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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-12-11

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Thursday, December 11, 1997

CONTENTS

  • [01] Markides calls for young blood to take over
  • [02] Would you vote for Markides?
  • [03] Turk pleads guilty to spy charges
  • [04] Wife supports getaway driver's version of hit
  • [05] Information on the missing expected in two weeks
  • [06] Human Rights Day messages
  • [07] October tourist arrivals up
  • [08] Paphos businesses protest about all-inclusive deals
  • [09] Smoky cars 'should be banned'
  • [10] Annan urges government to accept UN package
  • [11] Open wide for Cyprus, says Santer

  • [01] Markides calls for young blood to take over

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE TIME has come for a new generation of leaders to break the island's divisive politics and form a government of unity, Attorney-general Alecos Markides said yesterday.

    He was speaking at length for the first time about his involvement in the presidential race, and seemed to give a veiled warning to the old order to stand down or face the consequences.

    It is understood that when Markides met President Clerides last week the Attorney-general suggested that the president withdraw his candidature in favour of his own.

    Although Markides has already decided on whether to stand or not, he said yesterday that he will not make his decision public for the next few days.

    But he did urge all the party leaders to consider rallying round a candidate who would unify the country - without implying who this candidate should be.

    "If we find this cannot be achieved from above then the question arises as to whether this can be achieved by the people through an election," said Markides.

    He then added cryptically: "I have answered this question for myself, but now is not the time to say what the answer is."

    When referring to Diko's proposal to Disy that both parties back Markides at the expense of President Clerides to continue the now defunct government alliance, the attorney-general said: "I never said that I'd been urged by anyone to become a coalition candidate in the way we have known it in the past few years."

    "I never had the intention of taking the same wine and just changing the bottle," he said.

    But Markides did say that he believed that with the appropriate handling, Diko's proposal could act as a "catalyst" to see a unifying candidacy "which would be able to bring everyone together and lead Cyprus into the 21st century".

    Although Disy rejected the Diko proposal and other parties have seemed reluctant to rally round a common candidate - who Diko hopes will be Markides - the attorney-general has called on the political leadership to examine the unity option.

    He said yesterday the entire political leadership should examine the possibility of passing on the baton from the sixties political generation to a younger breed.

    "This is an historic opportunity, and before anyone takes a final decision it's good they should know that there was this chance."

    During his comments to reporters Markides conceded that the speculation surrounding his intentions and behind the scenes in-fighting were not among the most dignified.

    "It may have some elements of ancient Greek tragedy but with the right handling we can have a government of national unity which Clerides spoke about in his 1988 manifesto," he said.

    [02] Would you vote for Markides?

    By Aline Davidian

    MOST people asked by the Cyprus Mail yesterday said they would not vote for Attorney-General Alecos Markides if he chose to stand for president in February's election.

    We asked ten people at random in the street whether or not Markides would have their vote and why.

    Five people were adamant in saying they would not vote for Markides. Their reasons ranged from loyalty to the Disy candidate, current President Glafcos Clerides, and membership of parties other than Disy and the Democratic party, Diko.

    Costas Pistou, 35, was enthusiastic in his support of Disy candidate Clerides.

    "Clerides has achieved things which no one else could," he said, adding that he was a Disy man "through and through".

    Equally convinced that following the party line was the right thing, Grigoris Soteriou, 35, said: "I believe in the Democratic Rally and will follow Disy decisions."

    Older people who were polled seemed anxious to point out that the age of the candidate was not a disadvantage.

    Petros Christofis, 75, said age "has nothing to do with it". He said he would vote for Clerides if Markides stood for president, because he disapproved of what he called ingratitude.

    "Clerides gave him the post of attorney-general and instead of saying 'thank you' he does this?" said Christofis.

    Akel supporter Andreas Yiasoumi, 62, said: "I already have my party - I will vote for Iacovou."

    Those who said they would vote for Markides were less forthcoming with the reasons for their decision.

    Andreas Constantinou, 43, said he would give Markides his vote and qualified his answer by saying "we should change politicians of an advanced age".

    Edek supporter Giorgios Nearchou, 50, said he might vote for Markides, but not for Clerides. Markides was "more democratic," he said.

    Costas Soleas 63, was optimistic about Markides' potential candidacy: "He's a good man, we should vote for him" he said. "He unites people because he is independent."

