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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-12-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, December 17, 1997


  • [01] Markides will not stand
  • [02] Diko left reconsidering its options
  • [03] Keep cool, Feissel tells both sides
  • [04] Turkish Cypriots divided on Denktash hardline stance
  • [05] Information on graves of missing by year's end?
  • [06] Businessmen accuse Brill of offloading water talks on them
  • [07] Ministry blames tests for poor results
  • [08] Misunderstanding may have killed premature baby
  • [09] Lorry tears off balcony

  • [01] Markides will not stand

    By Charlie Charalambous and Bouli Hadjioannou

    ATTORNEY-GENERAL Alecos Markides yesterday announced that he would not run for president because he felt his candidacy would divide rather than unite.

    Markides made his announcement after informing President Clerides, ending weeks of speculation and leaving a candidate-less Diko wooed by Disy and Akel.

    "I believe that under the circumstances... it is not possible to have either consensus or unity through my candidacy in the forthcoming presidential elections," he said.

    "It is clear that, as things have developed, what we would simply have had would have been one more presidential candidate who would probably have served as a point of division among the political leadership," he added.

    Clerides yesterday revealed that Markides had tried and failed during a recent meeting to persuade him to stand down from his bid for re-election, while he had himself tried to convince the Attorney-general not to put himself forward. But the president said he had at the time been unable to convince Markides:

    "He decided of his free will not to contest February's presidential election," Clerides said after Markides announced his decision yesterday.

    Although Markides may have had presidential ambitions, it seems he was finally swayed by fears that his party, Disy, might split over his candidacy, and by his failure to secure a multi-party platform on which to stand.

    Disy and Clerides will be breathing a sigh of relief after Markides' decision; his presence would have split the right-wing vote and drawn voters away from Clerides.

    But the Attorney-general's dignified withdrawal now leaves the door open for more frantic behind-the-scenes negotiations, as Diko search for a formula to defeat Clerides at the polls.

    Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou is still the official party candidate, but a host of power-sharing proposals are expected to be discussed in the post- Markides arena.

    Attention focused on the Attorney-general when he first revealed that he had been approached to run as an independent candidate back in October.

    Diko backed him, but other parties, particularly Disy (of which Markides was a former deputy president), turned a cold shoulder to Kyprianou's proposal that the old order make way for a younger man.

    Yesterday Markides said he had been honoured by Kyprianou's proposal, which he called a "historic chance to move... united into the 21st century" and "tantamount to passing the baton from the generation of the '60s to a younger person" in a way which would not compound the differences built over 37 years among the politicians of the 1960s.

    But this proposal was rejected by the other parties.

    This meant his candidacy would not operate in the unifying way he intended.

    Asked if he remained a close friend and colleague of Clerides, Markides said he had never ceased to be - despite differences of opinion.

    "I was perhaps one of the few persons who made these differences public, but in any case my friendly ties with the president are not affected," he said.

    On whether he would be supporting a specific candidate, Markides said no, and pointed out that his vote, like everyone else's, was confidential.

    He expressed his thanks to all those who had believed in him, adding: "I have done my duty as a citizen, if my shoulders were not wide enough.... it is not for me to judge."

    [02] Diko left reconsidering its options

    By Charlie Charalambous and Bouli Hadjioannou

    WHILE Diko were left holding the short straw following Attorney-general Alecos Markides' decision not to stand, Disy and the government were all smiles.

    Government spokesman Manolis Christofides described Markides' decision as, "correct and wise under the circumstances."

    He added that Markides would continue to be the trusted adviser of the president.

    For Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou, however, there was disappointment that Markides had not taken up the challenge; but he stressed that his party was not stuck for alternative solutions.

    "For us, the basic issue is how can we be best serve the national cause and the people.

    "I'm optimistic that, independent of Markides' decision, we will be able to succeed in our aim," said Kyprianou, several hours after Markides went public.

    Kyprianou also called for "calm and patience" among the Diko faithful.

    Diko's executive office meets this afternoon to discuss the next step amid signs of intense disagreement on whether to side with Akel-backed independent George Iacovou or to field a Diko candidate.

    Diko deputy Alexis Galanos said yesterday it would be a "mistake" if the party opted to support either Clerides or Iacovou in the first round.

    Galanos has put himself forward as an alternative choice if Kyprianou decides not to run for president.

