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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-12-13

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, December 13, 1997


  • [01] UN stunned by London ad for flights to Nicosia
  • [02] Palace engineered fait accompli on title deeds?
  • [03] Conscientious objectors jailed
  • [04] Tax dodging pensioner gets presidential release
  • [05] Delays but no damage for Cyprus Airways in Heathrow fire
  • [06] It's more expensive to build a house
  • [07] Action on drugs must come soon, British MP warns
  • [08] Aeroporos trial delayed as holding cell smashed up
  • [09] Captains to be honoured for Romantica rescue
  • [10] Man held for 32,000 burglaries
  • [11] 'Settler wrecked enclaved couple's crops'
  • [12] Overcoming misconceptions through literature
  • [13] EU opens door to Cyprus
  • [14] Anorthosis' pursuers look to close gap

  • [01] UN stunned by London ad for flights to Nicosia

    By Jean Christou

    UNFICYP is gobsmacked over an advertisement in the UK offering flights to Nicosia International Airport in 1998.

    The battle-scarred buffer zone airport has been closed to all but UN traffic since 1974 and is in need of major repairs.

    Quite apart from the logistics of re-opening the airport, no political agreement has been reached for such a move, an astonished Waldemar Rokoszewski, the UN spokesman, said yesterday.

    According to reports in yesterday's Turkish Cypriot press, the advertisement, placed by travel agents Steelwater World-Wide travel agents, read "First Historic Advertisement", and the "Surprise of 1998".

    It referred to direct flights to Nicosia Airport, saying the trip would only take four hours and that the first historical trip would become a "reality".

    Rokoszewski said he was astounded at the news.

    The opening of Nicosia Airport in the time scale advertised was "out of the question", he said.

    Rokoszewski said although the runway was still in good shape, no winged aircraft had landed there since 1974.

    "There is no control tower, no lights and no equipment," he said. "Only UN helicopters land there."

    Rokoszewski said the issue of reopening the airport had been raised in 1993 when the UN-backed Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) were under discussion.

    "But no progress was achieved," he said. "Various attempts to make the airport functional have failed for political reasons and no movement in this direction has been made recently."

    However, a spokesman for Steelwater in the UK was adamant yesterday that they had information the airport would re-open in 1998.

    The spokesman, who declined to give his name and spoke in vague terms, told the Cyprus Mail the company was not taking bookings but just advertising the fact that the airport would be open. "There's no harm in that," he said.

    He dismissed both the fact that there was no political agreement on the issue and that the airport could not be repaired in time for commercial aircraft. "We don't know that for sure," he said.

    He insisted that one of Steelwater's two Greek Cypriot directors, Louis Vassiliou, "had sources" who had told him the airport would be open. "Someone told Mr Vassiliou."

    A Steelwater spokesman was equally evasive when questioned by the CyBC, who said yesterday he had not answered any of their questions.

    [02] Palace engineered fait accompli on title deeds?

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GOVERNMENT rushed to get title deeds for refugee homes sent out hours before the House approved legislation blocking the controversial plan, a land registry source revealed yesterday.

    Last month, on the Thursday the House plenum was to vote on a package of bills outlawing the deeds issue, the department was instructed "from above" to pull out all the stops to get the deed documents in the post.

    The plenum met at 4pm as usual and passed the six amendments, but hundreds of deeds were already in the post bound for refugee homes.

    "Instructions came from the Presidential Palace that Thursday they were to work solely on the title deeds," the land registry source said.

    "Most of the deed documents, about 2,800 of them, had already been prepared and on that Thursday they were put into envelopes and sent," he said.

    Thursday is late working day for government offices and registry employees worked till 6pm on the deeds, which means the last documents were probably being put into envelopes even as deputies discussed the bills.

    Akel, Edek and Diko deputies voted for the amendments to block the deeds scheme, which they lambasted as a vote-winning ploy tantamount to accepting the finality of the status quo created by the invasion.

    President Clerides has insisted the scheme will go ahead and sent the package of bills back to the House. He has threatened to challenge the amendments at the Supreme Court should the House insist on endorsing them.

    Banks have expressed reluctance to accept the deeds as collateral for loans due to the uncertainty surrounding their issue.

    [03] Conscientious objectors jailed

    TWO Jehova's Witnesses were yesterday sent to prison for refusing to do their military service.

