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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-12-31

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, December 31, 1997


  • [01] Disy weighs in on Kyprianou junta claims
  • [02] Ledra Palace gate scrapped for 'political reasons'
  • [03] Bi-communal ban a 'devious' decision
  • [04] Ankara's 'new rules' for a solution
  • [05] CA staff threaten strike action
  • [06] Hunters harass UN peacekeepers
  • [07] KEO in 'landmark' Indian deal
  • [08] Cycle lanes planned for all major towns
  • [09] Hadjioannou lobbying for Pedhoulas university
  • [10] Credit spree could double on last year
  • [11] Big rise in scholarships and student loans
  • [12] OBEs for two Cyprus-based Britons
  • [13] Supreme court vindicates former top health official
  • [14] Cancer screening plan launched
  • [15] Party time at Eleftheria Square

  • [01] Disy weighs in on Kyprianou junta claims

    By Martin Hellicar

    PRESIDENT Clerides and his ministers went on the war path against Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou and his chosen presidential candidate, George Iacovou, yesterday.

    Both Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and Health Minister Christos Solomis called press conferences in order to defend Clerides against criticism from Kyprianou and Iacovou, while Government spokesman Manolis Christofides launched a no-holds barred attack on the Diko leader.

    The spark that got the pre-election pot bubbling over was Kyprianou's claim - during a Diko conference on Monday evening - that Clerides was surrounded by a "mini junta".

    Kyprianou responded to yesterday's barrage from the government by claiming it was members of Clerides's party, Disy, who had in fact coined the term "mini junta" to describe the President's closest aides.

    Clerides himself tried to laugh off Kyprianou's accusations.

    "I stand before you surrounded by my mini junta," he joked, pointing to secretary to the president Pantelis Kouros and other associates of his who were attending a Disy meeting in Nicosia.

    He added that Kyprianou had promised the Clerides aides would keep their posts if Disy gave its backing to the Diko chief for the February presidentials.

    Diko abandoned the coalition with Disy which got Clerides elected in 1993 after Clerides decided to seek re-election. After considering a number of other candidacies, Diko are now backing Akel favourite Iacovou for the elections. Akel have consistently charged Disy and Clerides with harbouring supporters of the Greek military junta, whose 1974 coup against President Makarios provided the spark for the Turkish invasion.

    Christofides' response to Kyprianou's resurrection of the junta claims was not as good-humoured as the President's: "These were highly insulting statements by the House president and leader of the Diko party against members of the government, and they are totally unacceptable."

    "It would be easy for me to repeat the characterisations attached to Kyprianou at various times by his own close associates, but I am a citizen and Kyprianou was President for a decade and I owe him respect. Today, I am forced to express to him my repugnance," Christofides told his daily press briefing.

    The spokesman dismissed suggestions that Kyprianou's statements had been tongue-in-cheek.

    For his part, Cassoulides backed up the President's claim that Kyprianou had - when he was still seeking Disy's support for the elections - expressed full confidence in what he was now describing as the "mini junta".

    "To many close associates of Clerides, myself included, Kyprianou repeatedly said that if Clerides withdrew in favour of his own candidacy he would utilise them fully," Cassoulides said.

    Liberals leader and presidential candidate Nicos Rolandis added his voice to those slamming Kyprianou. He said Kyprianou had been happy to take advantage of the people he was now calling a "mini-junta" while in coalition government with Disy.

    "Kyprianou worked with this mini junta for years, taking advantage of their servile attitude towards him to secure five junta-ministries, one junta- House Presidency and 100 memberships of Junta-committees and thousands of junta-jobs," Rolandis said.

    Kyprianou responded to the attacks by saying he was only quoting what he had heard Clerides's supporters saying.

    "I am not claiming I patented the term, I just heard it from various Disy members and repeated it," he said. He declined to comment on the allegations that he had been happy to work with this "mini junta".

    "I do not want to fan the flames," he said.

    The Health Minister concentrated on responding to Iacovou's claims that the Clerides government had tried to "bury" the long-awaited national health plan.

    Solomis said the plan, following "exhaustive" work by the government, had received the blessing of every member of the cabinet and was now "at the doors of the House" awaiting approval.

    He also said the Clerides government had poured 68 per cent more cash into health than the previous government. He presented figures putting Health Ministry expenditure for the five years from 1988 to 1992 at just over 242 million and the next five years at 407 million. Solomis promised further spending increases in the sector should Clerides be re-elected.

    Cassoulides's defence of the Clerides years focused on foreign policy in an attempt to quash Iacovou's charges of "week-kneed" government. He listed the island's EU accession talks, the "internationalisation" of the Cyprus problem and the Common Defence Dogma pact with Greece as Clerides's outstanding achievements.

