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March 2012
 Dear friends,

I would like to take this opportunity to say goodbye as I will be returning to Brussels on the 16 March to take up a new post of Special Advisor. The past four years as the head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus were tough but enriching. I am very  proud of what has been achieved and of the road travelled. We made an effort to bring the Commission closer to the citizens through events and tailored communication. At the same time, we focused both on issues in the media but also on issues that usually stay out of the limelight (eg. anti-discrimination, equal opportunities etc); we have also made a great effort to inform the Turkish Cypriot community about EU issues.

We have brought the Representation into the new media era; we revamped our trilingual (EL, TR, EN) website and we launched Facebook and Twitter accounts and many more. We have ensured that all Cypriots citizens can have access to our events and we have also taken a lot of you on information visits to Brussels. I want to thank my colleagues at the Representation for all the work they have done to make all this possible, and for the preparations well under way for the upcoming Cyprus' Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Top story
 New Head of Representation is coming

The new Head of Representation will be Mr Giorgos Markopouliotis, an experienced colleague who will steer the Representation through the next challenges that lie ahead during the forthcoming Cyprus Presidency. I wish him all the best!

Let me now brief you on what we have been up to during the last month.

Commissioners' visits
 Commissioner Vassiliou at the International Education Fair in Nicosia

Mrs Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth , was in Nicosia on February 17th to inaugurate the International Education Fair. Mrs Vassiliou also inaugurated a Youth on the Move event that ran throughout the fair, with a dedicated stand. The Representation was also present, answering queries and informing the visitors on EU activities.

"The ability to understand other cultures, speak foreign languages and adapt to foreign environments have never been as important as they are today. Studying, volunteering or working in another country is an excellent way to develop these skills and over two million people have already participated in European mobility programs over the last year and can testify to these great benefits," said Mrs Vassiliou.

Mrs Vassiliou was also in Cyprus between 7-12 March, when she paid visits to schools and held several meetings, including with the European Confederation of Youth Clubs.

 Commissioner Hahn in Cyprus

On February 23rd, we had the pleasure of welcoming to Cyprus two Commissioners: Mr Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy and Mr Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for taxation and customs. Cyprus assumes the Presidency of the Council of the EU in less than four months, and there will be more Commissioners visiting the island to consult with the authorities on issues falling under their portfolio.

Commissioner Hahn met President Christophias with whom he discussed the future of EU Cohesion Policy as well as the state of the talks between the two communities in Cyprus and the future of the island. The Commissioner also met with the newly elected President of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities and Mayor of Famagusta Mr Alexis Galanos, Mayor of Limassol Mr Andreas Christou, and representatives of other major municipalities. He also met senior officials in the Ministry of Finance and the Planning Bureau to discuss preparations for the upcoming Cyprus EU Presidency.

"Today, I have understood that I can count on all major players to try to reach an agreement with the Member States and the European Parliament [on the future cohesion policy]. Let me say that, after all the meetings I have had so far, I look very much forward to this cooperation.," said Commissioner Hahn in the aftermath of the day's meetings. 

 Commissioner Šemeta in Cyprus

Commissioner Semeta also had a busy day; he met with Ms Sotiroula Charalambous, Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, representatives of the Ministry of Finance and Ms Chrystalla Georghadji, General Auditor of Cyprus. He also met representatives of the Cypriot banking and financial services sector.

"The aim of my visit is to discuss tax files that are key to strengthening the single market, enhancing growth and helping fiscal consolidation. More cooperation, coordination and harmonisation are necessary to lift tax obstacles so that our citizens and businesses can reap the benefits of the single market in Europe,'' said Commissioner Semeta. ''I look forward to closely working together with the Cypriot Presidency to make further progress in the field of taxation," he added.

Past events
 Information visits to Brussels

During February, the Representation organised two information visits to  Brussels. The first one took place between the 4th and 6th of February and it involved public officers of the Republic of Cyprus who will have a leading role during the Cyprus' Presidency. The aim of the visit was to acquaint them with the structures of the institutions and their role during the Presidency. They had the chance to build valuable contacts vis-à-vis the upcoming Cyprus' Presidency but most importantly the participants had the chance to network between themselves in the place where most of their work will be taking place as from July 2012!

The second information visit took place between the 19th and the 22nd of February. This information visit was dedicated to Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot Representatives of NGOs actively involved in the social, economic and cultural life of Cyprus. The participants had the opportunity to become familiar with the functioning of the European institutions and to be informed about recent trends and policies of the European Union.  Don't forget to regularly check our website to get information about such information visits in the future.

 Cyprus EU Presidency

On Monday, 5 March 2012 we organised along with the Institute for Eurodemocracy Glafkos Clerides a panel discussion on ‘Τhe Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU: A Challenge and an Opportunity- Requirements for its Success.’ The event was very interesting and the debate was fruitful. Mr Andreas Mavroyiannis, Deputy Minister to the President for EU Affairs and Mr Nikos Anastasiades, President of DHSY were among the distinguished speakers.

 International Women's Day

In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 8th International Women’s Day in order to promote equal rights. The giving of flowers and ribbons on this day, indicates appreciation, respect and love, but the day signifies much more and evokes more difficult emotions when we remember the political and social conditions that brought it about in the first place. Women have achieved many things-but much more is yet to be achieved.  One of the ways that women were, and somehow still are, kept within certain limits and roles is the way they have been depicted in advertisements and popular culture in general. It has been proven that stereotypes are partly responsible for gender inequalities and advertising greatly influences how stereotypes are shaped. Having this in mind, we invite you to visit our Facebook page and share with us your own images and stories about inaccurate or offensive depictions of women.

Upcoming event
 Commissioner Hedegaard to visit Cyprus

European Union Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard will visit Cyprus on Friday 16 March. During her visit, Commissioner Hedegaard will hold talks with government, civil society and industry representatives on domestic and international climate polices. Climate change topics top the EU agenda the Cyprus Presidency will have to do its best! It will certainly be an interesting visit.

Dear friends, you can always contact me via my e-mail which remains unchanged. I want to thank you all for the great cooperation we had all these years, and I hope to see you soon!


Androulla Kaminara

Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus / @AKaminara