    A military court in Larnaca sentenced Dinos Aspri, from Ormidhia outside Larnaca, and Lazaros Papoui, from Xylophagou in the Famagusta district, to 16 and 18 months imprisonment respectively.

    The two men admitted refusing to serve in the army, saying their faith forbade them to do so. In passing sentence, the court took into consideration the fact that the two Jehova's Witnesses had refused to comply with call-ups in the past: Aspri once before and Papoui 26 times before.

    The presiding judge, Major-general Christoforos Tselingas, said completion of military service was the duty of every Cypriot citizen, particularly at a time when half the island was under occupation.

    Human rights group Amnesty International has repeatedly called for an end to the imprisonment of Jehova's Witnesses who refused to do their military service on religious grounds.

    Amnesty says the alternative "unarmed military service" - 42 or 36 months compared to the normal 26 - provided for conscientious objectors remained punitive in length. The unarmed service is also suspended in times of emergency, Amnesty says.

    [04] Tax dodging pensioner gets presidential release

    A 64-YEAR-old pensioner with heart trouble who was jailed a week ago for non-payment of taxes has been released on a presidential pardon.

    Demetris Neophytou from Nicosia was released on Thursday afternoon on health grounds. He is a registered member of the Heart Patients Association, which had been campaigning for his release.

    Neophytou had received a four-month sentence for tax avoidance between 1978 and 1988 on an amount totalling 13,000. He was a stevedore at Limassol port and owed 9,000 in back taxes plus 4,000 in interest.

    Stevedores are among the highest earners working at the port.

    Last week the Heart Patients Association (HPA) wrote to President Clerides calling for the immediate release of Neophytou, who underwent heart operation two years ago.

    The HPA was concerned about the effects on his health of being detained in police custody.

    The association said he was unable to pay the arrears from his meagre monthly pension.

    The family is apparently in dire financial straits, has been so for some years and has been helped by the HPA on occasion.

    [05] Delays but no damage for Cyprus Airways in Heathrow fire

    FLIGHTS to and from Cyprus were among those disrupted by the fire at London's Heathrow airport yesterday.

    Both British Airways and Cyprus Airways use the stricken Terminal One for Cyprus flights.

    A Cyprus Airways plane, bound for Larnaca was actually on the tarmac when the fire started. The flight, supposed to take off at 3.37 am, eventually left from Terminal Four at 11.45 am.

    Cyprus Airways Spokesman Tassos Angeli said the Cyprus Airways booking desks had been undamaged by the fire. He added that further flights were expected to suffer a 45-minute delay.

    The airline, Angeli said, still had no idea how far-reaching the effects on service would be.

    British Airways Cyprus Manager Peter Luca said yesterday

    that the morning flight from Larnaca to Heathrow had landed at Terminal Four as it had been in flight when the fire was reported. He said the airline hoped that most of its flights could be rerouted to this terminal and that some semblance of normal service would be resumed by around 3 pm yesterday.

    Around 100 outgoing and 120 incoming flights from the airport were affected by the fire. Terminal One serves 14 airlines.

    [06] It's more expensive to build a house

    DESPITE a depressed construction market, the cost of building a house has risen according to official 1996 statistics released this week.

    The cost of building a house per square metre increased by 5.6 per cent last year compared to 1995 from 283.60 to 300.10.

    The overall price index of construction materials rose by 2 per cent over 1995 compared to 3.4 per cent in the previous year.

    Labour costs also continued to rise, registering an increase of 6.5 per cent - less that than 1995's 8.5 per cent increase.

    Prices of bricks, doors, windows, pipes and gravel all increase, while a price cut was recorded in roofing tiles and ceramic tiles.

    A negative growth of -0.2 per cent in the sector is mostly attributed to a reduction in tourist development.

    The knock-on effect of the economic slowdown last year saw a decrease in employment in the industry from 25,700 in 1995 to 25,300 last year.

    Gross output, at current market prices, reached 630 million (50 per cent was for dwellings) compared to 604.2 million in 1995.

    New dwellings completed in 1996 increased by 3.9 per cent, amounting to 7.157 units (4.890 were in urban areas).

    [07] Action on drugs must come soon, British MP warns

    By Andrew Adamides

    YOUNG people on both sides of the Green Line share similar concerns about problems, according to visiting British Liberal-Democrat MP and anti-drugs campaigner Mike Hancock.

