Cypriot Finance Minister Harris Georgiades has said that ailing national air carrier Cyprus Airways will stop its operations since following a European Commission decision for the company to pay back over €100 million of state aid it had received in the past, means that it is “no longer an active economic entity”.

Georgiades was speaking during a joint press conference with Minister of Communications and Works Marios Demetriades.

He also said that following the Commission`s decision the relevant international organisations are expected to rescind its commercial license.

Employees, Georgiades said, will receive the total of salaries due to them and their Provident Fund.

On his part Demetriades said that the country`s connectivity is covered by other airlines operating in Cyprus, adding that steps will be taken immediately towards establishing a new private company bearing the name and logo of Cyprus Airways.

 


Article written by CNA

Cyprus Airways needs to pay back state aid of about 100 million euros it has received in breach of EU state aid rules., European Commission has ruled out. According to the Commission, a restructuring aid package of over €100 million for Cyprus` ailing flag carrier Cyprus Airways gave the company an undue advantage over its competitors in breach of EU state aid rules. Cyprus Airways therefore needs to pay back all incompatible aid received. In particular, the Commission found that Cyprus Airways had no realistic perspective of becoming viable without continued state subsidies.

Margrethe Vestager press conference at the EU Commission

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager (pictured), responsible for Competition, said that “Cyprus Airways has received large quantities of public money since 2007 but was unable to restructure and become viable without continued state support. Therefore, injecting additional public money would only have prolonged the struggle without achieving a turn-around. Companies need to be profitable based on own merits and their ability to compete and cannot and should not rely on taxpayer money to stay in the market artificially.”

The Commission found that Cyprus Airways had been in economic difficulties for many years and repeatedly benefited from public support measures.

Under the applicable EU guidelines on the rescue and restructuring of companies in difficulty, a company can only receive restructuring aid once over a period of ten years (“one time, last time” principle). This is to avoid that market players rely on public money instead of running an effective business and competing on the merits. Cyprus has provided no evidence that Cyprus Airways faced exceptional and unforeseeable circumstances that would justify an exemption from this principle.
The Commission also found that Cyprus Airways` restructuring plan is based on unrealistic assumptions and does not sufficiently reflect different market scenarios. The proposed restructuring measures do not appear appropriate to address the circumstances that led to Cyprus Airways` difficulties. Moreover, the proposed restructuring period is longer than what the Commission has authorised in other airline restructuring cases.

Finally, in order to avoid the moral hazard of bailing out inefficient players with taxpayer money, under EU state aid rules any company that receives restructuring aid has to sufficiently contribute itself to the cost of restructuring. The Commission found that Cyprus Airways` own contribution is significantly below the level of 50% required by the guidelines.

For all these reasons, the Commission concluded that Cyprus Airways was unable to become viable in the long term without continued state support.

The repeated public support measures have already procured a considerable economic advantage to the airline that its competitors, who had to operate without such public money, did not have. In order to remedy this distortion of competition, Cyprus Airways now needs to return the aid received to Cypriot taxpayers. This will re-establish the situation that existed on the market prior to the granting of the aid, thereby canceling out or at least alleviating the distortion of competition brought about by the aid.


Article written by CNA

Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis (pictured) has said that ENI/KOGAS consortium continues within the set time frame the drilling in the “Amathousa” area in block 9 of Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), noting that the drilling is not affected by Turkey’s violations.

ÕÐ.ÅÍÅÑÃÅÉÁÓ Ã.ËÁÊÊÏÔÑÕÐÇÓ - ÇÌÅÑÉÄÁ ÐÑÏÓÔÁÓÉÁÓ ÁÍÔÁÃÙÍÉÓÌÏÕ

“The drilling actually started on January 1st and is proceeding normally. Drilling is expected to last eighty to ninety days. Right now we are at a very good juncture as far as our planning is concerned”, he said replying to a question.

