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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-06-05

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Friday, June 5, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Warning to unions as CY strike is called off
  • [02] Taxi driver jailed for 20 years for murder of tourist
  • [03] Foreign expert brought in to fix UN phone problems
  • [04] Madden: we're not going to give up
  • [05] Priceless icon to be seized
  • [06] Vassiliou defends missile policy
  • [07] Top EU officials arrive for progress talks
  • [08] £20 million Limassol by-pass plan
  • [09] House backs government marina plan
  • [10] New evidence emerges on civil service scam
  • [11] Shopkeepers protest 'discriminatory' hours
  • [12] Remember the environment
  • [13] Agon to close down
  • [14] Dhekelia motorshow promises to be bigger and better

  • [01] Warning to unions as CY strike is called off

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) cabin crew yesterday called off today's planned strike after the intervention of a ministerial committee.

    New talks between the stewards' union Cynika and airline management began late yesterday afternoon in an effort to resolve outstanding differences.

    But after the eleventh-hour meeting at which Cynika agreed to postpone the 24-hour strike, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis issued a slap on the wrist to the airline's unions.

    "I will not get into the essence of the dispute but what I will say is that these things will lead Cyprus Airways to a position where it is not competitive, and when this happens the government will not come and bail them out," Rolandis said.

    "I at least as one of the ministers will not accept taxpayers' money being used in this saga."

    Rolandis said that soon air transport liberalisation would mean low-cost airlines coming to Cyprus and offering cheaper fares.

    "How will our company respond with the mentality that exists?" he asked. "It will lead to suicide and they (the employees) will be crying over spilt milk. But it will be too late because Cyprus Airways is not going to be saved by taxpayers' money."

    Cynika, which wants a 4.5 per cent rise in wages and other benefits, agreed to call off the strike and to begin talks after the meeting with Rolandis and two other government ministers.

    The union says that under a 1995 agreement with the airline its members are entitled to the same wage increases as those agreed in the semi-government sector. This amounts to 2.5 per cent in wages from January 1, 1997 and 2.0 per cent in benefits.

    Cyprus Airways says it cannot afford the raises demanded without financially ruining the company.

    Airline sources said yesterday the union has to understand that the company "means business". "And the government has stood by us," the sources said.

    Cynika president Costas Demetriou said yesterday's agreement to return to negotiations does not constitute mediation. "It's an intervention to find common ground between the two sides to solve their problems," he said.

    "If management has goodwill then we welcome it, but we have to see this goodwill at the negotiating table."

    Airline spokesman Tassos Angelis said that while management welcomes yesterday's developments, a huge amount of damage has already been caused to the company.

    "In air transportation just the threat of a strike is enough to cause great damage," he said.

    "In the ten days since this strike has been looming hundreds of passengers have cancelled their flights."

    Angelis said the good name of Cyprus Airways has been damaged internationally.

    "From the beginning we have characterised this strike as not only dangerous but unnecessary," he said.

    Some 5,000 passengers on 32 flights would have been affected by a strike today.

    Cyprus Airways pilots are also on the verge of strike action after a failing to agree on the renewal of their collective agreement.

    They will meet next Wednesday to take a decision.

    [02] Taxi driver jailed for 20 years for murder of tourist

    By Martin Hellicar

    A LARNACA taxi driver was yesterday jailed for 20 years for the brutal murder of a French tourist on Christmas day last year.

    Kyriacos Andreas Zanas, 36, from Kiti village outside Larnaca, had pleaded guilty to shooting 49-year-old Jacqueline Françoise Chomik shortly after picking her up from Larnaca airport.

    During the trial, the Limassol Assizes heard that after the shooting Zanas went boozing while his victim lay dead in the boot of his taxi and later took in a strip-show after dumping the corpse down a 100-foot well.

    "The circumstances of the killing can cause only revulsion," the president of the three-bench court, Judge Efi Papadopoulou, stated when passing sentence yesterday.

    The judge stressed the cold-blooded nature of the killing. In a statement to police read out in court, Zanas said he had an argument with his customer, "saw red", drove off the Larnaca to Limassol highway onto a dirt track near Moni, demanded that Chomik get out of the cab and then shot her four times with his hunting rifle at point-blank range, hitting her twice in the stomach and once in the face.

    He then put her bloodied body in the boot of his cab and drove back to Larnaca airport, the court heard. There, he met up with a taxi-driver friend and went to a party at the home of another colleague, the prosecution stated.