    Hancock, visiting the island at the invitation of Amade-Chypre (The Friends of the Child in Cyprus), said Greek and Turkish Cypriot adults showed the same level of rejection of drugs and willingness to do something about the problem. A large number of children on both sides, he added, said they knew of places where drugs could be obtained.

    Hancock told the Cyprus Mail that during his five-day visit, which ended yesterday, he had spoken with around 1,000 school children on both sides, as well as having contacts with the police, the Ministry of Health and parent groups. He also met briefly to discuss the problem with President Glafcos Clerides.

    Hancock first came in contact with Amade-Chypre when he visited the island as part of a Parliamentary delegation of the Friends of Cyprus last September. He met Organisation President Olga Demetriadou at a dinner and offered information on the SNAP (Say No and Phone) anti-drug campaign implemented with success in the UK. His return visit was aimed at trying to establish the programme on the island.

    SNAP, says Hancock, relies on the "crucial co-operation" of police, parents and teachers. In Hampshire, his home county, 30 specially trained policemen liaised with school staff and parents on the 36-week campaign.

    SNAP works through weekly seminars, during which children aged between eight and nine are educated about the dangers of drugs. Children who are educated early, says Hancock, are "less likely to have tried drugs six years later". They are also more likely to be able to help should someone they know develop a problem; to this end, they are furnished with a card bearing a freephone helpline number which can be used to obtain help on any substance-related problem. One-off "shock tactics" produce much less satisfactory results, Hancock says.

    The Liberal Democrat MP has been involved in anti-drugs campaigning ever since his best friend died of a heroin overdose 30 years ago. Hancock says he didn't see the signs of addiction because of "ignorance", and is adamant that no-one else should die for the same reason.

    SNAP has been copied in the US, Russia, Romania and Hungary and Hancock has been active in the overseas promotion of the campaign. In England, he says, more than 200,000 pupils at 800 schools will go through the programme this year.

    The current problem in Cyprus, is according to the MP, similar to the situation in the UK 20 years ago. He still sees "a window of opportunity" to prevent the situation from developing further, but with the island's geographical positioning and the influx of tourists, many of whom will be carrying drugs, this must come as soon as possible.

    The prognosis for Cyprus, however, looks good as Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades has agreed to back the SNAP campaign.

    Hancock says he also hopes parents will push politicians to include anti- drugs measures in their manifestos for the upcoming elections, the "perfect time" to bring up the matter. He also hopes to take time out of his busy schedule to return to the island next summer for a holiday, and to see how the cause is progressing.

    [08] Aeroporos trial delayed as holding cell smashed up

    THE TRIAL of three Aeroporos brothers charged with the attempted murder of Antonis Fanieros was disrupted yesterday by a young suspect in court for another case smashing up the court holding cell.

    The detainee, whose name was not released by police, apparently went berserk and it was half an hour before police and the numerous armed riot squad (MMAD) officers detailed to guard the Nicosia court buildings during the Aeroporos trial managed to restore order. Shouting and screaming, the young suspect smashed a temporary wooden partition wall with his head and had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance.

    He was in the same holding cell as the Aeroporos brothers when the incident happened.

    Once order was restored the brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25, were led up to the Assizes courtroom for the continuation of their trial.

    The court heard evidence from a senior Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) officer who presented records of calls made to and by chief prosecution witness Tassos Symellides on the night of May 29, when Fanieros was gunned down at his Larnaca club.

    Defence consul Efstathios Efstathiou said he would object to any prosecution attempt for the content of the phone-calls being revealed before the court. He said this would be a violation of privacy rights.

    Twenty-eight-year-old Symellides - already convicted as get-away driver for the shooting - has named Panicos as the hit-man, Andros as the architect and Hambis as the instigator for the attack.

    The court will rule next week whether the content of the phone-calls can be revealed.

    [09] Captains to be honoured for Romantica rescue

    THE CAPTAINS of the cruise ships Romantica and Princessa Victoria will tonight be honoured by the Ship Masters Association in Limassol.

    The president of the Cyprus branch, Captain Andreas Constantinou, said the two men, Victoria captain Yiannis Papadopoulos and Romantica captain Nicholas Venturakis, both Greeks, would be honoured for their part in the successful rescue of some 700 passengers and crew from the Romantica blaze in October.

    The passengers were evacuated to the Louis-owned Victoria and taken unscathed to Limassol port after a fire broke out in the Romantica's engine room on a return cruise from Egypt.

