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Cyprus had its first official fashion week March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style.
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Joining in with other regional and national markets, Cyprus organized its first official fashion week.

The new fashion week saw no less than 23 designers and emerging fashion houses presenting their new collections for Fall Winter 2008/09. The Paris-based, Greek Cypriot Erotokritos officially opened the fashion week. He was joined by others including Kika Ioannidou, Pandelis Pandeli, Elena Strogyliotou, Marios Grigoriadis, Elena Antoniades and Adreas Georgiou. Afroditi Hera, Mi-Ro, Ramona Filip and Yannis Xenis, who recently unveiled their collections in Athens during the Hellenic Fashion Week, also presented their collections.

Cyprus Fashion Week is organized by DIAS and is held at the Cyprus State Fairs Authority premises in Nicosia. It run from March 27 to March 30.

Greek banks eye prosperous Cyprus market March 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Cyprus’s stable economic environment, accompanied by a strong growth rate of over 3.5 percent, growing mortgage demand and an increase in foreign deposits are the primary elements drawing the attention of Greek bankers who wish to enter the Cyprus market.

An Alpha Bank team is planning to visit Cyprus in the coming days for the opening of its new, privately owned building, and is expected to announce further plans to boost activities on the island. Last week, a National Bank delegation was also in Cyprus for business matters.

Greek banking groups are now renewing their interest in the Cyprus market, attracted by the large foreign deposits coming into the country, as well as by the momentum offered by business initiatives assisted by foreign funds. At present, Russia and Ukraine play a leading role in such business moves, facilitated by an especially favorable tax system. Other highly promising areas are the housing and real estate markets.

Significant aid to foreign companies wishing to operate in Cyprus is offered by a favorable tax system, which translates into corporate taxation of 10 percent, as well as the country’s double taxation avoidance agreements. The country’s admission into the eurozone is another positive aspect that comes into play.

Over the past two years, deposits in foreign exchange by non-EU residents rose as much as 59 percent to 18.5 billion, according to data from the Cyprus Central Bank. Bank officials explain that despite Cyprus’s limited population, interest from banks is high, considering the excellent potential for growth in both corporate and retail banking.

The dominance of local banks is not seen as obstructing the profitable operation of Greek banks. Alpha Bank’s Cyprus operations are its most profitable in SE Europe, allowing the Greek bank to plan an increase in the number of its branches from 35 to 50. In the Cyprus market, Alpha has a 9.6 percent share in loans and 6.6 percent in deposits.

Strong interest in the Cyprus market has also been also shown by Piraeus Bank, following its takeover of Arab Bank, which has been incorporated into the bank’s network and has plans to open another 10 branches. Piraeus group’s business plan forecasts an increase in loans from 30 million to 800 million, as well as a growth in deposits from 20 million to 1.5 billion.

National Bank, which already operates 15 branches in Cyprus, is highly active in business credit, with a 4 percent share of the specific segment. EFG Eurobank does more corporate banking and plans to establish three new business centers within 2008.

Drawing pictures on Nicosia’s Ledra Street March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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Children from a junior high school in Cyprus draw pictures of the buffer zone on Nicosia’s Ledra Street, in place since the Turkish invasion in 1974 but in the process of being dismantled, as UN peacekeepers sweep the area for land mines.

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Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias said yesterday that finding a settlement to reunify the divided island would be “a very difficult task.” But he said the working groups he agreed to set up following talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat were a practical first step. “They have not been set up for show or for reasons of propaganda but to produce results,” Christofias said.

President Christofias and Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou are to visit Washington for talks with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice at the end of next month.

Nicosia’s Ledra Street buffer zone is demined March 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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UN crews clear unexploded ordnance around Ledra Street before it opens > UN mine engineers sweeping the buffer zone for unexploded ordnance to allow crews to shore up crumbling buildings ahead of a crossing point opening at Ledra Street in Nicosia, yesterday.

27-03-08_un_crews.jpg  United Nations demining experts swept the buffer zone dividing Nicosia for discarded explosives yesterday as part of efforts to open a crossing in Europe’s last divided capital.

UN spokesman Jose Diaz said demining teams completed a search for unexploded devices or booby traps that could have been left over from the 1974 Turkish invasion, which divided the island along ethnic lines. The sweep of the 70-meter (230-foot) stretch of no man’s land was necessary before work could begin to shore up dilapidated buildings on either side of the pedestrian thoroughfare.

«A six-person mine action team carried out the search with support from UNFICYP (United Nations Force in Cyprus), during which no dangerous items were found,» a UN statement said. The clearance, shoring up and other preparations were expected to last 10 days or more, Diaz said.

Barbed wire first divided Ledra Street, a busy shopping street in the Cypriot capital’s medieval core, in the early 1960s amid fighting between the island’s Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot communities. The leaders of the Greek and Cypriot communities agreed Friday to open a crossing at Ledra Street as a sign of good will before resuming talks on reunifying the island.