    "If Clerides is not re-elected, then everything, including EU accession and the Cyprus problem, would have to begin from scratch," Cassoulides claimed.

    Iacovou added his voice to the fray by responding tersely to Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades describing him as akin to a "student council president."

    "Mr Anastassiades is very provocative, and because he is used to dealing with persons of an advanced age it is only natural that he should refer to me as a youngster," he said, in reference to the fact that Clerides, at 79, is 20 years his senior. "Such characterisations do not bother me," Iacovou said.

    Meanwhile, there were growing indications of dissent within Diko ranks over the party executive committee decision to back Iacovou. Party vice-chairman and former Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides spoke openly for the first time about his dissatisfaction with the decision.

    Michaelides, who was notable by his absence from a Diko rally to endorse Iacovou's candidacy on Monday evening, said Diko should "even at the eleventh hour" opt instead for Kyprianou or another "unifying" candidacy from within the party.

    "The candidacy of the party chairman, endorsed triumphantly by the whole party, should not have been sidelined by the executive committee," he said. He refused to comment on his absence from Monday's party meeting, but Kyprianou did.

    "I do not believe that, even if he disagrees, a party vice-chairman can be absent from such events, but this is a matter for later. I have no further comment at this time," Kyprianou said.

    A number of other Diko grandees, including former Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas, have made no secret of their disaffection with Iacovou. Former Diko House president Alexis Galanos has announced his own candidacy.

    In an apparent effort to woo these Diko dissenters, both Cassoulides and Christofides described the former government alliance between Diko and Disy as productive and successful.

    Christofides went further and promised that, if elected, Clerides would aim to form a government of national unity, choosing "able" cabinet members regardless of party orientation.

    [02] Ledra Palace gate scrapped for 'political reasons'

    By Martin Hellicar

    CONSTRUCTION of a four-metre high metal barrier at the Ledra Palace check- point has been abandoned due to "political sensitivities".

    Police spokesman Glafcos Xenos said yesterday plans for an automatic steel gate had been shelved for "legal and political reasons", but declined to say what these were.

    The huge gate was to be erected by Christmas to control daily traffic and demonstrators but when workmen went to erect the barrier they were told by police the order had been cancelled.

    The contractor said at the time he had "no idea" what had prompted the last- minute cancellation. A trench for the gate had already been dug when installation was stopped.

    "It has been decided it would be better for the status quo (at the checkpoint) to remain as it is," Xenos told the Cyprus Mail. "Everything (in buffer zone areas) now has legal and political significance," he added.

    He said the cancellation had not been prompted by objections from the UN. "We are always in full co-operation with the UN. They did not say they objected to the gate," Xenos said.

    The UN, for their part, did not want to say whether they had raised objections to the gate or not.

    "The construction work which was started was on territory controlled by the Cyprus government and so we had no direct say in the matter," UN spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski said.

    Rokoszewski did say the UN were, in principal, opposed to any construction tending to deepen the divide between the two sides.

    "Any sign of further division is not something we would applaud," he said.

    The cost of the gate was estimated at 7,500, but Xenos did not want to comment yesterday on what the cancelled order might have cost the tax- payer.

    [03] Bi-communal ban a 'devious' decision

    GOVERNMENT spokesman Manolis Christofides yesterday denounced the Turkish Cypriot side's recent decision to suspend bi-communal contacts, saying it served "other purposes and expediencies".

    Taner Etkin, the Turkish Cypriot 'foreign minister', announced the suspension of bi-communal activities from last Saturday. He said the move was to allow the Turkish Cypriot side to review the recent EU decision to open accession talks with Cyprus in the spring.

    Christofides described the decision as "unfortunate and devious", stressing that bi-communal meetings served "the good intentions of the Cypriot people".

    His views were echoed yesterday by Unficyp spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski, who said the UN's bi-communal activities were "an integral part of the UN peace effort".

    The decision to suspend bi-communal talks has also drawn fire from opposition parties in the occupied north, according to Turkish Cypriot press reports.

    Communal Liberation Party leader Mustafa Akinci was reported yesterday as saying such policies harmed Turkish Cypriot interests. he demanded the immediate resumption of bi-communal contacts, and added that the Turkish Cypriot side could ill-afford the luxury of rejecting talks. His voice joined that of Republican Turkish Party leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, who said on Monday the decision was "illogical".

    Turkish Cypriot papers yesterday quoted 'Prime minister' Dervis Eroglu as saying the suspension of bi-communal meetings was temporary; he warned, however, that permanent counter-measures in the wake of the EU decision would be announced in the New Year.

