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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-06-10

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, June 10, 1998


  • [01] Cyprus stays mute on missiles
  • [02] London-Larnaca for £79?
  • [03] Aids waiter jailed for 12 months
  • [04] Drowning in rubbish
  • [05] MPs tell government to think again on motorway route
  • [06] Don't sell off our airports
  • [07] Turks claim shots fired at Ayios Nicolaos
  • [08] Top marks for CTO London office
  • [09] Electricity blast blacks out Larnaca
  • [10] Cyprus protests new desecrations
  • [11] James Bond comes to Cyprus

  • [01] Cyprus stays mute on missiles

    By Jean Christou

    RUSSIAN-MADE S-300 missiles have already been delivered to Cyprus, a Moscow newspaper reported yesterday.

    And neither the Cyprus government nor the Russian Foreign Ministry were willing to confirm or deny the report, published on the front page of the respected daily Sevodnya.

    However, both Turkey and Greece categorically denied the story.

    "It would be impossible to achieve this without our knowledge. We are watching closely," an unnamed senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official told the Anatolian News Agency.

    Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit threatened that when the missiles were deployed, Turkey would increase its military presence in the north accordingly.

    Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also dismissed claims that the missiles were already in Cyprus. "I deny it," he said.

    Western diplomatic sources in Nicosia were also sceptical. One source told the Cyprus Mail that the Russian report was "purely speculative".

    "We've seen nothing to indicate the missiles might be here," the source said.

    The source said the Cyprus government's motives in not denying the reports were curious, given its criticism of scare stories it claims are damaging the island's tourism.

    Both the CyBC and Antenna TV stations reported in their evening news bulletins last night that according to local sources the missiles would in fact arrive in October.

    The Russian newspaper claimed the anti-aircraft missiles had been delivered to Cyprus, despite vows by Turkey to stop the weapons reaching the island.

    It did not say how many missiles were involved, nor when they had arrived.

    While declining to comment on whether the S-300 missiles were already on the island, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valery Nesterushkin reiterated the long-held Russian argument that the missiles would threaten no one.

    "We have been giving repeated explanations that the missiles are a defensive weapon," Nesterushkin told journalists in Moscow.

    "The presence of weapons on the island is the outcome of the unsettled conflict between the Turkish and Greek population", he said.

    In Nicosia, government spokesman Christos Stylianides, speaking after a four-hour meeting of the National Council, the government's top advisory body on the Cyprus problem, refused to take questions on Sevodnya's claim.

    Minutes earlier, he had said the missile issue was the main focus of yesterday's meeting.

    "Our position on this remains known," he said. "The National Council believes defence issues should be kept out of the glare of publicity."

    In Moscow, Russia's Rosvooruzheniye arms trading monopoly denied that the delivery had taken place, and said the missiles would be sent to Cyprus in mid-August as earlier planned, the Interfax news agency reported.

    The S-300, capable of shooting down aircraft and missiles, is a Russian equivalent of the US Patriot missile which gained fame during the Gulf War.

    Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Sezgin yesterday repeated Ankara's warning that the deployment of the missiles might turn the eastern Mediterranean into a "powder keg".

    The Cyprus government has repeatedly said it is ready to cancel the missile deal if there is substantial progress toward reunification and if Turkey accepts its proposal to demilitarise the island.

    [02] London-Larnaca for £79?

    By Jean Christou

    A FLIGHT from Larnaca to London will from next year cost no more than a pair of jeans, Cypriot airline entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ionnaou said yesterday.

    Haji-Ioannou, the brains behind the UK-based EasyJet no-frills airline that has given stiff competition to British Airways, is now ready to take on the high-priced Cyprus national carrier.

    Easy-Jet has just announced that from July 10 it will fly the London-Athens route for a mere £69 sterling one way.

    And from next year Haji-Ioannou said people could be flying Larnaca to London for only £79 sterling.

    "Cyprus is a bit longer, so let's add five or ten pounds," Haji-Ioannou said.

    The average cost of a return flight to London with Cyprus Airways (CY) currently stands at around £300, an airline spokesman confirmed yesterday.

    He said the EasyJet Athens to London flights were unlikely to affect CY.

    Even with the national carrier's current £49 one-way special fare to Athens, passengers would still end up paying over £230 return to London using the EasyJet connection.

    Haji-Ioannou, 31, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that his plan for daily flights on the Larnaca to London route were close to being realised. "We don't fly unless they are daily flights," he added.

    And he said there was no need to wait for Cyprus accession to the European Union and subsequent air transport liberalisation.

