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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-01-18

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Sunday, January 18, 1998


  • [01] Diko on the verge of self-destruction
  • [02] Disy rejects Iacovou's 'easy victory' banter
  • [03] Probe after loss of Cyprus-flagged ship
  • [04] Etkin demands review of visa decision
  • [05] 'Greek Cypriots diverting attention from arms build-up'
  • [06] Foreign labour blamed for low-quality tourism

  • [01] Diko on the verge of self-destruction

    By Charlie Charalambous

    SPYROS Kyprianou's Diko party is teetering on the brink of civil war following a backlash against Friday's decision to expel two prominent members from its ranks.

    Yesterday Diko's former Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas joined the fray and called on the party to stop causing self-inflicted wounds.

    But the Diko hierarchy remained steadfast in its decision to punish what it labelled "rebels, deserters and turncoats".

    In a statement yesterday, Moushiouttas pleaded for calm and demanded that the Diko leadership have "second thoughts about victimising party activists".

    Moushiouttas said he remains opposed "in principle" to the leadership's political decisions, and said it was now time for the party to launch a damage limitation exercise, not an extended witch-hunt.

    Ruffled by the growing mutiny within, a Diko statement pulled no punches: "The people of the Democratic Party do not vote for rebels, do not vote for Alexis Galanos, because they abhor the revolt as a phenomenon of political immorality," it said.

    The party statement said Diko would have no qualms about treating persistent dissenters as "enemies".

    On Friday, Diko's executive committee expelled deputy Alexis Galanos and central committee member Petros Voskarides for defying the party's decision to back nominally independent candidate George Iacovou, who also has the backing of Akel, in next month's presidential elections.

    Diko vice president and former Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides also faces disciplinary proceedings for his anti-Iacovou stance.

    To compound the split within the party, leading member Eleni Theocharou has also said she is quitting.

    But the bitter exchanges between those who back the rebels and the leadership continued yesterday, when another long-time member, Polyvios Kolokos, implied that the executive committee should resign instead.

    "I stand solidly behind all those Diko members who have courageously opposed the unprecedented policies of the party," said a letter sent by Kolokos to the executive committee. "Others, of their own volition, should abandon the centre of decision making."

    A defiant Kolokos said he would not budge from his pro-rebel stance. "I will always be a member of the party whether you (central committee) like it or not," he wrote.

    Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said he regretted the crisis within Diko, but added that he hoped the party would soon unite and help Disy to form the next government.

    With those expelled also refusing to budge, Diko is in danger of self- destructing well before polling day on February 8, political observers believe.

    [02] Disy rejects Iacovou's 'easy victory' banter

    By Charlie Charalambous

    DISY yesterday claimed it had conclusive poll evidence that independent candidate George Iacovou would not be a first round election winner as he predicts.

    Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades told a party meeting he had the results of four polls which shot down what he called Iacovou's "easy victory" banter.

    A poll commissioned by Sigma indicates that Diko and Akel will not be able to muster sufficient support to ensure victory for Iacovou on Sunday, February 8.

    Both Diko and Akel have confidently predicted their man will win on the first ballot.

    In retaliation to Disy sniping, Iacovou issued a statement saying that the Sigma poll showed he was leading the election race and his share of the vote was rising.

    He said the poll not only confirmed he was in front but indicated he would remain on top, right up to polling day.

    The Sigma poll, conducted by Cyprus College, gives Iacovou (at 34.6%) a narrow lead over President Glafcos Clerides (33.9%).

    "The message of the poll is clear. Cyprus wants a new president, a president who will untie the unacceptable pledges made by Clerides," a Iacovou press release said yesterday.

    Although Iacovou may be slightly ahead, Anastassiades said that Akel's support "has never been lower". The Sigma poll reported that 11% of Akel stalwarts would vote for United Democrat George Vassiliou instead.

    But the poll's findings also indicate that Diko cannot be confident that a majority of its supporters will toe the party's pro-Iacovou line.

    The poll shows that only 48% of Diko voters will plump for Iacovou - and this was before Friday's acrimonious expulsions.

    What should also worry the Diko leadership is that 19% of its supporters said they would support rebel Alexis Galanos, while 9% said they would back Clerides in the first round.

    By comparison, Disy support for Clerides is rock solid at 98% of the party faithful backing him.

    More significantly, the Sigma poll indicates that Clerides will attract the lion's share of the first-time voter (35%, compared to 21% in favour of Iacovou).

    As 18-year-olds are allowed to vote this time round, the percentage of first-time voters has swelled to 11% of the electorate.

    And with a sizeable number of voters still undecided (nearly 10%) the 1998 presidential election looks set to go to the wire.

    [03] Probe after loss of Cyprus-flagged ship

    By Jean Christou

    A MERCHANT Shipping Department inspector was on his way to Canada yesterday after the sinking of a Cypriot-flagged freighter with the loss of 21 crew.

    A helicopter plucked four of the crewmen from an overturned lifeboat in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Friday, but 15 of their fellow crew members drowned and six were missing after the Flare sank, Canadian authorities said.

    It is the first serious accident to a vessel flying the Cyprus flag in 1998.

    Shipping Department Director Serghios Serghiou told the Cyprus Mail an inspector already stationed in New York has instructions to travel to Canada.

    The Flare, a bulk carrier, went down off the French-governed islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon.

    Lt. Commander Glenn Chamberlain, a spokesman for the rescue

    centre in Halifax, said the four survivors - three Filipinos and a Romanian - were suffering from hypothermia and that one had a broken arm. There were no signs of any other survivors.

