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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-11-01

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, November 1, 1997


  • [01] Time is running out
  • [02] Ecevit tells Europe to lay off
  • [03] Women take centre stage in Islam seminar
  • [04] Turkish Cypriots charged with smuggling
  • [05] Cyprus aims for 'less ships, but better ships'
  • [06] Massive overtime bill must be cut if ports to survive
  • [07] Annan letter to go to National Council
  • [08] Kyprianou and Lyssarides join coalition talk
  • [09] Water situation 'beyond desperate'
  • [10] Lawyers fly to Germany to seek icon suspect's extradition
  • [11] New evidence links suspect to Kilani murder
  • [12] Russian sought over $2 million worth of fake cheques
  • [13] German claims ship fraud
  • [14] Turkish Cypriot farmers give up on barley from the south
  • [15] Officials dismiss illiteracy claims
  • [16] Famagusta district schools appeal for help
  • [17] No let-up in Limassol roundabout hell until 2002
  • [18] Limassol set for November 13 hotel strike
  • [19] Top charity donors will get presidential cruise

  • [01] Time is running out

    By Jean Christou

    EFFORTS to solve the Cyprus problem are reaching their sell-by date, UN Permanent Representative Gustave Feissel warned yesterday.

    In an exclusive interview with the Cyprus Mail, Feissel said that ten years from now, the Cyprus problem would have been "solved" - with the help of the two sides "or without them". "Obviously it would be better with them, " he added.

    He warned that the protracted impasse in the 23-year old Cyprus question could well reach a time when "there is a point of no return, and this would be extremely bad for both sides".

    "The sand keeps slipping through the hourglass," Feissel said. "It may not be visible on the surface, but in fact underneath there are important changes taking place and we are approaching a defining moment on the Cyprus question."

    Feissel said the climate had not worsened since the two rounds of inconclusive talks between the leaders of the two communities in New York and Switzerland, but "obviously it's not better either."

    "We didn't really get where we would like to be," he added.

    Though overall efforts for a solution are being postponed until after the presidential elections in 1998, the UN will continue to work behind the scenes, Feissel said.

    "Time out on the big issue doesn't mean we go to sleep," he said. "We can do some modest things to help make it easier for the show to start again when the time comes."

    However, Feissel warned that, when talks resumed, the international community expected both sides "to spare no effort in working towards an overall settlement".

    "More importantly, it is clearly in their own interests, and not only for the implications to the region," he said.

    "What's good for the two sides is what counts, not what pleases someone 50, 000 miles away."

    But neither side can have it its own way, Feissel said.

    One of the reasons why the two sides lack any incentive to make progress is that there are currently no obvious consequences to a failure of the talks. "It didn't make any difference. Nothing happened," Feissel said.

    "But we are fast approaching a different situation where Cyprus is heading towards a fork in the road leading in different directions. This wasn't so much the case until now."

    Feissel said he would probably meet President Clerides next week and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on his return from the US.

    UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan's special adviser Diego Cordovez will also arrive on the island on November 18 on a fact-finding mission.

    [02] Ecevit tells Europe to lay off

    TURKEY yesterday asked the European Union to stay out of the country's disputes with Greece, saying the EU's interventions only made the issues harder to solve.

    "If we had been left alone, we could easily come to an agreement," Deputy Premier Bulent Ecevit told reporters after meeting with the EU's foreign relations commissioner, Hans van den Broek.

    He accused the EU of continuously succumbing to Greek and Greek Cypriot demands.

    "I have told van den Broek that the EU's coercions over the Aegean, relations with Greece and the Cyprus issue put Turkish-Greek ties and Turkish Cypriot-Greek Cypriot relations on the island in an impasse," Ecevit said.

    Van den Broek arrived in Ankara on Thursday for talks on human rights, Cyprus and Greek-Turkish relations - issues that cloud

    the EU's dialogue with Ankara.

    The commissioner confirmed yesterday that talks had revolved around human rights issues and Cyprus. "We have been speaking (for) quite a lot of time about what endeavours we can make on both sides in the direction of solutions for Cyprus," he told reporters.

    Van den Broek nevertheless sought to cast a positive light on Turkey's future relations with the union.