    "It's not up to the government (of Cyprus)," he said. "Operations between London and Cyprus are governed by bilateral relations. There is nothing stopping us."

    After that, Haji-Ioannou will target the Athens to Larnaca route, probably in the year 2000.

    Commerce Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the cheap flights would come sooner or later.

    "The moment will come and it's not very far away," Rolandis said.

    A three-man ministerial committee warned CY unions last week in the midst of an industrial crisis that the government would open up the skies to cheaper competition.

    Repeating his call to CY to become competitive, Rolandis said yesterday that if it was not Haji-Ioannou challenging Cyprus Airways, then it would be some other competitor.

    "When we reach this point, what government can survive if it refuses the Cypriot people and tourists such fares?" Rolandis said.

    "I do not think anyone will support the idea of having CY there at the expense of tourism and of the Cyprus consumer, who just will not want to use it."

    The Minister questioned how, when liberalisation was turning European aviation "upside down", a small company such as Cyprus Airways could survive with its "inflated costs and minor alliances".

    "Cyprus Airways has to get ready to face the situation. It may be one year or it may be four years, but it (liberalisation) will be here," Rolandis said.

    A CY spokesman admitted that when EasyJet started operating flights on the Larnaca-London route, "we are going to face serious competition".

    The spokesman said CY believed the government would look favourably on an application by Haji-Ioannou for next year.

    "Sooner or later, it will come and we have to be ready," the spokesman said.

    [03] Aids waiter jailed for 12 months

    By Charlie Charalambous

    LARNACA waiter Andreas Michael was yesterday jailed for 12 months by Larnaca district court, becoming the third Cypriot imprisoned for negligently spreading the Aids virus.

    "Taking into account the seriousness of the offences and his (Michael's) behaviour, a prison sentence is unavoidable," Larnaca judge Tefkros Economou said in passing sentence yesterday.

    "His behaviour was not simply illegal, but blemished by moral and social disregard," said Economou's strongly-worded decision.

    The 28-year-old waiter, wearing a beige suit and open-neck shirt, showed no hint of emotion as the sentence was read out, and was escorted from the court to Nicosia Central Prison without fuss or incident.

    Before the decision was read out, Michael could be seen smiling and chatting with relatives and with his legal team.

    Michael, 28, who is HIV-positive but denied the charges, was last week found guilty of exposing two Cypriot women to the deadly virus.

    "The accused knew what he was doing and understood the extreme danger of his acts towards the two women and society in general," judge Economou said before passing sentence.

    He added that the waiter had ignored both the legal and ethical consequences of his behaviour.

    Michael was found guilty of negligently transmitting the virus, knowing how it was contracted, by having unprotected sex with two women and not informing either of his condition.

    He received a 12-month sentence on each charge, but both will run concurrently.

    Economou said the first charge concerned Michael's fiancée, who contracted Aids during a relationship which began before 1993, the year Michael was diagnosed HIV positive.

    "Knowing this, they continued to have unprotected sex. She has since forgiven him," said Economou.

    He said the second charge concerned a "married women with three small children. She had a short affair with the accused and had sex on two occasions without protection."

    She did not contract the disease. The women cannot be named for legal reasons.

    The defence pleaded for leniency, and argued for a suspended sentence, citing Michael's precarious health and his show of remorse.

    But Economou rejected this plea, saying: "His expressed remorse was too late and two women were forced to take the witness stand to recall an unhappy episode in their lives."

    Although the court agreed that a deterrent sentence was necessary. it did not impose the maximum two-year punishment. citing Michael's limited life expectancy due to the virus.

    The court ruled that Michael should be given access to all necessary medical treatment while serving his prison sentence.

    The Nicosia prison is not particularly equipped to accommodate or handle inmates with Aids.

    Under the 50-year-old law -- originally drafted to combat the spread of cholera -- Michael faced a maximum two year prison sentence, or a £1,500 fine or both.

    He is the third HIV positive Cypriot to be found guilty of spreading the disease in less than a year.

    The previous two, Aids fisherman Pavlos Georgiou, 40, and British-born Cypriot Chrysavgi Zarzour, 27, were sent to prison on similar charges.

    Georgiou was sentenced to 15 months in July 1997 and released by a Presidential pardon on New Year's Eve. Zarzour was sentenced to seven months in April.

    [04] Drowning in rubbish

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    CYPRUS is lagging way behind Europe on waste disposal, the House Environment Committee heard yesterday.