As regards the Turkish violations, Lakkotrypis said a Turkish warship is observing the area from a distance of five miles, as was the case in a previous drilling in “Onasagoras” block, adding that these violations do not affect the drilling.

Replying to a question, the Minister dismissed the view that the new Turkish illegal maritime order (NAVTEX) has cut off contact between ENI and the Cypriot coast.

The consortium ENI/KOGAS has been awarded exploration licenses in Cyprus` EEZ, namely in Blocks 2,3 and 9. ENI completed 2 seismic surveys, and is planning to drill 6 wells in the coming 18 months.


Article written by CNA

The SBA Police’s Acting Chief Superintendent George Kiteos (pictured) has been awarded the Overseas Territories Police and Fire Service Medal by Her Majesty the Queen in the New Year’s Honours List, making him the first Cypriot to have ever received such an award.

ΑΣΤΥΝΟΜΙΚΟΣ ΔΙΕΥΘΥΝΤΗΣ ΒΑΣΕΩΝ ΓΙΩΡΓΟΣ ΚΙΤΕΩΣ

Speaking to CNA, Kiteos said the medal and title, to be awarded at Buckingham Palace during a special ceremony, was an honour for himself and Cyprus in general.

`First of all, it is a great honour to have been given this award, and to be the first Cypriot to receive it is very humbling`, he said.

He added that he had received a call from President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades to congratulate him.

Kiteos, currently the highest ranking Cypriot police officer working in the SBAs, was given the award after serving the force with distinction since joining up as an 18-year-old in 1985.

His work during the opening ceremony of Cyprus accepting the EU Presidency at Curium in 2012, where he took command of more than 200 SBA Police officers and had responsibility for 400 Cyprus Police officers, was highlighted as one of the reasons he was given the award.

His standing within the local community, where he is active as a police officer, in forging closer relationships between the police and the public, and his outstanding charity work ethic, were also cited as key contributing factors in him receiving the prestigious honour.


Article written by CNA

The government is prepared for all eventualities in view of the European Commission`s decision on a state-financed rescue plan for Cyprus Airways, Minister of Communications and Works Marios Demetriades said on Thursday.

Cyprus Airways is likely to go bankrupt without large subsidies

“Let us wait and hear the decision,” Demetriades said, as press reports suggest that the decision by the Commission`s Directorate-General on Competition will be released tomorrow.

The restructuring measures for the loss-making company amount to €103 million.

“If the decision regards the considerable aid granted illegal, the company will be forced to return the money, and as a result there will be no choice but the suspension of the company`s operations,” Demetriades said speaking to the press.

Asked if the government has sent a revised restructuring plan to the Commission, Demetriades said “we are trying even at the last minute to obtain a positive response so that the company will not suspend its operations.”

But he noted that the government is ready for all possibilities.

“There will be no gap in the country`s flight connectivity. We have already drafted a plan in case the European Commission`s decision is negative and the company will have to suspend its operations, to cover the gap that will emerge,” he said without giving any details.

Replying to a question, Demetriades said the government will compensate the passengers that have booked tickets with Cyprus Airways as well as the carrier`s employees.

He also said that both Ryanair and Aegean, that have participated in a tender to acquire Cyprus Airways as a whole as well as CyAir assets, have applied for local air carrier license.


Article written by CNA

The British High Commission has expressed concern about the tensions in Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and urged everyone to support UN Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide (pictured) so that peace talks can resume quickly.

ÍÅÏÓ ÅÉÄÉÊÏÓ ÓÕÌÂÏÕËÏÓ ÇÍÙÌÅÍÙÍ ÅÈÍÙÍ

“We are concerned by the continued tensions in the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ and encourage all concerned to give active support to the work of the Special Adviser to the Secretary General, Mr Eide so that settlement talks can resume quickly, and proceed successfully” a spokesperson of the British High Commission in Cyprus said.

