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Property issues remain focus of UN-backed talks between Cypriot leaders

17 November 2009 – Property issues were once again the focus as Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders met today to continue United Nations-backed reunification talks.

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat held “good and friendly discussions,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, told reporters after the meeting.

The leaders will meet again on Friday to take up organizational matters, and then again next Tuesday, to discuss citizenship, immigration and asylum, Mr. Zerihoun added.

Last year Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat committed themselves to working towards “a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions.”

That partnership would comprise a Federal Government with a single international personality, along with a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, which would be of equal status.

Full-fledged power-sharing negotiations have been taking place since September 2008.

George Dalaras, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador offers support to refugee women and children

UNHCR logo     No. 45/09
Thursday, 12 November 2009


Developments in the field of refugee asylum in Greece

ATHENS - In the aftermath of a successful concert on 16 September at Petra Theatre, the President of the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), George Dalaras and Lilian Argyropoulos, received today from the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, George Dalaras, the amount of 40,000 euros in support of the most vulnerable refugees in Greece, such as women and children.

In her speech, Lilian Argyropoulos thanked George Dalaras for his symbolic gesture, on the GCR’s 20th Anniversary. “George Dalaras’ decision to donate this amount to help refugee children and vulnerable groups supported by the GCR, is an exemplary action of social responsibility”, she said. Argyropoulos also stressed the need to reform the existing asylum legislation and assign the asylum procedure to an independent body, in which the GCR is willing to participate with trained and experienced professionals.

The floor was then given to George Dalaras, who spoke about the problems faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Greece. Dalaras expressed the hope that positive developments in the field of asylum will soon become visible. He also appealed to the media to approach the refugee issue in a more dynamic manner, visit detention centres, talk to the people and help promoting the problems and needs of refugees.

The discussion then focused on recent developments regarding main refugee protection concerns in Greece. The Head of the UNHCR Office in Greece, Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, referred to the chronic problems of the asylum system and stressed the need for radical changes in the asylum procedure, including the examination of the asylum claims and the issuance of the relevant decisions. Tsarbopoulos said that UNHCR welcomed the statement of the Minister of Citizen’s Protection regarding the transfer of the asylum responsibility from the police to a civil authority. At the same time, he sketched out the main principles underpinning a fair and efficient asylum system, through the creation of a separate Asylum Unit and an independent Appeals Committee. “The government needs to take the initiative to promptly establish a working group of experts, with a view to put forward shortly a specific plan of action, including all necessary legislative changes, the new asylum bodies and the most adequate transitional measures to the new system”, he said.     

Finally, UNHCR and GCR highlighted the need for a different approach vis-à-vis mixed groups – including both refugees and migrants: establish organized reception structures at entry points, as well as accommodation facilities for particular groups of vulnerable persons, including unaccompanied minors.   

For further information please contact:
Ketty Kehayioylou / Stella Nanou, UNHCR, tel. 210 6756801
Anthi Karavida, GCR, tel. 210 3320004

Ban encourages world leaders to accept Denmark’s invite to UN climate summit

Climate ChangeSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon today strongly encouraged all heads of State and government to accept the invitation issued by Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen to attend the closing days of next month’s United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen.

“The Secretary-General believes that direct head of State and government involvement is essential for governments to reach agreement on the core issues at the heart of a global climate change deal,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

The conference, set to begin on 7 December, aims to reach accord on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 pact – part of a larger UN climate change treaty – which has strong, legally binding measures committing 37 industrialized States to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 per cent against 1990 levels over the period from 2008 to 2012.

It will culminate in a summit-level gathering on 17 and 18 December, which Mr. Ban encourages all world leaders to attend.

“The Secretary-General believes it is essential to maintain political momentum at the highest level and from all sectors of society, and is optimistic than an ambitious, fair and effective climate deal can be reached at Copenhagen,” the statement read.

European Parliament to organise expert hearing on climate change and food in run-up to Copenhagen conference

European ParliamentBrussels, 11/11/2009 (Agence Europe) - As the world climate conference in Copenhagen (COP-15, 7-18 December) approaches, the European Parliament will hold a public hearing in Brussels on 3 December on “Global Warming and Food Policy: Less Meat = Less Heat”. Two major guests, Dr Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Sir Paul McCartney, in his role as environmental ambassador, will use their fame to push legislators and experts to focus their attention on changes in what individuals eat, which, all together, can make a difference for the future of the planet.

At a time when the public is increasingly aware of what is at stake in the fight against climate change, this event will highlight how important it is to tackle the issue at all levels - at the level of the individual in the first instance, and also at local, regional, and national levels in Europe and across the globe.

Parliament Vice-President Edward MacMillan-Scott will chair the hearing, which will be opened by Parliament President Jerzy Buzek. A report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2006 on “Livestock's Long Shadow” will inform the debate and speeches by experts. The report shows that meat production is much less efficient in the use of various inputs and very intensive in emissions of greenhouse gases and water use as compared with equivalent vegetable food production.

The European Parliament, which is a legislative body and fully involved in the European climate change strategy and in European agriculture, food and development cooperation policies, will present its views in Copenhagen.


Ban calls on US to put full weight behind agreeing new climate change treaty

Ban Ki-moon and Barak ObamaSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the United States to take a leading role in forging a new international pact to combat global warming, warning that the consequences of failure outweigh the cost of tackling climate change.

“No country is more important than the United States in resolving this climate change issue,” Mr. Ban told reporters in Washington D.C. yesterday after meeting with congressional leaders ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen next month.

“All eyes of the world are looking to the United States and to this august body, the US Senate,” he said at the media briefing, flanked by US Senators John Kerry, Richard Lugar and Joe Lieberman.

Highlighting that in less than a month world leaders are slated to gather in Copenhagen, Mr. Ban said they must conclude “a robust, global agreement that can serve as a foundation for a climate treaty.”

In Copenhagen, governments are expected to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 pact – part of a larger UN climate change treaty – which has strong, legally binding measures committing 37 industrialized States to cutting emissions by an average of 5 per cent against 1990 levels over the period from 2008 to 2012.

“From what I heard today, there is great support in the Senate for action on climate change,” said Mr. Ban. “But for some, there are lingering doubts about whether we can afford to take action during this hard economic crisis.”

Acknowledging that there is a price to pay in battling climate change, Mr. Ban stressed that the costs are insignificant compared with the cost of not taking action.

“Inaction will mean a weakened economic recovery, a loss of global competitiveness, increased global instability and further human suffering,” said Mr. Ban. “A global agreement on the other hand will unleash investments that will do more than any single other action could do to jumpstart and sustain global economic recovery.”

Mr. Ban voiced appreciation for the US Government, particularly President Barack Obama, in showing their initiative, leadership and commitment in addressing a climate change bill, as well as for Mr. Obama signaling a willingness to participate in Copenhagen.


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