Men arrested for drugs and firearms

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Two local Cypriot men from Xylotymbou were remanded in custody for seven days on Tuesday after they were arrested at an abandoned farm in Ormidhia with drugs, firearms and an assortment of other illegal items in their possession.

The two men, who had been under suspicion from police officials for some time, were arrested after officers launched an intelligence-led operation and found them in the possession of what is believed to be one kilogram of cannabis, one regular and one sawn-off shotgun – reported stolen in 2003 in the Republic of Cyprus – a mistnet, lime sticks, a cross bow, 12 arrows, a smoke grenade, firecrackers and two auto-cycles, which police also believe to have been stolen.

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Destruction cultural heritage in Cyprus should be better known in Europe, MEP says

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Chairwoman of the European Parliament`s Culture and Education Committee Petra Kammerevert has said that Cyprus needs to make the extent of the destruction of its cultural heritage better known in Europe and has suggested that this could be done in the context of the European year of cultural heritage in 2018.

She was addressing Wednesday a press conference in the EU House, in Nicosia after having led a two day visit by a delegation of the Committee in Cyprus which mainly focused on Pafos2017 Cultural Capital of Europe.

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Access to besieged Syrian towns remains ‘greatest obstacle’: UN relief chief

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A young boy sits in front of a destroyed building in Homs, Syria. Photo: WFP/Abeer Etefa

FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE CYPRUS

The lack of safe, unimpeded and sustained access remains the greatest obstacle to reaching Syrian people in besieged and hard-to-reach-areas.

That’s what the top UN humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, said during his briefing to the Security Council on Wednesday.

Some 13.5 million people in Syria are in dire need of protection and humanitarian assistance, the UN says.

The UN and its implementing partners reach millions of Syrians by deploying aid convoys from Turkey each month, the UN relief chief, Stephen O’Brien, said in his briefing to the Security Council on Wednesday.

These inter-agency cross-border convoys often have to deal with administrative, security or operational constraints.

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Spat between political camps deepens in Macedonia, no sign of new gov’t

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Two months after the snap general elections of Dec. 11, Macedonia sees no sign of new government as the division between political camps deepened.

Nearly one month after Nikola Gruesvki, head of the VMRO-DPMNE which won the majority of parliamentary seats, failed to form a coalition that would pave the way for the creation of new government, it seems that it is getting even more difficult to ensure the numbers needed for formation of government.

Currently, the main opposition party, Macedonian Social Democratic Union (SDSM) chaired by Zoran Zaev, is engaged in talks with the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) led by Ali Ahmeti.

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Britain, France collaborate on missile upgrade program

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FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE CYPRUS

The British and French governments joined forces Wednesday in a program that will see an upgrade of missiles used by war planes from the air forces of both countries.

After a series of talks in London, British Minister for Defense Procurement Harriett Baldwin announced a 146-million-pound (182 million U.S. dollars) contract with British weapons company MBDA to regenerate an air-launched missile. Taking part in the talks was Baldwin’s French counterpart Laurent Collet-Billon.

The Ministry of Defense (MOD) said in London the shared deal with MDBA will see Britain’s Storm Shadow and France’s SCALP missiles updated so they remain fit for purpose and ready for operational use.

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UN Secretary General hopes that obstacles in Cyprus talks will be overcome

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FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE CYPRUS

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed hope that the obstacles in the Cyprus talks will be overcome and the procedure will soon move forward, a diplomatic source told the Cyprus News Agency.

Guterres received on Wednesday the credentials of the new Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations, ambassador Kornelios Korneliou.

The same source told the CNA that the Cypriot ambassador informed the Secretary General that the meeting between the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, that was scheduled for Thursday, will not take place, following the Turkish Cypriot leader`s decision not to attend the meeting and the conditions put forward by the Turkish side.

The Secretary General reiterated his personal interest and his support for the procedure aiming to to reunify the island under a federal roof, noting the key role of the two sides and the guarantor powers.

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EC report for Cyprus does not recognise the improvement of the economy, sources say

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A Central Bank source noted that “surely the Cypriot economy faces many challenges” but “one should not ignore the progress that has been made.”

FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE CYPRUS

The European Commission`s country specific report for Cyprus “fails to recognise the improvements and the dynamism of the economy”, the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday.
Commenting on the European Commission report, released earlier today, a source of the Ministry of Finance noted that the European Commission assesses that the potential growth rate, and not the real growth rate, currently standing at 3%, is close to 0%, while the Ministry of Finance believes that the Commission estimates this potential growth rate “in a rather distortive way”.

“We maintain a different assessment of the potential growth of the economy” the same source said, adding that the Cypriot economy is facing challenges as it has recently come out of a very deep financial crisis and “there are imbalances that need to be addressed”.

A Central Bank source noted that “surely the Cypriot economy faces many challenges” but “one should not ignore the progress that has been made.”

The conditions are in place to improve the problems and meet the challenges, the same source said.

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Syria: UN envoy cautions against “spoilers” on eve of negotiations

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United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura takes questions at a press conference in Geneva prior to the Intra-Syrian negotiations. UN Photo/Violaine Martin

FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE CYPRUS

The countdown has begun to Intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva where UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura on Wednesday stressed the need to “outpace” those who wished to see the deliberations come to nothing.
Downplaying expectations of an immediate “breakthrough” between the warring sides, Mr de Mistura said that it was time for delegations to show that it is time to “fight on the (negotiating) table, not in the field”.

To date, the near six-year war in Syria has claimed some 300,000 lives and displaced millions.

On the eve of what will be a fourth round of UN-led talks between the warring parties in Syria, Staffan de Mistura said that he would be continuing to push for a resolution to the conflict based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

It calls for three things: non-sectarian governance in the war-ravaged country, a new constitution and free and fair elections.

But the UN Special Envoy cautioned against so-called “spoilers” who were attempting to undermine the negotiations by refusing to lay down their weapons.

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Net lending from banks expected to rise during the first quarter of 2017

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FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE CYPRUS

Net lending from banks in Cyprus is expected to rise during the first quarter of 2017, according to the January 2017 Bank Lending Survey of the Central Bank of Cyprus.

Moreover, according to the survey, banks estimate that the criteria for the allocation of loans are expected to remain unchanged during the first quarter of 2017 as in the Eurozone. However criteria for the allocation of loans for house purchase in the Eurozone are expected to ease.

The survey is based on a questionnaire about the Cypriot banks and covers approximately 85% of the lending market in Cyprus.

According to the survey, the net demand for loans increased during the last quarter of 2016, on the basis of the banks` expectations during the previous quarter, even though at lower levels.

The main reasons for this increase was the reduction in interest rates, the need to increase the movement of stocks and capitals and the need for corporate and debt restructuring.

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No new date for Cyprus peace talks to be announced at this point, says UN

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FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE CYPRUS

Deputy UN Spokesman Ferhan Haq has said there was no new date for talks between the leaders of Cyprus’ two communities to be announced at this point.

Answering a question on the status of the Cyprus peace talks on Tuesday, he said “UN envoy Espen Barth Eide did meet with the parties late last week to continue discussions in terms to find a way to bring them back together for talks.”

Haq said that he did not have any new date of talks between the leaders to announce at this point.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci walked out of a meeting on Thursday, in the framework of the UN-led negotiations on the Cyprus problem, shortly after it began. Earlier on the two leaders had elaborated on their positions on a decision taken by the Cypriot Parliament to commemorate in schools the 1950 referendum, favouring “enosis”, union with Greece.

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