    After four hours of drinking, he left the party with his friend and told him of the body in his car boot. The two men then drove to the village of Xylotymbou, about 30km from Larnaca, and dumped Chomik's body down a dry well, the prosecution said.

    The two friends then drove to a Nicosia cabaret to enjoy a floor-show, the court heard.

    "This (behaviour) shows that there was no trace of respect on the part of the accused, not even for the victim's dead body," the judge stated yesterday.

    Zanas showed no emotion as the sentence was read out. Some of his relatives in the court-room broke down in tears.

    The court dismissed the defence case for mitigation. The defence had asked the bench to take into consideration that Zanas had a drug habit and psychological problems. A psychiatric report showed he had a disturbed personality and had difficulty controlling his impulses, the court heard. The defence also argued that the killing had not been premeditated and that Zanas had, ultimately, been very co-operative with police. Zanas had three children from two different marriages, his lawyer, Andreas Andreou added.

    Zanas was arrested on February 7 after the DNA blueprint of blood stains discovered on his cab was found closely to match that of Chomik's relatives. Police say that on February 8, a month after Chomik's disappearance, Zanas led them to a well near Xylotymbou where the victim's body was discovered.

    Another Larnaca airport taxi driver, 38-year-old Panicos Andreou, alias Shioferos, has been charged with helping Zanas dispose of the body. Shioferos has pleaded not guilty to charges of being an accessory after the fact.

    [03] Foreign expert brought in to fix UN phone problems

    By Jean Christou

    THE U.N. has brought in an expert to iron out glitches in the phone system connecting the two sides of the Green Line, spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski said yesterday.

    Rokoszewski, who was commenting on the findings of a UN report on the telephone system, said the expert, brought in from Italy, would be working on the system for a few weeks.

    But Rokoszewski said the report by UN technicians, which was completed yesterday, found nothing more amiss then teething troubles.

    Businessmen from both sides, who have been using the new automated 20-line system since it became operational last month, complained on Wednesday of constant disruptions.

    But Rokoszewski disagreed.

    "The system is operational and functioning," he said.

    He said that in the 24-hours between June 2 and June 3, 1,380 calls had been made between the two sides.

    Rokoszewski said 929 of the calls emanated from the Greek Cypriot side and 451 from the Turkish Cypriot side.

    He could not confirm the claims by the businessmen's group that Turkish Cypriots using the telephone lines were asking their Greek Cypriot friends to call them back because they could not afford the high cost of calls in the north.

    Days after the new system was inaugurated by US presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke, the Turkish Cypriot regime imposed international rates on calls made across the Green Line.

    Rokoszewski said the UN was still talking to the Turkish Cypriot side to convince them to reverse this policy.

    "But their position remains unchanged," he said.

    It was Holbrooke who proposed the idea of upgrading the UN phone system from three manually operated lines to the 20 automated lines during a meeting of leading Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen in Brussels last November.

    Rokoszewski said that until everything was running smoothly, the old three- line manual system would remain operational.

    He said members of the Greek Cypriot enclaved community in occupied Karpasia who might be having difficulties with the new system should use the old one for the time being.

    [04] Madden: we're not going to give up

    BRITAIN believes that improved relations between the EU and Turkey would assist efforts for a political settlement to the Cyprus problem, David Madden said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with President Clerides, the British High Commissioner said that, irrespective of Turkey's reaction to the conclusions of the Cardiff EU summit this month, the Cyprus question would still have to be tackled.

    Madden said Cardiff would be a "very good occasion to see what the possibilities are on Cyprus", and if the relationship between the EU and Turkey is put on a marginally better footing, that should be "helpful for our efforts on Cyprus".

    "We will have to think about Cyprus in any case, whatever the outcome of Cardiff is, whatever the Turkish reaction is, because speaking of Cyprus, the goal remains to work towards a settlement," Madden said. "We must continue that work, we are not going to give up on that work."

    Replying to questions, Madden said the issue of the S-300 missiles had been raised at yesterday's meeting with the President.

    Madden made it clear that Britain's reservations about the arrival of the missiles in Cyprus related to the likelihood of increased tensions, and the fact they would divert attention from the peace effort; Britain had no concerns about the powerful radar system with which the missiles are equipped.

    "That is a misconception. We fear that the arrival of the system on the island would lead not to greater security but to greater tension, and secondly we feel it diverts attention from what we see is the main goal, which is to progress towards a political settlement," Madden said.

    [05] Priceless icon to be seized

    THE Greek government yesterday pledged to seize and return to the Church of Cyprus a 15th century icon taken from a church in the occupied area and exhibited at an Athens museum since 1984.

