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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-01-24
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From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Saturday, January 24, 1998
 Poll shows front-runners are neck-and-neckBy Jean Christou
PRESIDENT Clerides leads his main rival in next month's presidential elections by the tiniest of margins, according to a poll released yesterday.
The poll of 803 people, commissioned by Antenna TV and carried out by Amer Research, predicts that Clerides would beat Akel- and Diko-backed candidate George Iacovou by just 0.1 per cent in a second round.
In the first round both candidates are also neck and neck, Iacovou with 36.6 per cent support and Clerides 36.1 per cent.
Of the other candidates, Edek's Vassos Lyssarides would garner 8.6 per cent in the first round, former president George Vassiliou 5 per cent, Diko rebel Alexis Galanos 3.7 per cent, Liberals leader Nicos Rolandis one per cent and New Horizons leader Nicos Koutsou 1.3 per cent.
Over five per cent polled said they didn't know whom they would vote for while 2.3 per cent said they would cast blank votes.
It is significant that of the 16,938 young people aged 18-20 voting for the first time, 50.6 per cent support Clerides, a man almost four times their age.
The Cyprus problem figures prominently in determining voters' choices, with 38.5 per cent of those polled saying they would put how it was handled above the political or personal characteristics of the candidates.
In the second round Clerides receives 44.6 per cent and Iacovou 44.5 per cent. Close to 3.5 per cent said they would cast a blank vote in the second round.
Sixty-three per cent of those intending to vote Vassiliou in the first round say they will give their votes to Iacovou in a second, while only 12.8 per cent will give it to Clerides. Twenty per cent remain undecided.
Over 75 per cent of Alexis Galanos's supporters will vote for Clerides in a second round and 49.9 per cent of Koutsou's, a further 15 per cent of whom would rather cast a blank vote than give it to Iacovou.
Iacovou, however, will garner many Lyssarides voters, 41.9 per cent, but some 36.9 per cent will turn to Clerides.
Almost 65 per cent Rolandis's supporters will also give their votes to Clerides, but 23.9 per cent would favour Iacovou.
Of Disy supporters, 95.4 per cent will vote Clerides in the second round, while 2.7 per cent will give their vote to Iacovou.
Clerides will also receive 38.8 per cent of Diko voters and 28.3 per cent from Edek. It is notable that none of the Akel supporters polled would vote for Clerides in any circumstances. Iacovou will garner 97.4 per cent of the Akel vote, 49.1 per cent of the Diko vote and 47.2 per cent of the Edek vote.
Nearly half those polled, 48.1 per cent, believe Clerides is a good president, while 31.8 per cent believe he is only fair and 18.3 per cent think he's a bad president.
Surprisingly, 12.2 per cent of Akel supporters think Clerides is a good president while only 88 per cent of his own party Disy think so.
Of Akel supporters, 43.5 per cent said Clerides is only a fair president, as did 49 per cent of Diko supporters.
The biggest majority viewing Clerides as a bad president were, unsurprisingly, Akel voters at 43 per cent, followed by Edek with 22.7 per cent, Diko with 8.6 per cent and Disy with 1.5 per cent.
Almost half those polled believe the government is correctly handling the Cyprus problem, 29.2 per cent said it had a "so-so" approach and 20 per cent said its handling of the issue was bad. Again, Akel supporters were the biggest critics, though the government received a grudging "so-so" endorsement from 41.7 per cent of them.
Of all those polled, just 38.5 per cent were "very satisfied" with Clerides's handling of the Cyprus problem, 18.9 per cent with his handling of the economy and 24 per cent with his handling of internal issues.
At the same time, those polled seemed to believe the president was still the best man for the job. On a list of issues and who would be better at handling them, 50.4 per cent believe Clerides is the best for defence with Iacovou and Lyssarides poor seconds with 25.2 and 22.6 per cent respectively.
Clerides is also voted best person to handle the EU issue, gaining the endorsement of 53.5 per cent of those polled.