    "As you know, we see Turkey also as a future member of the EU and we have been discussing what steps should now be taken," he said after meeting Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.

    "Although we don't deny there may be certain difference of approach on subjects, I hope very much that we can make progress," he said.

    Ecevit, however, was blunt: "Van den Broek has made his own suggestions but did not offer a package that would reduce our concerns and satisfy our demands."

    [03] Women take centre stage in Islam seminar

    By Hamza Hendawi

    Delivering a blow for Muslim women, Pakistani-born American Riffat Hassan yesterday threw down the gauntlet to the male organisers of a seminar on Islam and the West in Nicosia, admonishing them for not giving women speakers enough time to address the gathering while pandering to fellow members of their gender.

    Hassan, a professor of religious studies at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, snapped back "I don't care" when told by a panel chairperson that she would have to be brief as the seminar appeared to be hopelessly behind schedule on its second and final day.

    "I'll stop when I have said what I wanted to say," said Hassan. "The programme of this conference was changed so many times to accommodate important speakers. Thank God this program was not made by God, but by men, so it will have to change again," she snapped, to the warm applause of a room packed to capacity with some 500 participants.

    Hassan, who proved popular with participants, then proceeded to deliver an address which catalogued the woes of women in countries where an Islamisation process is under way. She also rejected as patronising what she called the "outpouring" of sympathy in the West for Muslim women.

    "Koran (Islam's holy book) must reflect the justice of God and no part of the Koran should be used to create an injustice," said Hassan.

    Hassan was responding to attempts by some Muslim scholars and militant Islamic groups to devalue the role of women in society and their civil rights by citing certain verses of the Koran.

    Speaking before the British-educated Hassan was Iranian A'zam Taleghani, a prominent political and women's rights activist whose bid to run in last May's presidential election in Iran was rejected by the Guardian Council, a powerful body of senior clergymen whose brief is similar to that of a parliamentary upper house.

    The chador-clad A'zam, opening her address with a recital of Koranic verses in support of sexual equality, delivered a lengthy review of the role of women under Islam starting from the 7th-century A.D.

    Another Iranian woman, Farideh Farhi of Tehran's Institute for Political and International Studies, told participants of how events in Iran were blown out of proportion both in that oil-rich and vast country and abroad.

    "If a lock of a woman's hair is shown they see it as symbolising the rejection of the Islamic republic," she said, alluding to Islam's strict dress code for women. Referring to a recent controversy in Iran over whether cycling was fit for women, even in the privacy of an indoor arena reserved for women, she said: "A bicycle ride turned into a national debate."

    The seminar, entitled Political islam and the West, has attracted hundreds of academics, politicians, experts and students. It was organised by the Nicosia-based Centre for World Dialogue, the brainchild of Iranian- born Cypriot businessman Hossein Alikhani.

    Nearly 40 speakers addressed the seminar, which was largely dominated by the thesis and anti-thesis of a theory which appeared in 1993 in a book by distinguished Harvard professor Samuel Huntington that a clash of the Islamic and Western civilisations was inevitable.

    Addressing the seminar over dinner on Thursday night, Huntington said: "The relations of the West with these challenger civilisations, Islam and China, are likely to be particularly difficult and antagonistic. The evolution of these conflicts will be significantly influenced by the extent to which the core states of the 'swing' civilizations, that is Russia, India and Japan, align themselves with one side or another."

    Huntington's theory was criticised by several speakers as either generalistic or built on suspect conclusions, but some of these speakers recognised the potential for a clash of the Muslim and Western worlds although they were sceptical of its inevitability.

    "I don't want this to happen in my lifetime," said Sune Persson of Sweden's Gothenburg University. "I have two beautiful daughters and I don't want them to witness this clash."

    "If Huntington is right, and I firmly believe that he is wrong, then the clash will happen in Europe... I think he is simplifying a very complex issue."

    Concluding his address, Persson expressed his astonishment that a seminar devoted to the question of Islam and the West did not touch on the Cyprus problem. "It seems fairly strange... this is the island of Aphrodite, but also of confrontation between Islam and Christianity."

    Another speaker, Oliver Roy of the Centre National De Recherche Scientifique in Paris, argued that Europe itself was Islamic, a reference to large Muslim minorities in Russia, the UK, France and Germany.