    Evgenia Costa, 61, agreed that she would give Markides her vote, even though "he's not better than Clerides". She was also in favour of the experience amassed by older politicians.

    Hedging her bets was 71-year-old Polyxeni Theocharis, who said she didn't know if she would vote for Markides if the attorney-general stood.

    "By polling day I'll decide who to vote for," she said.

    [03] Turk pleads guilty to spy charges

    A TURKISH national yesterday pleaded guilty to spying against the National Guard and to a bomb attack on the Kurdish cultural centre in Limassol last February.

    The Limassol Assizes will sentence 45-year-old Necip Sari Cicekli on December 15.

    Cicekli's lawyer, Turkish Cypriot Ali Dana, told the court his client passed information to the Turkish Secret services (MIT) for two reasons: he was being threatened and blackmailed by MIT, and he was being paid good money for his services.

    Dana also told the court Cicekli had not found it hard to get the information the Turks were after. He said his client gathered most of his material from the radio, television, and newspapers or by going to public debates or having conversations at coffee shops.

    Cicekli pleaded guilty to two charges of espionage against the National Guard between August 1994 and February 1997, and two of trying to destroy the Kurdish cultural centre in Limassol with a bomb. He had originally pleaded not guilty to all charges, but Dana said he was changing his plea because he believed he would be convicted regardless.

    Cicekli was arrested along with two other suspects, both Turkish Cypriots, in March.

    The Turkish Cypriots were released without charge after two weeks, but one of them was shot dead in Limassol six months later, on August 16.

    Thirty-eight-year-old fisherman Dijan Nejip Hakkemes was gunned down in the Turkish Cypriot neighbourhood of the town by a hooded gunman. No one has been arrested in connection with the killing.

    [04] Wife supports getaway driver's version of hit

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE NICOSIA Assizes yesterday heard the wife of the chief prosecution witness in the Aeroporos trial support his account of events on the night Antonis Fanieros was shot in Larnaca.

    Lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou - defending the brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos Aeroporos, 25, against charges of attempting to murder 57- year-old Fanieros on May 29 - accused Stalo Simellides, 26, of lying in an effort to get his clients convicted.

    The mother-of-three tearfully denied the accusation.

    Her 28-year-old husband, Tassos Simellides - already convicted as the getaway driver in the attack on Fanieros - has named Panicos as the hit-man, Andros as the planner, and Hambis as the instigator in the shooting.

    Stalo told the court Andros picked up her husband from their home in Limassol shortly after 7pm on May 29 - two hours before Fanieros was shot at his gambling club. She said before Andros arrived Tassos was "in a bad way, touchy and nervous", but would not tell her why.

    Tassos has testified that the Aeroporos brothers forced him to take part in the shooting.

    Stalo said that later, after she had heard of the Larnaca shooting on television, Tassos rang to tell her to get three pairs of trousers and three shirts ready for someone to come round and collect. She said Hambis, with whom she was not on speaking terms, arrived soon afterwards to pick up the clothes. She said she asked for, and got, no explanation about what was going on from Hambis.

    Tassos has testified that Hambis met him and Panicos outside Limassol after they dumped the bike and Kalashnikov used in the attack on Fanieros.

    Stalo said she next saw her husband when he was dropped off at home from Hambis' car in the early hours. She said she did not discuss with her husband where he had been.

    "He came to the door laughing. 'Do you see me laughing?' I asked him. We spoke no more that night," she told the court.

    Under cross-examination by Efstathiou, Stalo admitted she had lied extensively in statements she made to police after her husband's arrest on May 30.

    Efstathiou read out her first two statements, in which she claimed her husband had been at home in the bath at the time of the shooting. "I admire your ability to create a story out of nothing," the lawyer told the witness.

    "I did not know if my husband was in on the attempt, but I considered it right to protect him," Stalo responded.

    She said she knew something "bad" had happened because anything her husband did with the Aeroporos family always got him into trouble.

    "Yes, I lied, but I did it to protect my family and my husband," she said, adding that Tassos had only been out of prison for two months when the attack took place.

    Efstathiou said she only changed her statement to police after hearing Tassos had implicated the Aeroporos brothers.

    "You sit here in a chair and lie as you did when you gave your statements to police," Efstathiou said.

