|Wednesday, 29 November 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-12-03
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Wednesday, December 3, 1997
 Turkey-EU relations 'a matter of give and take'By Jean Christou
ALLOWING Turkey into the European Union is a two-way street, External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek said yesterday.
Speaking to Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists in Nicosia, Van den Broek said it was hoped a satisfactory package could be agreed for Turkey during the Luxembourg summit next week.
He described Turkey as an "important partner" for the EU, which wanted to make it clear to Ankara it was serious about working further in the process for membership.
But he warned that such efforts could not be one-sided. "We hope Ankara will give the EU a number of positive signals which will encourage a positive language in Luxembourg," Van den Broek said.
"We don't make any secret of the differences of opinion we have with Turkey... and that there are certain situations in Turkey that would make it very difficult to accept Turkey today as a full member of the EU."
On Cyprus, he suggested that both sides get together to discuss issues concerning EU accession, a move which would also facilitate efforts for a political settlement.
"That process of encouraging both communities to discuss with each other what their bargaining position will be vis à vis the EU can develop a confidence building which obviously can be conducive to progress in the political talks," Van den Broek said.
"Let's try to get out of this vicious circle of first a political solution and then accession talks, and let's try to have this complicated process of the accession talks help at least to produce more understanding in the political talks."
He acknowledged there are differences in views between the two sides on a number of issues, including security.
"Whatever the parties agree between each other in order to safeguard what they feel will not easily run into EU objections," he said. "We don't work with dogmatisms at the expense of vital interests that deserve, maybe for a period of time, a certain special attention."
Earlier yesterday the EU Commissioner met Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and before that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
Van den Broek told reporters he had "very open and constructive talks" with Denktash.
He said they concentrated on the problems to be overcome to make accession negotiations a success. "I told Denktash we would be ready to find solutions to the understandable problems that exist," Van den Broek said.
He added that there many clarifications are still needed in regard to the Turkish Cypriots, who are unfamiliar with the EU and what it stands for.
The Commissioner told Denktash accession negotiations are complicated, especially in the case of Cyprus since there are two communities "that also may have different legislation on both parts of the island".
He suggested to him that the two sides begin work on compatible legislation as a first step before Turkish Cypriot participation in the accession talks.
Speaking after the meeting Denktash said repeated his call for recognition before the resumption of direct talks with President Clerides.
"By March we shall start negotiations (both sides) and we shall see how the international world will treat us. Then we will decide," Denktash said.
After meeting the Commissioner, Cassoulides said the Turkish side should accept that EU negotiations will be carried out with the Cyprus Republic.
Only when this is accepted will the Greek Cypriot side talk about ways in which the Turkish Cypriots can participate in the official delegation, he said.
Cassoulides also said the harmonisation of Cyprus legislation would be valid for the whole island.
 EU praise for bi-communal contactsTHE EU Commission is sponsoring an international conference in London next month on multiculturalism in relation to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek said yesterday.
He was addressing a gathering of Greek and Turkish Cypriots involved in bi- communal activities at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia.
He said the Commission is ready to support bi-communal cultural projects and referred to the London conference entitled 'From Nationalism to Multiculturalism: New Interpretations of the Literatures of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey'.
Van den Broek praised the group of business people, young political leaders, trade unionists, lawyers, architects and representatives of women's groups who were gathered at the hotel for "looking to the future and not only to the past".
"There is no substitute for people-to-people contacts in overcoming the deep mistrust of recent decades," he said. "To succeed bi-communal initiatives must spring from the desire of people of the two communities to work together."
He also said such contacts were invaluable in creating a climate that is conducive to efforts to find a lasting political solution, and will remain important even after a settlement is reached.
"I know that you are sometimes criticised for your activities and that you may even be accused of being naive or disloyal," he told the group. "Do not let such accusations deter you from your purpose."
He repeated the call for Turkish Cypriots to be involved in Cyprus' EU negotiations. "I am convinced that can be achieved without prejudicing the position of either party in the search for a political settlement," he said.