    "Islam is also in the West. New Jersey might well be the first Muslim state in the United States of America," he said, alluding to the large Muslim community in that east coast US state.

    [04] Turkish Cypriots charged with smuggling

    By Jean Christou

    Mustafa Veli being taken to court yesterday (Photo: Christos Theordorides) TWO TURKISH Cypriots were yesterday charged by the Nicosia court on five counts relating to their arrest last week for alleged smuggling.A document from the Attorney-general's office presented at court yesterday ruled that enough prima facie evidence existed to send Ozman Kondoz, 41, a shepherd, and butcher Mustafa Veli, 33, both from occupied Louroujina, straight to trial. The trial date was fixed for November 18 and both men will be held in custody until then. Kondoz and Veli were charged with conspiracy to ferry guns from the north to the free areas. They were also charged with the illegal possession of two pistols and a number of bullets.

    When the charges were read out in court, both men declined to answer. The court went along with the Attorney-general's opinion that a pre-trial hearing was unnecessary in view of the evidence, and said the case should be sent directly to the Criminal Court.

    The prosecution recommended the two Turkish Cypriots be held in custody until the trial. Their lawyer, a Greek Cypriot, said the two men should be entitled to the same treatment as citizens of the Republic and be released on bail.

    However, the court concurred with the view of the prosecution and ruled they be held in custody.

    A Turkish Cypriot lawyer who had come to defend the two men was not allowed to practice as he had not paid Bar Association registration fees, reports from the court said.

    Kondoz and Veli were arrested on October 23 after a sting operation involving Greek Cypriot police officers.

    Kondoz's sister Emine Ozemre has alleged the two men only gave statements to police after being forced and beaten.

    She said she had visited her brother in the company of her lawyers and had found him with one of his eyes black and had also complained of pain in his ears, Mustafa Veli's arm was hurt. Both men had been tortured to make them talk, she claimed.

    Unficyp, which visited the two men, has, however, refused to confirm the accusations.

    Four Greek Cypriots have also been remanded in connection with the smuggling allegations.

    They were arrested last Sunday after police took statements from the two Turkish Cypriots.

    Police claim the four were named by the Turkish Cypriots as their accomplices in the free areas.

    [05] Cyprus aims for 'less ships, but better ships'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRUS is acting to cast off unseaworthy ships flying its flag in an attempt to repair its already tarnished reputation.

    This was the stern message given by Communications and Works minister Leontios Ierodiaconou to yesterday's House Finance Committee.

    He said the government was no longer prepared to see its name dragged through the mud by unscrupulous operators.

    But he was also aware that Cyprus' open register left it vulnerable to those seeking a flag of convenience and the unwanted consequences that entailed.

    "Any Cyprus-flagged ship which enters port undergoes stricter checks and delays than any other ship under a different flag," said Ierodiaconou.

    The minister said that immediate action was being taken to weed out those blackening the reputation of Cyprus shipping.

    "Efforts to upgrade the flag and increase its prestige are now being speeded up and we have introduced a number of independent inspectors towards this aim."

    The government has appointed 13 such inspectors. It eventually aims to employ 50 in total at various designated ports in, among others, Australia, Canada, and South Africa.

    Cyprus' open register or "Flag of Convenience" (FoC) - the less prestigious term often used - has propelled the island to the forefront of the global maritime industry, expanding its fleet to the extent that it now ranks fourth in the world in 1996 just behind Panama, Liberia - both also FoCs - and Greece.

    But while operating a registry with 2,733 ships might look good on paper, the practicalities involved are a major headache for the ill-equipped shipping authorities on the island which have not managed to keep pace with the expansion of the fleet.

    Ierodiaconou said the new line of thinking supported the policy of "less ships on the register but better ships giving us a better name."

    Repeated detention of sub-standard Cypriot-flagged ships in other countries, the lack of inspectors, question marks over training of seafarers and of course accidents - highlighted by the recent Romantica blaze and the oil spill from the Evoikos off Singapore - only harm the Cyprus flag's reputation.

    Asked by the committee whether the government was prepared to strike off ships which were deemed unsuitable, Ierodiaconou said:

    "This is our aim. We have already taken ships off the list who don't comply with our regulations."