    The Cyprus Search and Rescue Centre is also to be honoured for its part in the rescue, Captain Constantinou said.

    He said the evacuation of the Romantica at sea had been a perfect operation and that the association wanted the contributions of all those involved to be noted.

    Constantinou said it was especially important to mark the contribution of the Search and Rescue Centre.

    "Turkey claims the Mediterranean to be under its jurisdiction for search and rescue," Constantinou said. "We have to send the message that the rescue in October by he Cyprus centre was perfect."

    Constantinou said his association was also pushing on a wider level for policies to protect ship's captains from arrest in cases involving ship collisions.

    [10] Man held for 32,000 burglaries

    AN UNEMPLOYED builder was remanded in custody yesterday in connection with two burglaries which netted over 32,000 worth of valuables.

    Yiannakis Angelis, 23, from Oroklini was remanded for seven days by a Larnaca district court on suspicion of having burgled two homes between November and December.

    Angelis is suspected of stealing 2,500 worth of jewellery and perfume from the home of Costas Psichis in Levadia last month and 30,000 worth of jewellery from the Pyla home of Takis Chrysostomou earlier this week.

    The investigating officer told the court that a friend of Angelis said he had been given the stolen perfume by the suspect.

    Police said they had another witness who said the suspect had approached another person to help him with the break-ins.

    [11] 'Settler wrecked enclaved couple's crops'

    HUMANITARIAN Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos has asked the UN to investigate an alleged attack by a Turkish settler against an enclaved couple's property.

    Christopoulos said yesterday he had received a letter from enclaved teacher Yiannoulla Vassiliou claiming a Turkish settler had destroyed their crops.

    "I have sent a letter to the UN to find out what is going on," Christopoulos said.

    According to reports, the settler showed up at the couple's Rizokarpasso farm on Sunday, took a tractor and began ploughing up their crops which covered an entire 15 hectares of land.

    Vassiliou's husband Vassilis went and asked the settler to stop, but he ignored him and continued to plough the fields.

    The couple reported the matter to the Turkish Cypriot 'police' but they allegedly showed no interest.

    Unficyp spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski said yesterday he had received the letter from the Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner and confirmed the matter would be looked into.

    [12] Overcoming misconceptions through literature

    By Hisham Dagher

    LITERATURE is being touted as a way of overcoming mistrust to promote better understanding in a two-day conference which opened yesterday at Middlesex University, in London.

    The conference, entitled 'From nationalism to multiculturalism: new interpretations of the literatures of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey', is funded by the European Union within the framework of promoting bi-communal programmes and activities.

    Academics and writers from the two Cypriot communities will consider issues of nationality and cultural identity, as expressed in Greek and Turkish language literatures, with the intention of creating a new bi-communal approach.

    Amongst other themes, the conference will examine literature as a vehicle for nationalism and the way the 'other' is portrayed and perceived.

    Conference Organiser Mehmet Yashin told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) of the importance of getting acquainted with Greek and Turkish literatures as a means of overcoming misconceptions and stereotypes. And he added that learning each other's language could open the way to a better understanding between the two sides.

    He said efforts were currently being made to establish university programmes for the joint teaching of Greek and Turkish, on a similar basis as existing courses in French or Spanish.

    [13] EU opens door to Cyprus

    By Jean Christou

    EUROPEAN Union leaders in Luxembourg yesterday formally agreed to open accession negotiations with Cyprus and five East European Countries. Another five East European countries will be kept involved in the process, an EU official quoted Luxembourg's Prime Minister and EU summit president Jean-Claude Juncker as saying.

    "There is a consensus," a spokeswoman for EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek said.

    The process will mark the biggest single enlargement in the EU's 40-year history.

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who held a press conference after the decision was announced, welcomed the move to include Cyprus.

    "As far as Cyprus is concerned the general consensus is that accession negotiations should proceed," he said. "Nobody raised the issue of linking membership talks with efforts to settle the Cyprus question."

    Under the plan there will be a common starting line in the enlargement process for all 10 East European countries and Cyprus, but each will follow a different timetable.

    "We will all start together but the front-runners will have a fast track, Swedish Foreign Minister Lena Hlem-Wallen told reporters.

    The fast-track lane is expected to include Cyprus and the five most advanced East European countries: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, and Estonia. These countries have been singled out as the most economically prepared.

