policy was non-existent in the past but wondered why there was no such reaction “when we had 13,000 asylum seekers in 2006.” “Because the overwhelming majority of these people worked...they served the needs of the economy … when there was growth and they did not need benefits,” he added. He said the Republic owed foreign workers a lot. “I do not think there is anyone who will dispute that immigrants contributed greatly to the economic growth of the country in recent years and we owe them a lot.” The minister said not only was the immigrant situation now under control, but it has drastically improved compared to past years. “The influx of illegal immigrants from the [Turkish] occupied areas has decreased a lot, as has the number of asylum seekers and residence permits. The number of legal immigrants from third countries is also down,” the minister said. In 2008, around 2,500 asylum seekers crossed from the north to the governmentcontrolled areas compared to some 1,500 last year and 700 so far in 2010. Pending asylum applications today are down to 995 while at the end of 2007 they had reached 8,567. Pending appeals – regarding rejected applications -- before the Reviewing Authority have dropped by a 1,000 to 2,506 this year compared to 2009. NUMBERS DOWN “Put perhaps most important is the fact that the number of new asylum applications is down,” Sylikiotis said. New applications to date reached 1,787, down significantly from around 6,000 in 2007. At present, there are some 2,700 cases of recognised refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries – the breakdown was not immediately available. The overwhelming majority of these people are Palestinians from Iraq and the Gaza Strip. Their number is included in the approximately 66,000 legal thirdcountry immigrants in Cyprus -- 50 per cent of whom are household workers. The estimated number of illegal third-country immigrants is 34,000, according to government figures. A further 97,645 are EU nationals living and working in Cyprus but this just includes those who are registered. Sylikiotis said there could be several more thousands of EU nationals who do not register as they ought to after three months of residence. Migrant debate front and centre Sylikiotis: we owe a lot to foreign workers House passes law on definition of a terrorist organisation BY A close vote, parliament last night passed a law on combating terrorism and defining a terrorist organisation. The bill passed with 22 votes in favour from DISY, DIKO and European Party deputies, while 19 MPs from AKEL and socialists EDEK voted against. The Greens abstained. The law specifies what constitutes a terrorist group according to the definition and list of terrorist organisations compiled by the European Council. It also stipulates terrorist offences and subsequent penalties. It defines a terrorist group as “a group of two or more persons which has been established and operates for a specific amount of time with the purpose of committing terrorist acts.” The Council Framework Decision on combating terrorism was agreed on June 13, 2002, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. As passed yesterday, the law includes an amendment that bars the government from “executing discretionary powers to freely name any entity or group of persons as a terrorist organisation” other than as specified by the EU. Some of the organisations on the EU terrorist list include: CIRA (Continuity Irish Republican Army); E.T.A (Basque Fatherland and Liberty); G.R.A.P.O (the First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Group); Hamas-Izz alDin al-Qassam (terrorist wing of Hamas); LVF (Loyalist Volunteer Force) and PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad). President sends letter to UNSG PRESIDENT Demetris Christofias has sent UN SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon a letter with his comments ahead of their November 18 meeting in New York, the state broadcaster reported last night. Christofias, Ban and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu will meet at the UN headquarters to discuss ongoing Cyprus talks between the two communities to reach a comprehensive settlement. The government has made it clear it is opposed to UN or international arbitration and mediation and equally against what it calls ‘strict timelines’ for a solution. In his own letter to the UNSG sent earlier this month, Eroglu said a solution was possible by the end of the year if the Greek Cypriot side stopped wasting time. Christofias: going to New York with an open mind By Patrick Dewhurst PRESIDENT Demetris Christofias was in Bratislava yesterday to meet with his counterpart, Slovakian President Ivan Gasparovic, and sign an agreement on mutual protection of classified information. Accompanying him on the three day visit, which concludes today, are Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Antonis Paschalides, Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou, government officials, and his wife Elsie. After signing the agreement, the leaders held a joint press conference, at which Christofias spoke of his forthcoming visit to New York to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on November 18. He said: “I’m going to New York with an open mind, good will, but always grounded and defending my principles. I go there with the belief that we will not be surprised with a repetition of views about arbitration or mediation.” “We had a bitter experience in 2004,” he said referring to UN arbitration, which led to the referendum on the failed Annan plan. Gasparovic expressed his support for Cyprus, saying that his country supported and would continue to support the solution of the Cyprus problem based on principle, and that he favoured a bi-zonal federation with one international personality that offers equal political rights for residents of both communities. After the press conference the leaders attended a Cyprus–Slovakia business forum, where Christofias said the Cypriot economy was on a course for recovery and continued to offer a “remarkable and reliable” financial centre in the region. He said: “The Cypriot economy, despite the crisis, has demonstrated dynamism and endurance and is on a course of recovery.” Referring to the ongoing business cooperation and development of bilateral networks between the two countries, he said: “We want to continue working together in this direction: to overcome any possible obstacles for investments and identify the benefits and services offered by the two countries.” During his visit Christofias also met Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova and President of the Slovak Parliament Richard Sulik. After the President addressed Business Forum he inaugurated the Cyprus embassy in Bratislava and attended an official dinner given in his honour by the Slovak President. The Cypriot delegation is due to return today. President Demetris Christofias (L) in Bratislava yesterday with his Slovakian counterpart Ivan Gasparovic (PIO) 18/04/2013 The President of the Republic of Cyprus H.E. Nicos Anastasiades receives the credentials of the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic H.E. Oksana Tomová 06/11/2014 The President of the Slovak Republic H.E. Andrej Kiska receives the credentials of the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus H.E. Nearchos Palas 12/12/2016 The Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic H.E. Andrej Danko during his visit to Cyprus 2010 2012 2013 2014 2016 Cyprus Mail, 12/11/2010 Cyprus Weekly, 23/06/2012