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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-01-09

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, January 9, 1998


  • [01] Greek captured in buffer zone
  • [02] Mobile phones and maids 'proof of rising living standards'
  • [03] Budget debate swamped by point-scoring
  • [04] Iacovou accused of 'Watergate ethics'
  • [05] Row over internet plagiarism by Turks
  • [06] Man dies of burns
  • [07] Dessert island dishes
  • [08] Lawyers may strike over jail orders
  • [09] Woman hurt in cleaner explosion
  • [10] Woman held as cocaine suspect
  • [11] Hash 'came from the north'
  • [12] Cyprus and French companies in media alliance
  • [13] Telephonists stage strike
  • [14] Current affairs problem in Pyla
  • [15] Three jailed for pimping

  • [01] Greek captured in buffer zone

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH forces in the north yesterday detained a Greek national in the buffer zone on the outskirts of Nicosia, police said.

    It was the second arrest of a Greek in the buffer zone in less than three weeks.

    Police said that at around 4.15pm Greek Cypriot national guardsmen reported seeing a man walking in the buffer zone in the Vorios Polos area of Kaimakli, a Nicosia suburb, northeast of the capital.

    From their investigations, police said they established that the man was George Constantinou Kantarakis, 32, from the Greek island of Santorini.

    Kantarakis was staying with a friend, Dinos Achilleos, in Nicosia.

    Police said they had informed the UN peacekeeping force Unficyp.

    Spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski said they immediately sent Unficyp personnel to the Turkish Cypriot side to verify the reports from the Cyprus police.

    "The Turkish Cypriot security forces confirmed they had captured a man in the northeastern part of the city at around 5pm," Rokoszewski said. "We are still trying to get more information."

    Rokoszewski was unable to confirm the identity of the detained man, and said it is unlikely there will be any more news until today.

    Another Greek national, Spyros Lilles, 24, has been held by the Turks since December 20 when he wandered over to the north in the early hours.

    The Turks claim he had entered a 'first degree military zone'. His case is expected to be heard on Tuesday.

    [02] Mobile phones and maids 'proof of rising living standards'

    By Hamza Hendawi

    FINANCE minister Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday heaped lavish praise on the record of President Glafcos Clerides' government on the economy, but some of his remarks in a hastily convened news conference appeared certain to be remembered for their novelty and used by critics as a Godsend.

    The minister, a keen supporter of a second term in office for Clerides, said the increase in the number of mobile telephones owned by Cypriots and the employment of domestic help testified to the improvement in the standard of living on the island since the present administration took office in 1993.

    Over the past five years, he said, the number of mobile telephones has skyrocketed from 9,000 to 90,000, while that of housemaids rose steeply from 1,800 to 6,500.

    The minister's use of mobile phones and domestic help to gauge improvement in living standards is highly unusual, and is likely to raise many eyebrows, particularly among economists. Furthermore, it comes at a time when both mobile telephones and housemaids are the subject of serious controversy.

    Whether mobile phones give their users a higher-than-usual chance of contracting cancer is at the heart of a worldwide debate at the moment. The devices, which have proved a hit with chatty Cypriots, are also widely abused in Cyprus by motorists who use them while driving, a dangerous practice which is currently the focus of a government-sponsored media campaign.

    The overwhelming majority of the 6,500 domestic help cited by Christodoulou come from South Asian countries or the Philippines and many have been at the centre of highly-publicised allegations of abuse and racism by their employers.

    The impact of housemaids on family life in Cyprus is also being debated, with thousands of Cypriot children now being practically raised by Sri Lankan or Filipina nannies, many of whom speak little Greek and rudimentary English.

    Christodoulou yesterday raised his own projection of economic growth this year from 4.5 per cent to a possible 5 per cent, defying independent forecasts which treated the minister's original estimate with some scepticism. The economy is projected to have grown by 2.5 per cent in 1997, compared to 1.9 per cent in 1996.

    In an attempt to counter criticism by opposition parties that the Clerides government made a mess of the economy, Christodoulou said the economy has grown by an average of 3.2 per cent a year in the five years since 1993, compared to an annual average of 1.7 per cent in European Union countries.

    He also projected an image of a government that has over the past five years acted with a heart and with money burning a hole in its pocket.

    "The government has implemented a people-friendly social policy that is reflected in the huge level of social expenditure, which in real terms has doubled (in the past five years)," he said.

    He did not give a figure, but Nicos Anastassiades, leader of Disy - the party which supports Clerides, its founder - told parliament on Wednesday that the government has more doubled what he called social spending to 2.1 billion, compared to the 1988-93 administration of George Vassiliou.

