|Sunday, 8 December 2019|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-11-07
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Friday, November 7, 1997
 Clerides to stand againBy Martin Hellicar
PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides last night ended months of speculation by announcing his decision to stand for re-election next February.
"A sense of historic duty and political responsibility have led me to the decision to seek renewal of the people's mandate in the presidential elections," Clerides said at the end of a two-hour news conference called to present the record of his four-and-a-half years in government.
Clerides said he would have been "happy" to depart from politics had the Cyprus problem been solved, but felt duty-bound to complete the work he had begun towards a Cyprus settlement and European Union accession.
"Above all else, we must take advantage fully of the preconditions we have created for finding a solution to the national problem and for Cyprus's accession to the great European family," he said.
Clerides said the critical time on both fronts would come after the elections. He said he believed the arrival of US special envoy for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke on Monday would mark the "start" of the much-vaunted American initiative on Cyprus.
"I am pleased about this, because I believe the country that can most influence Turkey is the US," he said, adding that Holbrooke's reputation as a tough negotiator did not frighten him. He also dismissed reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would decline Holbrooke's invitation for a face-to-face meeting with him on Tuesday. "Holbrooke would not have announced such a meeting had Denktash not accepted," he said.
Clerides said his government's main objective remained a negotiated solution but the Turkish side's position had "been unchanged since 1974" and this could not be changed "by talks alone".
But he said the new factor now at play was "substantial international reaction" to Turkish intransigence.
"I believe that in the coming months, especially after the elections, we will see the activation of the UN and the US in parallel. We must be ready, because I believe the decision has been taken internationally that the status quo cannot remain and to concentrate efforts in 1998 for a solution."
The president added that Cyprus's EU accession course might influence Turkey to "acquire" the political will for a settlement. "Turkey will have to concede that EU accession is going to happen and will be good for the Turkish Cypriots," he said.
Clerides had been expected to make his intentions concerning the elections known tomorrow, but speculation was rife all day yesterday that an earlier statement was imminent.
Clerides is already assured the support of his party, Disy, but fellow right-wingers Diko have abandoned the coalition which secured his election in 1993.
Five Diko ministers who resigned from the cabinet on Wednesday were present at yesterday's press conference, but Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou later reacted angrily to Clerides' announcement. Kyprianou said Diko was now an opposition party, and he questioned why the US would want to talk to Clerides when, as he put it, he no longer represented the majority of Cypriots.
Kyprianou put his own name forward for the presidential election months ago. He has repeatedly demanded that Clerides make his intentions known, while claiming Disy had promised to support his candidacy in 1998 in return for Diko backing Clerides in 1993.
In response to this, Clerides last night said he had "fulfilled" all the pre-election promises he had made to Kyprianou.
He dismissed speculation that Attorney-general Alecos Markides could emerge as the "third candidate" to reunite Disy and Diko. "Markides has not even stated a willingness to be a candidate," he said.
 Denktash says Holbrooke won't get him to talk to CleridesTURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday dismissed US envoy Richard Holbrooke's chances of getting him to talk with President Clerides.
Denktash's fighting talk, reported by Cyprus state radio, came in response to the US State Department announcing a snap visit by Holbrooke on Monday. Denktash said he would only sit at a negotiating table with Clerides after the EU made a "decision" on Turkey's accession, Cyprus state radio reported.
Turkey has been barred from the next round of EU enlargement talks, and Denktash has abandoned settlement talks in protest at an EU decision to begin accession talks with the Cyprus government early next year.
Denktash reportedly said he had met Holbrooke, a seasoned negotiator renowned for his abrasive style, four times while in New York earlier this week and had also spoken to him by phone since returning.
Holbrooke is scheduled to have separate talks with Clerides and Denktash on Monday and a joint meeting with the two on Tuesday.
The Turkish Cypriot leader also repeated that he would not be meeting the UN chief negotiator for Cyprus, Diego Cordovez, when he visited the island on November 18.
