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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-05-12
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Tuesday, May 12, 1998
 Gay bill will go straight to plenum debateBy Jean Christou
THE ISSUE of decriminalising homosexuality is likely to go to a full parliamentary debate without approval at committee level.
With little hope of approval by the parties in the Legal Affairs Committee, there is no option but to send the bill directly to the plenum for a full debate by May 28.
The Council of Europe (CoE) has given Cyprus one last chance to comply with a 1993 European Court of Human Rights ruling to reform the island's gay laws.
Cyprus has only until May 29 to comply or face serious repercussions, which could include expulsion from the CoE.
Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Panayiotis Demetriou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the parliamentary committee's report on the controversial issue would be released next week.
The report is likely to deem the committee's conclusion on the issue over the past three years as inconclusive. It will also set out the positions of each of the parties.
Only three House committee meetings and three plenum sessions remain before the May 29 deadline, and the issue has not been put on the agenda for this week, Demetriou said.
He said it had been impossible to obtain majority approval for the controversial bill at committee level.
Deputies have procrastinated on the matter for years in the face of public and Church opposition.
The Church, which lat month launched a scathing attack on Europe over the gay issue, has sent letters to all deputies calling on them to vote against the changes.
Previous attempts to approve the bill were met by demonstrations outside the House and threats that parties would lose votes.
Further demonstrations are likely when the bill does come up for discussion at the plenum.
Attorney-general Alecos Markides has repeatedly told deputies that Cyprus has no choice but to comply with the European decision.
He has warned that the island's failure to implement the European Court's 1993 ruling will have repercussions on outstanding cases by Greek Cypriot refugees against Turkey.
 UN to expand phone system in wake of massive demandBy Jean Christou
UNFICYP IS planning to expand the new automated phone lines linking the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides following the unexpectedly high demand, and in spite of the high call charges set in the north by the Denktash regime.
Since its' inauguration a week ago, the new system has been logging some 20, 000 calls a day between the two sides.
Demand is so high that callers are experiencing difficulties in getting through, said Norwegian diplomat Stein Stoa at a presentation at the UN- controlled Ledra Palace hotel yesterday evening.
The absence of a Turkish Cypriot presence at the gathering was noticeable, although they had been invited.
The presentation was held to thank the technicians involved in setting up the system, which was inaugurated by US envoy Richard Holbrooke on May 4, just before he left the island.
"The use of the system is proof enough it has been a valuable step forward, " Stoa said. "We are happy to note that it is difficult to get through because it means the system is being used."
The success of the project was marred last week by the announcement that the Turkish Cypriot side would be charging international rates on calls made from the north. Calls made from the government-held areas are charged at local rates.
But Unficyp Senior Adviser Peter Schmitz told the Cyprus Mail last night that the higher charges did not seem to be acting as a deterrent to the Turkish Cypriots.
"There is still a high demand and calls account for 50 per cent from each side," he said. "It shows money is not an issue. They have the urge to call."
He said the issue of the higher charges would, however, be raised with the Turkish Cypriot leadership. "We will see what justification they come up with," he added.
The Turkish Cypriot authorities say they are charging international rates because the calls are beyond "the borders of the TRNC".
The updated phone system is part of the Holbrooke's pet project to improve relations between the two sides in the businessmen's arena, an agreement reached in Brussels last November under his direction.
The project is being paid for by American money through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
There were previously only three manually operated lines between the two sides, capable of taking no more than 100,000 calls a year.
The 20 new automated lines, available on a 24-hour basis, will be able to handle some 750,000 calls.
Telephone, fax lines and e-mail are currently the only means of
communication between the two sides, since Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash banned all bi-communal meetings in the wake of the EU's decision to open accession talks with the government of Cyprus.
 Accusations fly over blame for Aids priest storyBy Jean Christou
OMBUDSMAN Nicos Charalambous said yesterday he would have intervened in the Aids priest furore if he had had the discretionary power to do so.