 Landmark meeting on missingBy Jean Christou
INFORMATION on the fate of some 600 missing Cypriots was exchanged at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace hotel on Nicosia's Green Line yesterday.The exchange was made between Turkish Cypriot representative Rustem Tatar and Greek Cypriot Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos in the presence of Unficyp Chief of Mission Gustave Feissel. The meeting had originally been scheduled to take place at Feissel's buffer-zone home near Nicosia airport, but the venue was changed at the last minute.
Takis Christopoulos (centre) with Rustem Tatar (left) and Gustave Feissel (right) after meeting the press at the Ledra Palace yesterday (Photo:Christos Theodorides)
During the 45-minute meeting, Tatar handed over details relating to 400 of 1,619 missing Greek Cypriots, while Christopoulos handed in information on some 200 of 803 Turkish Cypriots missing since intercommunal troubles broke out on the island in 1963.
The exchange is a significant development in the 24-year-old issue of missing persons, as the information swapped is understood to include maps showing the location of possible mass graves on both sides of the divide.
"This is the implementation of an agreement reached on July 31 by the two leaders and which has happened today," Feissel said after the meeting. "It indicates the implementation of the agreement in good faith by both sides."
Reading from a prepared statement, Feissel said the two representatives had indicated both sides would continue their efforts to obtain information on the location of graves of more Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons.
He also said they had agreed to meet again soon to discuss arrangements leading to the return of the remains of missing persons.
Before leaving the Ledra Palace, Christopoulos described the meeting as "important".
"It is the beginning of the implementation of the agreement," he said.
Tatar said he believed both sides were sincere, and felt the exchange of information on the missing boded well for a wider solution of the Cyprus problem.
"Any step forward is good for the wider front of settling the problem," he said.
On the Greek Cypriot side, work on the information supplied by the Turkish side will probably begin early next week; it is hoped it can lead to the exhumation and identification of the remains.
A DNA bank has already been set up at the bi-communal Institute of Neurology and Genetics in Nicosia, and samples have been taken from relatives of the missing.
The identification process is, however, expected to be long, so relatives are likely to remain in the dark on the fate of their loved ones for some time to come.
UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan is shortly expected to announce the name of his new appointee to the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP).
Paul Wurth, the previous UN-appointed member of the CMP, resigned nearly three years ago and the UN said he would not be replaced until progress had been made on the issue of the missing.
 Turkish Cypriots free GreekA GREEK national who crossed to the occupied areas two weeks ago was released yesterday afternoon.
A police spokesman said George Constantinou Kantarakis, 32, from the Greek island of Santorini, was handed over to Cyprus police by the UN at 5.15pm at the Ledra Palace checkpoint in Nicosia.
He was arrested on January 8 in the buffer zone on the outskirts of the city.
A second Greek national, Spyros Lilles, 24, was last week sentenced to one month's imprisonment in the north for allegedly entering a sensitive military zone. He has appealed against the decision.
Lilles crossed to the north on December 21 in the early hours. It is believed he had too much to drink.
 Kouros on the defensiveBy Charlie Charalambous
THE GOVERNMENT yesterday challenged Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou to produce evidence that the Presidential Palace was trying to "buy" votes.
Kyprianou on Thursday night repeated his claims during television interviews that the undersecretary to the president, Pantelis Kouros, was trying to "buy" Diko votes.
Kouros even phoned Sigma TV at midnight on Thursday to challenge Kyprianou to a public debate on the allegations against him.
The president's right-hand man also denied claims by Kyprianou that he had persuaded Clerides to run a second term so that he could keep his position and remain an influential player.
Government spokesman Manolis Christofides came to the aid of Kouros yesterday, denying that he was involved in anything underhand.
Christofides also charged Kyprianou of lowering the tone of the campaign with such claims, and of undermining the island's political life in general.
"References of this kind by a party leader and House president degrade our political life and we reject them as unacceptable," said Christofides at his daily press briefing.