    The Church has been fighting a legal battle since 1992 to have the priceless icon, from the Panayia tou Antiphoniti church in Kalogrea village, returned.

    A Church announcement last night said the Greek Culture Ministry yesterday promised to seize the icon and return it to Cyprus.

    The icon has been hanging on the walls of the Athens Byzantine Museum since it was loaned to it for a year by a private collector in Greece.

    [06] Vassiliou defends missile policy

    CYPRUS has no desire to spend huge sums of money on defence, and is in full favour of demilitarisation, but the purchase of the S-300 missiles is legitimate as it will strengthen our defence, Chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou has said.

    In an interview given to the Turkish Daily News in Paris and published yesterday, Vassiliou said the S-300s were purely defensive and were being purchased because, as a country with no air force and no hope of getting one, Cyprus needed protection in this area.

    Vassiliou is in Paris to hold talks with French officials.

    During the interview, he also referred to the island's EU accession, saying he "sincerely hoped" the Turkish Cypriots would eventually take part, but adding that the negotiations had begun without them due to Turkish Cypriot Leader Rauf Denktash's consistent refusal to co-operate on the matter.

    The concept of Cyprus as part of the EU had been introduced by the set of ideas laid out by former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Vassiliou continued, specifying that the ideas did not call for a Cyprus solution prior to accession. Although Denktash had agreed to "95 per cent" of the Ideas, he objected to the core of the concepts, and as such they had not been adopted. He said he too had reservations about certain points mentioned in the plan.

    Vassiliou went on to say that he did not believe that US Emissary Richard Holbrooke could "breathe life" into the stalled peace process, since the "Turkish side is so negative at the moment".

    "I have heard that Mr Denktash has told some people that he is now in the position he has always wanted to hold," Vassiliou added.

    But he concluded on a more hopeful note, stating that his aims were "to be associated with a policy that aims to create a real federation in Cyprus in which both Turkish and Greek Cypriots would be able to live in peace."

    Confrontation would be destructive for all, Vassiliou said. "In a war scenario, no one would win."

    [07] Top EU officials arrive for progress talks

    NIKOLAUS Van Der Pas, Director General of the European Commission's Task Force for accession negotiations, arrived in Cyprus yesterday to hold talks on the island's preparation for EU accession.

    The visit is also intended to give the EU officials a clearer picture of the Cyprus situation.

    Speaking on arrival at Larnaca, Van Der Pas said that Cyprus' accession process had so far been smooth and fast, having already moved through eight of the 31 negotiating chapters.

    He warned, however, that it would soon move on to more difficult chapters, which would undoubtedly require more detailed discussions. If any political problems came up, he said, they would be dealt with by the member states and candidate countries.

    During his stay, Van Der Pas, who is accompanied by the Task Force's negotiator on Cyprus, Leopold Maurer, will meet President Glafcos Clerides, House President Spyros Kyprianou, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou and Cyprus' Chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou.

    They will also hold contacts with the permanent secretaries of all the ministries and with officials from the Attorney-general's office.

    Van Der Pas said the screening process for all the countries hoping for accession would end in 1999, but that the EU had not yet decided how to proceed if a country's process ended before then.

    The two officials will leave Cyprus on Monday.

    [08] £20 million Limassol by-pass plan

    THE GOVERNMENT has approved a £20 million project to rebuild the Limassol by-pass by the Spring of 2001.

    The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by President Glafcos Clerides and attended by Communication and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides, the mayors of Limassol, Yermasoyia and Agios Athanasios and Limassol deputies.

    In particular, construction work will focus on the improvement of the roundabouts of Mesa Yitonia, Ayia Fyla and Polemidia and the roundabout near Limassol port, which present the most serious traffic problems.

    Speaking after the meeting, the Communication and Works Minister said the decision had been taken to speed up the process so that reconstruction could be completed within one and a half years.

    He stated that in order to save time, an environmental impact study would not be carried out. Instead, a study on minimising impact will be conducted during construction, thereby speeding up the project by one year.

    The roundabouts are expected to be ready by Spring 2001, and will run up a bill of £20 million.

    Meanwhile in Paphos, the plans and environmental impact study for the Paphos to Polis Chrysochou motorway were presented to the local authorities last night.

    The new motorway will continue the route of the Limassol to Paphos motorway and its construction will complete the lengthy project to connect the island's free areas, providing easier access to Polis Chrysochou.