    "Do I look like a psychopath to you, Mr Efstathiou?" Stalo said, bursting into tears. She pointed at the Aeroporos brothers in the dock and said: "Would I lie so I would have these people on my head all my life?"

    She said she and her family had been under police protection, for fear of an attack by members of the Aeroporos clan, since the trial began. "My daughters cannot go to the park, I cannot go and visit a friend... it's terrible," she said.

    [05] Information on the missing expected in two weeks

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE Turkish Cypriot side will hand over information on the missing persons in 15 days' time, the House Refugee committee heard yesterday.

    Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos told deputies UN permanent representative to Cyprus Gustave Feissel had informed him the Turkish Cypriot side would be ready to give the information to the UN in two weeks' time.

    President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash reached a breakthrough agreement earlier this year providing for exchange of information on missing persons from both sides. The agreement was for information to be exchanged simultaneously.

    Christopoulos said "our side" had had the information ready for quite some time now. He called on relatives of the missing to show patience.

    But representatives of relatives of the missing voiced their dissatisfaction with the way the agreement was being implemented.

    Father Economos Christoforos said there was a danger the Turks had, in the agreement, found a "new way" to stall on the missing issue.

    "They can now say they are trying to gather information and delay things that way," he protested.

    Nicos Theodosiou said he had "no confidence" that the agreement would bear fruit.

    Christopoulos also said the government had asked UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan to send a list of candidates to fill the UN chair in the tri-partite Committee for Missing Persons.

    The number of Greek Cypriots listed missing since the 1974 invasion is 1, 619. Just over 600 Turkish Cypriots are classified as missing since the intercommunal fighting in 1962.

    [06] Human Rights Day messages

    NOTHING short of a full Cyprus solution and European Union accession will restore Cypriots' human rights, Government Spokesman Manolis Christofides said yesterday.

    Speaking on the 49th UN Human Rights Day, Christofides said the rights of all Cypriots, both Greek and Turkish, had been violated by Turkey.

    He said a solution to the Cyprus problem and unobstructed EU accession were the only way to achieve "full respect of human rights for all Cypriot citizens".

    Christofides also noted Turkey's violations of the human rights of its own citizens. He said the government was pleased that Turkey would be required to meet certain conditions, including human rights standards, before its EU accession course could proceed.

    Meanwhile, Zaim Nectagil, president of the Cyprus Turkish Human Rights Committee, said in Ankara that embargoes placed on the Denktash regime meant that Turkish Cypriots' "communal and individual rights were not being respected".

    In order for these to be restored, he said, "all embargoes against the TRNC should be lifted".

    He said this was the only way to achieve peace between the two sides.

    [07] October tourist arrivals up

    By Hamza Hendawi

    TOURIST arrivals increased by 15.3 per cent year-on-year in October and the figure for the whole of 1997 might be up by five per cent compared to last year.

    The figures, released yesterday by a Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) official, are welcome news for an economy which is heavily dependent on tourism for growth.

    Tourism accounts for nearly 20 per cent of the island's Gross Domestic Product.

    The figures also backed, at least in part, the positive picture painted on Wednesday by Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, who forecast a 2.5 per cent GDP growth this year and four per cent in 1998.

    Speaking to reporters, he said the number of tourists coming to the island rose 8 per cent year-on-year for the crucial May-October period this year.

    "Our estimates are still pointing to a five per cent rise (of tourist arrivals) by the end of the year over 1996, to an overall arrivals figure of 2.05 million tourists," the CTO official said.

    The buffer zone killings in August last year and the resultant tension which prevailed on the island brought tourism down by 7 per cent in 1996 to 1.95 million tourists.

    Tourist arrivals for October, the latest month for which figures are available, reached 224,371 - compared to 194,500 in October 1996. British tourists accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the October 1997 arrivals, followed by Germany with 14.1 per cent and Scandinavians at 11 per cent.

    Bankers and economists contacted by the Cyprus Mail, however, said a five per cent rise in tourists arrival in 1998 might be on the optimistic side: they suggested that three per cent might be a more realistic forecast.

    They also said that they did not share the Finance Minister's optimism on the performance of the economy and prospects for 1998.

    The rise in tourist arrivals in 1997, they argued, was largely due to the Cyprus pound's depreciation against the British pound. More than a third of the tourists who visit Cyprus are British.