    And villagers near Paphos are having to live next to piles of garbage because the government has failed to provide them with adequate rubbish tips, an Akel deputy charged.

    The committee stressed the urgency of the issue, and Environment Ministry representative Nicos Georgiades confirmed that a plan of action outlining ways of dealing with the problem would be presented to the Cabinet within a few days.

    The plan includes recycling programmes and rubbish tips, and will be based on European models.

    Acting committee chairman Ouranios Ioannides pointed out that there was no comprehensive policy on handling waste.

    The committee also came to the conclusion that Cyprus' deficiency in the area of waste disposal may "possibly" cause problems in the island's bid to join the European Union. Cyprus lags way behind its European neighbours on the matter, and does not conform to European guidelines.

    During the meeting, the president of the Industrial Recycling Association, Minas Mina, complained about the lack of incentives for industries involved in recycling. He also argued that in many cases the collection and recycling of paper was quite haphazard.

    Georgiades assured him that the Environment Services' action plan would include added incentives for industries.

    Yiannakis Potamitis, of the Federation of Environmental and Ecological Organisations, for his part noted the long delays in handling waste disposal, and suggested the involvement of various authorities, under the guidance of the government, in dealing with the problem.

    "We believe the government and the House can adopt some form of legislation forcing industrialists, manufacturers and bottled water companies responsibly to deal with waste created by their companies, and not to dispose of it in the environment," he said.

    The committee resolved to continue to monitor the issue, while on the more specific problem of the lack of rubbish tips in 42 Paphos villages, the committee accepted the Agriculture and Environment Ministry's promise to look into the matter.

    Paphos Akel deputy Yiorgos Hadjigeorgiou, who tabled this second issue, argued that the government "expects these communities, which are largely made up of pensioners, to find the funds and the means to dispose of their waste; in the meantime, we are letting them live in garbage."

    [05] MPs tell government to think again on motorway route

    THE HOUSE Communications and Works Committee yesterday promised full support to Ormidhia residents in their battle against the new Dhekelia to Famagusta motorway route.

    The committee visited Ormidhia village yesterday to discuss protests by Ormidhia, Xylophagou and Xylotymbou residents regarding the route of the motorway.

    Committee Chairman Nicos Pittokopitis said the motorway should be constructed along the existing route of the Dhekelia-Achna-Famagusta road, and warned the House would not approve the relevant budget provisions for the project.

    The mukhtars of Ormidhia and Xylophagou stressed the intense opposition of the areas' Development Councils to the motorway's proposed route.

    Village residents are worried that the motorway will eat up their land, and see it as "one more evil" to be added to the list of a nearby military base and desalination plant. Land in the area has also been expropriated for the construction of quarry stations, much reducing the surface of land available for agriculture.

    Larnaca deputies and the committee's chairman sided with the villagers.

    "I want to stress," Pittokopitis said, "that all the members of the Communications and Works committee, regardless of political alliance, will in no case accept the government's plans. We call on the government to think again; co-operate with the communities concerned and improve the existing road so we can maintain farming in this area.

    "The government cannot continue with proposed projects that will destroy entire communities," he added.

    Pittokopitis demanded to know why the Public Works Department had already begun work on the new motorway without conducting an environmental impact study.

    Officials, however, claim that impact minimisation is being carried out while the road is constructed.

    [06] Don't sell off our airports

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    CIVIL servants yesterday accused the government of trying to sell-off its international airports to the highest bidder, at the cost of local jobs.

    Civil service union Pasydy was voicing its disapproval at government plans to reduce the state's control in the running of Larnaca and Paphos international airports.

    In an angry letter to the Minister of Communications and Works, Leontios Ierodiaconou, Pasydy expressed their "strong opposition and concern over the government's decision to hand over administration of our airports, which are the nerve centre of our state security, to a foreign investor in the name of modernisation and EU accession."

    Pasydy argued that "we are doing everything possible under difficult circumstances to help modernise and upgrade semi-government organisations but not to privatise them in any form."

    The union is particularly concerned about the fate of the seventy airport employees who are members of Pasydy and whose employment status under a private employer has not been defined.

    Ierodiaconou has said that airport jobs will be safeguarded under a new employer, but Pasydy claims that these assurances are at best vague.

    In a veiled threat, the union warned it would not hesitate to resort to industrial action to protect its members.

    Asked about the airports issue at a Chambers of Commerce meeting in Paphos yesterday, Ierodiaconou stated that "those who talk about privatisation have got it wrong."

