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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-11-14

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, November 14, 1997


  • [01] US-EU 'common goal' on unified Cyprus
  • [02] Ministry neither willing nor able to control pupils
  • [03] Denktash hails Holbrooke the listener
  • [04] Fanieros confirms he was warned about 'hit'
  • [05] Cassoulides: Turkish response proves value of EU card
  • [06] Kyprianou demands civil servant's resignation, if not his head
  • [07] House votes legal bars to grant of title deeds
  • [08] Lordos hits back at Cassoulides over 20-point plan
  • [09] House appeals to Bases to end Akamas war games
  • [10] Palestinian foreign minister wishes Cyprus better luck with US
  • [11] Endless delays in purchase of medical equipment could cost lives
  • [12] Unemployed musicians highlight immigration chaos
  • [13] Police find 5 kilos of hash in engine
  • [14] Hospital specialists on strike

  • [01] US-EU 'common goal' on unified Cyprus

    US presidential envoy on Cyprus Richard Holbrooke was in Brussels yesterday for talks with the European Union on ways to end the division of Cyprus to ensure its smooth entry into the EU.

    Holbrooke said that both he and EU Foreign Relations Commissioner Hans van den Broek shared a "common goal" of a unified Cyprus joining the EU.

    The European Union is to open membership negotiations with the Cyprus government, but it wants the Turkish Cypriots to join the talks provided they work towards reconciliation on the island.

    So far EU efforts for a reunification of Cyprus have failed, and Europe is keen to have Holbrooke, who brokered the 1995 Bosnian peace accords, involved.

    "We need Holbrooke because the Americans have a dialogue with Turkey that is different. We have Greece as an EU member and that makes it difficult sometimes for us to come across as credible in Turkish eyes," one EU official who asked not to be named told The Associated Press news agency yesterday.

    Van den Broek said it was "extremely important that the European Union and the United States work hand in hand" to resolve the Cyprus problem.

    On November 24, the EU foreign ministers will meet with their Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem in Brussels, and senior EU officials will visit Ankara three days later.

    [02] Ministry neither willing nor able to control pupils

    By Jean Christou

    THE EDUCATION Ministry yesterday appeared neither willing nor able to prevent pupils from demonstrating on the streets during school hours today.

    Three days of protests against tomorrow's anniversary of the unilateral declaration of independence by the breakaway state in the occupied area began last night with an all-night vigil by students at the Ledra Palace checkpoint in Nicosia.

    And today, thousands of secondary school pupils will take to the streets after attending only three periods of lessons. Ironically, no such demonstrations were held yesterday morning - a school holiday.

    A senior Education Ministry official yesterday agreed that this suggested that secondary pupils were only interested in demonstrating during school hours.

    "They (the organisers) believe it is the only way to secure massive participation," the official said.

    He also freely admitted that the Ministry had no power to keep the pupils in school, but at the same time supported their right to demonstrate.

    "We have told them if they want to express their protest to do it within the school grounds. We even sent a circular around telling them this," the official said.

    But he added that taking to the streets was the decision of the students themselves.

    During last year's November 15 demonstrations, pupils were confined to school grounds after an appeal for calm from then Education Minister Kleri Angelides.

    Those protests came only months after the deaths of two demonstrators in Dherynia in August 1996.

    However current Education Minister George Hadjinicolaou said in a statement to students yesterday that the Turkish side was trying to "fool the international community" while at the same time "persecuting our heroic enclaved".

    "The enemy is within our walls with tens of thousands of settlers and occupying troops trying to change the demographic picture of the island and keeping the two communities apart by force of arms," the statement said.

    In a direct address to the students, the statement said: "You are the dynamic force and hope-bearing future of our land. Through our national trials, you must prove the will for your resistance to occupation. On you falls the weight and honour of your country and the struggle for freedom of our island."

    The statement does not call for restraint or calm.

    Sources involved in security for the upcoming demonstrations said yesterday that children being released from school by the Ministry compounded their difficulties.

    The Turkish side is also believed to be concerned about the number of schoolchildren taking part in the protests.

    The entire Cyprus police force and Unficyp are both on high alert for tomorrow's events, which also involve a 'drive home' by refugees and a bikers' ride from Dherynia to Nicosia.

    "Our main task is to prevent any incidents," police spokesman Glafcos Xenos said yesterday.