Denktash, who has a history of heart problems, has stated he will be in Turkey for heart treatment at the time of Cordovez's visit. According to the Turkish Cypriot press meanwhile, Denktash warned it would be "madness" for the Greek side to try to settle the Cyprus problem by force. He added that he believed the Greek side was now regretting ordering Russian S-300 missiles because of the "crisis" this had created, papers in the north reported.
"Anyway, Turkey can even swim to Cyprus, it could drown Cyprus with spittle, it wouldn't be frightened off by 15 or so missiles," Denktash was quoted as saying.
The papers also reported Turkish Foreign Minister Mesut Yilmaz saying the EU's attitude was threatening peace in Cyprus.
"The EU seeing the Greek Cypriot administration as its collocutor in the membership talks has turned the 23-year atmosphere of peace in Cyprus into the likelihood of armed conflict," Yilmaz was reported as saying.
 Friendly fire death a bungled assassination bid?By Jean Christou
SPECULATION was rife in the occupied areas yesterday that the accidental death of a Turkish Cypriot colonel during military exercises was in fact a bungled assassination attempt.
Turkish Cypriot Vural Berkay, operations officer of the 39th Division of the Turkish occupation force was killed after a stray bullet hit him directly in the chest.
Berkay had been sitting with other high ranking Turkish military officers in a tent watching the wrap-up of the Toros exercises in the occupied areas.
Newspapers in the north and in Turkey said yesterday his death may have been the result of an assassination attempt against the Commander in Chief of the Turkish army, General Huseyin Kivrikoglu.
All the top brass from the Turkish forces in the occupied areas was in the tent at the time.
News reports of the incident said the stray bullet narrowly missed several of the senior military personnel in the tent, along with several civilians.
'Minister of Education' Gunay Caymaz said he thought the bullet came from straight in front and struck the colonel who was sitting directly behind him.
Berkay was rushed straight to hospital in occupied Kyrenia but died shortly afterwards.
The Turkish General Staff and the 'TRNC Security Forces Command' issued a joint statement saying Berkay was "martyred by a ricocheting bullet".
Hundreds of people in the north turned out to watch the final phase of the Toros exercises on Wednesday which involved Turkish commando forces destroying mock missile sites.
Turkish F-16 jets staged bombing runs on other mock targets near occupied Morphou and F-4 planes staged a mock invasion of the coast of the island from a landing craft also used in 1974.
The government has protested the Turkish exercises to the UN as a violation of the island's sovereignty and integrity and also of international law.
It has also accused Turkey of increasing tension on the island.
 'A breath away from xenophobia'By Bouli Hadjioannou
CYPRIOTS must face up to the fact that foreign workers, legal and illegal, represent some 10 per cent of the workforce and constitute a reality that cannot be swept under the carpet.
This means the state, society and the Church must step in with effective social and humanitarian support for the estimated 40,000 strong population of foreign workers.
The appeal was made last night by Takis Hadjidemetriou of Edek during a debate in the House of Representatives.
He said foreign workers and their dependents were now part of Cypriot society. "The new challenge we have is to learn to respect and live with people of other races and a different culture," he said.
Hadjidemetriou castigated indifference by society and the Orthodox Church. He said foreign workers had gone to local churches to receive Holy Communion and were turned away. Hundreds mill around public gardens on their day off for lack of a place to go to and no-one steps in with help.
He spoke of tip offs in the police to protect those who employ illegals and of retired immigration officials who now bring legal foreign workers to Cyprus for a living.
And he had details about networks of Cypriots and foreigners who exploit those desperate for a new life. One case involved the arrival of 200 Syrians at Larnaca airport last year. They were given a few days entrance and their passports kept by immigration as a guarantee they would return. They never did.
"It later emerged the Syrians had paid $200 each to a Cypriot to find them a job here. He took the money and went abroad. The only thing that remains about this case is the number of the file," he said.
Hadjidemetriou blasted the practice of detaining illegal workers in prison cells or police stations as if they were criminals, and then deporting them en masse. And he warned the first signs of unemployment had led to signs of racism.
"We are a breath away from the development of a climate of racism and xenophobia whose phenomena are already evident round us. But how right is it to say that foreign workers take our jobs?" he said.
