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Cyprus officially takes over EU Presidency amid economies woes

07-06-2012 06:51 BJT

NICOSIA, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus hosted European Union Commissioners and other European dignitaries at an inaugural ceremony on Thursday night to mark the beginning of its six-month EU presidency.

The ceremony started with a spectacular sunset view from a over 2000 year-old Roman amphitheater in southern Limassol, nestled on cliffs above the deep blue Mediterranean, and went on into the night under a full moon.

An artistic performance which followed official speeches sought to recite the long and turbulent history of Cyprus going back several thousand years.

Cyprus President Demetris Christofias made a point of mentioning that the site where the ceremony was held could date back to the beginning of the common European civilization.

He also departed from the text of his short welcoming speech to specifically address a small group of Turkish Cypriot at the ceremony and wished them to soon celebrate the reunification of the island.

Cyprus was divided when Turkey occupied the north of Cyprus in 1974 after a short-lived coup by Greek army officers. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot authorities declared breakaway and set up "the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", which is recognized only by Turkey.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who handed over the EU presidency her country held during the first six months of the year, also expressed confidence that the European Union would tide over its troubles despite facing difficult economic challenges and rocky waters ahead.

EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Parliament Vice President Anni Podimata delivered speeches during the event.

The inaugural celebrations were just a brief distraction from the hard fact that Cyprus is under scrutiny by European and International Monetary Fund (IMF) inspectors, after it applied for rescue funds to recapitalize its banks which suffered heavy losses last year due to the exposure to Greek debt.

The inspectors from the Troika, namely the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF who came here on Monday to assess the economy of Cyprus, will conclude their work on Friday and will come back on July 16.

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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