At one point the hijacking of EgyptAir flight diverted to Larnaca Airport in Cyprus, which went without any incident or threat, could have been likened to a ‘Cypriot farce’ or a script for Cypriot TV. The ‘love’ twist, giving the hijacker’s demands to see his ex-wife, a Cypriot, a woman named as Marina Paraschou, and a four-page letter in Arabic handed over to the authorities, thickens the plot further.
Thankfully, the hijacking of EgyptAir Flight MS181 passed without any serious injury to any hostages, passengers and crew.
The ‘twist’ was perhaps very-well crystallised by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades who responded to a reporter’s question about whether the hijacker was motivated by romance, by laughing and saying: “Always there is a woman involved.”
The country’s leader also thanked all of the local emergency services, including the Cypriot soldiers, for their quick and efficient reaction to the incident.
EgyptAir Flight MS181 was taken over by a passenger claiming to be a suicide explosive belt.
EgyptAir said the Airbus A320 was carrying 56 passengers from Alexandria to Cairo, along with six crew and a security official.
The hijacker’s motives were said to by Cypriot authorities, plainly of a non-terrorist nature, and the belt was ‘fake’ despite it having wires sticking out to be give the pretence of genuine explosive.
The suspect had gradually released passengers and crew throughout the day, and the air-pilot was filmed climbing off the plane.
Cypriot’s RIK TV reported that the man, believed to be an Egyptian national, made a list of demands, including ‘to deliver a message’ to a woman who was identified as his ex-wife.
The Cypriot authorities described the man as ”mentally unstable” and will be brought before a local court, on Wednesday.
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The Government Spokesman of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nikos Christodoulides was the Guest of Honour for this year’s celebrations of 25 March 1821 and 1 April 1955 in London.
On Saturday 19 March, the Government Spokesman held a private dinner with the Federation’s Secretariat where he discussed the latest developments on the Cyprus issue and also updated the Federation on the recent European Heads of Government meeting. Also in attendance at the dinner, amongst others was the Greek Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Konstantinos Bikas, the Cyprus High Commissioner to the UK, H.E. Evripides Evriviades and the Bishop of Tropeaou, Athanansios
This year’s community-wide National day celebrations were hosted at Ashmole Academy on Sunday 20 March. In his public address at the celebrations, Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides highlighted the need for unity and collectiveness among the political parties and the people of Cyprus in order to achieve the common goal of ending the Turkish occupation of the island.
Mr Christodoulides noted that “the national liberation struggles give us the message of the importance and necessity of unity; the revolution of 1821 in Greece and EOKA’s liberation struggle in Cyprus in 1955 were successful because the goal was shared by all: to get rid of the ruler, to abolish servitude and to liberate the motherland.”
The Government Spokesman continued, “the message to all parties and to all the people of Cyprus is that a settlement within the framework in which the current negotiations are taking place would be a success for all of us, while a failure would be a loss for all of us.
“That is why I urge everyone… to work together, collectively, so that we can reach a positive settlement which will at last terminate the Turkish occupation of Cyprus. A settlement plan that will meet the expectations of the Cypriot people, so that it is accepted at a referendum. And in any case the President of the Republic would not put before the people a plan with which he does not agree and which therefore does not correspond to the expectations of the Cypriot people, expectations he is aware of and shares completely.”
He added that “in this framework, it is wrong to state one’s position from now – possibly to serve expediency of other purposes – with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to a plan that is not yet before us.”
Referring to the prospect of reaching a settlement to the Cyprus issue, Nikos Christodoulides said that there are currently situations which could potentially create the condition for a positive outcome. “There are motives for a rationally thinking Turkey to comprehend the benefits of a settlement to the Cyprus issue, to Turkey itself. At the same time, there is no doubt that the problems we are facing and will continue to face will be significant. On our side we remain committed, cautiously optimistic and consistent as to the need for hard work and hard negotiation to end the Turkish occupation and to achieve the goal of delivering to the new generation a country free from occupation armies and division lines,” said the Government Spokesman, adding that “no one wishes or should wish more than us” for the occupation to end and for Cyprus to be reunified.
Speaking about the twin anniversaries, Mr Christodoulides said that they are being celebrated with a sentiments of admiration and pride, as they marked a new course for Greece and Cyprus allowing them to gain their national independence and freedom.
He also praised the Greek Cypriot community in the UK and conveyed the “gratitude” of the Cypriot state and people. As he commented, the Cypriots living in the UK are distinguished by their commitment to one single aim and that is how to best serve their beloved island of Cyprus.
On behalf of the organised diaspora, the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, Christos Karaolis, thanked the Government Spokesman for attending the celebrations and pledged to continue utilising the contacts and links established in Britain in order to promote the rights of the Cypriot people and to passionately defend the interests of the Republic of Cyprus. The Federation President also reiterated the community’s support for President Anastasiades’ efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue and expressed the community’s solidarity with President Anastasiades and all EU member countries for the “just and principled stance adopted against Turkey’s demands for the opening of EU accession chapters” at the recent European Heads of Government meeting.