"Barbed wire and barricades have no place in a united Europe. Recognition that this situation is intolerable on the brink of the 21st century when so many other ancient quarrels have been consigned to history is the first step to achieving a solution."
 30,000 Russians in Cyprus, claims generalTHIRTY thousand Russians have been posted to Cyprus to oversee weapons sales to the National Guard, a Turkish general has claimed.
Commander General Necati Ozgen said the 30,000 Russians - who, he said, were also to be involved in technical support and management for weapons - were part of a Soviet plan to gain increased influence in the region.
Ozgen's comments were made at a two-day symposium on Cyprus at Turkey's War Academies Command in Istanbul, the Turkish Daily News reported yesterday.
Ozgen referred to government plans to buy S-300 missiles to make his point that Greek Cypriots were "arming to extreme degrees", the paper said.
He reportedly told delegates per capita armaments expenditure in the free areas was now on a par with the US.
The general added that, despite this spending, Cyprus could never hope to challenge Turkey's military superiority, the Turkish Daily News reported.
 Bank teller blew half a million on betsA BANK employee who siphoned more than £500,000 from clients' accounts and then blew it on football bets and horse racing was sentenced to two and a half years in prison yesterday.
Popular Bank employee Costas Constantinou, 26, had pleaded guilty at a Limassol criminal court to embezzling £520,000 by using a computer to transfer money into his own account.
Between April 1995 and January 1997 Constantinou, from Ayios Athanassios, transferred different amounts from accounts belonging to his relatives, among others.
Constantinou admitted using the money, from the Limassol branch where he worked, to fuel his gambling addiction.
 Crash kills woman, 72A 72-year-old Paphos woman died yesterday afternoon from injuries suffered during a head-on collision.
Anna Michael died in hospital after an on-coming car careered out of control and smashed into the vehicle driven by her 73-year-old husband Alexis.
Police said the car driven by 46-year-old George Soteriades ended up in the opposite lane of the Paphos-Kissonerga road after he lost control, resulting in all three ending up in Paphos hospital.
The drivers of the two vehicles were both seriously injured.
At 5.45pm, three hours after the accident, Anna died of her injuries.
Paphos traffic police are investigating the crash.
 Fanieros trial hears claims of police tortureBy Martin Hellicar
A MAN charged in connection with the attempted murder of Antonis Fanieros was allegedly tortured at Limassol central police station in 1992, the Nicosia Assizes heard yesterday.
The court heard a shocking statement given to police by Hambis Aeroporos in January last year, describing how he was hand-cuffed, stripped, beaten, electrocuted and strung-up from the ceiling during a police interrogation. The accused's mother, sitting at the back of the courtroom, broke down in tears and wails as the account was read out, and had to be helped from the room.
Hambis, 35, and his two brothers Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25, are accused of being instigator, architect and hit-man respectively in the machine-gun attack on club owner Fanieros in Larnaca on May 29. They deny the charges.
Hambis' statement was read out after the court overruled defence objections and pronounced it admissible as evidence.
Defence lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou had argued the statement was not relevant to the trial because it was made long before the attempt on Fanieros' life. But the court ruled the statement was relevant because it might establish a motive for the May attack.
Hambis made his statement after coming out of hospital following an attempt on his life in Limassol in July 1995, which the prosecution is claiming he held Fanieros responsible for.
However, the court said the statement could not be considered as evidence against Hambis' brothers because it was made before the alleged conspiracy to kill Fanieros.
As it turned out, there was no mention of Fanieros in the statement, read out in court by police investigator Savvas Tsolis.
At the time the statement was made, Tsolis was part of a team set up to investigate allegations that Limassol police were involved in serious crime and the torturing of remand suspects.
Hambis did not point the finger at police being involved in the machine-gun attack against him, but did allege that he was tortured while on remand for theft in April 1992.