    The Minister repeated that the government would create a state company with the right to sell up to one third of its shares to a private investor.

    The private investor, likely to be an overseas company, will then be responsible for managing the airports.

    Ierodiaconou stressed that the proposed set-up aimed to achieve privatisation "exclusively and only" in the area of running the airports, not in their ownership.

    "The government will continue to be the majority share holder and owner of the airports," the minister said.

    [07] Turks claim shots fired at Ayios Nicolaos

    TURKISH Cypriot security forces yesterday protested to the UN over an alleged shooting incident involving Greek Cypriots in the British base areas on Monday.

    Several shots were allegedly fired at Turkish forces by Greek Cypriots driving a blue pick-up truck in the British base area of Ayios Nicolaos.

    The Denktash regime said it had sent representations to the UN and the British Bases.

    "We protested these provocative incidents to the UN Peace Force and the officials of the British base," said a statement issued by the Turkish security forces.

    UN spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that he had received a protest from the Turkish side over the alleged shots.

    "Unficyp has no means of observation in the Ayios Nicolaos area and the British bases did not confirm to us that such shots were fired," Rokoszewski said.

    According to the Turkish side, two shots were fired by the Greek Cypriots at around 7.20am on Monday, and another four shots were fired from the same vehicle at 10.30am.

    No casualties were reported.

    The British Bases were not available for comment yesterday.

    [08] Top marks for CTO London office

    WHICH? Holiday magazine has awarded Cyprus' London Tourism Office in Regent Street top marks in an efficiency survey.

    According to an official Cyprus Tourism Organisation press release issued yesterday, Cyprus and Malta came out top in the study, which is carried out every three to four years.

    The magazine's investigators graded a total of 23 tourism offices in several categories. These included speed of response to brochure requests, usefulness of information, and quality of service both in person and on the telephone.

    The report said the Cyprus office performed well in all categories, with well-informed staff who were willing to find out information if they did not already know the answer to a query.

    Which? consumer magazines cover a wide range of products and services. Which? Holiday has a monthly circulation of around 50,000.

    [09] Electricity blast blacks out Larnaca

    LARGE parts of Larnaca blacked out yesterday lunchtime when an explosion damaged an Electricity Authority (EAC) substation in the town centre.

    The blast and subsequent blaze was caused by a technical fault/ Fire fighters managed to limit the extent of the damage.

    Police have ruled out any foul play, and experts at the scene believe the electricity supply system could have been overloaded or the equipment been faulty.

    The basement blast caused a one-hour power cut. There was only superficial damage to the EAC district office above the substation, and employees escaped unharmed.

    [10] Cyprus protests new desecrations

    CYPRUS' Permanent Representative to the United Nations has protested to the Secretary-general over a new set of church desecrations in the occupied areas.

    In a letter dated June 3, Sotos Zackheos said that three churches had been affected. The letter says the church of Panagia Evangelistra in Yerolakkos and the church of Profitis Zacharias in Dikomo have both been converted into mosques, while the church of Agios Mamas, also in Yerolakkos, has been turned into a cultural centre.

    Zackheos pointed out that these were just the most recent of many church desecrations by the occupation forces, and as such contravened the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, as well as the principles of cultural co-operation of Unesco. It is, he said, "a further example of Turkey's complete disrespect for other people's cultural heritage and the religious intolerance practised by that country."

    Zackheos added that the Cyprus government had always protected and maintained all cultural, historical and religious monuments in Cyprus, regardless of the denomination to which they belonged.

    Cyprus last protested over church desecrations in the north in May.

    [11] James Bond comes to Cyprus

    THE FACTS of Death, the 18th James Bond novel, is to be partly set in Cyprus.

    The Bond print series, originally created by Ian Fleming in the 'fifties, was continued after his death by Kingsley Amis and then John Gardner, who gave up writing the books in 1996. He was replaced by Raymond Benson, who is currently writing The Facts of Death.

    The novel's plot revolves around Dekada, a Greek Cypriot terrorist group. Dekada is involved in the manufacture of chemical and biological weapons and creates a particularly deadly virus which it unleashes on the British bases. A British agent in Athens is also infected, and Bond is called in. The love interest is provided by a Greek colleague, Niki Mirakos.

    An excerpt from the book is featured in the July issue of Playboy magazine.

    The Bond novels are not connected to the films. The 19th in the filmed series, as yet untitled, is expected to begin filming soon for release in 1999, with Irish actor Pierce Brosnan continuing in the lead. The James Bond films are the most successful, longest-lived film series in the world.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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