    The importance attributed to the motorway is evident in the suggestion by Polis local authorities that money earmarked for upgrading the Polis hospital be spent on the road instead. The motorway will allow local residents to reach Paphos in a matter of minutes instead of the half an hour that it takes now.

    [09] House backs government marina plan

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    THE HOUSE Commerce and Industry Committee has sided with Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis to push for the liberalisation of marinas on the island.

    The House will be ready before the summer break to proceed with the approval of legislation regarding the operation of existing marinas, as well as those due to be built.

    This was stated by the chairman of the committee, Dimitris Filouris, who summed up the general consensus on giving the House the right to proceed with the liberalisation of marinas.

    The committee was unanimous in calling for marinas to be passed on to the private sector by putting them out to tender with the following conditions: good management, the guaranteed security of the state, the upholding of international regulations and the securing of minimal benefits to the state.

    It was also agreed to divide marinas into four categories and make suggestions for each one separately. The first category will apply to the existing Larnaca marina; the second to the Sheraton private marina; the third to the old Limassol port, which functions as a marina; and the fourth category will deal with the marinas which are yet to be constructed.

    Rolandis, who attended the meeting, repeated the urgent need to build new marinas as an effective source of cash flow for the government.

    "Give the government the opportunity," he said, "to create these marinas, and the free market will take care of the mooring charges. The price will be set not by the House, nor the cabinet, nor the Minister involved, but by the free market, and it will have to be high because this is money coming to Cyprus. Why should we lose it?"

    The Minister highlighted that marinas provided a good source of income. "People will come, moor their boats and stay on as tourists for about a month during which time they will spend money. And these are people who probably have more money than others," he said.

    He went on to argue that with the current realities of the tourism sector, Cyprus urgently needed another five or six marinas. The construction of these marinas would cost £80 million.

    But the Minister explained that the state would avoid spending money by passing on the construction and running of the new marinas to the private sector.

    Rolandis concluded by repeating that there were 1,400 marinas in Europe today; 780 in France; 315 in Spain; 130 in Greece and 28 in Turkey. He pointed out that mooring charges for a boat in Sardinia cost $1,000 a day, whereas in Cyprus it was just $5.

    [10] New evidence emerges on civil service scam

    POLICE have unearthed further evidence relevant to the case of a top civil servant suspected of getting his subordinates to work on his luxury home.

    Police spokesman Glafcos Xenos said the new statements "broadened the scope" of the case.

    Reports earlier in the week suggested the investigation into claims that Water Development department director Christodoulos Christodoulou had given his staff time off to work on his home outside Nicosia had cleared him of criminal action. But there has been no official word from the Attorney- general's office on the case.

    Xenos declined to comment on what the new evidence was, but said the case file had been retrieved from the Attorney-general's office because of it.

    "We will complete the file as soon as possible," he said. "It will then be up to the Attorney-general's office to decide on any further action."

    Earlier this month, a police raid on the building site of Christodoulou's imposing new residence led to the arrest of four Water Development department employees who were caught red-handed working on the site. The cabinet subsequently decided to suspend Christodoulou and order an investigation into the incident.

    Christodoulou, who denies any wrongdoing, has appealed to the Supreme Court to annul his suspension.

    [11] Shopkeepers protest 'discriminatory' hours

    By Andrew Adamides

    AROUND 30 shop owners braved the weather yesterday to protest against opening hours outside the House of Representatives.

    As deputies arrived for the afternoon plenum, the Limassol shop owners, members of the Povek shopkeepers' union, carried placards protesting about the government's decision on working hours, which provides for tourist- oriented shops to stay open longer than ordinary shops. The hours were approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

    Shopkeepers claim the new hours will strangle small businesses. Povek General Secretary Melios Georgiou said yesterday the union was demanding the abolition of the system and the introduction of a single set of opening hours for all shops. The union also wants set dates for sales.

    Saying the current system would lead to the "enslavement" of shopkeepers, he said the union's alternative would eliminate unfair competition.

    Georgiou said Povek had spoken with officials about the matter on Tuesday, and had explained that the new system would badly affect smaller shops.

    Povek is now calling for deputies to deal with the issue as "a matter of urgency", and even for the power to decide opening hours to be taken out of ministerial hands.

    The government has issued no official statement on the matter.

    [12] Remember the environment

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    TODAY'S World Environment Day was greeted yesterday by government and green groups, who are all preparing for a week of informative events.

    Agriculture and Environment Minister Costas Themistocleous marked the occasion by reading an official message calling for development of the public's "environmental conscience".