In his statement, Hambis said a hood was put over his head before he was led to a room where a number of officers beat him after putting a metal bucket on his head. He said he was stripped and beaten all over by officers using their hands and "hard objects". According to the statement, his torturers twisted his genitals and gave him electric shocks on various parts of the body. He was in so much pain that he broke his handcuffs, Hambis claimed in the statement. He was later strung-up from the ceiling of the room by his feet while the beating continued, he claimed.
The torture allegedly lasted for "several hours" before he was dragged back to a holding cell.
Last year, an independent inquiry concluded there had been systematic use of torture during interrogation of suspects at Limassol police station in 1992 and 1993.
Three senior police officers axed after they were named, along with nine others, in the inquiry report recently won an appeal against their dismissals at the Supreme Court.
The trial of the three Aeroporos brothers continues today.
 Hunt for missing manPOLICE have asked the public to help find a missing postman, 45-year-old Nicos Lantides from Lythrodontas, who has not been seen since November 30.
Lantides was sacked from the postal service when he was charged with forging a government cheque.
Just before he went missing, Lantides apparently told a close friend that he would end his life with his military rifle, police said.
A search of his home failed to recover the man's rifle and ammunition.
Lantides was last seen wearing grey trousers and a yellow top. He is believed to be driving an old Honda Civic.
 Government has no plans to hike fuel pricesBy Hamza Hendawi
THE government does not intend to raise fuel prices but will order a "limited" hike if it becomes necessary, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday.
Fuel prices are set by the government, which reviews them every six months to accommodate any fluctuations in world oil prices. The government also sets a ceiling on how much profit oil companies operating on the island can keep, with any surplus going to the treasury.
Cyprus is not an oil producer and imports its entire oil needs, either in crude to feed its sole refinery in Larnaca, or in oil products. The refinery's output of 30,000 barrels a day meets 80 per cent of domestic consumption, while the balance is imported.
Speaking to reporters after a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Civil Servants Union (Pasydy) yesterday, Christodoulou said: "Although winter is upon us, the price of petrol will not increase and if it does increase it will be at a limited level."
It was not clear on what grounds he was basing his link between the onset of winter and a possible rise in fuel prices or why he thought a "limited" rise in domestic oil prices might be necessary.
Fuel consumed in winter is normally bought as early as mid-summer.
The Finance Minister's remarks also coincided with a sharp fall in world oil prices after international market traders took fright at an OPEC deal reached over the weekend to raise the cartel's output ceiling by 10 per cent.
The fall was accelerated by the recommendation of UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan that Iraq, under sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, be allowed to increase the amount of oil it sells to buy food and medicine.
Benchmark North Sea Brent blend crude oil ended down 78 cents at $18.17 a barrel in London on Monday after dipping briefly below the psychologically important $18 level. This compares to this year's average of $19.50 a barrel.
 Eurocypria pilots threaten to strikeEUROCYPRIA pilots yesterday sent a strike warning to management over the collapse of negotiations to renew the collective agreement.
Pilots' union Pasipy blames the airline's management for its "negative stance" which has led to negotiation deadlock.
A general assembly by pilots yesterday rejected demands made on them by the company.
Frustrated over the lack of progress, the general assembly gave Pasipy the green light to take industrial action in order to secure their demands.
Pasipy called on Eurocypria management to take a more "realistic approach" on the matter in order to kick-start a productive dialogue - or face the consequences.
 Airline chief speaks out about ship blastBy Jean Christou
UK-based Cypriot airline owner Stelios Haji-Ioannou has spoken out for the first time about his and his father's acquittal in a case involving a ship explosion in 1991.
Haji-Ioannou told Lloyds List that lessons from the Haven disaster are in danger of being lost amid the furore over the case.
Haji-Ioannou and his father Loucas were acquitted by an Italian court last week of manslaughter and intimidating and attempting to bribe witnesses.
At the centre of the case was the allegation that he and his father kept the Haven in such bad repair that it blew up.
The vessel had been carrying one million barrels of Iranian crude when it was rocked by an explosion on April 11, 1991, in Genoa killing six crew members.