His proposals include in depth studies, clubs and other centres for foreign workers, more effective measures against those who employ illegals, and not against the workers themselves, and aid for foreign workers' families. All this would require coming to terms with the fact that Cyprus has turned from a country which sent out emigrants to a recipient.
On the same issue, Akel's Avraam Antoniou said that despite progress in regulating the legal employment of foreigners, authorities were not implementing criteria strictly.
For his part independent deputy Marios Matsakis said that Hadjidemetriou's revelation about the plane load of Syrians who disappeared into thin air only proved that someone was not doing his job properly.
 Animal welfare groups appeal for tighter regulationsBy Bouli Hadjioannou
PLANS to double penalties for animal cruelty are a step in the right direction but cannot solve the problem on their own, the House Agriculture Committee heard yesterday.
Animal welfare associations said there was an urgent need for enlightenment campaigns as well as regulations and funds to enable district animal welfare committees - set up three years ago - to operate effectively.
Toula Poyiadji of the CSPCA (the Cyprus Society for the Protection of Animals) said the police were not following up on complaints - in one recent case no action was taken against a man she had reported for abandoning a bitch and her three puppies in the middle of the road because he turned out to be a policeman.
Kyriakos Kyriakou of ARC (Animal Responsibility Cyprus) for his part told the committee that there was no law to regulate pet shops or restrict the import of exotic animals. "Cyprus is filling up with private zoos," he said.
There were calls for a speedy ban on the import of dangerous breeds of dogs and gory details about abuse - dogs tortured by youngsters, hunting dogs left to die of starvation and thirst in the countryside.
The Kennel Club said municipalities - which receive a fee to issue a dog licence - should be made responsible for checking conditions in which the animals were kept.
Disy deputy Kate Clerides meanwhile suggested that the veterinary department offer or subsidise spaying facilities. And she said a specific police officer at police stations should be charged with overseeing the follow-up of complaints and allegations of cruelty or neglect of animals.
The issue was raised during consideration by the committee of a government proposal to double penalties for animal cruelty. The amendment would make offenders liable to a fine of £1,000 and/or 12 months in jail. Repeat offenders would face a £2,000 fine and/or two years jail.
The government's amendment would also scrap a provision restricting prosecution to offences committed 12 months before the case was reported. Recently, an alleged dog fighting case had to be dropped because of this restriction.
Officials from the veterinary department said the two amendments would help to make the enforcement of the 1994 law on animal welfare more effective.
They said that in the three years since the law's enactment, 337 premises had been inspected and 306 complaints of animal cruelty or negligence investigated.
Forty-one people had been prosecuted for animal cruelty, but only seven were found guilty by the courts.
And they revealed that a series of other proposed amendments were in the pipeline. They included provisions to regulate the training of dogs - officials said some people were training their dogs to attack innocent people - and to ban the import of dangerous breeds.
Representatives of district animal welfare councils, set up under the 1994 law and chaired by veterinary department officials, reported they had seen some progress, with people showing greater sensitivity on the issue, but added that a lot still needed to be done.
 Package tour bill could drive operators out of businessBy Bouli Hadjioannou
A BILL aiming to protect Cypriots on package tours may end up driving most local travel agents out of business, ACTA - the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents - warned yesterday.
It told the House Commerce Committee that insurance companies were refusing to put up insurance - thus making it impossible for all but the very large companies to meet requirements on monetary guarantees and insurance.
"I am sorry to say but only the biggest three companies will be able to put up the sums required. The other 33 will have to close," ACTA secretary Thassos Katsourides said.
ACTA is also opposed to plans to make violation of the law punishable with a year long jail term.
"A tour operator gives a client nine rather than the 10 meals advertised and he faces a year in jail," Xenios Xenopoulos - legal counsel for ACTA - told the committee.
At issue is a bill to protect Cypriot travellers by obliging tour operators to provide exactly what they advertise.
George Mitides, who heads the government's consumer protection service which drafted the bill, said his department had received a "large number" of complaints from travellers asking how they could seek redress.