    "The international community faces serious environmental problems," he outlined, "the most important being the rise in the planet's temperature; the destruction of tropical forests and the ozone layer; the extinction of wild fauna and flora; the reduction of water resources; sea and beach pollution; the unchecked dumping of toxic waste and many more."

    The Minister further pointed out that this year's focus on the protection of seas was of particular importance for Cyprus as an island. "It is one more reason, therefore, for our thoughts and actions to be mobilised towards attempts to maintain the cleanliness and purity of our beaches."

    But Cyprus Greens representative, Charis Karayan, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that Cyprus' beaches were far from clean. He disputed official statistics, which show that beaches are clean, saying "there are specific ways of doing tests and you can test for some things and not for others."

    Cyprus Greens are marking World Environment Day by conducting a series of lectures at schools in an effort to alert young people to the dangers facing the environment and to discuss what they can do about it. They have also collaborated with the Education Ministry in producing an environmental booklet, which is being distributed to schools around the island.

    Karayan said the most serious problems facing Cyprus today were the division of the island, the construction of a nuclear reactor on Turkey's Akkuyu coast only 250 km from Nicosia, the status of the Akamas peninsula and the extent of car pollution. He argued that the Cyprus problem was an ecological problem because "people lost their homes as birds might lose their nest."

    On the issue of the Akkuyu nuclear reactor, one of at least seven that Turkey plans to build by the year 2000, Cyprus Greens are taking part in an Eastern Mediterranean protest aiming to prevent the building of the reactor in the seismic area.

    Karayan repeated the Greens' position on the sensitive Akamas peninsula, saying they agreed with the World Bank findings that the area should be declared a National Heritage Park. He pointed out, however, that military exercises by the British bases continued and that the government had made no moves towards establishing National Heritage status for the peninsula.

    The Disy governing party and the Federation of Environmental and Ecological Organisations of Cyprus were among the groups that issued statements stressing the need for greater environmental awareness and protection.

    [13] Agon to close down

    ONE OF the island's oldest newspapers, Agon, is to close down on Monday due to financial difficulties.

    Reporters and other staff at the low-circulation daily were given the bad news by Editor-in-chief Constantinos Koshis yesterday.

    Koshis, brother of Justice Minister Nicos Koshis, promised staff they would be fully compensated on dismissal. He said the decision to end the paper's 34-year life had been a difficult and saddening one.

    The right-wing daily -- the only Greek-language tabloid on the island -- had been struggling to keep up sales in recent months.

    The Journalists Union issued a statement lamenting the closure of Agon and the "reduction in press diversity" this represented.

    Agon is the fourth local daily to fold in the last few years. To Vima, Ta Nea and Diko mouthpiece Eleftherotypia all succumbed to crippling debts.

    The Journalists Union called on the government to pre-empt further closures by subsidising newspaper production.

    [14] Dhekelia motorshow promises to be bigger and better

    By Rosie Ogden

    BIGGER and better are the buzz words for the 1998 Dhekelia Motor Show, which will be held on June 13/14 at the REME Workshops in Dhekelia Garrison.

    Fourteen car dealers representing 22 manufacturers will be exhibiting their cars, along with seven motorcycle manufacturers and 26 trade stalls.

    The main aim of the event -- now in its 15th year -- is to raise money for Cypriot and UK charities. Over the last 14 years, more than £120,000 has been collected, with last year's event raising £13,000, of which 70 per cent went to 15 charities in the Larnaca area.

    For the first time, the organisers are expanding the scope of the show to include leisure and other consumer products, so "we are hoping to attract many more Cypriots and expatriates than ever before," says Major Charlie Miller, the Motorshow Chairman. Because of the much broader range of products at the show, the event will this year be called "Motorshow and Trade Fair".

    Major Miller emphasised that the show was open to everyone in Cyprus, not just members of the British Forces, and promised punters "a great day out". Adults pay a £1.50 entrance fee, children under 14 go free.

    "The event not only caters for the avid car enthusiast, but also the whole family" he says. "There'll be entertainment from military bands, fairground type amusements, a cafe, bar and catering outlets."

    There's also a chance to win a Fiat Punto in the raffle -- the prize donated by sponsors D.J. Demades and Sons Ltd, who will also ship the car back to the UK if necessary, or pay a cash alternative if the winner is not entitled to a duty-free vehicle.

    The Dhekelia Motor Show and Trade Fair will be open from 11 am till 8 pm on Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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