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Bicommunal consumers forum held in Nicosia
2003-05-29 13:19:51

Nicosia, May 28 (CNA) - An Open Forum under the title ''Achieving a High Level of Consumer Protection in Cyprus'' was held today in Nicosia, aiming at cultivating the awareness of the public on issues related to the effort to enhance consumer protection in Cyprus.

The Forum, organised by the Cyprus Consumers Association and the Turkish Cypriot Association for the Protection of Consumer Rights, was addressed by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot representatives of the two Associations, representatives of the European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC), and the Competition and Consumer Protection Directorate of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.|

President of the Cyprus Consumers Association Petros Markou said that there are legislative and other measures in Cyprus to protect consumers.

Markou added that the Association aimed at implementing EU strategies and creating ''small claims courts''. Above all, he said, ''we have to stop the exploitation of the consumer''.

Acting Director of the Competition and Consumer Protection Directorate Leontios Pericleous referred to the implementation of the acquis communautaire in Cyprus, noting that ''one of the three mid-term major objectives of the New EU Consumer Policy Strategy is a high level of consumer protection, and in order to achieve this target, the second objective, which is the effective enforcement of consumer protection rules, should be implemented''.

Charge d' Affairs of the Delegation of the European Commission to Cyprus Denis Chaibi referred to the importance of consumer protection in the EU. ''It is obvious that by opening up the Common Market the EU had to ensure two fundamental things, first fair competition and second consumer protection through different tools, i.e. standards, quality checks etc'', he added.

''The Commission has set up a Consumer Committee composed of member states representatives and this includes the following function: It is a forum for general discussion and it can be consulted on matters relating to the protection of consumer interest at community level. And in this regard the participation of Cyprus is essential'', he said.

''I would encourage Cyprus for this committee as well as any other committee, to spend a little bit more than is foreseen on the travel budget of the government, but still to be there, because that is the best way you have to make your voice heard'', he added.

Project Director of the Cyprus Consumers Association Danis Koukoularides said ''the role of consumer organisations at both the national and the European level is very important'', noting that ''we owe it to the consumers to take all the necessary action in order to safeguard their rights and especially be present and demand what we consider best for them, throughout all the stages of consumer policy making in Cyprus and the EU''.

He added that ''we need to get all social, political, financial and legal mechanisms of society to deal with the countless issues that the consumers organisations are asked to deal with, we also need to send the right signals to the government but more importantly to get the right response from the government to those signals''.

On behalf of the Turkish Cypriot Association for the Protection of Consumer Rights (TUHAK), Mine Yucel referred to the problems faced by TUHAK and noted that ''commitment and interest of members have been low, lack of documentation and material as well as human resources have all caused problems''.

Yucel said that ''after a possible reunification of the island, a link between the Cyprus Consumers Association and TUHAK might need to be formed to represent the whole island in the international arena''.

Deputy Director of BEUC Willemien Bax referred to the history of the organisation and noted that ''we have just celebrated our 40th anniversary, and we have 36 members from 24 countries''.

Bax also referred to the core consumer rights, which are ''satisfaction of basic needs, safety, information, choice, representation, consumer education and healthy environment''.


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