"They bought a package, but did not get the number of meals, the guided tours or the category of hotel advertised. They asked us what could be done, but unfortunately the law was inadequate," he said.
Mitides said the bill was based on European Union directives and if approved would ensure protection for travellers.
But ACTA disagreed. Xenopoulos said EU directives did not contain provisions for criminal liability, particularly a jail term.
Different EU countries had different laws - while practice in Cyprus was based on British experience, where courts award generous compensation.
"We have had civil suits against tour operators and the courts have awarded damages, including for loss of holidays," Xenopoulos said.
In one recent case, an elderly couple was awarded £400 each for a £300 package because there was no guide on one bus trip and one promised day excursion was not held.
Katsourides said ACTA was not opposed to legislation to protect travellers and was willing to co-operate with the authorities.
But the specific proposal had serious problems. One major concern was a provision requiring travel agents to put up guarantees and take out insurance to cover the packages sold.
Katsourides said insurance companies had informed ACTA they could not guarantee that they would put up the insurance.
Insurance companies confirmed they could not offer such guarantees. They said they did not have experience in such kinds of business, nor could they say whether they would find underwriters. Banks said they would examine each application individually.
The bill remains before the committee.
 Cyprus and Greece plan PR campaign on missilesCYPRUS and Greece plan a counter-offensive after adverse publicity over Cyprus' plans to deploy Russian-made S-300 ground to air missiles.
The decision was taken during President Clerides' recent visit to Athens and will be implemented early in the new year.
This was revealed by Greece's new ambassador Kyriakos Rodosakis during a courtesy call on the House Defence Committee yesterday.
The issue was raised by committee chairman Takis Hadjidemetriou of Edek, who said Cyprus had found itself isolated over its plans to purchase the missiles - even though they were an exclusively defensive weapon.
And he said it was essential the House help in the campaign to put the record straight.
 Lukewarm response to Edek appealBy Charlie Charalambous
THERE was a lukewarm response yesterday to Edek's clarion call for a broad alliance in the upcoming presidential elections.
Although Edek and Diko are mulling over a possible joint ticket for 1998, Akel and the United Democrats were less than enthusiastic about joining forces.
Despite overtures by Diko to persuade Edek to support its candidate Spyros Kyprianou, the socialist party is keeping its options open.
Akel deputy and spokesman Nicos Katsourides said his party would respond to Edek's proposal once it was made official.
But he underlined the fact that Akel was bound by a conference decision to back independent candidate George Iacovou, and any discussion must take this into account.
The United Democrats said they had serious reservations about any open- ended alliance across party lines and were not ready to horse-trade the candidature of George Vassiliou.
Diko said it was not averse to wider co-operation which created the conditions and climate for a multi-party offensive, but implied that only Kyprianou has the credentials to lead such an alliance.
Meanwhile, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades has also hinted that his party was open to negotiations with "other forces" apart from Diko in the interests of national unity.
"Disy is not allergic to an alliance with other forces," said Anastassiades.
Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides met Spyros Kyprianou yesterday to discuss possible co-operation in the election run-up and is expected to meet the Diko leader again today.
Lyssarides hasn't ruled out holding a joint meeting of party leaders interested in forming a united front to back a single candidate.
 Bases uproot hundreds of bird-catching treesBy Jean Christou
BRITISH bases authorities yesterday uprooted and burned hundreds of acacia trees they claim were planted illegally in the Pyla firing range.
According to an announcement by bases spokesman Mervyn Wynne-Jones, illegally-planted trees on the Pyla range are used for mist-netting of birds "in breach of the law of both the Republic of Cyprus and the Sovereign Base Area".
"The trees, which grow rapidly and obscure visibility, are a hazard to soldiers using infantry weapons with live ammunition," Wynne-Jones said.
"The extensive network of surface irrigation piping and illegal boreholes associated with their planting is also a dangerous obstruction to soldiers using the range for training."
Wynne-Jones said the trees were planted with no regard for the environment, "but simply for financial gain through the illegal practice of trapping birds with mist-nets".
