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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-01-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Sunday, January 25, 1998


  • [01] Turkey to take air base issue to Security Council
  • [02] Disy and Diko trade nepotism claims
  • [03] Half a million voters
  • [04] Turkish Cypriot pleads innocence to icon smuggling
  • [05] Students plan trouser strike
  • [06] Heart attack probably caused cemetery death
  • [07] Deadlock threatens the races

  • [01] Turkey to take air base issue to Security Council

    By Jean ChristouTURKEY yesterday said it would complain to the UN Security Council over the Paphos air base which was handed over to the government yesterday.

    "We are bringing this dangerous development to the attention of the United Nations Secretary-general and the head of the Security Council," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in the statement.

    It said Ankara would stand by the Turkish Cypriot breakaway state in the north.

    "Turkey will continue to take the necessary measures against any threat to the security of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as well as its own soil," the statement said.

    The contractors who built the Paphos air base yesterday morning handed it over to technical defence staff without a hint of ceremony.

    The low-key affair began out of the public eye at around 10am, according to state radio.

    Reports from Paphos said the Defence Ministry and National Guard technicians had toured the base for around two hours to check the installations.

    The handover was not an inauguration of the base nor an indication that it may become operational any time soon.

    The government has been at pains to make this clear ever since President Clerides told a TV show by that the base would be "delivered" on January 24.

    The government was yesterday also keen to stress the defensive nature of the base. Defence Minister George Charalambides said it was "clearly a defensive work, and will be used only in incidents where Cyprus suffers an attack."

    CyBC said yesterday that, according to sources in Athens, the base, designed to serve Greek military aircraft, would be officially inaugurated at the end of March by Greek Defence Minister Akis Tzohatzopoulos.

    Clerides has proposed that the base be named after the late Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou who, with Clerides, was the main instigator of the 1993 Cyprus-Greece defence dogma within which the base will operate.

    On Friday, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash threatened to "break the wings" of any planes taking off from the base.

    Under the headline "Tense day", Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris yesterday reported the base was being quietly handed over, but reports were rife in the north that Turkish forces had beefed up their positions along the Green Line.

    [02] Disy and Diko trade nepotism claims

    By Martin Hellicar

    DIKO leader Spyros Kyprianou "constantly" sought nepotistic favours while his party was in government, President Clerides claimed yesterday.

    Clerides said Kyprianou had even asked for then Justice Minister Alecos Evangelou to be sacked last year because he had refused to approve the appointment of Diko followers to police positions. The president said he had refused to meet Kyprianou's demand for Evangelou to go and had also rejected his erstwhile government coalition partner's "persistent" demands for nepotistic appointments to government positions.

    Evangelou eventually lost his cabinet post in a reshuffle a few months after his blow-out with Kyprianou.

    The President was responding yesterday to opposition claims that nepotism had been the order of the day during his five years of government.

    He said he had been so "totally unwilling" to use his position to grant "favours" to anyone that he had at times even caused displeasure within the ranks of his own party, Disy.

    "No one asked me for nepotistic favours because everyone knew I would reject any such proposals," he said during a morning radio interview. Kyprianou, according to Clerides, was a glaring exception to this rule.

    Kyprianou pulled Diko out of a government coalition with Disy late last year. His centre-right party have since formed a pact with left-wing Akel to back former Foreign Minister George Iacovou in the February 8 presidential elections.

    Clerides is seeking re-election with the backing of right-wing Disy.

    Diko's response to the President's attack, in a statement yesterday afternoon, was typical of the tone adopted in exchanges between Disy and Diko in past weeks.

    "Mr Kyprianou and the Diko party were forced on numerous occasions to react to the orgy of nepotism indulged in by Clerides and his associates," the statement read.

    "The ease with which Mr Clerides and his associates try to transpose the blame for their nepotistic practices onto Mr Kyprianou and Diko is quite amazing," Diko added.

    Diko charged Clerides with "twisting" the truth with "blatant and false claims."

    Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides, also running for President, added his two pennies worth to the nepotism debate by claiming the practice had been "rampant" during the Clerides years.

    [03] Half a million voters

    ALMOST half a million Cypriots will vote in the February 8 elections, more than half of them women.

    According to official figures released by the government, 446,731 Cypriots are eligible to vote, of which 219,313 are men and 227,418 women.

    Of the total, 16,938 are new voters in the 18 to 20 age, allowed to vote after a change in the electoral law dropping the voting age from 21 to 18.

    A poll released on Friday night claimed over 50 per cent of these first- time voters would vote for incumbent President Glafcos Clerides.

    While there is a larger number of women voting overall, the difference is concentrated in the 50+ age group, with the biggest male/female gap among the over-70s, where women outnumber men by 34,555 to 27,339.

    In the categories from 18 to 49, the majority of voters are men, though their lead is slight.

    The largest group of voters - both male and female - is in the 30 to 39 category, making up 92,000 people - almost a fifth of the total.

    Voting in Cyprus is compulsory and those who fail to do so can be fined or given a short prison sentence.

    Voting on February 8 will take place at 1,023 polling stations around the island. Nicosia will have 379 centres, Limassol 318, Famagusta district 44, Larnaca 162 and Paphos 120.

    Middle East church leader warn against rash actionsBy Hamza Hendawi IN A PASTORAL letter to their estimated 14 million followers, the heads and representatives of more than 30 Middle East churches gathered in Nicosia yesterday spoke of the problems facing Christians in the Muslim-dominated region, saying their dwindling number was a source of both sadness and concern.They also spoke of the need to boost the diminishing participation of Christians in public life and encourage the dialogue between Christians and Muslims to create a society where all citizens were treated equally.The letter was issued after Friday's meeting of the Middle East Council of Churches to discuss the "challenges" facing Christians in the area."Today, Christians face many problems which keep them from effective participation in public life, something which in turn gives rise to feelings of fear and anxiety," said the letter. "But despite these problems, which test the presence of Christians and their faith, we urge our sons... to deal with the present situation in a spirit of objectivity and wisdom and free from exaggeration and scare-mongering."But this does not mean that we should make light of the gravity of the situation and the need to deal with it," said the pastoral letter, distributed in a news conference held at the Archbishopric yesterday.The letter also called for boosting the dialogue between Muslims and Christians in the Middle East as a means of "creating a society based on respect for multi-ethnicity and total equality among its citizens."The pastoral letter appeared at pains to avoid details of the problems facing Middle East Christians or blame anyone for them.The role of Christians in society has traditionally been a thorny topic in the Arab world, often leading to questions of human and civil rights or controversial theological arguments on the place of non-Muslims in Muslim societies. Human right reports alleging discrimination against Christians by authorities in Arab countries are often dismissed out of hand as fictional or viewed with deep scepticism."The heads of churches are trying to find a path through all the extremities which could give rise to panic among Christians. But this does not mean they are treating the problems lightly," said one church official who participated in Friday's meeting.High on the list of current Christian concerns in the overwhelmingly Muslim Arab world is the rapid decline in the number of Christians and what many believe to be their increasing political marginalisation."The number of Christians is dwindling everywhere in the Arab world," said Tarek Mitri, a Lebanese who deals with inter-religious relations at the Geneva-based World Council of Churches. "Everyone has been whispering about the decline in the numbers, but now it is being openly discussed," he said.The 20th century saw hundreds of thousands of Arab Christians leaving for North America, Australia and Western Europe, mostly to seek a better life, but also to escape a Muslim revival which, in extreme cases, threatens to reactivate dormant Muslim tenets such as a special tax on non-Muslims.The pace of their departure has picked up in recent years with the rise in several Arab states of radical Muslim groups. Sectarian violence pitting Muslims against Christians in Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war led tens of thousands of Lebanese Christians to leave, and Muslim militants fighting the Egyptian government since 1992 have frequently attacked Christians.Sudan's Christian minority leaders and human rights reports have in recent years repeatedly accused the Islamic Khartoum government of engaging in an Islamisation programme targeting economically vulnerable groups, such as those who escaped fighting in the south of the country and sought refuse in largely Muslim areas in the north and west.