A large part of the oil was believed to have burned off before the ship sank, although some 14,000 tonnes spilled into the sea.
The court decision caused outrage among seafarers' unions and environmental groups.
However Haji-Ioannou said there had been scant effort within the tanker industry to minimise the damage which could be wreaked by human error.
"The International Maritime Organisation or someone else should now take this matter in hand because we need more idiot-proof ships," he said.
According to the owners and the court-appointed experts the Haven exploded because the chief officer allowed a dangerous build-up of pressure in one of the central tanks.
He said there had been a number of such accidents due to pressurisation, affecting older and newer tankers, and that it was time for a mechanism to be developed to counteract the problem.
In the Haven case it was claimed that the chief officer, although well- qualified and experienced, was relatively new to the company.
"The religious way that airline pilots double-check all procedures has been absent in the shipping industry until recently, although I believe and hope that the International Safety Management Code will reduce scope for an individual's mistake," Haji-Ioannou said.
The judge in the case has said he will give the reasons for the acquittal in 90 days.
 Students present list of demandsBy Aline Davidian
CYPRUS University students presented a list of 12 pressing problems to the House Education Committee yesterday - but all they achieved was an agreement from Education and Finance Ministry representatives to consider the matter again later.
Students' Union President Yiannis Economides said the student's main demands were the provision of a university campus, free tuition for higher education, and the introduction of a state scholarship organisation.
Plans to build such a campus had been agreed between university and government he said, but nothing had been done about it. He said this had led to exploitation of students who were compelled to seek town accommodation, as well as difficulties in travelling between departments.
Economides said higher education should be supported by the state through free tuition and the introduction of student ID cards, acknowledging the fact that students are "disadvantaged since they cannot have a personal income". A state scholarship organisation, he added, could provide low interest loans for students' living expenses.
"For us, education is a right, and not the privilege of a few" he said.
He noted that while the House seemed keen to solve these problems the government itself seemed reluctant to act. "I hope it will not take another five years" before a solution could be found, he said.
Pancyprian Students' Union Federation General Secretary Christos Christofides told the committee such problems were not restricted to Cyprus University students alone. All students on the island had similar problems, he said.
Education and Finance Ministry representatives said the problems required a political decision, and that the next committee discussion would be attended by the Education and Finance Ministers personally.
Meanwhile, a bill to introduce a state scholarship organisation will be debated by the House tomorrow.
 Colleges unhappy on accreditation planMOVES are under way to change the evaluation council set up to 'check' degrees, but private colleges are unhappy about the proposals.
They told the House Education Committee yesterday that the proposals would only duplicate the work of the accreditation council, which vets the diplomas and degrees awarded by private colleges in Cyprus.
The Education Ministry and Cyprus University Deputy Dean Nicos Papamiltiadous insisted the two bodies were completely different.
The evaluation council's job is to evaluate degrees and decide on their equivalence with other recognised degrees.
The issue arose during a discussion of a series of government amendments on the composition of the evaluation council (KYSEATS). The committee decided to look more extensively into the issue.
 American Academy hoped for higher subsidyBy Bouli Hadjioannou
LARNACA'S American Academy is set to benefit from a small hike in its state subsidy, but deputies and the school are canvassing for more.
Education Ministry officials told the House Education Committee yesterday the 1998 budget included a £35,000 subsidy for the school - up a bare £3, 000 from last year. The American Academy, as do other private schools, also receives £10 per pupil.
The news come as a disappointment to the committee and for the school, which had been canvassing for some £80,000. They said Larnaca's American Academy was a non-profit educational institute and should therefore enjoy state aid closer to if not equivalent to Nicosia's English School - which receives £146,000 a year.
The American Academy in Larnaca, set up in 1908, has been run by its alumni ever since 1976. It has 846 pupils who pay annual fees of £1,400. The chairman of the school board, Michalakis Ioannides, said rising costs were forcing the school to raise its fees at a rate faster than that recommended by the Education Ministry, and expressed concern that Larnaca residents could not afford higher fees.