    He added that all organisations had promised to keep their people under control and had said they would avoid trouble.

    Unficyp expects the security forces on both sides to stop any protestors from entering the buffer zone.

    [03] Denktash hails Holbrooke the listener

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has praised US presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke as the first Cyprus envoy to listen to him.

    Yesterday's Turkish Cypriot press said Denktash described Holbrooke as "the first co-ordinator who listened to what the sides said and who saw the difficulties."

    Denktash said federations were founded by friends, by equals. The two sides could not be expected to reunite after all the destruction there had been. They had to accept each other first, and then there had to be exchanges of land, Denktash is quoted as saying.

    Washington said yesterday the meeting brokered by Holbrooke between the two leaders in Nicosia on Tuesday had been "candid and intense".

    State department spokesman James Rubin said Holbrooke did not want to get into the substance of the talks publicly, but he had indicated that they had been held in a very positive manner, with both leaders willing to approach the issues "openly and directly".

    Rubin said the purpose of the meeting had been to keep the process going and to keep both sides talking.

    Former State department Special Co-ordinator for Cyprus Edward Derwinski, who is currently in Cyprus, said yesterday Holbrooke had been given the responsibility of defining the priorities of US policy on Cyprus.

    Speaking after a meeting with President Clerides yesterday,

    Derwinski said that when it came to US policy in Cyprus, "the specific responsibility is Holbrooke's".

    He added that Holbrooke had come to understand the personalities of the two leaders and not just their public positions. "I think this is what he achieved," he said.

    UN permanent representative Gustave Feissel also discussed Holbrooke's visit with President Clerides yesterday.

    Speaking after the meeting, Feissel said he had "touched base" with Clerides.

    Commenting on the imminent visit of Secretary-general Kofi Annan's special Cyprus mediator Diego Cordovez, Feissel said the UN envoy would be here to "get a sense of the situation".

    Feissel said he did not expect Cordovez, who chaired both rounds of direct talks in the summer, to hold a joint meeting with the two leaders. "Never say never, but I certainly do not expect it," he said.

    [04] Fanieros confirms he was warned about 'hit'

    ANTONIS Fanieros confirmed at Nicosia Assizes yesterday that Tassos Simellides had tried to warn him he would be the target of a gangland hit.

    Fanieros, 57, took the witness stand and faced his suspected would-be killers - Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30 and Panicos, 25 - across the courtroom yesterday.

    Simellides, already convicted of acting as get-away driver for the May 29 machinegun attack on Fanieros, has testified that Panicos was the hit-man while his older brothers planned the shooting. The 28-year-old has also claimed the Aeroporos brothers forced him to take part in the Larnaca attack and that he tried to warn Fanieros.

    Fanieros told the court Simellides had warned him a few days before the attack to be wary of Andros Aeroporos.

    [05] Cassoulides: Turkish response proves value of EU card

    TURKEY will have to choose between implementing a Cyprus settlement or "running the risk" of seeing the island enter the European Union without one, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.

    Speaking in an interview with CyBC radio, the minister said he also doubted whether it would be possible to have Turkish Cypriot participation in the accession talks from their start, expected next spring. Turkish Cypriot participation would, he said, depend largely on developments in the efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, which would need to be "very significant".

    He said the government believed EU accession would be the catalyst to a solution, adding that Turkey's reaction to this position proved how right the government was.

    Commenting on US efforts for a settlement in relation to EU accession, Cassoulides said US envoy Richard Holbrooke had "taken into account" the European perspective in his attempts to help in the search for a solution, adding that Holbrooke "played a pivotal role" in the EU decision to start accession talks with Cyprus.

    He did, however, note that the US also supported Turkey's hopes for EU membership.

    [06] Kyprianou demands civil servant's resignation, if not his head

    By Martin Hellicar

    DIKO leader Spyros Kyprianou yesterday demanded the resignation of the Director of the Interior Ministry, Thanos Michail, after he publicly expressed support for Dinos Michaelides.

    Opposition parties Akel and the United Democrats also condemned Michail's stance.

    Speaking at Wednesday's swearing-in of Michaelides's replacement as Interior Minister, George Stavrinakis, Michail said he was sorry Michaelides had been "forced" to leave the government.

    Michaelides and another four Diko Ministers resigned their posts last week on Kyprianou's say-so following the collapse of the Disy-Diko government coalition.