    A garbled Mayday message from the Canada-bound ship was

    picked up at about 5am on Friday by a coast guard station in Newfoundland. Waves in the area near Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula were as high as four metres.

    The Flare was sailing from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to pick up a cargo of grain in Montreal.

    "Of the casualties so far this year this is the most serious," Serghiou said. The Cyprus registry has more than 2,500 ships. By far the biggest casualty in 1997 was the sinking of the Leros Strength off Norway last year with the loss of its entire 20 polish crew members.

    In 1996, the Cyprus flag sustained the third highest number of ship losses from 57 registries.

    Cyprus sustained more than three times the losses of other registries except for Panama and China, but surpassed both of these countries in terms of tonnage lost.

    [04] Etkin demands review of visa decision

    By Jean Christou

    TANER Etkin, 'Foreign Minister' in the north, is demanding that Britain review its decision to impose visa restrictions on Turkish Cypriots.

    Etkin described the decision as "discriminatory" and "an injustice against the Turkish Cypriot people".

    Britain said on Thursday it was withdrawing the right of people from the occupied areas to enter the UK without a visa, after processing almost 1, 000 unfounded asylum claims over the past two years.

    Etkin said it seemed the whole of Europe and the world were trying to crush the Turkish Cypriots under severe embargoes, and expressed the hope Britain would change its mind.

    Turkish Cypriot press reports yesterday said British Deputy High Commissioner John Buck had appeared on a Turkish TV news programme "and tried to justify his government's decision" by explaining that it had been taken to put an end to political asylum applications.

    Buck was reported as saying that in particular over the past two years, there had been over 900 such applications for political asylum from the 'TRNC'.

    When reports of the increase in such applications began to surface early last year, the Denktash regime expressed outrage that Turkish Cypriots should seek political asylum from a 'democracy' such as the 'TRNC'.

    It was also reported at the time that an increasing number of Turkish settlers were obtaining Turkish Cypriot 'citizenship' with the sole intention of using such documents to get into Britain.

    Yesterday's press quoted Etkin as saying that asylum seeking "could be dealt with by other measures".

    There are also an increasing number of Turkish Cypriots applying for Cyprus passports, a practice condemned by the regime in the north.

    Press reports there suggest Turkish Cypriots unsure of what the future holds are opting for the security of having a passport from a country pegged to join the EU.

    [05] 'Greek Cypriots diverting attention from arms build-up'

    THE Greek Cypriots are trying to divert world attention from their arms build-up, according to the regime in the north.

    Turkish press reports yesterday 'TRNC Prime Minister' Dervis Eroglu as saying said Cyprus and Greece were attempting to incite anti-Turkish sentiment in world public opinion, with the aim of diverting attention away from their military expansion.

    Eroglu said the harsh Greek reaction over the co-operation protocol between the Denktash regime and Turkey was "due to the realisation that the Turkish Cypriots are not alone and without alternatives".

    The agreement signed last Tuesday provides that Turkish Cypriots can participate in international meetings as part of Turkish delegations.

    Eroglu said the Greek side should end its "tensions policy" because past experience "shows who would be hurt in a climate of tension".

    He was referring to the announcement by President Glafcos Clerides last week that the government would take delivery of the Paphos air base by January 24.

    Eroglu said this showed the Greek Cypriots had no intention of making efforts towards reconciliation.

    [06] Foreign labour blamed for low-quality tourism

    By Jean Christou

    FOREIGN labour has stunted investment in technology and helped to expand low quality tourism, a just-published government study concludes.

    Labour Utilisation and Income Distribution in Cyprus also finds that 25 per cent of all Cypriots who complete their studies abroad do not return, women are still grossly under-represented in the workforce, the income gap is widening, and four per cent of Cypriots live below the poverty line.

    The study, in book form, comprises papers by ten government experts and deals with what labour analyst Dr Demetris Christodoulou calls "crucial aspects" of the island's human resources.

    He said the book is the second part of a "pioneering contribution" to the economy and society of Cyprus, covering the period 1980 to 1992.

    The previous volume found that less than half the population of Cyprus is part of the workforce. This 47 per cent "sustain the economy and maintain both themselves and those in dependency categories", Christodoulou said. No improvement in this situation is expected by the year 2020.

    The current study concludes that the natural growth of population supplied only 45 per cent of new labour in the period under review.

    Christodoulou said some Cypriots returned from abroad to fill the gaps but the bulk of the supply of new labour came from the return of women to the workforce, except in industrial sectors needing heavy and cheap labour.

    These sectors, Christodoulou said, "resorted to tapping an outside source of cheap and undemanding work force... from poor, mainly developing, countries".

    The study found that some 13 per cent of the workforce in 1992 comprised foreign labour, one third of which is illegal. Christodoulou estimates these figures have since doubled.

    The conclusion is that the availability of cheap labour has prevented investment in new technology and modernisation in business dealings, and helped the expansion of low quality tourism, he said.

    "Efforts to raise the quality and productivity of labour have come up against the lack of sufficient employment opportunities to attract the young and educated to the labour force," Christodoulou said, referring to the number of Cypriot graduates who choose to stay abroad.

    On the widening income gap, the study found it to be still moderate compared to other developing and developed countries.

    The poorest four per cent in Cyprus were deemed to be older single women with little education.

    But Christodoulou said the figures show that even the poorest households had a refrigerator and a cooker and to a lesser extent a washing machine.

    He believes the study is essential reading for policy makers but noted that those who compiled it were "very reserved and cautious in their judgment of policy implications".

    "This may reflect the public service status of the authors," he said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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