The High Commission was invited by the Cyprus News Agency to comment on recent developments in efforts to resume the UN-led peace talks and Turkey`s decision to extend the NAVTEX notification it issued for exploration by the seismic vessel Barbaros in Cyprus’ territorial waters.

“We regret that recent incidents, such as Turkey’s latest NAVTEX, have risked raising tensions. We call on all parties to avoid inflammatory actions or statements” the Spokesperson said.

“We recognise the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereign rights to exploit mineral reserves in its EEZ, and it remains our position that such resources should be exploited for the benefit of all the communities in Cyprus” the statement added.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has suspended his participation in UN-led settlement talks following a Navigational Telex or NAVTEX, issued by Turkey, whose seismic research vessel Barbaros violated the Republic’s exclusive economic zone.

Repeated calls for its withdrawal went unheeded by Ankara, which announced on Tuesday the NAVTEX`s extension until April 6.

Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus’ northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, in spite of numerous calls by the EU, which Ankara aspires to join, to do so and normalize relations with Nicosia.


Article written by CNA

The governments of Greece and Cyprus have condemned the terrorist attack at the offices of the French satirical weekly magazine Charles Hebdo in Paris that resulted in the death of 12 people.

Gunmen kill 12 at French magazine Charlie Hebdo

“It is a heinous act of utmost concern to the international community and to all EU member states.  Ιt is a reminder that terrorism has no boundaries or geographical limitations”, read the official statement from Cyprus’ foreign ministry after Wednesday’s deadly attack.

“We stand by the French Government in its efforts to effectively address terrorism and bring the perpetrators before justice. We express our deepest condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and to the French people.”

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades tweeted:  “We condemn the deadly attack which took place in Paris. Terrorists must not be allowed to subjugate the freedom of expression”

In Athens, Greece’s Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos called the shooting “monstrous and barbaric”.

“We express our outrage at and unequivocal condemnation of the monstrous and barbaric deadly terrorist attack,” said Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos in his statement.

“Our deepest condolences to the victims’ loved ones, to the French people and to the French authorities. We assure the French government that Greece remains at its side as a firm ally of those who fight for freedom and against terrorism.”


Article written by LGR

Athens has reacted strongly and “with great resentment” to Turkey’s decision to extend the NAVTEX notification it issued for explorations by the seismic vessel Barbaros in Cyprus’ territorial waters.

Greek Foreign Minister-Evangelos Venizelos

Greek Foreign Minister-Evangelos Venizelos

Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos described today Ankara’s renewed intervention as a “flagrant violation of international law and a blatant violation of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, a member state of the European Union”.

The Greek government believes that Turkey had long decided to proceed with the extension of the NAVTEX notification, thus undermining directly any chance of seeing the bicommunal talks resuming again on the island.

Athens says it expected to see efforts from Turkey that would contribute to the de-escalation of the tension initially caused when the Barbaros was sent sailing in Cyprus’ territorial waters some months ago, and instead of that “we once again see tension being created in a region that is very close to the hotspots of all the pending crises in the Middle East and North Africa”.

The Greek government stresses that it is “in complete coordination with the Republic of Cyprus” and remains firm on its insistence that there should be respect for international law, the subsistence and sovereignty of Cyprus, and that the prospect of a dialogue presupposes the acceptance of the framework of the rules by which all member states of the EU abide by.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has suspended his participation in the UN-led peace talks, aiming to reunite Cyprus which has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, following the violation of the Republic`s exclusive economic zone by the Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros last year. Repeated calls for the withdrawal of the vessel have gone unheeded by Ankara.

 Decision to suspend participation in talks unchanged, says Cyprus’ Government Spokesman

The government has made it crystal clear that the decision to suspend the participation of the Greek Cypriot side in the UN-led peace talks because of Turkey’s violation of its exclusive economic zone remains unchanged.

The government has also pointed out that the renewal of a Turkish NAVTEX, which violates international law, makes it obvious as to who is responsible for the current stagnation in the effort to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus through dialogue.