    "We are glad that a brave politician was found whose statements went against the flow and stirred stagnant waters," Michail said of Michaelides. "We can but hope that Mr Michaelides's absence from the Interior Ministry will be very brief," Michail added.

    Kyprianou claimed Michail's statements compromised the neutrality he should maintain as a civil servant and meant he could not fulfil his duties as chief returning officer in the February presidentials.

    "We are not asking for his head on a platter, but he cannot remain director of the ministry during the elections," Kyprianou said.

    Akel issued a statement describing Michail's comments as "simply unacceptable" and questioning his competence to act as returning officer. "His statements... constitute a clear demonstration of party favouritism on the part of a civil servant," Akel stated.

    The United Democrats added their voice to the outcry.

    Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades came to Michail's defence, saying his comments had been made under "emotional stress".

    Government spokesman Manolis Christofides said Michail's statements would not be the subject of a state investigation.

    Kyprianou said he had lodged a complaint with the civil servants' union, Pasydy, over Michail's behaviour and was seeking "legal advice" on the matter.

    Kyprianou and Michaelides have appeared to be on a collision course since the resignation of the Diko ministers. First, Michaelides, and the other four ministers, flew in Kyprianou's face by ignoring his demand they cut all links with the government and acceding to President Clerides's plea to stay on in office till replacements were found. Then Michaelides said Diko was working to resurrect the coalition with Disy, while Kyprianou insisted Diko was now an opposition party.

    Meanwhile, both Disy and Akel closed the door on possible election pacts with Diko yesterday.

    Christofides, responding to Kyprianou's assertion that the Disy-Diko pact could only be resurrected if Clerides was not the joint candidate, said there was no question of Clerides standing aside. Anastassiades reiterated that Clerides was Disy's choice for the presidentials.

    Akel leader Demetris Christofias dismissed talk of a coalition with Diko, saying his party stood firmly behind independent candidate George Iacovou.

    Diko responded later in the day by announcing that it would soon "present a modern political proposal and a candidacy dictated by the needs of today and tomorrow." A Diko spokesman clarified that Kyprianou's candidacy still stood.

    [07] House votes legal bars to grant of title deeds

    THE HOUSE plenum yesterday approved a package of amendments designed to block a controversial government scheme to grant title deeds for refugee homes.

    Deputies from Akel, Edek, the United Democrats and Diko voted for the amendments, while Disy voted against.

    Akel deputy Aristofanis Georgiou called on President Clerides not to exercise his right to dispute the amendments by sending them to the Supreme Court.

    He said Clerides had forced the House to block the title deeds scheme with legal amendments by refusing to heed an earlier plea from the House to shelve the plan.

    Disy deputy Panayiotis Demetriou argued that some of the amendments were unconstitutional, but Georgiou denied this, saying similar amendments had been passed in the past.

    Opposition deputies repeated accusations that the scheme was a vote-winning ploy on the part of the government.

    Independent deputy Marios Matsakis asked what was to become of the 100 title deeds that had already been given to refugees.

    [08] Lordos hits back at Cassoulides over 20-point plan

    By Jean Christou

    FORMER deputy Constantinos Lordos yesterday hit back at comments by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides allegedly referring to his 20-point rapprochement plan as impractical.

    Lordos issued a statement from Brussels, where he plans today to present his 20-point document to a joint Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen's seminar hosted by US presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke.

    In the statement, Lordos said he had heard Cassoulides had referred to the proposals at the House Refugee Committee on Wednesday and had allegedly called them "impractical" as economic exchanges could not take place at this stage.

    "I would like to point out that my proposals are a long way from economic exchanges but aim to set up the conditions for such future exchanges in the framework of a solution and progress, and always within the legal bounds," Lordos' statement said.

    He called on Cassoulides to re-examine the proposals more closely.

    Lordos' proposals are designed to address the general need for understanding and confidence between the two sides and are in line with 1979 high-level agreements on the Cyprus problem.

    They aim for free and unhindered communication leading to a climate of elementary trust which would in turn be followed by a series of joint activities and programmes.

    Twelve leading businessmen from each side of the Green Line plus six participants each from Greece and Turkey will attend the one-day seminar aimed at establishing further links between the two communities.

    In addition to being addressed by Holbrooke, the seminar will be addressed by Britain's Cyprus envoy Sir David Hannay, EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek and former Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring.