He added: "I challenge Kyprianou to produce this evidence to the necessary authorities, which deal with such matters."
But Diko replied by stepping up its attacks with a statement issued later in the day: it claimed Kouros' statements simply confirmed that "Clerides presides while Kouros... rules."
The statement said there was no doubt Kouros would be the real winner if Clerides was re-elected.
"For reasons and weaknesses that are well known, Clerides has de facto entrusted the governing of Cyprus to Pantelis Kouros. If Clerides is re- elected, it will be Kouros who will be in charge."
Diko said the people should know that when they went to the polls, a vote for Clerides would in fact be a vote for Kouros.
Earlier, the government spokesman had also been quick to scotch allegations that Kouros or any other minister had sought "favours" from Clerides.
Christofides said the president would never tolerate such an approach from his ministers.
"No one has ever dared say to the president, 'I would like to help so and so' and called for his intervention."
The theme of corruption in political life was also taken up by independent candidate Alexis Galanos, who called on all presidential hopefuls to declare war on money-grabbing politicians.
Galanos said it was time that party funding in the elections was discussed in the open.
He was, however, unwilling to divulge his suspicions on which officials were getting rich through abuse of power.
An anti-corruption bill has been stalled in parliament for some time for lack of cross-party support.
Meanwhile, the Diko rebel also declared he was prepared to fund a poll on the popularity of the Diko leadership.
Galanos is convinced such a poll would show that "a majority of Diko supporters want a change in leadership, and especially that of Kyprianou."
 Diko says government economic policies divisiveDIKO yesterday accused President Clerides of promoting economic policies which only benefited big business.
A statement released by the centre-right party said Clerides' financial team was opposed to the Cost of Living Allowance (CoLA) and promoted privatisation in order to serve the interests of wealthy tycoons.
The party called on voters to prevent this "divisive trend" by electing independent candidate George Iacovou.
Diko said that only by voting for Iacovou could there be a realistic dialogue between social partners, in which the interests of rich and poor alike were considered.
It claimed only Iacovou could secure a mixed economy, where business interests were not paramount.
Iacovou also went on the offensive yesterday, claiming Clerides showed a total lack of interest in the younger generation.
He said funds for education and culture had been "significantly reduced" during Clerides's five-year term.
Iacovou blamed the increase in drug use by the young as a result of the government's lack of "care and support" for troubled teenagers.
The government was also charged with overseeing the worse unemployment figures in five years among young people coming out of higher education.
"The Clerides government does not seem to be alarmed that unemployment among qualified young people has more than doubled from 5,000 to 11,000," he said.
 Larnaca village to boycott poll over school busKATO Drys in the Larnaca district yesterday became the second village community this week to threaten to boycott the February 8 presidential elections.
The 100 or so eligible voters in the remote hamlet risk fines or imprisonment if they follow through with their threats, as voting is compulsory under Cyprus law.
Earlier this week, residents in the Akamas area village of Inia said they had decided to boycott the upcoming elections in protest at plans to declare the Paphos district peninsula a national park.
The Kato Drys villagers are protesting at the Licensing Authority's refusal to grant a permit for a bus to ferry 22 school-children from the village to their primary school in nearby Pano Lefkara. Village mukhtar Angelis Kyriacou said villagers had begun handing in their electoral registration booklets yesterday.
Kyriacou also said parents were keeping their children home from school in protest.
He threatened "further dynamic action" would follow if the government failed to move on the bus issue.
 'We will break their wings'By Jean Christou
THE GOVERNMENT will today take delivery of the controversial Paphos air base, spokesman Manolis Christofides said yesterday.
Christofides told his daily press briefing that today would see the "contractual" handing over of the base from the builders.
"There will be no political representative from the official side," Christofides said.
In response to questions, the spokesman said the base was simply being "delivered" to the National Guard. He made it clear that the base would not be operational from today, but did say the base contained "all the necessities."