    [04] Ankara's 'new rules' for a solution

    THE TURKISH Foreign Ministry has laid out the "new rules" it says apply for a settlement on the island since the recent EU decision to start accession talks with Cyprus, Turkish press reports said yesterday.

    Turkey's own membership bid was placed on indefinite hold amid concern over its human rights record, tense relations with Greece and the Cyprus problem.

    The Turkish Daily News reported that during a press conference on Monday, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Necati Utkan said "there is a drastic new change in the situation due to the EU's actions which are based on the Greek position".

    Utkan said a solution was only to be found on the basis that there were two states on the island.

    He stressed Ankara and the 'TRNC' would co-ordinate their positions to see whether the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides could resolve "three major issues", in order to ensure they could "peacefully exist".

    These issues included settlement of reciprocal property claims, agreement on matters of satisfactory security and a territorial agreement and adjustment of boundaries.

    Ankara's position came under attack yesterday from Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, who said Turkey was trying to hinder the start of Cyprus' EU membership talks.

    Cassoulides said the EU accession process was the only "substantial lever of pressure which can realistically be applied on the Turkish side to end its attitude".

    Once membership talks began, he added, Turkey would either have to accept a federal solution to the Cyprus problem or leave the problem unresolved whilst Cyprus joined the EU.

    "Such a development would be clearly against Turkey," the foreign minister said.

    [05] CA staff threaten strike action

    By Charlie Charalambous

    PASSENGERS face disruption on Cyprus Airways (CA) flights as cabin staff threaten industrial action over 'seasonal' status.

    CA union Synika, which represents cabin staff, yesterday warned passengers to expect flight delays as from tomorrow.

    It is unclear what form the industrial action will take and whether some planes could be indefinitely grounded.

    Synika claims CA has reneged on an agreement to give seasonal staff permanent positions.

    CA denies it has broken any contractual agreement on cabin staff and accuses Synika of refusing arbitration on the dispute.

    "They are demanding that cabin staff become permanent employees after completing only nine months' continual employment, which is contrary to any existing agreement," a CA source told the Cyprus Mail.

    The company also says that the union's demands were rejected by the Labour Ministry and that when the issue was referred for compulsory arbitration Synika refused to participate.

    "They have threatened to take strike measures during a very busy holiday period. This is in violation of the industrial code," said the source.

    CA says that the rule by which staff are employed on a permanent basis after two years of continual service does not apply to cabin crew.

    "Cabin staff are recruited according to the needs of the company only, but there is an election coming up so everybody's demanding more," said the company source.

    [06] Hunters harass UN peacekeepers

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRIOT hunters who encroach on the buffer zone are treating UN peacekeepers as big game.

    The UN has observed an increase in the number of rifle-wielding hunters who ignore the ceasefire line in search of hares and partridges.

    "In the last two weeks warning shots have been deliberately fired over the heads of UN personnel when hunters were asked to leave the buffer zone," UN spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    The situation has become so serious that reports have been filed to New York and representations made to the government over trigger-happy hunters.

    "This is a matter of some concern and raised many times by the secretary- general in his report to the Security Council," said Rokoszewski.

    He recounted one incident where an Austrian soldier had his glasses smashed by pellets fired from a hunter's rifle. "The job of peacekeepers is not to chase after hunters."

    Rokoszewski said that every season over-eager Cypriots encroached on the buffer zone with the aid of official maps indicating where hunting is permitted.

    "Unfortunately the designated (hunting) areas issued by the authorities encroach on the buffer zone, even though the buffer-zone areas are well known."

    Although the government has been made aware of the problem, it is unlikely to upset the powerful hunting lobby so close to an election.

    It seems that for the immediate future UN soldiers will have to duck pot- shots from the legions of camouflaged enthusiasts.

    [07] KEO in 'landmark' Indian deal

    By Hamza Hendawi

    KEO, the drinks conglomerate, will export some of its products to India under an agreement reached earlier this month with Champagne Indage, India's largest winemakers.

    A KEO statement issued yesterday said the agreement also provided for the Limassol-based company to provide the Indian party with technical know-how in the fields of oenology and viticulture.

    KEO's exports, to be distributed through the Champagne Indage network, will be restricted to wines and spirits, the statement added. KEO also produces beer, fruit juices and bottled mineral water.

    The agreement was initialled during a recent visit to Cyprus by Shun Chougule, chief executive of the Indage Group, of which Champagne Indage is a subsidiary. It was ratified on December 20 during a visit to India by KEO's managing director Akis Zampartas.