    Disy president Nicos Anastassiades said Markides' decision reflected the Attorney-general's sense of "responsibility" and cleared the way for a fresh bid to patch up the severed co-operation with Diko. Kyprianou, however, has made it clear his party will not back President Clerides.

    The Disy chairman said he had already contacted Kyprianou on the matter and hoped for a meeting soon.

    Akel were also swift to woo Diko. Spokesman Nicos Katsourides said Akel's invitation to Diko to join it in backing Iacovou still stood, and that he expected contacts on the issue soon.

    Recent statements by top Diko officials suggested prospects for co- operation between the two parties were good, Katsourides said.

    Diko's general-secretary Stathis Kittis said earlier optimism that Markides would stand had been based on a number of positive indications.

    But he conceded that Markides had, he felt, probably backed out because of the damage he believed it would have caused his party and Clerides' negative response to his proposed candidature.

    Kittis said Diko did not regret its decision to back Markides: "we did our duty to try and find a way out during a difficult time for Cyprus."

    Kittis was confident that Diko would adapt to the shifting political climate and said it was ready to consider all the alternatives, including that of Iacovou.

    "All will be measured and we will have an in-depth analysis. No options are excluded."

    But at Disy an upbeat Anastassiades said Markides' decision would ensure party unity; he believed the Attorney-general had backed down because his candidature "would perhaps create more problems than he had (solutions) to offer."

    He said the road was now open for a renewal of the Diko-Disy alliance which had produced results in the past.

    [03] Keep cool, Feissel tells both sides

    By Jean Christou

    SOLVING the island's political problem remains paramount, despite negative fallout from the EU's decision to open accession talks with Cyprus, Unficyp said yesterday.

    Unficyp Chief of Mission and UN Permanent Representative Gustave Feissel called on all sides to stay cool until after February's presidential elections. Feissel was speaking after a meeting with President Clerides.

    He said he and Clerides had discussed the weekend's developments which followed the EU's decision on Friday to open accession talks with Cyprus.

    Not only did Turkey, which was left off the list of new applicants, threaten to cut all EU ties, but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash declared the UN-sponsored inter-communal talks were dead as a result, and reactivated the threat to integrate the occupied areas with Turkey.

    Feissel said Denktash was "upset" by the EU's decision but "we have to keep our eye on the ball, that is to solve the Cyprus problem."

    Fuelling the fire yesterday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said the EU's handling of the issue had "made a mess of" international efforts to solve the division of Cyprus.

    "It seems to me as if the EU has really made a mess of the Cypriot question and has put itself in a very complicated situation," Cem said. "I don't know what the outcome will be."

    Cem said Turkey had refused to attend next year's European Conference because "if we had attended we would be saying we don't have any objection to the Greek part of Cyprus joining the EU."

    At the same time, Greece yesterday warned Turkey against any move to annex the occupied areas.

    "It would be a terrible mistake on the part of Turkey if it moves on to further strengthen its relations with the occupied part of Cyprus. Such a move would lead Turkey in a confrontation course with the EU," Greek government spokesman Demetris Reppas said.

    Feissel said solving the Cyprus problem would be in the interests of everyone involved because anything to the contrary "would be bad news for everybody and I would say nothing has happened which changes this conclusion," he said.

    Asked how the UN could bring Denktash back to the negotiating table, Feissel said it would serve "no useful purpose to analyse what everybody is saying and it is best to keep cool and see what happens.

    "We are going through an intermission until February's elections and until then nothing is going to happen," he said.

    Commenting on a letter Denktash sent to UN special envoy Diego Cordovez a week ago, Feissel said the letter did not ask for international recognition.

    "It is not that kind of letter. He expressed some views and recapitulates some things he discussed when Cordovez was here," Feissel added.

    [04] Turkish Cypriots divided on Denktash hardline stance

    PARTY leaders in the occupied areas were divided on the EU's decision to begin accession talks with Cyprus and on how the Turkish Cypriots should react.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Sunday said the UN-sponsored inter- communal talks were dead because it would be a waste of time talking to people who did not "recognise our state".

    But opposition leader Mehmet Ali Talat warned against taking such a stance, saying the Turkish Cypriot side should not avoid talks by setting preconditions; he claimed Denktash's real aim was not a solution and federation, but rather "racism and integration with Turkey".