Charalambous was speaking before the House Human Rights Committee, which yesterday debated who was to blame for leaking the name of a priest who allegedly has Aids.
The motion to establish tighter controls against the naming of Aids sufferers was tabled to the Committee by Limassol Diko deputy Marios Matsakis.
In the case of the priest, whose identity was confirmed last week by Archbishop Chrysostomos as Archimandrite Pancratios Meraklis, criticism was rife as all sides blamed each other.
Charalambous said there had been a violation of the patient's human rights; had he had the discretionary powers to intervene he would have done so, he said.
"The media failed to respect the rights of patients," he said.
The newspapers were the last in a long line of those responsible for the publicity given to the case.
According to Akel deputy Kyriacos Tirimos, doctors had deliberately leaked the results of the test.
The media also shared responsibility by publishing the details contravening media ethics, he charged.
Matsakis said the Hippocratic oath had been violated by the laboratory that had carried out the test. He said the patient had given consent for an Aids tests.
Senior Health Ministry official Constantinos Mallis said the name was not leaked by the health services but by private individuals.
Officials from the Medical Association repeated that an investigation was under way, and said that if any doctor was found responsible, appropriate measures would be taken.
Representatives of the private laboratories blamed doctors, saying that Aids tests were only carried out on doctors' instructions and written consent of the patient.
Defending the media, Journalists Union chief Andreas Kannaouros said the violation of ethics had first been committed by the doctors, the Church and only then by the media.
Former Justice Minister Alecos Evangelou, recently-appointed chairman of the Broadcasting Advisory Authority, said his organisation fully respected the issue of human rights, but "without ignoring the right of the public to information". "The media has to be self-regulating," he said.
 Chaos in the Diko ranksBy Martin Hellicar
A PROPOSAL for the resignation of Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou has bee tabled before the party's conference, leadership contender Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday.
"There was a suggestion for Mr Kyprianou to withdraw from party activity and for Mr Tassos Papadopoulos to take over," Chrysostomides said in a state radio interview, confirming widespread reports in yesterday's papers.
Chrysostomides said this proposal enjoyed the support of many delegates at the weekend conference, but added that Papadopoulos -- the centre-right party's parliamentary spokesman -- was saying it was up to Kyprianou to decide on the issue.
Kyprianou himself was unwilling to step down and wanted to stick around for long enough to appoint his own successor rather than being ousted in a leadership contest, Chrysostomides said.
Sixty-five-year-old Kyprianou has been Diko chief ever since he formed the party 20 years ago.
Chrysostomides' statements appeared to confirm reports that the party was moving towards giving Papadopoulos a vice-president post with Kyprianou staying on as leader for another year, after which Papadopoulos would take over.
Chrysostomides said Kyprianou and Papadopoulos did not wish to stand against each other in a leadership election. He also confirmed that his own candidacy was still valid.
He said the party leadership was angling for a postponement of leadership elections, but counselled against this himself, saying elections would "rejuvenate" the party.
Diko has been in turmoil ever since the February presidential elections, when it was rocked by internal revolt after choosing to abandon a government coalition with President Clerides's Disy party and join with left-wing Akel in backing George Iacovou. Iacovou lost the election to Clerides.
The party conference over the weekend aimed at reviewing the situation since the election defeat and deciding how to deal with rebels in the party ranks who had refused to back Iacovou.
The conference was far from serene, with speakers supporting the return of the rebels shouted down and Chrysostomides claiming he was punched by delegates opposed to his candidacy.
Party secretary general Stathis Kittis spoke against immediate leadership elections yesterday, saying the current leadership should have its remit renewed until September.
Alexis Galanos, a prominent Diko rebel who has since formed his own party, slammed the conference as a "sham". He said the Diko leadership was trying to put off party elections and impose a "pre-determined result" on the party faithful.
Galanos said the solution to Diko's ills would not be found within the party.
The Diko conference is set to continue this weekend.