He said Greek language classes had been increased and school leavers had been accepted into the pedagogical department of the University of Cyprus. The Academy had stood by repatriating Cypriots, breaking up classes in order to help pupils better, he added.
The Education Ministry appreciates the school's work, a senior official told the committee. But he said there was a basic difference between the Academy and the English School.
"The Attorney-general has ruled that the English School is not a private school. It is not a public school, but it is nevertheless a state school. Its board of governors is appointed by the Council of Ministers and if the school is dissolved, its property reverts to the state," he said.
The English School charges annual fees of between £1,800 and £2,000 and has 830 pupils.
The committee also heard that the per capita cost of a pupil in a public secondary school is £1,500, except for pupils in technical schools who cost £3,500 per head.
Committee chairman Sofocles Hadjiyiannis of Disy asked officials to convey to the government its wish for more generous help for Larnaca's American Academy.
 Astra hit by mystery airwave piratesBy Bouli Hadjioannou
SOMEONE is interfering with Radio Astra's frequency in Nicosia's Acropolis areas, but only the arrival of new equipment next month will help solve the mystery, the House Communications Committee heard yesterday.
Officials said they suspected an "irresponsible person" was retransmitting the programmes of Ayios Demetris station on occasions - and interfering with Radio Astra.
The interference was not permanent, the Ayios Demetris station itself was not responsible, and existing equipment had been unable to track down the culprit, they said.
Delivery of new £200,000 worth of up to date equipment in mid-January should help resolve the problem, they added.
But Akel deputy and Astra director Takis Hadjigeorghiou, who took the issue to the committee, was not satisfied.
He said the interference was permanent and has been continuing for some time. And he said the equipment had initially been promised in December. "When they say January I understand this to mean March at the earliest."
Other deputies suggested Ayios Demetris be asked to change its frequency even for a short time, to ensure trouble-free transmissions for Astra over the election period.
Lazaros Savvides of the Communications Ministry said he would be willing to propose such radical action if he was convinced there was regular interference.
He said earlier this year Ayios Demetris had been closed down temporarily for technical changes to eliminate problems. It has since been regularly checked and found to be operating in line with regulations.
Andreas Zenios of the Consultative Broadcasting Committee said such problems were inevitable as long as radio and television stations were located within inhabited areas. Long-term plans should be for all stations to move out of the towns.
It was decided that new checks will be carried out this week, and the committee will be notified on what action the ministry plans to take.
The priest in charge of Ayios Demetrios said any change in the frequency would entail costs. He said he himself had never heard any interference on Astra, but that he would abide with any decision.
 Court punishes squaddies for theft and vandalismBy Charlie Charalambous
A BRITISH soldier who committed a series of thefts and burglaries on the island was jailed for six months by a Larnaca court yesterday.
Keith Hollywood, 23, of the First Battalion Kings Regiment, had pleaded guilty to four counts of theft and burglary from pubs and restaurants in Ayia Napa.
Hollywood, from Merseyside, is believed to have stolen £17,000 worth of goods during an 80-day period earlier this year.
He will be discharged from the British army immediately after serving his prison sentence.
Although Hollywood faced a maximum three-year jail term, the judge took the ruin of his army career and his personal problems into account.
Judge Tefkros Economou said the period during which the offences occurred was a time of emotional torment for Hollywood, who started to drink heavily after seeing his parents separate and his girlfriend leave him.
"I understand that a prison sentence would be catastrophic to his army career so there is room to reduce the sentence," said Economou.
Hollywood's lawyer John Mylonas said afterwards, "I think it was a fair sentence considering the circumstances."
Another Kings Regiment soldier wanted in connection with the spate of thefts, Paul Walsh, is believed to have fled the island.
The same court fined two other Kingsmen in a case of malicious damage.
Soldiers Carl Towns, 19, from Liverpool, and Philip Hughes, 19, from Manchester, were fined £750 each for trashing a hotel accounts office.