    Citing examples of the government's social policies, Christodoulou mentioned writing off the debts of refugees, donations to charities, a 39- million pension scheme benefiting 16,000 people, tax reductions of 29 million, and 10 million to support Cypriot students studying abroad.

    "While the government has been keen to meet Maastricht criteria, it had no hesitation is going against this if a sector of the economy was identified as in need of support," said the minister, whose 1998 budget, which posts a deficit of $550.3 million, will be voted on in the House of Representatives today.

    [03] Budget debate swamped by point-scoring

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE House plenum continued its marathon debate of the 1998 budgets yesterday, with Disy deputies defending the government's record and the opposition seeking to tear it down.

    With one eye on next month's presidential elections, successive speakers tried to score political points, with the Cyprus problem as much the issue for debate as the economy.

    Edek deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou got the ball rolling by describing Disy claims that President Clerides could take the credit for the appearance of international initiatives for a settlement as "insulting".

    Akel deputy Christos Mavrokordatos charged the government with abandoning the country's farmers to "sink or swim". Disy deputy Kate Clerides said "true democracy and social justice" were the cornerstones of the Clerides government.

    Only a handful of rather bored-looking deputies turned up for the afternoon session of the all-day debate.

    Akel's Doros Christodoulides said Clerides had cultivated the "highly dangerous illusion" that the National Guard was now capable of winning a war against the Turkish occupation forces. Disy deputy Averof Neophytou retorted that Clerides had "never spoken of a military solution".

    Andreas Parisinos, also of Disy, defended the government's record on health, saying vast sums had been spent on hospitals and regional health centres.

    Akel deputy Avraam Antoniou brought the session to a close by attacking the government's economic record. He said unemployment was "growing continuously", growth was slow, productivity low, and exports "down catastrophically".

    Deputies are expected to vote on the budgets late today, and approval seems certain, with Disy, Diko and the United Democrats set to vote for and Akel saying they will only vote against certain provisions. Edek has said it will vote against all but the defence provisions in the 1.6 billion budget.

    [04] Iacovou accused of 'Watergate ethics'

    By Aline Davidian

    THE Cyprus problem was the focus for pre-election brickbats yesterday, with Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides criticising presidential candidate George Iacovou's view on the role of the US.

    Iacovou said yesterday greater US interest in the Cyprus problem did not constitute an initiative - a view that runs contrary to that expressed by Glafcos Clerides, who hopes to be re-elected in next month's poll.

    Described as an independent candidate, Iacovou is supported by left-wing Akel and right-wing Diko.

    Cassoulides countered that Iacovou was in "no position to prove a lack of initiative" on the American side.

    Iacovou also dismissed Clerides' statement that US presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke had adopted a reassuring attitude in a recent telephone conversation with him.

    "It is utterly inexperienced of Mr Clerides... to say this," Iacovou said yesterday, adding: "If Holbrooke had anything to say, he would have done so through a State Department or White House spokesman."

    In reply, Cassoulides accused Iacovou of what he called "Watergate ethics", and said developments in March would prove him wrong.

    He also replied to statements by Akel chief Demetris Christofias who said after meeting visiting German MP Karl-Heinz Hornhues that Hornhues believes Cyprus' EU bid will be difficult if the Cyprus problem is not solved first.

    "What is important is how we answer such views of foreigners," Cassoulides said.

    Christofias then accused Cassoulides of trying to twist his dialogue with Hornhues in an attempt to present Cyprus problem developments as "rosy", and the country's EU bid as "strewn with rose-petals".

    Christofias said he had explained the views of all parties on the national problem and entry into Europe to Hornhues, and pointed out "Cyprus would not be hostage to Turkey". Nor should Europeans set the solution to the national problem as the "price-tag" for EU membership, he added.

    Meanwhile Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou said yesterday an international initiative on the Cyprus problem had been abandoned in the lead-up to the elections. But he stressed that the initiative was "on the wrong track" and "would not lead to a just solution".

    Vassos Lyssarides, Edek leader and presidential candidate, urged "progressive voters" to compare his manifesto with that of George Iacovou.

    Lyssarides addressed Akel supporters in particular, urging them to judge whether their party was justified in imposing "a right-wing conservative" candidate on them.

    He said neither Iacovou nor Clerides is likely to present solutions to the country's socio-economic problems. "They both hide behind a screen, awaiting the votes of the people," he said.

    Asked whether his party would lay down conditions in return for supporting Iacovou or Clerides in a second round of voting on February 15, Lyssarides replied Edek first had to talk with both candidates to determine what conditions would be acceptable to them.