 Clerides promises stricter strike lawsBy Martin Hellicar
PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday said the government was pushing forward with a tightening up of the law governing strikes in "vital" sectors.
"The government aims at the more correct regulation of the right to strike where it concerns vital services. That is services whose interruption threatens the life and health of the public or public security," Clerides said.
Addressing the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Employers and Industrialists Federation (Oev) in Nicosia yesterday, Clerides said his government would be seeking to review strike law "in a way that maximises the possibility of peaceful resolution of (employer-employee) differences."
"I stress that the government has no intention of abolishing the right to strike," he stated. But, he said, the existing law was antiquated and "clashes with generally accepted democratic principles."
The president also called on social partners to show "restraint" when re- negotiating the collective agreements of about 100,000 workers this year. Clerides said keeping labour costs down was crucial to the health of the economy.
"I hope that unnecessary confrontations will be kept at bay and the collective agreements will be renewed peacefully in order to avoid further corrosion of the competitiveness of our economy," the President said.
He said the economy had performed satisfactorily last year and prospects were good for 1998, provided labour costs could be kept down and public deficits reduced.
Economic growth reached 2.5 per cent in 1997 and was expected to reach 4.5 per cent in 1998, he told delegates. Unemployment would be reduced to 3 per cent and inflation brought down from 3.6 per cent last year to 3 per cent, always provided costs were controlled, Clerides stated.
Collective agreements in over 200 sectors come up for renewal this year.
The government would be doing its part to help keep the economy competitive by introducing a series of modernisation measures, Clerides said. Among these measures was a restructuring of the civil service to improve productivity and curb recruitment rates, the AGM heard.
In his speech, Oev chairman Andreas Pittas called for "brave" action from the government to curb the powers of striking workers. He said industry needed state support to reverse the downward trends he said were evident in many sectors of the economy.
 Swedish tour giant warns Larnaca it could pull outBy Andrea Sophocleous
A BIG Swedish tour operator is threatening to exclude Larnaca from its programme unless the city takes urgent steps towards improving its tourist product.
In a letter addressed to Larnaca Council, to the Cyprus Hotels Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the city's police chief, the Swedish organisation lists a number of complaints by Swedish tourists who holiday in Larnaca. Specific mention is made to the piles of seaweed on Larnaca's beaches, the problem of noise pollution and the issue of the early closure of Larnaca discos, which causes Swedish tourists to seek the livelier offerings of Ayia Napa's nightlife.
This latest development is a new blow for Larnaca in view of its poor showing in Cyprus' tourism market.
In the last two years, Larnaca has seen a marked fall in its share of the market in comparison to the other resorts on the island. It came last in terms of hotel bookings in 1996 and 1997. In 1996, only 43.5 per cent of Larnaca's hotel capacity was filled, while the figure was 60 per cent for the free areas of Famagusta, 54 per cent in Limassol and 60 per cent in Paphos. In 1997, Larnaca's hotel bookings fell to 38.5 per cent of capacity.
The Swedish tour operator is one of the biggest doing business with Larnaca, bringing tourists to ten hotels in the area.
The president of the Larnaca branch of the Cyprus Hotels Association, Fotis Adonis, yesterday confirmed that Larnaca faced a serious problem, arguing city officials -- the ones with the power to do something about it -- must realise this and heed calls for improvement of the area.
He listed the further development of the seaside Finikoudes area, the completion of the Larnaca to Dhekelia road, the construction of parking areas in the town centre and the general cleaning up of the city as the main challenges for the city's local council.
And he added that the seaweed problem could be solved, though he stressed the cleaning up had to be done on a regular basis.
The council does clear away the seaside mess during the summer months, but Adonis pointed out that tour operators came to Cyprus in the winter to assess hotels and local services -- and were then struck by the tide of seaweed.
He was having to put winter guests in rooms looking away from the beach so that they did not have a view of the piles of seaweed, Adonis said.