    "The agreement demonstrates the high international reputation and regard for the KEO brand name and the technical expertise available in the company, " said the KEO statement.

    It said wine consumption in India, the world's second most populous nation with close to 1 billion people, was increasing by 25 per cent every year. Together with the gradual liberalisation of the Indian economy, it noted, the KEO-Indage "landmark" agreement gave rise to "very positive medium term prospects for Cyprus wine products and the export of technical know-how."

    The KEO statement, however, gave no figures for the amounts of spirits and wines to be exported to India or any other details.

    KEO registered pre-tax losses of 172,000 in the first half of 1997, compared to losses of 393,000 in the corresponding period of 1996.

    Its losses, however, have been incurred due to the vast investments made by the company over the past few years to upgrade its machinery. KEO has also made sizeable acquisitions of vineyards in the Limassol district and is known to be also investing in quality research for its wine brands.

    KEO's shares on the Cyprus Stock Exchange closed at 0.97 pounds yesterday with 20,000 of the shares changing hands.

    [08] Cycle lanes planned for all major towns

    TWO WHEELS are better than four: this will be the government's catchphrase in a move to create proper bicycle lanes in towns.

    Plans to make local roads safer for cyclists while alleviating the urban gridlock have been backed by the EU Life programme.

    The EU has approved a plan for environmental studies for the introduction of cycle paths to be carried out in the four major towns in the free areas.

    The project to introduce independent cycle lanes will start in Paphos, then move on to Nicosia, Larnaca and finally Limassol.

    Town Planning department official George Hadjimichael told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the government was undertaking this move to promote sustainable development and increase environmental protection.

    There is also the added incentive that bicycle networks will help relieve traffic congestion and reduce pollution.

    But Hadjimichael has no illusion about the difficulties of getting people out of their cars and on their bikes.

    The age of car-free roads is some way off, Hadjimichael conceded, but warned:

    "We have come to a point where our towns are almost inhuman, especially during peak hours. This attitude (of car dependence) has to change."

    In order to push the eco-friendly message that two wheels are better than four, a series of lectures, debates and meetings will take place over the next three years.

    During this period, emphasis will be put on creating safer and more accessible bike lanes.

    "Today, 75 per cent of any route a cyclist might take is dangerous. We want to make this 75 per cent an independent track where the cyclist can feel completely safe," said Hadjimichael.

    Smaller roads could be turned into one-way streets to make them safer for cyclists, he added.

    Hadjimichael is expecting some hostile reaction from local authorities, but he said municipalities had allocated 10,000 for practical structures.

    Two island-wide surveys will be carried out to see how far Cypriots are willing to let cycle lanes into their daily lives.

    [09] Hadjioannou lobbying for Pedhoulas university

    By Charlie Charalambous

    SHIPPING tycoon Loucas Hadjioannou wants the law changed to enable the University of London to open an international business school in his beloved Pedhoulas.

    Previous efforts by Hadjioannou, 72, to establish a university in Pedhoulas have failed, but he is now pushing for the law preventing foreign universities from issuing degrees in Cyprus to be scrapped.

    The wealthy Cypriot, affectionately known as the "King of Tankers", has written to President Clerides calling for his support.

    Hadjioannou's efforts to regenerate Pedhoulas and the wider Marathasa region have been boosted by the University of London, which has provided a letter of intent to create an international business school there.

    The proposed name of the school would be the Royal Holloway International Business School of Cyprus, Hadjioannou Campus, University of London.

    But this cannot be realised unless the current law governing education institutions is amended.

    "We think the law can be changed, otherwise he wouldn't be pushing for it," Hadjioannou's spokesman George Georgiades told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    "The University of London is willing to undertake the running of the school by providing the teaching expertise and finding the students," he added.

    Hadjioannou, who owns one of the biggest independent tanker fleets, has put up $6 million to help finance the project by providing the necessary buildings and facilities.

    The Pedhoulas secondary school has already undergone extensive improvements in preparation for its possible use as a university site.

    It is estimated the business school could be up and running by 1999, with an initial intake of 200 students from Cyprus and abroad.

    "The University of London said it will undertake the running of the school for at least ten years and Mr Hadjioannou will inject some working capital for the first three or four years," said Georgiades.

    The university issue was raised by Hadjioannou when he met Clerides two weeks ago.

    It is understood that Clerides gave some positive indications about the possibility of offering Hadjioannou a branch of the Cyprus University for his home village of Pedhoulas.

    Georgiades said that Hadjioannou had received promises in the past about setting up a Cyprus University department in Pedhoulas.

    "This fell through, but as anyone who knows Mr Hadjioannou will tell you, he never gives up."