    According to yesterday's Turkish Cypriot press, there was no consensus at a meeting of party leaders called on Monday to discuss the EU's decision, which also omitted Turkey from a list of new candidate countries.

    Talat, who leads the Republican Turkish Party (RTP), said Denktash's statements might lead to serious problems for the Turkish Cypriots. He criticised the new policy that the Turkish Cypriot side would only talk on the basis of "two states", and said his party would oppose any policy it considered damaging to the interests of the people, even if it came from Turkey.

    In a statement after the meeting, 'Prime Minister' Dervis Eroglu said the 'government' decision on the talks had been put to the parties and that the 'Assembly' would meet in emergency session on Saturday to discuss the issue further.

    Governing Democratic party (DP) leader and 'Deputy Prime Minister' Serdar Denktash said the Turkish Cypriots would have to place their 'state' on a more realistic basis, and "if necessary make sacrifices to do this."

    However, another opposition leader, Mustafa Akinci of the Communal Liberation party, said care should be shown not to rush into decisions that would run against the interests of the Turkish Cypriots.

    * Turkish Cypriot papers reported yesterday that a 31-year-old Turk attempted to commit suicide in Istanbul to "protest the rejection of Turkey by the European Union." Yasar Eybey was planning to jump off a bridge, but was persuaded by police to step back from the brink.

    [05] Information on graves of missing by year's end?

    UN RESIDENT representative Gustave Feissel said yesterday he that information on the location of graves of Greek Cypriot missing persons would hopefully be provided by the Turkish Cypriot side by the end of the year.

    Feissel said Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had indicated such information would be provided, although the process was taking "a little bit longer than they had expected".

    "I think very soon this will be finished, hopefully before the end of the year," he said, adding that this would be "a positive development for the families and overall for the Cyprus situation".

    Meanwhile, President Clerides yesterday met with the Co-ordinating Council of the Relatives of Missing Persons Committees.

    National Committee president for the Struggle for Missing Persons, Economos Christophoros, said he was informed that UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan was negotiating with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) "to enable the investigative committee agreed to by Clerides and Denktash to be formed".

    He expressed the hope that Annan's efforts would lead to "actual searches both for the living and also for the missing".

    Pancyprian Committee president for the Relatives of Missing Persons and Unknown Prisoners Niko Theodosiou said it was important "to be prepared, if progress is not made" on the issue, to "move on, at least with remaining matters".

    [06] Businessmen accuse Brill of offloading water talks on them

    By Jean Christou

    PLANS by the US ambassador to bring both sides together to discuss the island's water problems have received a lukewarm response from Greek Cypriot businessmen.

    A leading Greek Cypriot entrepreneur involved in rapprochement efforts said that the island's water problems did not come under the domain of the island's businessmen.

    It was announced last week that US ambassador Kenneth Brill would chair a meeting early next year to discuss the island's water shortage.

    The issue was raised and included as a rapprochement measure during last month's meeting of Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen in Brussels, which was chaired by US presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke.

    However, businessmen have accused Brill of offloading the project onto their forum after he had failed to get it off the ground in a previous attempt.

    "He brought some technical people but nothing came of it," the Greek Cypriot businessman said. "People are not ready."

    he added that instead of putting it aside, "he's trying to shove it on to the business people." "What can the business people do about it?"

    The businessman said that "every drop of water" was within the government's jurisdiction; even to dig in one's own garden required permission. "This is not in the domain of the businessmen, full stop," he said. But probably, he added, "if we could do something about it, we would do it better anyway."

    He said the businessmen had told Brill in Brussels that such contacts would come to nothing.

    However, a source at the American embassy in Nicosia said that in Brussels the businessmen had not objected to the meeting going ahead. "They agreed to it," he said.

    Businessmen from both sides of the Green Line agreed in Brussels to set up a bi-communal business office at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace hotel, which should be operational early next year.

    It was also agreed the UN would replace its existing three manual phone lines with an automated 20-line service capable of taking up to a million calls a year.

    [07] Ministry blames tests for poor results

    By Aline Davidian

    THERE WERE discrepancies between the way recent international test results were collected and processed in Cyprus and how it was done in other participant countries, the House Education Committee was told yesterday by Education Ministry officials.