“Today’s new violation of international law by the Turkish Government is a clear affirmation of the charges made by President Anastasiades and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus about the real intentions of Turley and the leadership of the Turkish Cypriots,” Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said in a written statement issued here today.

Despite the arduous efforts by the President and the Greek Cypriot side, the will and the demonstration of constructive spirit, the intense and continuous diplomatic activity by the Government to protect the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, he points out, “the new Turkish decision to issue a Navtex complicates matters even more.”

At the same time, he notes, “makes it obvious to even the most mistrustful, who is responsible for the current stagnation, the suspension of the talks and the continuous threat for further instability in the Eastern Mediterranean region.”

Monday’s statement by the President of the Republic and the very clear position of the Greek Cypriot side, even for the self-evident matters, “demonstrated, once more, who bears the responsibility for the ongoing impasse and the non-solution of the Cyprus problem,” the Spokesman says.

Christodoulides also stresses that “the repetition, on the part of Turkey, of an extremely provocative action should give cause for concern to the international community and all those who constantly declare their interest for an exit from the current stagnation, and lead them to very specific actions towards specific directions.”

“The international community collectively, the United Nations, but also specific states that have special relations and role, ought to recognize the cause of the problem, in other words the real intentions of Ankara, and thereby ascribe responsibilities and direct their efforts where they should.”

It should be realized by everybody, Christodoulides stresses, that “the situation of ongoing threats and arrogant behavior by the occupying power deprives the Cyprus Government of whatever margin of movement and flexibility because what has priority is the protection of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus for the interest of its entire people.”

“In view of the above, it becomes obvious and crystal clear that the decision to suspend the participation of the Greek Cypriot side in the talks remains unchanged,” the Spokesman concludes in his statement.

President Anastasiades has suspended his participation in the UN-led peace talks following a NAVTEX, issued by Turkey, whose seismic vessel Barbaros violated the Republic’s exclusive economic zone. Repeated calls for its withdrawal went unheeded by Ankara.

Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus’ northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, in spite of numerous calls by the EU, which Ankara aspires to join, to do so and normalize relations with Nicosia.


Article written by CNA

In all fairness, Italian Chef Gino D’Acampo has had our hearts for quite some time. In fact, probably since 2011, when he cooked naked on national television after promising to cook in the nude, if This Morning won an NTA award (which they did).

Not for the first time since then, Gino had  Phillip Schofield, Holly Willoughby and the rest of us all in stitches. Well we thought, it was too good, not to share it.


Article written by London Greek Radio

Pupils of a prestigious Greek-American school in Athens paid homage to their science teacher Meneleos Aligizakis (pictured), 43, that died at a bus stop outside London’s Waterloo station on Saturday.

Alygizakis

 Prior to his current post at Athens College, which boasts the current Greek Premier among its illustrious alumni, Mr Aligizakis had taught science and maths for 10 years in a number of schools in London.

 The Greek science teacher who had travelled to the capital to spend Christmas with friends became embroiled after leaving a nightclub accompanied by a woman in a brawl with a man in the early hours of Saturday while he was waiting for a night bus.

 Police officers and emergency crews that attended found the 43-year old suffering from severe head injuries and was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.

 News of his death led to an emotional outpouring from his numerous pupils and their parents in Greece on Tuesday.

 “He was a wonderful man … I still remember everything he taught us … He was the best teacher I have ever seen,” wrote one of the pupils at Athens College  on the Facebook page uploaded in the memory of Mr Aligizakis, also a classically trained pianist at his country’s national conservatory of music.

Another  wrote: “An exceptional man……An exceptional teacher……May he rest in peace”

Mark Patten, 30, from Thornton Heath, south London, has been charged with the murder of the Greek teacher and is scheduled to appear at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

Police investigating the killing are continuing to appeal for witnesses and information.

Any witnesses and or anyone with information are urged call the incident room on 020 8721 4205 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


Article written by LGR