Turning his attention to the current settlement efforts in Cyprus, Mr Karaolis said that “despite the positive signals coming out of the talks between President Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Turkey and Erdogan are sending their own messages that undermining the talks and seek to upgrade the pseudostate.”
The Federation President also urged members of the Greek Cypriot community to get even more involved in the British political parties, to amplify the communities voice in decision making centres. He then stressed the need for UK Cypriots to actively support, and vote for, the “In” campaign in the upcoming EU referendum as Britain’s and Cyprus’s interests were best served by the UK continuing to be an active member of the EU.
The Greek Ambassador, Cyprus High Commissioner, President of the Greek Orthodox communities in the UK and Bishop of Tropeaou, representing Archbishop Gregorios, also gave short welcome addresses at the community-wide National Day celebrations on Sunday 20 March.
Community Greek schools and the Byzantine Choir also performed a selection of songs, poems, dances and performances as part of the community-wide National day celebrations.
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It is unacceptable to shift the burden of responsibility for the migration crisis on the shoulders of the Republic of Cyprus, President Nicos Anastasiades stressed on Tuesday.
The President held a meeting in Nicosia with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, who is preparing the ground for this week`s EU – Turkey Summit on the migration crisis.
“Ι conveyed to President Tusk our position that the Republic of Cyprus does not intend to consent to the opening of any chapters, if Turkey does not fulfill its obligations as described in the Negotiating Framework and the Ankara Protocol,” President Anastasiades said.
He underlined that he explained to President Tusk “it is unwarranted, counter-productive, not to mention unacceptable, not by President Tusk, to shift the burden of responsibility for the migration crisis on my shoulders or on the shoulders of the Republic of Cyprus.”
In his statements, Tusk said that he is not in Nicosia to exert pressure on Cyprus. “I am here to listen to your positions ahead of the EU Council this week,” he noted.
He stressed that when it comes to accession, “I want to make it clear that the rules have not changed. The same strict conditionality applies and moving forward will still require the agreement by all 28.”
“No third country can ever be more important to me than any of our member states,” Tusk pointed out. Furthermore he expressed his full support to the ongoing efforts for a settlement in Cyprus.
In his statements, Anastasiades expressed his absolute satisfaction for the objective stance he adopted both during the recent European Councils and during today`s meeting. “A stance that corresponds with the President`s institutional capacity as the guardian of the EU`s principles and values,” he added.
He said that during today’s meeting they had the opportunity to exchange some thoughts, ideas and concerns as regards the upcoming European Council and, among others, I informed the President of the position of Cyprus as regards Turkish requests.
He noted that Cyprus, “as Turkey’s EU closest neighbor, has always been a strong supporter of Turkey’s full accession to the EU, on the condition of course that Turkey fulfills its obligations, as described in the negotiating framework, including the full and non-discriminatory implementation of the Ankara Protocol.”
“At the same time, I conveyed that we fully understand the problems EU member states face as a result of the unprecedented flow of migrants, and in particular the serious problems faced by Greece following the closure of routes to Europe,” he said.
Anastasiades said that “in this regard – and despite the fact that the migration crisis is in no way connected with the discussion on the re-energisation of Turkey’s accession process -, Cyprus has maintained a very constructive stance”.
He recalled that Cyprus consented to the opening of Chapter 17, accepted Turkey’s participation in informal Summits
on migration and consented to the Action Plan.
He said that during their deliberations, he reminded to President Tusk the well-known fact that since 2004 Turkey has persistently refused to fulfill any of its obligations vis-à-vis the EU and its member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, Turkey’s refusal to implement fully the Additional Protocol vis-à-vis Cyprus is the reason the Council decided unanimously to freeze 8 negotiating chapters in December 2006 and that in addition to its refusal to implement the Additional Protocol towards Cyprus, Turkey has submitted letters, by which Cyprus is characterized as “defunct”. Further, most recently on 29 November 2015 the Turkish Prime Minister reiterated Turkey’s position that they do not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, he added.
To this end, he stressed, it must be understood by our EU partners that possible acceptance of the Turkish demands, without implementation of Turkey’s long pending obligations would in essence constitute – with my own consent – acceptance that the Republic of Cyprus is, indeed, “defunct”.
Anastasiades said that he underlined to President Tusk that “at this critical phase of the negotiations for a solution of the Cyprus problem such a proposal leads me – without my intention – to come to a confrontation with Turkey. In fact, any confrontation with the Turkish Government, particularly at this critical phase in the negotiations, is the last thing we are looking for.”