Rauf Denktash yesterday warned the Turkish side would "break the wings" of any planes taking off from Paphos air base, while news agency reports from the north suggested Turkish forces were being beefed up along the buffer zone.
Speaking to Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibris, Denktash said that if the base was opened, the Turkish side would reciprocate with similar measures, and reiterated a threat to turn the occupied Lefkoniko airfield into a full military base.
"Militarily," he said "the planes which take off from the Paphos air base will not be able to find a place to land; their wings will be broken. This is a crazy hostile investment that was not intended for reconciliation; they are wasting their money".
Agence France Presse (AFP) yesterday quoted informed sources in the north as saying Turkish forces have reinforced their positions along the buffer zone "in anticipation of the opening" of the air base.
However, both the UN and the Defence Ministry said they had no such information.
A UN source said there had been "a few disputes" along the line in recent days, but did not appear concerned. "They were just standard disputes," the source said. "I don't believe they had anything to do with the air base."
A Defence spokesman simply said: "We know nothing at all" about such reports.
 Jilted lover in rooftop knife dramaBy Martin Hellicar
AN ENRAGED knife-wielding father-of-two cornered his ex-lover's boyfriend on the roof of a Larnaca apartment block, forcing him to leap onto a top floor veranda to escape, a court heard yesterday.
The knife-man then allegedly turned on a policeman who was trying to intervene. The officer managed to disarm and arrest the suspect but was injured in the process, Larnaca District Court heard.
The incident occurred at about 8.40am on Thursday morning on Georgios Seferis street in Larnaca, the court heard.
The alleged attacker, 30-year-old Christoforos Constanti, a London Cypriot living in Larnaca, was yesterday remanded for two days on suspicion of using threatening behaviour and injuring a policeman.
Investigating officer Nicos Christou told the court that officer Panicos Droushiotis was called out to the apartment block where he found Constanti threatening 19-year-old Marinos Stylianou with a six-inch knife.
Constanti, whose estranged wife lives in Psevdas village with their two children, chased Stylianou - his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend - onto the roof of the apartment block, Christou said.
The 19-year-old jumped off the roof onto a fourth-floor balcony, the court heard.
Constanti then turned to Droushiotis, telling him: "Get out of my way or I'll kill you too."
The officer managed to disarm Constanti after a struggle. Both men were later treated in hospital for minor injuries.
The suspect pleaded his innocence in court: "I only carried the knife as a threat. I never injured the policeman. I thank him for not hitting me."
The court remanded Constanti for two days.
 Bases draw blank on bomb probeBRITISH base authorities were none the wiser yesterday about the motives or persons behind a bomb attack on an Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area (SBA) police station on Thursday evening.
"We are putting it down to a crank," bases spokesman Mervyn Wynne Jones said yesterday, dismissing suggestions the blast had been a terrorist attack.
An explosion outside the Phasouri police station, just after 7pm on Thursday, caused minor damage to the building. No one was hurt.
Wynne Jones said it was still not clear what had caused the blast. "It was an explosive device, but what exactly we do not yet know," he said.
The stricken station is about two miles outside the RAF Akrotiri airfield west of Limassol town.
Wynne Jones said investigations were continuing.
Unconfirmed reports suggested the attack may have been linked to a recent SBA clamp-down on criminal activity in the base area. A number of car bomb and arson attacks have been reported in the Trachoni area, near the Phasouri police station, the reports added.
 $1 million investment fund for RussiaTHE GOVERNMENT is to set up a $1 million fund to provide support for Cypriot businessmen wishing to invest in Russia.
Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou announced the new initiative in Moscow, where he signed an agreement for trade and economic co-operation between Cyprus and Russia yesterday.
The agreement was the outcome of the first session of the joint inter- governmental committee on trade and economic co-operation between Cyprus and the Russian Federation.
The Russian delegation, headed by Russia's first deputy Finance Minister, Alexei Kudrin, announced a plan to set up a centre in Cyprus promoting Russia as an investment destination.
