Cyprus gets new foreign minister in cabinet shake-up

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (C) delivers a speech after casting his ballot at a polling station in the coastal city of Limassol on February 4, 2018 during the second round of the Cyprus presidential elections. (AFP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Cyprus gets new foreign minister in cabinet shake-up

NICOSIA: Cyprus will have a new foreign envoy but keep the same finance minister, it was announced Tuesday, as the country seeks to restart unity talks and boost its economy.
The cabinet reshuffle comes after President Nicos Anastasiades won re-election for a second term earlier this month on promises of resuming negotiations to unify the Mediterranean island and cementing a fragile economic recovery.
Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides will take up the key post of foreign minister in the new administration to be sworn in on March 1.
The 44-year-old joined the diplomatic corps in 1999 before serving as government spokesman from 2013.
He was widely expected to be given the position after veteran diplomat Ioannis Kasoulides, 69, decided to retire from office.
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades is to keep his job after having navigated Cyprus out of a painful bailout deal, while George Lakkotrypis remains in charge of energy and a booming tourism sector.
Since his re-election on February 4, Anastasiades, 71, has sought to appoint ministers of wider public acceptance and without strong political allegiances.
He has added one woman to the cabinet, with parliamentary official Vasiliki Anastasiadou to become transport and communications minister.
But the new 11-member cabinet will still only include two women.
Other new faces include lawyer Savvas Angelides as defense minister.
Education ministry official Costas Hambiaouris has been promoted to minister, while businessman Constantinos Ioannou is tasked with introducing the new national health scheme as health minister.
Anastasiades has pledged fresh talks to end the nearly 44-year partition between the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus in the south and a Turkish-backed statelet in the north.
UN-backed negotiations collapsed in July last year after coming closer than ever to sealing a deal.
In his first term, Cyprus made an impressive recovery from a 2013 financial crisis after he agreed to a harsh 10-billion euro (more than $12-billion) bailout.


German city of Hamburg ato restrict older diesel vehicles

A car passes a traffic sign showing a ban on diesel cars at the Max-Brauer Allee in downtown Hamburg, Germany, on May 23, 2018. (REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer)
Updated 22 min 6 sec ago
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German city of Hamburg ato restrict older diesel vehicles

  • Diesel bans will affect two streets, non-Euro-6 models
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has long sought to avoid bans, as has the VDA auto industry lobby representing carmakers such as Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW.

BERLIN: Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg, will ban the most polluting diesel vehicles from two major streets from next week, a move that could spur others to follow suit and raise pressure on carmakers to consider costly vehicle refits.
Hamburg, home to around 1.8 million people, said on Wednesday the ban would start on May 31 and affect diesel models that do not meet the latest Euro-6 emissions standards.
This follows a ruling in February by Germany’s top administrative court that the cities of Stuttgart and Duesseldorf should consider bans for older diesels.
The detailed publication of that ruling last Friday showed local authorities were entitled to implement targeted bans with immediate effect to bring air pollution levels into line with European Union rules, although curbs affecting wider city areas should only be phased in over time.
Bans on diesel vehicles from city centers are also planned in Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens by 2025, while the mayor of Copenhagen wants to bar new diesel cars from entering the city center as soon as next year.
Since the German ruling was disclosed, the environment minister of Germany’s northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein, has said banning older diesel vehicles could also be an option for the regional capital Kiel, a city of about 250,000 people.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has long sought to avoid bans, as has the VDA auto industry lobby representing carmakers such as Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW.
Environment Minister Svenja Schulze — a member of the Social Democrats, junior partners in Merkel’s coalition government — urged carmakers to roll out retrofits for diesel cars to lower emissions. “Driving bans like those in Hamburg show how serious the situation is,” she told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “It’s up to the car industry now.”
Levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emitted by diesel engines and known to cause respiratory disease should fall significantly as more efficient Euro-6 models are sold and emissions-cleaning software updates take effect, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer was quoted as saying on Wednesday by the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
The bans in Hamburg affect a section of about 1.6 km (one mile) on Stresemannstrasse, where the restrictions will apply only to commercial vehicles weighing 3.5 tons or more, and a section of about 580 meters on Max-Brauer-Allee, covering all diesel vehicles.
Both thoroughfares are in Altona, a busy district in the west of the city.
Drivers aiming for a destination on the two affected streets, including residents, trash collectors, suppliers and taxis, will be exempt from the restrictions as they are designed to filter out through traffic, a spokesman for Hamburg’s environment and energy department said.
Of the 330,000 diesel cars on Hamburg’s roads, only about 116,000 have the Euro-6 technology that was introduced in 2014, according to local government data.
Police will make random checks and fine drivers of older diesel cars 25 euros ($30) and truck owners up to 75 euros for violating the new rules, he said.