Yesterday's operation to remove and burn the illegally planted trees was carried out by the SBA administration with the assistance of the Dhekelia garrison acting as Forest Officers. The irrigation piping was coiled and put to one side for collection by those who laid it.
Other areas where trees have been planted with the approval of the Xylophagou Improvement Board were unaffected by the operation.
"Individuals have been told throughout this year that the practice must stop. Cereal licences have been terminated where trees have been planted instead of cereal crops," Wynne-Jones said.
The Pyla firing range lies within the SBA area and is used for training of military personnel with live ammunition.
The total area covers 560 hectares (almost 1,500 acres) and, of this, 188 hectares have been licensed for agricultural - mostly potato - use.
The remaining 372 hectares is almost exclusively within the firing range area because of the need for the complete absence of hindrance and hazard to soldiers using the area for training with live ammunition.
Wynne-Jones said illegal tree planting had taken place for several years and had now reached a level that caused the bases considerable concern.
He said some 75 hectares had been planted by 1995, but the practice had escalated in the past two years, with the area of illegal acacia growth doubling to approximately 150 hectares.
"Almost all of this has taken place within the area that needs to be kept free of obstruction for training purposes," Wynne-Jones said.
"Several individuals are apparently under the impression that they can plant trees wherever they like, irrespective of land ownership. This is not so," he said. "Such indiscriminate planting and irrigation is unacceptable. It must stop."
 Greenpeace blast Akamas exercisesTHE INTERNATIONAL environmental organisation Greenpeace yesterday said it was concerned that the British bases would carry out military exercises in the Akamas next week.
In a statement issued by Greenpeace's Mediterranean office based in Malta, the organisation also criticised the Cyprus authorities for not fulfilling its promise made earlier this year to remedy the situation.
The latest round of bases exercises in the Akamas are planned for November 16 to 21.
"We are concerned of the damage that will be done to the natural habitat of Akamas," the statement said. "The planned army exercises there must be terminated. No army, British or Cypriots should bomb and shoot in an area that must be protected against any sort of distruction," said Dr Mario Damato, Greenpeace's Mediterranean executive director.
Greenpeace said the Cyprus government had promised to negotiate with the bases to find a solution to the problem following demonstrations organised by local groups against the military exercises.
"It is time for the Cyprus government to take its promises seriously," Greenpeace said. "Promises to protect the Akamas go back a decade. We hope the government resolves the situation before the next presidential elections and all promises will be fulfilled," Damato said.
Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said earlier this week the National Guard may already have found an alternative to the Akamas for the British to hold their exercises.
However, the site has still to be reviewed - a procedure which could take months.
Under the Treaty of Establishment, the British have the right to train in the Akamas for up to 90 days a year.
After talks between the bases and the government, it was agreed Cyprus would find an alternative less ecologically sensitive site than the Akamas.
 Children smoke more, drink less than overseasBy Aline Davidian
CYPRIOT school-children smoke almost three times more than their European counterparts but drink far less than the European average.
These were some of the results announced at a press conference yesterday, of a European School Survey on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) conducted in tandem with 25 other European countries. The press conference itself was took place simultaneously in all countries which participated in the survey.
The Cypriot Lyceum students targeted were those born after 1979 and took part in the survey of their own volition. Teachers also took part, and underwent training to "raise the self-respect of students" making them able to "confront the problem of substance abuse", said Education Minister George Hadjinicolaou.
The Minister stressed that despite results being favourable in comparison with European school children - at least in the domain of drug and alcohol abuse - there was still cause for anxiety. Children of both sexes had increased their intake of drugs and alcohol by 50 per cent from 1992 to 1995 and the trend was still on the up.
These results together with the recent ESPAD survey had led the Cypriot Health and Education Ministries to institute drugs and alcohol awareness programmes in schools. Also during the last year, five training seminars for teachers in the Ayia Napa area had been organised. More were planned for the future.
"It is particularly important to protect children from substance abuse," said Hadjinicolaou "because a great number of them will study abroad where the problem is even more severe".