The two sides announced a joint task-force would be set up to monitor implementation of the measures agreed.
 Church leaders hear broadside against Western indifferenceARCHBISHOP Chrysostomos yesterday attacked Christians in Europe and America, accusing them of standing by indifferently while Cyprus was invaded by Muslim Turkey.
The Archbishop was speaking at the opening of a one-day meeting of the Middle East Council of Christian Churches (MECC) in Nicosia yesterday.
He added that all Christian churches in the region needed to pull together in order to "march forward" in the face of the disputes, conflicts and massacres that have rocked the Middle East for "long centuries".
He also referred to Cyprus' division when he noted that since 1974 more than 500 churches in the occupied areas "are being looted, plundered and desecrated".
Around 35 church representatives attended the MECC meeting at the Archbishopric. Among them were religious leaders from Syria, Egypt and Lebanon, representing some 12 to 14 million Christians.
During the meeting, representatives discussed the strengthening of ties between churches.
They were also expected to finalise a paper on "challenges" facing Christians in the region.
According to MECC General Secretary, Reverend Riad Jarjour,
the paper will include religious, social and political issues.
In his address to the meeting, Jarjour warned that "any setback to Christian presence in this region or any diminution of these churches is a negative witness to our integrity".
The church representatives will today be received by President Glafcos Clerides.
 Issue of computer evidence sent to supreme courtTHE SUPREME Court is to rule on the admissibility of potentially crucial prosecution evidence in the trial of three Aeroporos brothers charged with the attempted murder of Antonis Fanieros.
The Nicosia Assizes has already ruled that computer records of calls made to and from the mobile phone of chief prosecution witness Tassos Simellides around the time of the shooting are not admissible as evidence.
But state prosecutor Petros Clerides has challenged this ruling on 11 legal points. Attorney-general Alecos Markides has now ruled the matter will be resolved by the island's highest judicial authority, the court heard yesterday.
Simellides has testified that the Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25, were, respectively, instigator, architect and hit-man for the May 29 attack on 57-year-old Fanieros. Father-of-three Simellides is serving a nine-year sentence for acting as get-away driver for the machine- gun attack at Fanieros's Larnaca gambling club.
The prosecution believe the computer records will back-up 28-year-old Simellides's testimony.
The three-bench court ruled last month the records could not be admitted as evidence because it had not been established beyond doubt that there was no way they could have been tampered with.
The court decided yesterday to continue with statements from further witnesses, laying the issue of the computer evidence aside for the time being in an effort to avoid excessive delay to the trial.
The trial will resume on February 5 and complete witness statements while the Supreme Court decides on the admissibility of the computer records.
The Assizes will not give its verdict concerning the three Aeroporos brothers, who deny the charges, until after the Supreme Court has ruled on the computer evidence.
 Olive oil strike could mean empty shelvesBy Aline Davidian
THERE could be widespread shortages of olive oil if six striking employees from the olive oil bottling company Sekep do not resume work.
The six began a strike yesterday to demand that the Sekep administrative council improve their working conditions and increase their salaries to the level of other semi-government organisations.
Sekep is a semi-government organisation under the control of the Commerce Ministry.
A spokesman for the strikers, Contantinos Yiangou, said the demands had originally been made in 1994 and were thought to have been considered positively during council and workers union (Sek) meetings.
"Unfortunately, however, the opposite proved to be the case, which is why we have ended up striking," he said.
Yiangou expressed regret for the strike's detrimental effect on the market, but said there had been no other alternative.
Predicting serious shortages if the strike continued, he pointed out that olive oil had already been in short supply since November.
"Sekep also supplies the National Guard," he added, "so it is likely to be affected if the strike continues".
Yiangou said he was confident Sek would competently handle ensuing meetings with the authorities.
Sekep administrative council president Andreas Michael, however, said it would be impossible to satisfy all the demands, as this would place the organisation under great financial strain.