    The agenda of the seminar will focus on the economic advantages to each side resulting from improved relations, strategies for regional co- operation, prospects, and small steps towards implementation and follow up. There will also be open discussions.

    The seminar opened last night with an official dinner hosted by van den Broek.

    [09] House appeals to Bases to end Akamas war games

    By Jean Christou

    THE HOUSE of Representatives yesterday unanimously called for an end to British military exercises in the Akamas peninsula.

    The resolution was passed during the opening of yesterday's plenum as a handful of environmentalists demonstrated peacefully outside.

    It expresses "serious concern" for the damage to the natural environment caused by British army exercises in the Akamas.

    Under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, The bases are entitled to carry out military exercises in the environmentally sensitive peninsula for up to 90 days each year.

    But parliament yesterday deemed the right "a leftover from colonialism".

    Its resolution said the continuation of the exercises would lead to the complete destruction of the Akamas and were an insult to the "environmental conscience of the entire population".

    "We call on the British bases to respond to the demands of the Cypriot people and end their exercises in the Akamas," the resolution added.

    Environmentalists were happy with the resolution by the House, but were "still hesitant", said Greenpeace's local Representative Demos Protopapas.

    He said similar promises had been made in the past but the government continued giving its permission to the British.

    "We hope this time it will really be taken seriously once and for all," Protopapas said. "We will keep our doubts."

    The next round of British bases exercises in the Akamas is scheduled for Sunday. Environmentalists plan to demonstrate.

    [10] Palestinian foreign minister wishes Cyprus better luck with US

    THE FOREIGN Minister of the Palestinian National Authorities said yesterday he hoped the US would do a better job in Cyprus than it had in the Middle East.

    Speaking after a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart, Yiannakis Cassoulides, Palestinian Minister Farouk Kaddoumi said there were many similarities between the two issues and stressed the need to arrive at a peaceful solution.

    "I hope they (the US) might do better in the Cyprus problem, but to the Palestinians, unfortunately there is a big failure by the US," Kaddoumi said.

    Asked to comment on US and EU involvement in the Middle East peace process, Kaddoumi said he did not think the US could do anything more than what it did on the Palestinian track.

    "We insist the UN should be involved, but the Israelis did not want the UN to play the positive role," he said.

    "It has shown that unfortunately the US is not willing or is unable to activate its role."

    Kaddoumi said both Cyprus and his country had problems such as refugees and division.

    He said he and Cassoulides had exchanged views during their meeting.

    "Cyprus is a friendly country, they support our cause, the cause for peace, " Kaddoumi said.

    [11] Endless delays in purchase of medical equipment could cost lives

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    LACK of staff and time-consuming procedures are holding up the purchase of medical equipment, the House Health Committee heard yesterday.

    Officials said they were trying to work quickly but without compromising the principle of equality. They admitted they were problems, but said some of the delay was built in into the system.

    And accountant general Leontios Savvides said a new bill which would set out strict rules on the whole tenders procedure was currently before the House Watchdog Committee.

    Yesterday's meeting was a follow on from a January probe which had Health Committee chairman Andreas Parisinos warning that delays in the supply of medical equipment could lead to loss of life.

    The conclusion then - as yesterday - was that the issue was a complex one.

    Thus for example the principle of equality means that all suppliers should be given the opportunity to make observations on specifications and be able to submit a tender, officials said.

    This phase of the procedure usually takes an average of 17 weeks while suppliers themselves need an average of 14 weeks after a tender has been awarded.

    "This leaves 29 weeks - or 100 days for the department to prepare the specifications and evaluate the tenders for some 100 different types of equipment for which there are provisions in the annual budgets. All this with just three employees," said George Christodoulides of the state's electrical and mechanical services, which has a say in the purchase of equipment by government services.

    Christodoulides added that the department was in the process of taking on mechanical engineers to deal exclusively with medical equipment and this should facilitate the whole procedure.

    Another obstacle cited was the fact that doctors - having been trained, or used to working on a particular machine, had a marked preference.

    "We have tried to deal with this possibility, but it is possible that in some cases we failed," Savvides said.

    The Health Ministry has tried to overcome this by sending an official to join the doctor and engineers who draw up the specifications, an official said.