And the Larnaca hotel association head blamed the problem of noise pollution on powerful motorcycles that race up and down the town's seaside road into the early hours of the morning.
Adonis accused police of not doing anything to monitor the noise.
The mayor of Larnaca was yesterday unavailable for comment.
 Clerides gives in on issue of title deedsPRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday withdrew his threats to challenge the package of amendments blocking the issuing of title deeds to refugees.
The six amendments to a bill laying out the framework for the distribution of title deeds for refugee houses were passed by the House plenum in November, after being voted in by Akel, Diko and Edek deputies who said Clerides' plans to issue the deeds were a vote-winning ploy and tantamount to accepting the finality of the status quo created by the invasion.
At the time, Clerides sent the package of amendments back to the house. He also threatened to challenge them before the Supreme Court if the house insisted on passing them.
Now, however, he has said that no further title deeds to refugee property will be issued.
On the day the amendments were passed, around 2,800 deeds were sent out after the land Registry Department was instructed to pull out all the stops to get the documents in the post before the House addressed the issue.
 Union reprimanded for alleged shipping scamTHE CYPRIOT affiliate of an international trade union representing seafarers has been given a slap on the wrist by the foreign organisation.
According to Lloyds List, an alleged abuse of a scheme allowing Cypriot- owned tonnage exemption from international union sanctions against flags of convenience looks set to end.
Under the rules of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), ships genuinely owned by Cypriots are exempt from ITF sanctions on open registries like that of Cyprus.
National companies are given yellow cards to distinguish then from foreign ones under the same flag.
But according to Lloyds, the Cypriot affiliate union, part of the Sek federation, has been issuing yellow cards to foreign firms through a process informally known as "christening".
Under the scheme, lawyers, clerks, shipping agents and accountants signed affidavits on behalf of foreign owners claiming that ships belonged to them.
Lloyds claimed that one secretary with a monthly salary of £500 was thus alleged to 'own' 23 vessels.
In return for the yellow cards, the foreign ship owners then signed the Cyprus Collective Agreement with the union -- which in some cases provides for wages lower than those stipulated by the ITF.
Other ITF affiliates opposed to the actions of the Cyprus branch argued that it was accruing union dues that should have gone to them.
The matter was thrashed out at a meeting at the end of last month in Limassol with 20 delegates, including those from ITF in London.
They believe the system operating in Cyprus promoted irresponsibility, as real owners could sometimes not be established in the case of casualties.
The ITF has threatened that unless a correct list of Cypriot owners is produced, all Cyprus-flagged vessels, irrespective of ownership, would be asked to sign standard ITF agreements.
An official at Sek said yesterday the yellow cards were given out strictly in accordance with the rules and regulations set out at a meeting with the ITF in September 1995.
He said the entire issue has been exaggerated and that the Cyprus branch has given "satisfactory" explanations to the ITF.
 Turkish Cypriot plane overshoots runwayA TURKISH Cypriot airliner overshot the runway at occupied Tymbou airport on Sunday in the illegal airport's first ever aeroplane accident.
The incident happened when a Boeing 727 operated by so-called Cyprus Turkish Airways (CTA) and arriving from Nurenberg via Antalya, touched down half way down the runway, failed to stop before it ran out and ended up in a muddy field beyond the end of the runway.
Three fire engines rushed to the scene and sprayed foam over the stricken plane to prevent fire. The nine crew members and 98 passengers, mostly tourists, were immediately taken off the plane. There were no injuries.
The airport was closed to air traffic until the plane could be towed to a hangar for repairs.
According to reports in yesterday's Turkish Cypriot press, airline officials have blamed a technical fault for the incident, although the 'Civil Aviation Department' has cited pilot error.
 Serdar Denktash survives horror crashSERDAR Denktash, son of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and 'Deputy Prime Minister' of the occupation regime, narrowly escaped death on Sunday when his four-wheel-drive car lost a wheel and overturned.