“In this regard, I explained to President Tusk that it is unwarranted, counter-productive and not to mention unacceptable to shift – not by President Tusk – the burden of responsibility for the migration crisis on my shoulders, or on the shoulders of the Republic of Cyprus,” he added.
“In view of what I have mentioned, I conveyed to President Tusk our position that the Republic of Cyprus does not intend to consent to the opening of any Chapters if Turkey does not fulfill its obligations as described in the negotiating framework and the Ankara Protocol,” he stressed.
On his part, Tusk said the main purpose of his visit to Cyprus today is to discuss further steps in the European Union`s cooperation with Turkey on how to handle the migration crisis. “I am not here to exert pressure on Cyprus. I am here to listen to your position ahead of the European Council this week,” he added.
He recalled that “at our EU summit last week, we discussed a further strengthening of our cooperation with Turkey,” noting that “this is an important pillar of our common and comprehensive European strategy. But it is never wise to build a plan on one pillar only. We should not, and we will not. The other pillars of our common European strategy consist of getting back to Schengen, ending the wave-through-policy, including along the Western Balkans route. And also massively stepping up humanitarian assistance to the most affected countries, not least Greece,” he noted.
“Last week I was mandated to prepare an agreement between Turkey and the European Union on further strengthening our cooperation in the migration crisis. I am now working on the details. This is why I am here today in Nicosia. And this is why I will continue to Ankara this evening,” Tusk went on.
He said that the Turkish proposal worked out together with Germany and the Netherlands still needs to be re-balanced so as to be accepted by all 28 Member States and the EU institutions. The objective is to conclude the negotiations Thursday and Friday this week but we are not there yet.
“One of the issues to be sorted out is the key question of legality. We need to ensure that any new large-scale return scheme between Greece and Turkey fully complies with EU law and our international commitments. This means that we must ensure that all get an individual assessment in Greece before a decision to return them to Turkey. And it also means that we must ensure that those in need of international protection receive appropriate protection in Turkey. Another issue to be addressed is that of possible alternative routes from Turkey to other EU countries such as Bulgaria. This also has to be factored in for the agreement to be effective,” he noted.
“But our cooperation with Turkey goes much beyond migration. The current dynamics offers an opportunity to re-energise the relations between the European Union and Turkey”, he said.
At the same time, he stressed that “the European Union is a Union of 28 Member States. Cyprus is as important as Germany, France, the Netherlands or any other Member State. No third country can ever be more important to me than any of our Member States. We should use this opportunity, and make sure that all benefit from this new dynamics, also Cyprus.”
Furthermore he noted that when it comes to accession, “I want to make it clear that the rules have not changed. The same strict conditionality applies and moving forward will still require the agreement of all 28.”
Tusk also said that they discussed the ongoing efforts in the Cyprus settlement negotiations, “which have my full support. I listened carefully to President Anastasiades and reassured him we fully understand that the negotiations are at an important juncture and that all EU actions are directed at facilitating these negotiations. A successful outcome, with support from both sides of the island, would give a fresh start not only to Cyprus, but to the whole of Europe and the wider region,” he noted.
Referring to Cyprus `s economic recovery, he noted that “only three years ago, you were standing on the brink of a financial abyss. Today you are standing on your own feet again, without having used all the resources made available to you by your eurozone partners and the IMF. This success is a result of your own efforts. It is a good sign for Cyprus, the euro zone and Europe.”
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On Saturday 5th March one of the biggest games this month with Arsenal traveling to White Hart Lane to battle against Tottenham. There was much pressure on Arsene Wenger without winning a game in his last 4 matches, this game was also important to him trying to defeat their rival team, on the other hand with Mauricio Pochettino pushing his side closer to the top of the table they might have a chance of clinching this season. With the game finishing at a 2:2 draw both teams remained in the same position, unfortunately Arsenal couldn’t hold onto their 1:0 lead in the second half because of the sending off, of Francis Coquelin, with Spurs scoring two goals within two minutes of each other nearly everyone thought it was going to finish victorious for them, with fourteen minutes remaining Alexis Sanchez equalised a goal for the gunners to keep them holding on with ten men at a 2:2 draw.
Could have gone either way.
Article written by Ralph Georgiou
The Oscars was held on Sunday 28th February at the Dolby Theatre in the United States. It was an intense evening for all candidates with their largely nominated films such as The Martian, The Revenant, The Big Short and many others. That night was also a big evening for academy nominee Leonardo DiCaprio who has been nominated for The Revenant, this will be his fifth academy award nomination. In previous years he has come close to winning this award for huge films he has starred in such as The Wolf Of Wall Street, Blood Diamond and many other popular films.
After a 23-year wait Leonardo DiCaprio had finally won after waiting for such a long time. Winning his first Oscar must have been his most proud moment in his career.
Article written by Ralph Georgiou