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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-06-13

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, June 13, 1998


  • [01] France hits Cyprus's EU hopes
  • [02] We want the missiles, whatever the cost
  • [03] Save our unique crocus
  • [04] Doctors threaten to form breakaway union
  • [05] Monitoring turtles from the air
  • [06] Larnaca fury at government neglect
  • [07] Turkish report claim missile radars are in Cyprus
  • [08] Airline plans early retirement scheme
  • [09] Evidence mounts on tenders scandal
  • [10] Minister urges farmers to cut down on pesticides
  • [11] Farmer finds bronze age tomb
  • [12] Government not happy with Annan report

  • [01] France hits Cyprus's EU hopes

    FRANCE wants the European Union to consider suspending membership negotiations with Cyprus, a spokeswoman for President Jacques Chirac said ahead of an EU summit next week.

    "The Union cannot import into its midst the problems of the division of Cyprus," spokeswoman Catherine Colonna told reporters in Paris.

    "Admitting a country which is split in two is hard to envisage. Negotiations make no sense if reunification is not on the cards," she said in a briefing on the meeting of EU leaders in the Welsh city of Cardiff on June 15-16.

    EU leaders agreed last December to start membership talks with the Cyprus government, infuriating the self-declared 'Turkish Republic' in the occupied north.

    "Regarding Cyprus, negotiations... began on March 31, but it should be said -- France will do so and it hopes the summit conclusions will do likewise -- that membership should be something which benefits the island as a whole," Colonna said.

    "The French delegation will say, as it has done in the past, that the state of play in negotiations should be assessed, keeping in mind this goal of a unified island," she said.

    "To put it less diplomatically... that means that we believe the question needs to be asked about whether to continue or suspend these negotiations," she added.

    Cyprus government spokesman Christos Stylianides said last night: "We don't want to comment until we have confirmed the exact (French) statements through our ambassador (in Paris)."

    The EU invitation to membership talks has seriously riled Turkey.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has blamed the failure of UN-sponsored reconciliation efforts on the European invitation to the Greek Cypriot authorities.

    Chirac has repeatedly said membership talks should be frozen if Turkish Cypriots refuse to attend, while Greece has threatened to block other accessions to the bloc if Cyprus is shut out.

    Colonna also said France's position was to hold out hope of Turkey itself eventually getting a place at the would-be members' table.

    Ankara has been offered a possibility of EU membership talks but no formal invitation.

    "We want Turkey to be able to join this (membership) conference rapidly and we hope for a relaunch of a healthy Europe-Turkey relationship," said Colonna.

    Paris has traditionally adopted a positive stance concerning Turkey's attempts to clear the way for EU membership, but relations have recently deteriorated due to a French parliamentary bill condemning as genocide the 1915 killings of Armenians by Turks.

    [02] We want the missiles, whatever the cost

    By Charlie Charalambous

    AN OVERWHELMING number of Greek Cypriots, 86 per cent, believe the S-300 Russian missiles should be deployed in Cyprus, whatever the cost.

    A poll conducted by local market research firm Amer found that 72 per cent of Cypriots believe the missiles should arrive as expected in August.

    A further 14 per cent said they should come, but not until after the summer.

    The most ardent supporters of the S-300s are in the over-55 age-group, the survey found.

    It is understood the National Council has agreed that the missile delivery date be delayed until October, rather than have the weapons arrive at the height of the tourist season in August, when they are due to be ready for shipment from Russia.

    The survey, published in Selides magazine yesterday, also suggests that two out of every three Cypriots believe the deployment of the Russian surface-to-air missiles will provoke a response from Turkey.

    Of those, 25 per cent believe the missile deployment will cause an all-out war and 74 per cent believe there will be a one-off military incident.

    Ankara has threatened to strike the missiles if and when they are deployed on the island.

    The government's insistence that the missiles should be deployed unless there is a major breakthrough in the peace process was backed by 65 per cent of those polled.

    However, 32 per cent believe the government will bow to international pressure and scrap the deal.

    Fifty-nine per cent of Cypriots are confident that the government is capable of handling any crisis brought about by missile deployment, but a sizeable 38 per cent aren't so sure.

    The Amer survey was conducted throughout the free areas between June 5 and 6 from a sample of 689 people, aged 18-65.

    [03] Save our unique crocus

    ECOLOGISTS have launched a campaign to save a rare and unique flower, endemic to Cyprus but under threat from the bulldozers.

    The new cause célèbre for the greens is the Crocus Hartmannianus, a botanical wonder only found in remote areas of the island.

    A quarry operating between Filani and Machairas is destroying all types of flora in the area, the greens say.

    They are now worried that expansion of the quarry will totally wipe out the habitat of the Crocus.

    This is despite the fact that the flower is strictly protected by the Berne agreement, which the government has ratified.

    The Ecologist Movement is calling for the quarry at Filani to be shut down and for the area where the Crocus Hartmannianus grows to be declared a protected site. Otherwise, the world might lose yet another unique species.

    [04] Doctors threaten to form breakaway union

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    PUBLIC sector doctors are threatening to leave the civil service union, Pasydy, and form their own union.

    Speaking at a morning press conference yesterday, Stavros Stavrou, head of the doctors' branch of Pasydy, said the union had sold them out and was ignoring their needs.

    Calling for a public apology from Pasydy General Secretary Glafcos Hadjipetrou for the union's treatment of doctors, Stavrou said his colleagues had not been getting enough attention from Pasydy. A union of their own would better "defend their own interests", as their problems would not then be discussed -- as they are at present -- by secretaries, plumbers and farmers, or even lawyers.

    "We're going to take our fate into our own hands," Stavrou said.