    [04] Turkish Cypriot pleads innocence to icon smuggling

    By Martin Hellicar

    A TURKISH Cypriot suspected of involvement in icon smuggling from churches in the north was yesterday remanded for a further eight days.

    Twenty-two-year-old Ali Can, resident near occupied Famagusta, was arrested in Larnaca on January 12 after accidentally driving over from the north. Police said they found 16 photographs of icons from occupied churches under a rug in the car he was driving, which bore registration plates issued by the occupation regime authorities.

    Larnaca District Court heard yesterday that police believed Can was a member of a gang smuggling icons and other religious artifacts from churches in the north to collectors in Germany and Holland.

    Investigating officer Theodoros Sergiou told the court that police were working with interpol to track down the suspect's accomplices. He said Can had admitted he had - under orders from an officer in the occupation forces - taken icons and other religious artifacts from seven churches in the Famagusta district during his military service in the north.

    Can said the artifacts were taken to the Ayios Yiannis church in Famagusta which the occupation regime had turned into a museum, the court heard.

    "I'm innocent, I have asked the UN to check that the icons in the pictures I have are those in the Ayios Yiannis church and not anywhere else," Can told the court yesterday.

    [05] Students plan trouser strike

    NO TROUSERS, no lessons: secondary school students are threatening to boycott classes on Wednesday in protest at the Education Ministry's refusal to allow girl students to wear trousers in the winter months.

    Students' co-ordinating committee Esem warned earlier this week that Wednesday's action would be a "first warning", with further "dynamic action" to come if the Ministry refused to budge.

    "The decision to take dynamic action was taken in view of the Ministry's intransigence and refusal to discuss the issue," an Esem statement read.

    Students have long been campaigning for girls to be allowed to switch the regulation grey skirt for grey trousers during the colder months of the year, but the Ministry has consistently rejected the idea.

    [06] Heart attack probably caused cemetery death

    By Jean Christou

    THE OLD man found dead by four British tourists in a Limassol cemetery on Friday probably died of a heart attack, state pathologist Panicos Stavrianos said yesterday.

    The 70-year-old British man, named by police as Peter Vickery, had arrived on the island on January 11 and was staying at a Limassol hotel.

    He was probably visiting the grave of a friend at the British military cemetery outside Limassol, Stavrianos said.

    The state pathologist said there were no signs of external injuries on the body, which was discovered by the four tourists on a pathway just inside the gates of the Limassol cemetery on Friday lunchtime.

    A post mortem scheduled for yesterday was postponed until Monday, Stavrianos said.

    He also said a vial of pills had been found in Vickery's coat pocket. "They may have been for diabetes or heart problems," Stavrianos said. "You don't get a well-dressed gentleman walking around with tablets in their pockets for no reason."

    The British tourists initially thought Vickery was asleep and even snapped a couple of pictures.

    It was only after they approached the body that they realised he was dead and had probably been there for at least 24 hours.

    The four tourists return to the UK today.

    [07] Deadlock threatens the races

    A STRIKE by jockeys is threatening to call off all races at the Nicosia racecourse today.

    The riders are protesting at the Horseracing Club's refusal to up its contribution to the jockeys' provident fund by 1 per jockey per month. As things stand the Club pays 2 per rider per month into the fund.

    Panayiotis Kazamias, the Club's general manager, has slammed the jockeys demands as "totally unreasonable". He said the Club paid money into the provident fund despite the fact that jockeys were self-employed. He said the contributions cost the Club 12,500 a year.

    Negotiations between the Club and jockeys failed to break the deadlock earlier this week and riders were yesterday determined to go ahead with a strike today.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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