Denktash was travelling with his family near occupied Tymbou Airport when the right hand front wheel of their Toyota Land Cruiser came off.
The vehicle skidded off the road and overturned in a neighbouring field. Authorities have yet to determine why the wheel came off, although press reports said Denktash has played down suggestions of sabotage. He and his family escaped with minor scratches.
The accident occurred close to the spot where Rauf Denktash's elder son Raif died in a car crash in 1985.
 Eurovision phone farceTHE EUROVISION Song Contest's new voting system failed to impress at the weekend, as only three per cent of would-be voters in Cyprus actually got through.
Cypriot Eurovision followers jammed the lines on Saturday night to vote for their favourite song, with only 5,000 of the 150,000 calls registering a vote.
The problem would seem to lie with the short time allocated to voting -- only calls made within a five-minute period were recorded.
This was the first year of the new phone voting system and in Cyprus 60 phone lines were assigned for the 24 phone numbers corresponding to the contestant countries. The 150,000 calls do not include calls that failed to get through due to congestion at the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) switchboards.
Political alliances were also a factor in the contest, Cyprus being the only country to vote for Greece's entry. Cypriot voters gave 12 points to Greece, 10 to Israel, eight to the United Kingdom, seven to Croatia, six to Belgium, five to Malta, four to Spain, three to Norway, two to Portugal and one to France.
The Cypriot entry, Genesis sung by Michael Hadgiyiannis, scored 37 points, coming in 11th out of the 25 songs. It received points from Croatia (4), Greece (12), Slovakia (5). Israel (1), Malta (1), Hungary (1), Portugal (4), Romania (4), the United Kingdom (3) and Belgium (2).
The winner was the much-discussed transsexual, Dana International, representing Israel who scored 174 points. Despite protests by orthodox Jews that Dana's participation in the contest would send "a message of darkness to the world", the pre-contest publicity did not harm the prospects of Dana, who impressed viewers with the up-beat rhythms of her song, Diva.
 Man held on rape chargeA 28-YEAR-OLD man was remanded in custody yesterday, charged with raping a 15-year-old girl.
Police said the girl, who has not been named, reported that she had been abducted in the Strovolos area last Thursday by the suspect who then allegedly raped her in his car.
The man was arrested yesterday and later remanded for five days by Nicosia district court.
 British tourist killed in highway crashA BRITISH tourist lost his life on the Larnaca to Limassol motorway on Sunday after his car was involved in a head-on collision with a lorry.
Police reported that 29-year-old Christopher Marsh was fatally injured around midday when his saloon crashed into a lorry which had smashed through the central reservation barrier from the opposite side of the motorway. The victim's British wife, Serena, was slightly injured in the crash, as was the lorry driver, 25-year-old Bulgarian Ivan Ivanov.
According to police, the lorry veered from it's course, crashed through the barrier, overturned and ended up on the wrong side of the road. Police said they sought but were unable to secure a warrant to arrest Ivanov for questioning in connection with the fatal accident.
The circumstances of the crash were being investigated yesterday.
 British commander honoured for Bosnia dutyTHE COMMANDER of British forces in Cyprus has been awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for outstanding service while he was posted in Bosnia last year.
Major General Angus Ramsay received the top award for his work commanding 8, 500 troops in the armoured division of the Nato Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia prior to taking up his Cyprus posting earlier this year.
"As Commander last Summer of Nato's multi-national division (South West) based at Banja Luka, Major General Ramsay was instrumental in restoring calm to a tense stand-off between Serbian hard-liners and moderates," a British bases announcement stated yesterday.
The bases commander was loathe to take all the credit for the award. "The DSO comes as a great honour. However, it is awarded for the collective efforts of many hard-working and courageous individuals under my command in Bosnia," he said. "They were tense times, and the muscle of my Nato-led armoured division provided the foundations for a solution."
This is the second DSO award Ramsay has received during his 34 years of army service. The Major General was awarded the Omani DSO in the 1970s while commanding a rifle company of the Sultan of Oman's armed forces during the Dhofar War. He has also received a CBE.