    The revelation comes in the light of a recent maths and science test, organised as part of a study of secondary school students by the International Association for the Evaluation of Education Achievement (IEA).

    The results, published last week by the University of Cyprus, showed Cyprus had come second from last in both subjects. In all, 900 pupils were tested, 450 in 50 secondary schools, and the same number in primary schools.

    Middle Education Director, Yiorghios Poulis, told the committee he did not know how Cyprus had come to be included among the five countries participating, whittled down from an original number of 21.

    "We weren't ready," he said, adding several countries had withdrawn their participation, lacking the requisite machinery to take part in the tests.

    He also said there were discrepancies in the ways tests were conducted and processed in Cyprus when compared to other participants.

    In other countries, results from private as well as state schools were taken into account, said Poulis, while in Cyprus only those of state schools were considered. The island's results were processed by just one examiner, he added, while other countries had two.

    Science experiments were not set up properly, he went on to say, and unduly difficult maths questions were asked.

    "A Quality Control Co-ordinator was also required," said Poulis, adding that this was introduced among Nicosia schools alone.

    Cyprus University educational research department president Andreas Demetriou, however, said the results showed a serious problem in the Cypriot educational system.

    "Instead of finding gaps in the study, we should try and counter the problems raised," he said.

    A concerted effort was required to produce an awareness programme for middle school teachers, Demetriou said, adding that schemes to this purpose were already in place in Greece.

    This would raise the quality of secondary and tertiary level education, he said.

    "The first step is to start, even tomorrow, setting up a state investigation centre", he added, stressing that failure to do so could be critical.

    He feelings were echoed by a spokesman for the educational Organisation, Oltek, who said all levels of education in Cyprus needed attention.

    The matter will be further discussed in future meetings.

    [08] Misunderstanding may have killed premature baby

    By Jean Christou

    A PREMATURE baby died tragically on Monday after its parents, a Syrian couple, wrongly thought they would have to pay the Makarios hospital to keep the newborn in for observation.

    Doctors at the Makarios said yesterday it was conceivable that the man had asked whether he would have to pay at the administration office, and that - without knowing the circumstances of the case - they could have told him some fee was necessary.

    However, a doctor involved in the case told the Cyprus Mail that "no one asked the couple for money".

    The father of the baby boy, born at 35 weeks, took the newborn home on Saturday after several days of treatment including two to three days in an incubator and further therapy for jaundice.

    "The baby's condition was good after the first two days and we started to feed it," the doctor said.

    But he added that the child had developed problems and began vomiting after each meal. He said that after the jaundice treatment the doctors had told the parents that, although the baby was well, they would like to keep him in for a few more days to observe the vomiting problems.

    "The father said on Saturday he wanted to take the baby home.

    "Nobody asked him to pay anything and he didn't pay anything," the doctor said. "But he still insisted on taking the baby home."

    The Syrian man signed the release papers and took the newborn home, but two days later the baby was rushed to Nicosia General hospital and pronounced dead shortly after.

    "He told me the mother had fed the baby in the morning but two hours later they found him lifeless in his cot," the doctor said. It is thought the couple have another child.

    [09] Lorry tears off balcony

    AN ARTICULATED lorry smashed into a low-hanging balcony while trying to avoid a bus, Larnaca police reports said yesterday.

    Leontios Leontiou, 35 from Ayia Triatha, was driving through Hamit Bey street in Larnaca's old town on Monday afternoon when he was forced to swerve left to avoid an oncoming bus. But as a result of this manoeuvre, the top of the lorry smashed into the first-floor balcony of the house of elderly Evsevia Petrou, tearing it away.

    This was the third time Petrou's balcony had been hit by high vehicles. The entire front wall of the first-floor room looking on to the balcony collapsed, but only the top part of the lorry cabin was pierced. The driver of the lorry was unharmed.

    Police reports also said four Ukrainian sailors crashed a car into a parked lorry late on Monday afternoon.

    Alexander Trechakov, 26, Debov Lysander, 36, Bragoushin Lysander, 21 and Trediankof Alexandrov, 18, from the merchant ship Doshek decided to drive a car they had found parked in Larnaca Marina without the owner's permission.

    They subsequently crashed it into a parked lorry. Trechakov, who was behind the wheel, did not know how to drive.

    All four were taken to Larnaca General Hospital where they received first aid.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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