    [05] Row over internet plagiarism by Turks

    By Roman Rollnick

    AMNESTY International and British Telecom PLC have become embroiled in a row over the publication on a BT internet site of a 'report' alleging Greek atrocities against Turks in Cyprus taken word-for-word from a grim Amnesty alert on Colombia and Bosnia.

    The 'report' has also been printed and distributed to MPs and other opinion formers in Britain.

    In what one leading British copyright lawyer described as a clear case of plagiarism, a group calling itself the Turkish Action Group has taken the painstakingly researched Amnesty material, blanked out the names of the real victims, and substituted them with Turkish names while maintaining the original text.

    Amnesty has asked BT to close down the website, but BT has insisted that this cannot be done without a prior investigation. It also declined to provide Amnesty with details of the mysterious Turkish group, which is thought to be London-based.

    The row also threw open the wider debate in the UK and Europe on how to police the internet and legislate against offensive material of a pornographic or xenophobic nature.

    The lawyer, Nicholas Kounoupias, who is a member of Amnesty International, said: "Amnesty International are having their reputation thrown down the toilet by people using their literature in this way, and it completely destroys their credibility if they remain impotent in this matter. They could and should have the courage to bring a prosecution under section 110 of the Copyright Act. If not, perhaps they should consider assisting others in doing so."

    Norma Johnston, Amnesty's communications director, has admitted that "this clear breach of copyright" had already been brought to the attention of BT. But she said Amnesty had been advised by its lawyers that the costly nature of pursuit through the courts "would not be a good use of Al's limited resources."

    The published plagiarised material now on the internet was lifted from a four-page circular Amnesty sent out to its members and donors three years ago in which its director, David Bull, wrote:

    "Dear Friend,

    "What do the words 'women and children first' mean to you?

    "That innocent women and children caught up in some terrible situation beyond their control, must be protected from danger at all costs. That was my understanding, too. But 'women and children first' has taken on a whole new meaning for me since I began reading reports on the subject here at Amnesty International. A meaning that has made me want to shout with rage. And do something. Like make you as angry as I am. Because, together, your anger and mine can do a power of good, as I can show you. It can move mountains - and governments.

    "If you have a family, you might ask Sonebia and Luis Pinzon what 'women and children first' means in Colombia.

    "What this innocent family went through is a nightmare. They were asleep when they were woken by solders from the nearby police station who were hammering on the door. When Luis went to see what they wanted, four of them pushed past him and ran upstairs to where Sonebia and the two children were sleeping..."

    The plagiarised document uses exactly the same wording, changing only the names and the location. Thus: "...If you have a family, you might ask the Derya family what 'women and children first' means in Cyprus. What this innocent family went through is a nightmare. They were asleep when Mrs Ayse Derye, a Turkish Cypriot woman, was woken by Greek soldiers and Eoka militia from a nearby police station who were hammering on the door..."

    Citing an atrocity against a Muslim woman in the Bosnia, the original Amnesty document said: "Aged almost 70, she was dragged into the street in her hometown of Kljuc in Bosnia, by a group of Serbian reservists. She was forced to stand with seven other women. One of the men, whom she knew, forced his hand up inside her until she bled. In front of those watching, he then made her lick his fingers..." According to the Turkish Action Group, exactly the same fate befell an "elderly Muslim" Turkish woman in Cyprus. Like Amnesty, it also carried horror pictures of mutilated bodies.

    Kyriacos Christodoulou, co-ordinator of the UK-based Lobby for Cyprus, viewed the plagiarism as "consistent with the Turkish policy of spreading unfounded propaganda and disinformation in order to justify their own violation of human rights, as often documented by Amnesty itself, against Kurds and Greeks in the region".

    While he wondered how the Turkish group had the resources to spread "such poison", Christodoulou feared it was being done "with such regularity and ferocity that someone will believe these lies".

    While BT insisted that it would investigate the matter before any action is decided, a spokesman said that the company in its role as a major telecommunications network, was "working closely" with a special committee of the European Commission in Brussels "to stamp out material deemed harmful and offensive" carried on the internet.

    [06] Man dies of burns

    AN ELDERLY blind Palechori villager died yesterday of serious burn injuries he suffered in a accident at his home on Wednesday.

    Police said 85-year-old Georgios Pitsillos died at Nicosia General Hospital. The accident occurred when Pitsillos, who lived alone in the Nicosia District village, tried to light a wood-burning stove, police said.

    [07] Dessert island dishes

    FROM January 16 to 18, Nicosia's International Conference Centre is hosting GLYKOARTO, the Confectionery Association of Cyprus's European Confectionery, Bakery and Ice Cream Exhibition.