    Deputies also heard that one other way of trying to speed up procedures was to try to look ahead on requirements over a longer time period. This would eliminate the need for new specifications for exactly the same piece of equipment over a short period of time.

    Asked about spare parts and maintenance, officials said that recent contracts specified the supplier must provide maintenance.

    "Alternatively because we do not manufacture such equipment ourselves we would have to stock lots of spare parts, in case we ever needed them," Christodoulides said.

    [12] Unemployed musicians highlight immigration chaos

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    SOME hotels continue to employ foreign musicians, some of them without legal cover, even though dozens of Cypriots are jobless.

    The claim, made by musicians in the House Labour Committee yesterday, was indirectly confirmed by officials from both the Labour and Interior Ministries.

    Yesterday's committee meeting, other than reviving interest in the plight of unemployed musicians, only underlined lack of co-ordination between government departments over the employment of foreigners.

    The Labour Ministry's Charalambos Kolokotronis was explicit. He said the law on immigration was antiquated and in the main dated back to colonial times. Responsibilities were shared between his ministry and immigration. As a result "no-one knows what the other is doing".

    "We have raised this issue, it even went to ministerial level for discussion, but there was no conclusion, he said.

    Confusion over the status of the 35 or so musicians employed in Paphos hotels was a case in point. The law stipulates Immigration can only grant work permits to foreign musicians after consulting the Labour Ministry.

    This occurred in May - and work permits were issued for four months. These have since expired. They have not been renewed, the views of the Labour Ministry have not been requested and the musicians remain at their jobs.

    The situation has become "explosive", prompting Kolokotronis to travel to Paphos to discuss the whole issue.

    Only this week - after protests from local musicians - has the procedure begun for a review of the applications.

    Kolokotronis had other examples. He said his ministry had disagreed with the new criteria for the employment of domestic help. Permits for maids and artistes are given directly by Immigration, and do not require prior consultation with the Ministry of Labour.

    "We had a case where an employer came to use to hire three foreign workers. We did not approve his application because he did not meet the criteria, so he went and got three domestic helps and employed them where he wanted to in the first place," he said.

    Diko deputy for Paphos Nicos Pittocopitis said the House committee had discussed the issue of foreign musicians on several occasions. The fact that it was back again was only ridiculing the House.

    He said some officials may well be trying to do their jobs. But telephone calls from "third parties" meant procedures were not adhered to, the foreign musicians in question got to stay at their jobs and the Cypriots remained unemployed.

    The Interior Ministry's Christos Vanganas said the musicians in question had been slow in applying for a renewal. There was a delay in following up the issue because of the summer holidays. And he said his department was desperately short staffed to cope with the dramatic increase in the number of foreigners in Cyprus.

    Christodoulos Constantinou of the musicians' association said those illegally employed should go. And he said no foreigner should be employed if there was a Cypriot out of work.

    [13] Police find 5 kilos of hash in engine

    A POLICE swoop yesterday netted five kilos of marijuana hidden inside a Mercedes engine arriving at Limassol port. Two arrests were made.

    Acting on a tip-off, anti-drugs squad and customs officials dismantled the second-hand engine which had arrived from England. Inside, 51 small packets of marijuana were found, along with three larger taped packages of the drug.

    The engine had been imported by Cypriot truck driver Michalis Yiannis Sellas, 30. He was arrested along with his uncle Takis Joseph Sellas, 45, a customs officer. Michalis claimed to know nothing about the drugs.

    The two were held in custody overnight and are expected to appear before Limassol District Court to be charged today.

    Police also found a hunting rifle registered in another name and 49 cartridges in Michalis Sellas' car. Further arrests are expected.

    [14] Hospital specialists on strike

    MEDICAL specialists began a 10-day overtime ban yesterday to demand financial compensation for extra hours on duty. Specialists across the island will be absent from hospitals every day from 3pm till 7am, when they would otherwise have been doing overtime.

    A spokesman for the specialists, Yiorgios Santonaris, said specialists usually worked overtime "to admit" and treat "in-patients" as well as taking charge "of situations where treatment would be offered through First Aid".

    From yesterday, however, there were no specialists in the hospital out of hours, although more general medical staff were still present. Doctors can still be contacted at home.

    When asked whether the strikers "had provided a margin" of flexibility in the event of an "emergency", Santonaris replied this "had not been discussed".

    The strike is expected to cause serious inconvenience to hospital patients.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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