    It is understood that the tycoon would accept a branch of the Cyprus University at Pedhoulas as an alternative to the business school venture.

    [10] Credit spree could double on last year

    CYPRIOTS are likely to continue their credit card spree in the lead-up to New Year celebrations, in the wake of record numbers of pre-Christmas credit card transactions, said JCC Visa and Mastercard Acquirers director, Achilleas Amvrosiou yesterday.

    "A lot of presents are bought for New Year" he said, adding this was because older people abided by the traditional date for the delivery of gifts - January 1.

    Based on data available so far, Amvrosiou predicted a 70 to 100 per cent increase in credit card transactions compared to last year's pre-New Year purchases.

    The weekend before Christmas this year saw record numbers of credit card transactions, Amvrosiou said, amounting to 3.4 million. This marked a 70 per cent increase on the same time last year, Amvrosiou said, adding that December 20 to 22 always had the highest number of yearly credit card sales.

    But he pointed out that, despite the convenience of credit cards, "cash was still king" and Cypriots still had some way to go before their use of plastic matched that in other European countries.

    "It [use of credit cards] is definitely less than five per cent of personal consumer expenditure in Cyprus" he said.

    [11] Big rise in scholarships and student loans

    THE MINISTRY of Education yesterday announced a marked increase in state scholarships and student loans.

    For students studying in Greece or in countries with no or negligible fees, student loans will be up to 3,000, from 800 in the last academic year; for those in the UK and the US, the increase will be from 1,200 to 5,000. The figures are the same for scholarships.

    A law has also been passed whereby state scholarships will be granted for the 1997-1998 academic year to excellent pupils with good credentials from high school. The awards will be independent of financial background. Postgraduates will also be receiving scholarships for studies abroad.

    The Ministry of Labour in co-operation with the governments here and in Greece moreover plans to cater for Cypriot undergraduates free of charge at student canteens in Greece.

    The Social Welfare Services of the Ministry of Labour is meanwhile going to increase the allowance to students whose parents are enclaved. The raise from 1,000 to 1,500 is for undergraduate studies in Cyprus. For students in countries where there are no fees or which do not require a downpayment, the increase will be from 2,000 to 3,000, while for those in the UK and the US there is a 1,500 rise - from 3,000 to 4,500.

    [12] OBEs for two Cyprus-based Britons

    TWO BRITONS living on the island have been awarded OBEs in the New Years' Honours list, the British High Commission announced today.

    Dr Helen Soteriou received the honour in recognition of her "untiring" work in cancer research and "valuable contribution to Britain's links with the people of Cyprus."

    Dr Soteriou works at the Nicosia General hospital and has been vice- president of the Cyprus Anti-cancer society for the past 15 years.

    The second OBE recipient is Dr Claire Palley, the UK representative on the UN sub-commission on the prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities. Dr Palley has held this post since 1988, and is also well-known in Cyprus for her work on constitutional affairs, the High Commission stated.

    [13] Supreme court vindicates former top health official

    THE FORMER director of the medical services has won his Supreme Court appeal against a 1995 House decision overruling the extension of his government service.

    In a decision announced yesterday, the court ruled the House had "exceeded its authority" when passing a budgetary amendment which overruled an earlier cabinet decision extending Georgios Maliotis' tenure as director by 10 months.

    The House decision forced Maliotis to retire on March 1, 1995, despite a cabinet directive which allowed him to remain in his post till the end of the year.

    Supreme Court judge Takis Iliades stated in the ruling that the cabinet decision was an "executive government decision" which could only be repealed by another similar decision and not by the House.

    Maliotis, who has been fighting his case at the Supreme Court since 1995, said yesterday he felt "vindicated" by the decision.

    He said he would now be seeking compensation from the government for lost earnings due to being retired 10 months "early".

    [14] Cancer screening plan launched

    THE HEALTH Ministry has launched its plan to screen every woman between the ages of 25 and 65 for cervical and breast cancer, Health Minister Christos Solomis said yesterday.

    Breast and cervical cancer are major killers on the island, with 300 to 350 new cases diagnosed every year, Solomis said. He said letters informing women where and how to get tested had already been sent out.

    The government has recruited the services of 99 private gynaecologists to help with the massive prevention campaign.

    [15] Party time at Eleftheria Square

    NICOSIA Municipality will tonight be organising a party with free alcohol at Eleftheria Square to celebrate the New Year.

    The party will start at 11pm tonight and a DJ will be playing pop songs along with oldies. Free beer and wine will be distributed by KEO and Carlsberg.

    The highlight of the evening will be a firework display just after midnight.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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