The next ESPAD survey will take place in September 1998, organised by the Centre for Drug Information and Treatment of Individuals (Kenthea) for Cyprus.
 Minister urges women to be screenedHEALTH Minister Christos Solomis yesterday called upon women to take advantage of the uterine and breast cancer screening programme to be implemented islandwide by November 20.
The minister was speaking at a press conference given on the benefits of the programme, funded by the Health Ministry, the Pan-Cyprian Medical Association and the Cyprus Gynaecological Society.
Solomis stated that the aim of the screenings was to make an early diagnosis so as to "minimise" the effects of uterine and breast cancer, which can be treated if quickly detected.
Due to economic restrictions, the screening programme to detect uterine cancer would first be implemented. If this showed positive results, then the breast cancer screening programme would follow. About 150,000 women between the age of 25 to 65 would be targeted by the schemes.
Solomis said women whose mothers were from rural areas would have letters from the Health Ministry sent to them. These would "outline the importance of being tested, and call them to pick the gynaecologist of their choice from a list of gynaecological experts who would be included in the letters."
All examinations would then be offered free of charge and those women showing anomalous results could then opt for treatment by the civil health services.
All test results would be recorded on computer, thereby allowing cancer trends to be followed. For this purpose, specially trained staff had already been employed.
 Cypriot waiter murdered in LiverpoolA CYPRIOT waiter has been murdered in Liverpool after an argument with a customer.
Thirty-one-year-old Savvakis Savva was shot three times following an argument at the restaurant where he worked.
According to witnesses, a man walked into the restaurant and started arguing with the Cypriot. After a heated exchange, the culprit shot Savvakis in cold blood.
Savvakis, originally from Tembria, leaves behind a wife and two young children.
Police carrying out the inquiry are questioning a suspect, also believed to be a Cypriot.
 Hooded youth 'terrorised women for kicks'LIMASSOL police yesterday arrested a 17-year-old suspected of threatening a number of young women with a kitchen knife "for kicks".
Yiannakis Karaolis, who works as a builder in Limassol, has admitted he was the hooded knifeman who held up women drivers on eight occasions over the past four weeks, police said. None of the women were hurt.
Karaolis is expected to appear before court today.
 New Aids figures releasedTWO new Aids cases were diagnosed last month, bringing the total number of HIV carriers diagnosed on the island to 278.
According to an official announcement yesterday, the two new cases were Romanian artistes who have since left Cyprus.
Of the 278 people found to be HIV-positive, 162 (58 per cent) are Cypriots and 116 (42 per cent) foreigners. Official figures show that four-fifths of Cypriot Aids carriers are between the ages of 20 and 40. The overwhelming majority, 138, of Cypriot sufferers are men.
Official figures also show that almost all Cypriots infected in the last four years have contracted the virus in Cyprus.
 New consumer protection bill plannedA MINISTRY of Commerce spokesman said yesterday a bill modifying current safety regulations for consumer products, was expected to be approved within a year.
This comes in the wake of a furore caused by laser pens and key-rings, which are sold in toy and novelty shops round the island. The laser lights emitted by the toys are capable of causing grave retinal damage if shone into the eyes, posing an special threat to children purchasing them.
The current law only guarantees the safety of products "usually used", said Christophoros Ioannides of the Cyprus Consumers' Association yesterday. This means that professional items such as chain saws are not caught by the definition. Such items are simply covered by a legal requirement for importers to include instructions on the use of the product when placing the item on sale.
Despite new warning labels on the laser toys, however, there have still been complaints from concerned parents whose children stand to be injured.
Ioannides said amendments to the law had already been discussed, but have yet to be approved by the House. The changes would mean the safety of all products - not merely those "usually used" would be legally guaranteed. Another modification would oblige manufacturers or retailers finding a product to be dangerous to report it to the Consumer Competition and Protection Committee within two days.
The latter would have the power to publicise the brand or company manufacturing the dangerous product under the proposed changes.
The Consumers' Association has also proposed that state authorities inspecting new products should similarly be held liable if they proved dangerous.
© Copyright 1997 Cyprus Mail