    [06] Massive overtime bill must be cut if ports to survive

    By Charlie Charalambous

    PERSONAL self-interest is destroying the viability of Cyprus ports, Communications Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou said yesterday.

    He conceded to the House Finance Committee that negotiations to try and cut costs among dock unions had failed miserably, leaving Cyprus ports in an unattractive proposition.

    "There is a lot of self-interest involved which has created many problems. We've talked to all parties but we can't say we've found a solution," Ierodiaconou said.

    The minister warned that efforts to drum up new business would not succeed unless there was agreement to change working practices and to cut the huge overtime bill crippling port efficiency.

    "We are trying to find a solution but I can't say I'm optimistic: there are five different unions who don't all agree on the same things."

    Ierodiaconou pointed to the number of benefits and perks which dock workers enjoyed and were reluctant to give up.

    "If you look at the basic salary, port workers are not being overpaid, but then you see they are earning up to 13,000 (annually) in overtime."

    Ierodiaconou added that the ports could not survive paying workers an average of 200 hours in overtime a month.

    "We need to find a way to re-organise how overtime is paid and under what conditions."

    The minister also admitted there was no real way of checking allegations that protection rackets operated at the ports.

    "Jobs cannot be protected for ever because there are other ports in the region competing against us and it's the consumer who is paying the price."

    [07] Annan letter to go to National Council

    UNITED Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan's letter to President Glafcos Clerides regarding the forthcoming visit to the island by UN Special Advisor on Cyprus Diego Cordovez will be discussed by the National Council on Wednesday, Government Spokesman Manolis Christofides said yesterday.

    Speaking at his daily press briefing, Christofides said Annan had put the Cyprus problem high on his priority list and it was within this framework that Cordovez would visit the island.

    He referred to the visit as a "reconnaissance flight" over the island, saying its purpose was to determine "the necessary steps to be taken towards a mutual solution" by the two sides.

    Christofides also said the government shared the UN's satisfaction with the international support for Cordovez' mission.

    Cordovez is expected to arrive on November 18, and also to visit Greece and Turkey.

    [08] Kyprianou and Lyssarides join coalition talk

    DIKO leader Spyros Kyprianou yesterday added his voice to calls for a possible electoral pact with socialist party Edek.

    He was speaking after a telephone conversation with Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides to discuss the possibility of an electoral alliance between the two small centrist parties.

    Lyssarides last night did not rule out such a deal, but said discussions would have to wait until after Diko had settled its differences with Disy.

    The two veteran party leaders yesterday joined the fray after Diko deputy Nicos Moushiouttas had put out initial feelers towards Edek on Wednesday in the wake of the apparent collapse of the coalition with Disy.

    Kyprianou added, however, that this was only one of "the options" open to his party.

    Last week, the Diko leader served notice on his party's governing coalition with Disy, saying it could not go on in its current form. Kyprianou has been angered at President Clerides' procrastination over whether he would stand for re-election, saying it was the president's duty to stand aside and back him.

    Clerides meanwhile yesterday confirmed he would announce his final decision next Thursday. The president said the announcement would be made at two press conferences, one concerning developments on the Cyprus problem and the other on internal affairs. These will be held on November 6 and 10.

    Clerides made his statements after a morning meeting with Attorney-general Alecos Markides, after which Markides said he would support Clerides if he chose to run in the elections. Markides has been touted as a possible compromise candidate to rescue the Disy-Diko alliance and fuelled speculation earlier this week by suggesting he might be willing to run.

    Clerides is scheduled to meet Kyprianou on Monday to discuss the future of their coalition.

    [09] Water situation 'beyond desperate'

    By Jean Christou

    RESERVOIRS are nearly 90 per cent empty and unless it rains, it is only a matter of months before they run dry, according to the Water Board.

    A Water Board official told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the reservoirs were at only 11 per cent of capacity, with only 30 million cubic metres of water left.

    Nicosia alone, the official said, needs 13 million cubic metres annually. Agriculture takes some 80 per cent of all water supplies.

    Commenting on the recent rains, the official said "next to nothing" had gone into the reservoirs.

    "It was such an insignificant amount of rain it provides only enough for Nicosia for two days," the official said.