A sticking point appears to have been overcome after the Turkish army agreed to keep patrolling soldiers out of sight of the crossing point, officials close to the discussions said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The Greek Cypriot National Guard will also pull its soldiers back.

The new Cyprus’ President of the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot Republic of Cyprus, currently in the south of the island, Dimitris Christofias, and the leader of the breakaway Turkish-Cypriots currently in the Turkish occupied and military controlled north area of Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey, Mehmet Ali Talat, also agreed Friday to reach a reunification deal «as soon as possible.» Aides to Christofias and Talat agreed yesterday to quickly set up 13 groups of experts to bridge the gaps between the two sides on issues such as security, territory, crime and health. The groups will have until June to make as much progress as possible before Christofias and Talat begin face-to-face negotiations.

A UN statement said both sides agreed to set up additional groups if necessary «to ensure that their respective leaders may be able to negotiate as effectively as possible on the full spectrum of issues to be discussed.»

However, Turkish troops will stay in the occupied northern areas of Cyprus until a «just and lasting peace» has been achieved on the divided island, Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said yesterday. The Turkish forces in the breakaway north have been deployed «in line with international agreements,» Talat said.

«They will continue to conduct their mission until a just and lasting peace has been achieved.» Talat was speaking at a meeting with visiting Turkish army chief, General Yasar Buyukanit, just days after he and newly elected Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias agreed to relaunch peace negotiations stalled since 2004.

Talat said the influential Turkish military, often accused of advocating a hardline position on the Cyprus conflict, «supports us on the issues we are working on, together with the Turkish government.» Buyukanit said: «The Turkish soldiers are here for the security of the Turkish Cypriots. They have ensured their security and will continue to do so.» Turkey, the only country to recognize the government in the occupied north, maintains more than 40,000 troops there.

CTC acquires OTEnet unit in Cyprus March 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Telecoms.
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Importer and retailer Cyprus Trading Corporation (CTC) said yesterday that it owns fully Cyprus-based OTEnet Telecommunications after it bought a 12.75 percent stake from Brightmind Enterprises.

The agreed price for the transaction was 1 million euros, CTC said in a statement. In February, CTC acquired from Greece’s telecom OTE its shareholding in Cyprus’s OTEnet for 3.99 million euros, which gave it 87.25 percent ownership of OTEnet Telecommunications.

Water on Cyprus is rationed March 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Nature.
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Authorities on the island of Cyprus announced Monday that they were immediately reducing the water supply to people’s homes to cope with a “dramatic” drought that has left dams nearly empty.

Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said supply cuts of 30 percent were a “necessary measure” in light of a 17-million-cubic-meter (600-million-cubic-feet) shortfall in water reserves. The island needs 66.7 million cubic meters (2.35 billion cubic feet) a year to cover its needs.

“We’ve initiated a number of measures to tackle the truly dramatic situation we’re facing,” Stefanou told reporters. Stefanou said the government would reduce by almost a third the supply to local water boards that distribute water to homes. The cuts will take effect at once. Other measures include the construction of pipelines to feed local reservoirs with water that will be shipped from Greece in tankers five months from now.

Authorities also plan to double the daily output from a desalination plant now being built, to 40,000 cubic meters (1.4 million cubic feet) by October. Cyprus already has two operating desalination plants with a combined daily output of 92,000 cubic meters (3.2 million cubic feet) and the government will look into using more portable units.

Stefanou said officials will bore more into the island’s water table. A water conservation campaign will also be stepped up.

Meanwhile, officials will draw up a long-term strategy to help the island effectively deal with chronic shortages caused by its heavy dependence on rainfall. Capacity at the island’s dams now stands at just over 10 percent, 2.5 times less than their capacity at this time last year. Compounding the lack of rain are record-setting temperatures for March that reached Monday to 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 Fahrenheit).

Turks bar Ledra Street opening in Nicosia March 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias said yesterday that he would push to reopen a landmark street in the divided capital of Nicosia after Turkish troops prevented United Nations officials from getting started on clearing up the area.

Turkish troops stopped a UN initiative to clear explosives and other materials from Ledra Street, which runs through the buffer zone that divides northern and southern Nicosia, citing “technical problems.” Meanwhile, sources said that Turkey’s armed forces chief Yasar Buyukanit is due in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus today. It was unclear whether the trip had been planned.

26-03-08_ledra_street_crossing.jpg  Cyprus President Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat last week agreed to open up Ledra Street as a symbolic move ahead of renewed peace talks. The Cyprus President yesterday said he believed “barriers would be overcome.” Nicosia, the capital city of the Republic of Cyprus, is the last divided city in Europe.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday said he “warmly welcomed” the agreement by Christofias and Talat to “start full-fledged negotiations under UN auspices.”