    Several sectors of the economy, including construction, manufacturing and agriculture, performed poorly so far in 1997, but tourism and services - the economy's powerhouses - were big enough to sustain growth, they added.

    The vital offshore sector remains healthy but there were some signs of a slump, they said. Of the 31,000 offshore companies registered on the island, 1,025 were fully staffed in 1997, compared to 1,065 in 1996 and 1,160 the previous year.

    "Some of those who packed up and went might have done so to rationalise or as part of restructuring, and not because our services are poor. But the fact remains that we lost their business," said one banker.

    In a separate development, the state Department of Statistics and Research yesterday said the Consumer Price Index for November rose by 0.78 units, or 0.64 per cent, to 123.03 units compared to 122.25 units in October. It said the hike was due to an increase in the price of certain fresh fruit, vegetables and fresh milk.

    The consumer price index is the most reliable method of gauging inflation, and its latest rise meant that the average rate of increase for the past 12 months (December 1996-November 1997) was 3.49 per cent, which is close to the 3.5 per cent year-on-year 1997 inflation rate given by Christodoulou on Wednesday for this year.

    Inflation stood at 3.0 per cent in 1996.

    [08] Paphos businesses protest about all-inclusive deals

    By Aline Davidian

    ALL-INCLUSIVE package deals are offered by very few Cypriot hotels and occur solely on the initiative of large tour operators abroad, Hotel Association Director-general Zacharias Ioannides said yesterday.

    Hotels offering such deals have recently come under fire from businesses in Paphos that rely on tourism for much of their turnover, who accuse the hotels of trying to monopolise the industry in the area.

    The all-inclusive package deal is not a phenomenon restricted to Cyprus, Ioannides said yesterday. It happens in hotels worldwide. Originally the concept targeted the exotic island resort where there would only be one hotel anyway, he added.

    The reason such all-inclusive deals had begun to be offered by Cypriot hotels was because of decisions taken by major tour operators abroad.

    "They (tour operators) discovered that the consumer was more at ease with a package deal that included out of pocket expenses," Ioannides said. "This means while they stay in the hotel of their choice, they can eat and drink at no further cost."

    He said the number of hotels in Cyprus offering such deals was small, although they could be found in all of the island's resorts.

    Protests in Paphos may be due to the greater number of hotels offering all- inclusive deals in the area, Ioannides said.

    But he added that Paphos draws only 15 per cent of tourists, while the majority targets resorts in the free Famagusta area - accounting for 30-35 per cent of total arrivals.

    He said the issue of hotels offering all-inclusive deals was being examined by the Hoteliers' Association, and that and the matter would also be examined at the next meeting of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation Co- ordinating Committee.

    [09] Smoky cars 'should be banned'

    CARS polluting the atmosphere with excessively high emission levels should have their road tax withdrawn, according to the Association of Mechanical Engineers.

    The proposal to get polluting vehicles off the road has been received by the Communications Ministry which is pushing for stricter controls on cars.

    The Licensing Authority says it is preparing to buy special equipment to check emission levels as part of a drive to clean up the atmosphere.

    The department of electrical and mechanical services is also preparing regulations to be enforced once the House has approved the relevant bill covering exhaust emissions.

    But the engineer's association wants to see a certificate issued to all vehicles as proof that they do not exceed permitted emission levels.

    Its proposal to also allow private checks on cars is not being considered by the Licensing Authority.

    The engineers want the government to get tough not just on unroadworthy vehicles but also on the quality of fuel used.

    Their association is calling for higher octane fuel to be made available so fewer impurities are released into the atmosphere.

    In Europe the allowed octane level is 94, but in Cyprus it fluctuates between 89 and 92.

    [10] Annan urges government to accept UN package

    SECRETARY-GENERAL Kofi Annan expressed disappointment yesterday that measures to reduce tension along the Green Line in Cyprus had not been implemented, and urged the government of the Republic to accept a package of UN proposals agreed to by the Turkish forces.

    In a report recommending another six-month renewal, until June 30, 1998, of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (Unficyp), he said military forces and armaments on the island continued to be "expanded, upgraded and modernised at an increasing rate", Reuters reported from New York.

    "It is disappointing that after more than one year of intensive discussions, the package of reciprocal measures proposed by Unficyp to reduce tension along the ceasefire lines has still not been put in place, despite the Security Council's repeated calls that the two sides should accept it without delay or preconditions."