    He said it was difficult to predict how long the water would last but unless it rained, supplies could only last "another few months".

    "I can't say the situation is desperate," he said. "It's more than desperate."

    The official said it normally rained in January and February, which is usually enough to replenish supplies for the next twelve months.

    But he said rain was now needed before then to saturate the land after a long dry summer and in order for the spring rains to fill reservoirs.

    "Our whole system is based on the assumption that it is going to rain," the official said. "Now it is based on hope."

    [10] Lawyers fly to Germany to seek icon suspect's extradition

    TWO LEGAL representatives from the Attorney-general's office yesterday flew to Germany in order to begin proceedings to have Turkish "archaeologist" Dikmen Aydin extradited to Cyprus to face trial for damaging the island's national heritage.

    Aydin was arrested on October 10 after millions of pounds worth of Cypriot church artefacts stolen from the occupied areas were found in his apartment block.

    Accompanying the representatives was Athanassios Papageorgeou, the Church's archaeology expert, who has listed all treasures stolen from the occupied areas. He will catalogue those found in Aydin's possession.

    The legal officials will meet with German heads of police in order to determine the best strategy to follow in the attempt to have Aydin extradited, and will apply to the German courts for the procedure as soon as possible.

    [11] New evidence links suspect to Kilani murder

    NEW EVIDENCE presented to Limassol District Court yesterday secured a further five-day remand for 66-year-old Kilani murder suspect, Michalis Efstathiou Panis.

    Panis is suspected of killing his neighbour, Matheous Christofi, with a meat cleaver in the Limassol district village of Kilani on October 8.

    CID Officer Andreas Karoulapos told the court yesterday that investigations had revealed that one of the two watches found at the scene belonged to Panis. He also said that police had found a witness who claimed to have seen Panis at the crime scene, contradicting the suspect's claim that he was at his vineyard at the time of the killing.

    The murder weapon has yet to be found.

    [12] Russian sought over $2 million worth of fake cheques

    THE HEAD of a Russian offshore company in Cyprus deposited nearly $2 million worth of counterfeit cheques in two Nicosia Banks, police said yesterday.

    An arrest warrant has been issued for Russian national Kiril Naid Jelezov, 36, who is believed to have left the country.

    According to police, Jelezov went to two different branches of Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia on October 6, and deposited 20 cheques worth $1,737 million, supposedly issued by American banks to four US companies.

    Jelezov deposited the cheques in the accounts of two offshore companies, Ranopa Trading Ltd and Tuzhi &amp; Co Ltd, of which he is a shareholder and managing director.

    The fact the cheques were fakes only came to light after the Bank of Cyprus sent them to the US for clearing. The bank reported their findings to police on Wednesday after which investigations began.

    [13] German claims ship fraud

    POLICE are investigating claims made by a German national that a Lebanese man obtained $89,000 from him under false pretences.

    Offshore company director Reinhard Grundman told police that Elias Sfeir accepted $83,000 last June as an advance payment for the purchase of four ships valued at $550,000. The ships were supposedly docked in Yemen, and Grundman said he paid Sfeir another $6,800 for repairs to the vessels.

    However, when ownership papers supplied by Sfeir proved to be fake, it was discovered that the ships were actually docked at Alexandria, having been confiscated by the Egyptian authorities.

    Police have issued an arrest warrant for Sfeir, who has already left the island.

    [14] Turkish Cypriot farmers give up on barley from the south

    THE CYPRUS Turkish farmers' union has finally decided against buying barley- seed from the free areas, reports in the Turkish Cypriot press said yesterday.

    The union issued a statement to say the matter had been politicised by the Greek Cypriot side. Such an "abuse of the situation" had dissuaded them from making the purchase.

    The decision to approve the sale of the 100 tonnes of barley-seed had been left with the Greek Cypriot government. However, Greek Cypriot agricultural organisation Pek had stated it opposed the sale.

    It said there were no guarantees the seed would end up with Turkish Cypriots as opposed to Turkish settlers and that it was unacceptable for it to be sown in occupied fields.

    Pek stressed it supported peaceful coexistence, but not before the Cyprus problem was solved.