    Organisation of GLYKOARTO, the first show of its kind in Cyprus, was clearly no cake-walk, with more than 150 companies represented with chefs from Belgium, France, Switzerland and Greece preparing delicacies for display.

    The exhibition will be open to the public from 4-10pm on Friday, January 16, and 10am to 10pm on Saturday and Sunday.

    [08] Lawyers may strike over jail orders

    By Aline Davidian

    LAWYERS plan to strike for 48 hours if a Cyprus Bar Council's (CBA) financial problem is not resolved, CBA president Xenos Xenopoulos said yesterday.

    He said the problem arose over the issuing of imprisonment orders by the courts. These are the last resort available to unpaid creditors who can apply to court for them, thereby imprisoning debtors for a time to prompt a settlement of debts.

    Previously, Xenopoulos said, the lawyer filing this application signed another document providing for 1.50 towards "prison costs".

    But this procedure changed eight months ago he said, whereby "for some reason the Justice Ministry and Prison Commissioner refused to execute further orders" unless the full amount of prison costs was "paid in advance by lawyers".

    Xenopoulos said this had resulted in a "desperate financial situation" as an average of 100,000 such orders are filed every year.

    This often meant "lawyers had to come up with 800 to 1,000 a month" he added, thus "damaging the course of justice when the sums could not be met" and delivering a parallel blow to the economy.

    Xenopoulos said an agreement had been reached with the Justice Ministry on November 19, whereby 25-cent duty stamps would be attached to orders to solve the problem.

    But despite this step giving a government revenue increase of almost 25, 000, the Finance Ministry refused to add its approval unless duty stamps of 1 were paid per order, Xenopoulos said.

    The CBA eventually accepted this, he said, but accused the authorities of delays as "we are being shunted from one official to another".

    It was crucial for the matter to be resolved by the final pre-election meetings of the House, he added.

    Xenopoulos said a 48-hour island-wide lawyers' strike had been proposed by 185 lawyers.

    The CBA and the Chamber of Commerce will meet on Monday to discuss the issue. He said the Chamber was very concerned that non-enforcement of imprisonment orders was adding to creditors' losses.

    [09] Woman hurt in cleaner explosion

    A LARNACA woman was slightly injured yesterday when a dryer exploded at a dry cleaners in the town.

    The explosion at around 10.45am injured Phani Paschalides, 31, a customer of the Lefkarites dry cleaner on Nikodemou Mylona Street.

    She was admitted to hospital suffering from shock and with minor injuries to her face.

    The blast also caused extensive damage to the shop and an adjacent building.

    The owner of the business, George Charalambous, 65, his brother Michael 60, and his son Stelios, 37, were in the shop at the time of the explosion.

    Police believe the explosion was an accident, and there is no suspicion of foul play.

    [10] Woman held as cocaine suspect

    A GREEK woman suspected of receiving cocaine through the post was remanded in custody by a Nicosia court yesterday.

    Argiroulla Stylianoudi, 21, was remanded for eight days after a package thought to contain six grammes of cocaine was found in her possession.

    Stylianoudi, a night club employee, was arrested on Wednesday along with a Cypriot woman, who has since been released.

    The two women were stopped in their car by police outside Prodromos central post office after receiving a tip-off.

    The drug squad moved in after Stylianoudi went into the post office to pick up a package.

    Police said yesterday it was part of a wider operation by the drug squad to crack down on hard drugs being sent through the post.

    [11] Hash 'came from the north'

    A LARGE quantity of hashish seized at a Larnaca youth club last week came from the occupied areas, Larnaca District Court heard yesterday.

    A second suspect was remanded yesterday in connection with the 843-gramme haul from the 'Neotitos' club. Larnaca District Court heard that 22-year- old Panayiotis Costi, from Dasaki Achnas in the Famagusta district, had secured the drugs from a Turkish Cypriot shepherd.

    Drug squad officer Michalis Mosfilis told the court that Costi, a metalworker, had conspired with club owner Panayiotis Christodoulou, 22, to bring the drugs from the north. Christodoulou was arrested and remanded following a January 2 raid on his Larnaca club, which police said unearthed the drugs.

    Mosfilis said Costi had paid a Turkish Cypriot shepherd from the Pyla- Pergamos area 1,000 for him to bring him a flock of sheep from the north. However, Mosfilis told the court, Costi was unhappy with the quality of the animals the shepherd produced and - at Christodoulou's suggestion - asked him to supply him with hashish instead.