    Annan said simple practical measures proposed by Unficyp, which took into account the concerns of both sides, would significantly improve the atmosphere and reduce the potential for violations of the ceasefire.

    "Now that the Unficyp proposal has been accepted by one side I hope that the other will follow suit without further delay."

    Annan said the National Guard believed a reduction of tension would best be achieved by implementing a proposed ban on loaded weapons along the ceasefire lines and a code of conduct, but did not wish to unman guard posts in areas such as Nicosia "where, in their view, the security of Greek Cypriot civilians might be affected".

    He said the Turkish forces on October 23 "declared their willingness to accept the Unficyp revised package presented to both sides in June 1997, provided that the National Guard did likewise".

    Annan said that during the past six months the situation in Cyprus had been calmer than the preceding six-month period, although it continued to be marked by tension.

    "The continued lack of progress towards an overall settlement, coupled with increasingly belligerent rhetoric, contributed to a growing sense of frustration in both communities," he said.

    Annan is due to present a separate report shortly on his efforts to revive long-running negotiations aimed at reuniting Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi- communal federation.

    Meanwhile, reports from Ankara said Turkish and Greek warplanes skirmished over the Aegean Sea yesterday, but neither side opened fire.

    "Our planes were intercepted by 10 Greek warplanes in the international airspace of the Aegean," Colonel Husnu Dag, a spokesman for the general staff, told The Associated Press. "Then upon their harassment they (Turkish jets) prevented the Greek fighters."

    Dag said Turkish planes were on a routine exercise when they were intercepted by Greek jets, four Mirages, four F-16s and two F-4s.

    The location of the incident and the number of Turkish jets during the incident were not clear.

    "It is a politically motivated Greek move on the eve of a critical political situation," Dag said in an apparent reference to the European Union summit in which future ties with Turkey will be discussed. The EU summit opens in Luxembourg tomorrow.

    [11] Open wide for Cyprus, says Santer

    EUROPEAN Commission President Jacques Santer yesterday urged EU governments to open their arms wide for Cyprus and 10 East European nations - but without forsaking Turkey.

    Santer called the planned European Union enlargement the "consolidation of peace on our continent, a gift to ourselves and the candidates".

    Speaking ahead of tomorrow's meeting in Luxembourg, he said the two-day meeting of EU leaders should focus on how to bring in the newcomers and avoid haggling about who will pay for letting in the poor eastern neighbours over the next decade.

    "We should stop scaring the candidates... and ourselves with budgetary catastrophes," Santer told a news conference.

    Turkish President Suleyman Demirel has sent letters to European leaders pushing Turkey's bid for EU membership, a statement from his office in Ankara said yesterday.

    "The president said in the letters that excluding Turkey, which has made intensive efforts towards the EU membership, from an enlargement decision would be a grave injustice," it said.

    Demirel "informed his counterparts that he is awaiting a confirmation of Turkey's candidacy within the framework of EU expansion," the statement added.

    But Turkey's long-time rival Greece held firm yesterday in opposing moves by the rest of the bloc to include Turkey in the conference.

    Luxembourg Prime Minister and current EU President Jean-Claude Juncker reported no progress on the issue of Turkey after a meeting in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    After the meeting, Greek Alternate Foreign Minister, George Papandreou told Reuters news agency Greece would continue to maintain that Turkey did not fulfil the strict criteria for EU membership.

    "We are talking about a country that wants to be part of this (EU) family. Turkey has a long way to go. It should make certain steps," he said.

    In Nicosia, President Glafcos Clerides said there is no question of linking the Cyprus problem with the island's EU accession negotiations.

    He told the Cyprus News Agency the summit was expected to reiterate that membership negotiations with Cyprus would begin in April 1998.

    The September 15 meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels had resulted in the decision to dissociate efforts for a political settlement from the island's EU bid, Clerides said. This decision had been "reiterated many times by many of the governments of the 15 EU member states," he added.

    Clerides said Cyprus is likely to come under pressure on this issue because "we want the reunification of Cyprus and there will be many who would want to exploit this".

    He said it was important that EU member states act together to halt Turkish intransigence, and expressed every confidence that Greece will "act according to its national interests, including the Cyprus problem, and will handle the issue accordingly".

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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