    [15] Officials dismiss illiteracy claims

    CLAIMS that illiteracy rates were on the increase in rural areas were dismissed by the education ministry yesterday.

    Edek's Doros Theodorou said children in lower class areas were being affected by the lack of specialist teachers to aid pupils with learning disabilities.

    He claimed at yesterday's House Finance Committee that the Education Ministry was turning a blind eye to children in need and ignoring pleas from parents.

    In certain rural schools, he charged, the illiteracy rate was as high as 20 per cent because of social problems.

    "Parents at such schools have called on the psychological services of the ministry which haven't responded. They only seem to care when a politician starts to complain," said Theodorou.

    Education ministry officials said the average rate of illiteracy was 15 per cent among elementary school children because all those with learning disabilities were included in mainstream schools.

    This alone accounted for three per cent of the total number of children with learning difficulties; the officials also cited the fact that children in Cyprus were starting school earlier than in other countries, which made the figures look worse than they actually were.

    The education ministry has now appointed extra specialist teachers in rural areas to combat the problem of falling standards.

    [16] Famagusta district schools appeal for help

    MEMBERS of the House Education Committee yesterday came face to face with the severe problems experienced by Famagusta district schools.

    The president of the Committee, Sophocles Hadjiyiannis, accompanied by deputy Marios Matsakis, were inspecting schools in the area. Many of the schools they saw were plagued by structural defects and a shortage of classrooms.

    The Paralimni Board of Governors urged the deputies as well as the Ministry of Culture and Education to come to the aid of schools in the area.

    It pointed out that the Paralimni Technical school faced closure and had to be maintained since it provided valuable technical services to the area.

    In addition, the Frenaros Gymnasium and Lyceum needed the road linking them to the main Frenaros to Liopetri road to be asphalted.

    Meanwhile Paralimni's second elementary school was to be knocked down and re-built in June 1998, causing serious disruption. New school buildings will also be built at Liopetri and Avgorou through a government development programme.

    Matters such as the need to provide school halls and more classrooms were also brought to the deputies' attention as some students were being forced to have lessons in store-rooms.

    [17] No let-up in Limassol roundabout hell until 2002

    LIMASSOL's roundabout traffic nightmare, the island's worse black spot, will continue until the year 2002.

    "The Limassol roundabout system creates the worse traffic problems in Cyprus, you need an hour to pass through the lot and it's getting worse, it's horrific," said Edek's Doros Theodorou yesterday.

    During a House committee meeting, the Edek deputy asked the Communications Minister, Leontios Ierodiaconou, how soon it would be before the serial- roundabout ordeal was history.

    The government is preparing to build a flyover to replace the roundabout network and construction. This is expected to be completed within the next four years, said the minister.

    As a temporary measure, sets of traffic lights at three roundabouts will be installed to ease the pressure on despondent motorists.

    [18] Limassol set for November 13 hotel strike

    THE THREE-month strike at the Azur hotel is set to spread Limassol wide on November 13.

    Officials for workers' unions Peo and Sek said yesterday specific details about the strike were still under wraps, adding that they were still waiting to see if the Labour Minister would intervene.

    But Sek official Nicos Epistothiou stressed that the unions would "take whatever measures" necessary to achieve their ends. The unions have been threatening to spread the strike to all hotels in the town since early last month.

    The strike at the Azur began in July, and so far all official attempts at intervention have failed. Violence has erupted several times during the dispute. Most recently, striking workers claimed the hotel's owner Andreas Tsanos attacked them while they were picketing. Tsanos himself was recently hospitalised with heart problems.

    The dispute began over the workers' claims that Tsanos illegally hired foreign workers. Tsanos says he has done nothing wrong and both sides refuse to compromise.

    [19] Top charity donors will get presidential cruise

    THOSE contributing the most in the forthcoming Radio Marathon '97 will be taken on a cruise aboard president Clerides' yacht, the Kaiti II.

    The 73-foot yacht, boasting a twin Volvo 306 horsepower engine, will be captained by the President of the Republic in person. Clerides agreed to the idea when approached by the sponsors of the event, the Popular Bank of Cyprus and the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation.

    The two-day charity event for children with special needs will take place from November 10 to 11.

    © Copyright 1997 Cyprus Mail

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