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Cyprus begins two-day debate on European Constitution
2005-06-29 11:50:02

Nicosia, Jun 29 (CNA) -- Cyprus' 56-seat House of Representatives begins a two-day discussion this afternoon to ratify the European Constitutional Treaty.

The debate begins at 1600 local time (1300 GMT) with the reading of the report of the House European Affairs Committee by its chairman Nicos Cleanthous. The debate will conclude tomorrow with voting.

General Director of the House of Representatives Costakis Christoforou told CNA that after Cleanthous’ speech, the leaders or representatives of the small political parties represented in the Parliament will make their 15-minute speeches.

The speeches of the leaders or representatives of the larger parties, leftwing AKEL, rightwing Democratic Rally, centre-right Democratic Party and sociademocrat EDEK will then follow. Each leader has been given 40 minutes.

Tonight’s debate will be interrupted at around 2030 and will resume at 0900 tomorrow with speeches by MPs. The discussion will conclude with voting at around 1900 hours (1400 GMT).

AKEL, a government partner, has decided to reject the European Constitition while the Ecologists-Environmentalists Movement will abstain from the voting. The remaining parties are expected to vote in favour of the Constitution.

Cyprus is the first EU member-state to approve the Constitution after it was turned down by voters in France and in The Netherlands and the European Council’s decision to halt the procedure.

At 1500 hours today, the House of Representatives will complete a discussion on the British Bases in Cyprus with an aim to approve a resolution.

EDEK Honourary President Vassos Lyssarides had called for a debate on the political and legal aspects of the British Bases within the framework of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, because as he said, the British have integrated into the European Constitutional Treaty the agreements regarding their Bases in Cyprus, linking them with certain provisions of the European Constitution.

Britain has retained two sovereign military bases on this east Mediterranean island under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus.

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