"It saddens me that Sekep personnel decided to strike; their action is inexcusable and illegal," he said, adding that all demands for pay rises had been met since Sek had first reached an agreement with the government.
He pointed out that the current demands for salary hikes were 5.6 per cent higher than the increase agreed to, adding the six strikers had also called for promotion, and that three of them had in fact been accommodated.
The others' bid would have to be considered by the Personnel department of the Finance Ministry, he said.
Yiangou said four of the six strikers received monthly wages of £1,350 each, and called for Sek to end what he termed "the unjustifiable strike".
He said Sekep had already imported extra supplies from Crete to meet demand.
 Lawyers give 10 days before possible strike actionTHE CYPRUS Bar Council (CBC) has given the Justice Ministry 10 days to implement a delayed agreement on imprisonment orders, threatening a national lawyers' strike if the demand is not met.
The agreement was reached in November with the Justice and Finance Ministries. It provides for £1 duty stamps to be attached to imprisonment orders to cover the prison costs of debtors jailed for not repaying their creditors.
Without such stamps, the Ministry and Prison Commissioner are refusing to execute the orders, demanding that creditors' lawyers themselves cover the full prison costs in advance. Lawyers say this can cost them up as much as £800 to £1,000 a month.
An extraordinary general meeting of the CBC and wider Bar Association yesterday called on the Justice Ministry and Supreme Court Duty Stamps official to execute imprisonment orders until the House of Representatives gave formal approval to the agreement.
The CBC also called for pending orders to be given immediate effect.
In the meantime, CBC president Xenos Xenopoulos said "lawyers were being shunted from one official to the other" and the delay was causing them great financial problems. If the matter was not sorted out within 10 days, the CBC said it could not rule out the option of nation-wide strike action.
 Sale improves finances but not Cup prospectsCUP holders Apoel, now with only one foreign player on their books, take a slender one-goal lead to Paralimni today for a second round, second leg tie.
Apoel lost their second foreign player, when their Croatian top scorer Adnan Kozniku moved to French club Bastia. Before Christmas, Austrian midfielder Hertnagl walked out because of differences over pay.
If Kozniku had left first, Hertnagl may have stayed as his chief complaint was the delay in receiving his salary. The £200,000, reportedly received by Apoel for the Croat, would have ensured that the Austrian would be paid on time.
But while Kozniku's sale may have improved the club's bank balance, on the field his departure will cause problems. With an average of a goal per game, it is no exaggeration to say that he is irreplaceable, at least for this season.
Paralimni have plenty of problems of their own. Two players were this week suspended until the end of the season, after going for trial with clubs in Greece without informing their coach. Nigerian striker Lakki Isimbor, was fined £1,000 for going AWOL for one month.
Paralimni, after the confidence-boosting league win over Salamina last weekend, could overturn the result and knock out the demoralised holders who will also be without Soteriou.
Anorthosis, who returned to the top of the league table last weekend, travel to Larnaca where they have to defend a 1-0 first-leg lead against an inconsistent Aek.
The last time the two clubs met in Larnaca, Anorthosis were fortunate to get a draw, so Aek could still have the last word in the cup.
Team of the season Ethnikos Achnas should have no trouble securing a place in the quarter-finals, thanks to a 3-1 first-leg win over Alki. They are at home for the second leg and are unlikely to be threatened by strugglers Alki.
Ethnikos Ashia should enjoy one of their easiest afternoons today when they take on third division Yermasoyia in Nicosia, leading 3-1 from the first leg.
Apollonas will give their reserves a game today in Limassol against third division Apep. The Limassol club won the first leg 8-0 and can afford to rest several senior players.
Finally today, Evagoras meet Apop in the Paphos derby after a goalless first leg.
Omonia will be in for a tough time at Salamina on Sunday after drawing the home leg 1-1. This gives the edge to Salamina, who need to avoid conceding a goal to win through.
Another perfectly-balanced tie will be played on Sunday, with Ael going to Dherynia to play Anagennisis. The first leg tie ended goalless.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998
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