They have agreed to compensate the hotel for the £2,400 worth of damage caused.
Although the two soldiers faced a three-year maximum jail term, judge Economou said the fact they were teenagers from broken homes was a mitigating factor.
"They were both deprived of a father and accused number two (Hughes) never knew who his father was."
Economou added: "If a chance is not given to them, they will not only be deprived of their freedom, but they will leave this court with a feeling that society has written them off."
Although Towns and Hughes walked free from court they face army disciplinary charges for going absent without leave in early October.
They were located on Dhekelia base after the hotel incident took place on November 16.
 Cordovez preparing for new Cyprus talks in MarchTHE UN secretary-general's special adviser on Cyprus, Diego Cordovez, said yesterday he would resume negotiations aimed at reuniting the island after February's presidential elections.
In an interview after briefing Security Council members on a recent visit to Cyprus, he said: "The secretary-general is determined to pursue his good offices and after the elections I will be there to set in motion a process of negotiation."
He did not say where the actual negotiations would take place but said face- to-face meetings between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities would be necessary.
"We must have a continuing negotiation, an incremental negotiation," he said, adding that the two sides would have to thrash out five separate documents.
They would consist of a new constitution and documents dealing with security arrangements, territorial issues, displaced persons and property rights, and economic and financial co-operation.
Cordovez, a former foreign minister of Ecuador, noted that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash no longer wished talks to continue on an inter- communal basis but as between two separate states, in order to achieve political equality between the two sides.
Cordovez said he told Denktash that the Security Council and the secretary- general "have been very, very consistent and scrupulous in respecting the political equality of the two. We treat them as community leaders," he said, referring to Denktash and President Glafcos Clerides, in his capacity as leader of the Greek Cypriots.
"If they want to change the format, they will have to discuss that between them. The UN is not in the business of recognising states or acknowledging states or anything like that," he said.
Noting that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots were very concerned about forthcoming negotiations on membership for Cyprus in the European Union -- of which Greece but not Turkey is a member -- Cordovez said he had relayed this concern to the EU in Brussels.
He said he told the Security Council he wanted to keep away from the controversy over whether negotiations on the future of Cyprus and EU membership were linked.
"I said, 'Perhaps we should avoid the controversy and simply agree that the ultimate objective should be a federal republic of Cyprus, full member of the European Union.' This way we converge."
Cordovez said he had not yet asked either side to agree to talks early next year. That would not happen until he visited Cyprus in March.
"You cannot ask somebody who is a candidate for president to accept or reject," he said, referring to Clerides, who is running for re-election.
"You cannot ask Mr Denktash at this point, when he is so concerned about what is going to happen (about the EU issue), to say yes or no. So I said I will come back in March and you will tell me."
 Aids fisherman wants releaseA GREEK Cypriot fisherman jailed for negligently giving the deadly virus that causes Aids to his British lover has appealed for his release, his lawyer said yesterday.
"He has appealed on humanitarian grounds for his release to the President of the Republic," said Pavlos Georgiou's defence lawyer Tassos Economou.
Georgiou, 40, was jailed for 15 months in July after being found guilty of giving the HIV virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome to his British lover Janette Pink.
Under existing prison rules Georgiou is expected out before next May even if his appeal is rejected.
Inmates also benefit from a one-fifth remission of sentence customary during presidential elections. Elections are due in February.
Economou said the appeal had been filed two months ago. "We are waiting for news. Soon, I hope," he said.
Georgiou, a father of four who tested HIV positive in 1992, was found guilty of repeated sexual contact with Pink, 45, from January 1994 until she tested HIV positive in October 1994.
Pink, from Basildon in Essex, accused Georgiou of consistently lying to her about his condition.
The Famagusta district court accepted her testimony in its entirety, including her claim that Georgiou even concealed to her the death of his wife from an Aids-related illness in August 1994.
Georgiou is now serving his sentence at the central prison in Nicosia.
He has reportedly not seen his youngest child, aged four, since his imprisonment. The child is HIV positive.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997