    Costi and Christodoulou met the shepherd at Pergamos - a Turkish-held village in the Dhekelia bases area - and got the drugs from him, the court heard. Mosfilis said the two men hid the narcotics at Christodoulou's Larnaca youth club.

    The court issued a three-day remand order for Costi.

    [12] Cyprus and French companies in media alliance

    NEWSFORCE, a Cyprus-based media services company, has agreed to enter a partnership with France's broadcast services GlobeCast under which the French firm will acquire a "significant" stake in Newsforce and inject capital into its operations to fuel expansion.

    GlobeCast is a division of France Telecom, the French telecommunications giant. Boasting annual revenues of $330 million, it provides a wide range services to different media markets and has a network of subsidiaries and partners in North America, northern Europe and South America.

    Newsforce, which is registered as an off-shore company in Nicosia, provides customised video and audio communications services and satellite news gathering.

    It earned its reputation during the 1991 Gulf War and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

    A statement issued in Nicosia and Paris yesterday said the agreement was reached last month, but did not say how much money GlobeCast planned to spend on expanding Newsforce operations or how much of the Cyprus-based company it has agreed to acquire.

    "Newsforce will continue to operate independently, which gives us the best of both worlds," the statement quoted Peter Henderson, Newsforce's founder and chief executive, as saying.

    [13] Telephonists stage strike

    SOME public sector telephonists staged a two-hour strike yesterday.

    The strike, affecting only the Presidential Palace and Nicosia's General Hospital, was in protest at the government's refusal to consider salary rises.

    Special lines were set up at the hospital to handle emergency cases.

    In May 1995 a contract was signed between the government and the public employees' trade union Pasydy, agreeing that by May 1997 the issue of better pay would be resolved.

    [14] Current affairs problem in Pyla

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Cypriots in the mixed village of Pyla are refusing to have their power supplied by the Electricity Authority (EAC).

    According to reports in yesterday's Turkish Cypriot press, the problem in the village where some 850 Greek Cypriots and 350 Turkish Cypriots co-exist are never ending.

    The latest problem involves Turkish Cypriots refusing electricity supplies from the EAC because they do not want to make applications to the "Greek Cypriot administration", Kibris said.

    Ironically all electricity supplies to the occupied north are provided to the Turkish Cypriots by the Greek Cypriots free of charge anyway.

    Kibris said Turkish Cypriots from Pyla are accusing the United Nations, which controls the buffer-zone village, of being pro-Greek Cypriot, and warned that it could lead to serious friction in the future.

    A UN spokesman yesterday confirmed the latest problems over the electricity. He said the result of the refusal by Turkish Cypriots to have their electricity connected by the EAC is that they are supplying themselves from house to house.

    The spokesman said the electricity problem arose recently because more houses were built in the village.

    "Obviously once they have a house they want to have water and electricity," the spokesman said. "The position of the EAC is that the connection should be made by them, and the Turkish Cypriots are reluctant to allow Greek Cypriots to enter their houses and want the electricity people in the north to do it."

    He added that this is one of the issues the UN is trying to resolve in Pyla in the most amicable way possible.

    "Pyla is always high on our agenda," he said.

    Only months ago Pyla villagers nearly came to blows over a borehole - an issue which hasn't yet been resolved, according to the UN spokesman.

    Less than a week later a second crisis erupted over the construction of a road by the government which crosses into Turkish Cypriot-held land in the buffer zone.

    [15] Three jailed for pimping

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THREE men convicted of pimping were each jailed for eight months yesterday in Larnaca.

    The three are Lefteris Tryphonos, 40, a dog trainer from Ormidia, George Kiourtsides, 19, a Russian-Greek waiter from Georgia, and 24-year-old hotelier Paraskeva Piliotis.

    Kiourtsides and Piliotis both pleaded guilty to introducing five Moldavian women into prostitution and living off the earnings. The also judge found Tryphonos guilty of the same charges.

    The five women were denied entry into Israel last summer on fake Russian passports, when they declared their reason for the visit was to work as prostitutes.

    After being kicked out they came to Cyprus where they were befriended by Kiourtsides and later worked as prostitutes at the Larnaca hotel owned by Piliotis and at a flat rented by Tryphonos.

    The court also heard testimony from the women that Tryphonos arranged their meetings with clients and collected 40-50 for each visit, of which he gave the girls 20.

    Judge Michalis Christodoulou, in finding Tryphonos guilty, had agreed that three of the five "tragic" women who gave evidence "told the whole truth in this case".

    The judge was convinced that Tryphonos obliged the women to have sex with his "guests" at his flat against their will, and that the women arranged an escape to a safe house in order to end their ordeal and accuse the culprits.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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