 Government hits back at Bir commentsGOVERNMENT Spokesman Christos Stylianides yesterday expressed disappointment over the lack of international reaction to claims by Celik Bir, the Turkish army's Second in Command, that the occupation forces are "a factor of stability in Cyprus and will not withdraw".
Stylianides said those concerned about instability in Cyprus should look to Turkey for the cause of it, "and not to the government of Cyprus".
Bir was currently visiting the occupied areas at the weekend when he made his statements.
Stylianides also said that Turkish threats regarding the deployment of the S-300 missiles were well known, as was the reaction of "certain circles of the international community".
He added that the government had clearly expressed its views on the subject to those voicing dissention over the missiles, but repeated that the S-300s would not be deployed if either demilitarisation or substantial progress towards a solution were evident.
Commenting on discussions between State Department Co-ordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller and Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos concerning Turkish overflights in Cyprus, Stylianides said that Athens and Nicosia were co-ordinated in their efforts on this, and were working together within the parameters of the joint defence dogma to combat such offences.
 Anorthosis win second title in rowBy George Christou
ANORTHOSIS clinched their second successive league championship on Saturday by crushing Evagoras, as had been widely expected, 6-0 at Antonis Papadopoulos stadium.
It was the third league title in four years for the Famagusta side whose immediate target will be to improve on last year's impressive European campaign, when they narrowly missed out on the group stages of the Champions League.
They will once again have to play preliminary rounds, but with little bit of luck in the draw and with the experience they gained last season, they could sneak into the lucrative group stages.
This is not the main concern at present. The champions still have Saturday's cup final against Apollonas to think about. Achieving the double had been Anorthosis' objective from the start of the season so there will be no relaxing quite yet.
Anorthosis finished the league season four points above second-placed Omonia, who were held to a goalless draw by Ethinkos Achna on Saturday. They did not lose a single game away, but their unbeaten run at home, which stretched to almost four years was ended this season.
They had the best defence which conceded just 18 goals in 26 games and the second best attack with 87. Omonia scored 90 although it should be pointed out that 42 of those came from the season's top marksman Rainer Rauffman.
Second-placed Omonia gave the champions a good run for their money and could have beat them to the post if they had not squandered their chances, including a missed penalty, 10 days ago when the two sides drew 2-2 in Nicosia.
Omonia must be disappointed, particularly after a run of 23 games without defeat, but they will not begrudge Anorthosis of the title which, on balance, the Famagusta side deserved.
At the other end of the table, Salamina defeated Apop 2-1 and sent the Paphos side to the second division for a record eighth time. Apop, who have been relegated from the top division more times than any other club, will be joined in the second division by Anagennisis and Ethnikos Ashia.
Apop could have stayed up if they had converted the chances they created in the first half against Salamina. They did not, while the harsh sending off of Socratous for a second bookable offence in the 64th minute, condmened Apop to relegation.
Salamina took control of the game only after securing the numerical advantage, scoring twice through Michic and Ioannides. Charalambous replied for Apop five minutes from time.
Anagennisis finished above Apop in 12th place after beating Paralimni 3-2, while Ethnikos Ashia returned to division two on a high note - they inflicted a humiliating 3-1 deafeat on Apoel at the Makarios stadium.
Ashia, in their first ever season in the top division, lacked both the human resources and the experience to stay up, although their poorly-paid footballers played with much more pride than the highly-paid, spoilt stars of Apoel, who conceded 15 goals in their last three defeats.
Alki survived for another season in the first division, helped by the fact that in their last game they defeated a disinterested and below strength Ael 4-1.
Finally, third-placed Apollonas, who meet Anorthosis in Saturday's cup final, were held to a goalless draw in Larnaca by Aek who have not won in their last nine league games. Aek's good performances in the first ha;f of the season ensured them fifth place in the table.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998