    A formal decision on the wording is not expected until today. Reports in Cyprus last night suggested negotiations would begin between April 6-8 next year.

    Turkey, which has been omitted from the list, responded yesterday by threatening to cut all political ties with the EU.

    Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz pulled out of a dinner with his EU counterparts which was scheduled for tonight.

    Turkey was left off the list because of the EU's continuing concern over its human rights record, its occupation of Cyprus and border disputes with Greece.

    Earlier yesterday EU president Juncker told the BBC: "There is no comparison possible between Turkey and the other applicant countries. No one is tortured in these countries but this is not the case unfortunately in Turkey."

    President of the European Parliament Jose Maria Gils-Robles told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) in Luxembourg that Turkey must end its occupation of Cyprus and show progress in its treatment of the Kurds if it wants to be considered for accession.

    "There can be no negotiations with Turkey because to begin negotiations it is necessary to have democratic standards," Robles said.

    He said Ankara would have to make big steps on its human rights record before there could be any negotiations with Turkey.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem told a Turkish TV station yesterday: "Why should I talk politics with a body that doesn't regard me as a candidate or comes to me with insufficient proposals."

    He said Turkey would not discuss making concessions on the Cyprus problem if it were kept out of the expansion process.

    "We cannot be the recipient of questions from the EU about whether we are going to do this or that on Cyprus," Cem said. "Everything has been boiled down to Cyprus."

    In Britain Foreign Minister Robin Cook told a radio programme: "There are very formidable obstacles that Turkey must itself get right before it can be considered as a credible candidate for membership."

    "We do want to have a political dialogue with Turkey because we do want to encourage Turkey to make sure that it does put right its failings on human rights, on the control of its borders and on its respect for ethnic minorities," Cook said.

    [14] Anorthosis' pursuers look to close gap

    By George Christou

    OMONIA and Apollon, the chief pursuers of Anorthosis, today will be looking to close the gap that separates them from the league leaders - at least for 24 hours.

    Second-placed Apollonas could move to within two points of Anorthosis, who play Ethnikos on Sunday, if they win at struggling Paralimni. A victory would be welcome ahead of their clash with Anorthosis in Limassol.

    The omens are good for the Limassol side, even though they lost the corresponding fixture 1-0 last seasson. Paralimni have lost their last three ties and have not yet won a game at home where they have taken one point from four games.

    This inability to win any points at home will not have contributed much to coach Stavros Papadopoulos' job security. Paralimni are currently in eighth place, on 10 points, but defeat today could see them move perilously close to the relegation zone.

    Whichever side wins today's clash between Ael and Anagennisis - both on nine points - in Limassol will move above Paralimni in the table. Both sides have been disappointing recently, with Anagennisis still to win away from home.

    This could be their chance as Ael are significantly weakened by the absence of key players. Four first team players are suspended and two are injured, while overweight Greek striker Vassilis Demetriades will most probably be dropped.

    Second from bottom Alki, will be looking to continue their revival with a third successive win when they meet mid-table Salamina in Larnaca. Salamina are having a mixed season and they have lost three of their four away ties.

    Alki who had taken just one point from their first eight games are improving, but still need a goalscorer to convert the chances they create. In their win against Anagennisis, a fortnight ago, both goals were scored with long-range shots, after a host of easy chances had been squandered.

    Apop have gone seven games without a win after a promising start to the season. They are unlikely to break the sequence at Paphos tonight when they meet third-placed Omonia, intent on moving closer to the league leaders.

    Last season Apop beat Omonia 2-0, but the Nicosia side have improved significantly since then. With a much stronger attack -led by Raufmann, the league's top scorer with 11 goal - Omonia should take the three points.

    Aek, who are trailing the leading pack because of too many drawn games - four out of 10 - should take three points from their home game against bottom club Ashia. Ashia have two points and are certain to return to the second division next season.

    On Sunday league leaders Anorthosis meet fourth-placed Ethnikos Achna at their home ground at which they are invincible. They have won all four home games, scoring 22 goals and conceding one, a record that will not act as a confidence booster for Ethnikos.

    In Sunday's other game, Apoel, with only one foreign player, will be looking for their first win of the season at Makarios stadium where they meet Evagoras. Dulando is suspended while Austrian midfielder Hertnagl is said to have left the island for good.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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