    The doctors also issued a list of demands which, if met, would allow them to remain in Pasydy. Stavrou said these included pay rises -- there has been no upgrade in pay scales since 1980 and some doctors have spent 24 years on the same salary -- and a review of doctors' pension scheme. The review was needed, Stavrou said, as some doctors could not work the minimum number of years required to draw their full pension because of the length of their training.

    The doctors also want reorganisation of hospitals to make their jobs more effective, cuts in the hours spent on call, and a standard overtime pay scale.

    Stavrou said a representative would be appointed at the doctors' annual general meeting to assess the pay scales and the upgrading requirements.

    He also denied that there was a split within the doctors' ranks, saying they would all be sticking together.

    Government doctors will vote on the proposed new union, which would be called the Union of Government doctors, on Monday.

    Asked if he thought the government would be willing to deal with the new union, Stavrou said they "would not dare" to dispute the doctors.

    In a press release issued yesterday, Pasydy said it had held a meeting to discuss the crisis, but the doctors had not attended. They added that there was a need for co-operation between both sides in order to solve the problems and that Pasydy agreed with the doctors that the problems needed to be solved. It also warned them against leaving Pasydy, saying it would be against their interests to do so.

    [05] Monitoring turtles from the air

    By Jean Christou

    GREENPEACE members will today take to the skies to survey the coastal area of the Akamas peninsula and monitor turtle movement in the area.

    The flight survey will cover the area from Toxeftra Beach to Polis Bay. Aerial photographs will be taken of Green and Loggerhead turtles moving in the open sea near their nesting areas. These will also allow the organisation's members to monitor construction work in the Akamas area, especially that taking place near the turtle nesting areas. In a press release issued yesterday, the organisation said it was worried about a possible decrease in the number of turtles in the area.

    Greenpeace is urging the government to make the Akamas area a national park, in line with World Bank recommendations. The World Bank's report on the Akamas has already been forwarded to the House for consideration, and Greenpeace has said it received a promise from the government that the issue would be brought before the Council of Ministers before the summer recess, now less than a month away.

    Speaking yesterday, Greenpeace campaigner Irene Constantinou said that as 1998 was officially the Year of the Oceans, Greenpeace was calling on the Cyprus government to make the year "a meaningful one and declare Akamas a National Park this year".

    The International Year of the Oceans has been so-designated by the United Nations. To mark the occasion, Greenpeace Mediterranean has organised an event at 7pm tomorrow night at the Molos area in Limassol. The event includes a photographic exhibition and short presentations from Greenpeace campaigners.

    [06] Larnaca fury at government neglect

    LARNACA will shut shop for three hours next Friday in protest at the government's failure to invest in the future of the town

    Town mayor George Lykourgos yesterday slammed President Clerides for going back on a pledge to launch a series of development projects to improve infrastructure.

    Now Lykourgos heads an action committee that is trying to force the government to cough up the necessary cash.

    Lykourgos told a press conference in Larnaca yesterday that bureaucratic red-tape had stalled a number of improvement projects such as the airport, the Larnaca-Dhekelia road, expanding the port, marina and oil refinery, as well as the establishment of a desalination plant.

    The mayor and his supporters claim Larnaca is being neglected and is always the last in line to benefit from big budget development programmes.

    Shops will close between 11am and 1pm next Friday, but locals are determined to keep their shutters down permanently if the government doesn't make amends.

    [07] Turkish report claim missile radars are in Cyprus

    TURKISH intelligence sources have claimed that certain components of the S- 300 missile system have already arrived in Cyprus.

    According to a report in yesterday's edition of the Turkish daily Hurriyet, radar and control panels for the systems are on the island now.

    But a spokesman for the Greek embassy in Ankara, Nicos Papaconstantinou, described the report as unfounded.

    According to Hurriyet, the components arrived on the island after being transferred from ship to ship in various Mediterranean ports to evade detection by the Turks.

    There have already been Russian reports that Cyprus has received missile components, but the Russian arms concern due to supply the missiles has denied this, saying the missiles will arrive in mid-August as planned.

    There was no comment from Russia yesterday on the Hurriyet report.

    Papaconstantinou also reiterated that delivery of the missiles has been put off until October or November to give more time for discussions between the two sides. He described Turkish threats to use force against the missiles as "worrisome".

    Turkish Foreign Ministry officials said yesterday that postponement of delivery would not change the situation.

    Hurriyet also claimed that three Russian military delegations had begun training the National Guard in using the defence systems earlier this week.

    [08] Airline plans early retirement scheme

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) is to introduce a new voluntary redundancy scheme from July 4 to offload some of its employees.

    The plan became public after CY sent letters to employees announcing the scheme, which will run until March 2000.

    According to the company, the voluntary retirement scheme is not part of the airline's strategic plan but it is aimed at reducing staff levels which are close to 2,000 employees.

    Under the scheme, those eligible for the voluntary redundancy must be permanent staff, at least 50 years old -- 48 for female stewardesses -- and have 20 years service with the airline. The company will have the right to decide who will be accepted, and those who do retire will have no right to be rehired by the company.

    In addition to the financial compensation, those accepted under the scheme will be entitled to several free airline tickets a year for life, and will have the option of retaining health benefits by contributing until the age of 63.

    A company source said the entire cost of the compensation would not be known until the number of applications was received.

    CY implemented a similar redundancy scheme in the early 'nineties. It cost the company millions of pounds and the people who left have since been replaced.

    [09] Evidence mounts on tenders scandal

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    AMID NEW allegations of criminal involvement and threats against the Auditor-general's life, the Attorney-general has pledged to step up his investigation into an alleged private contractors' scam that is said to have cost the government millions of pounds.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that new accusations brought before the House Watchdog Committee on Thursday had sparked a fresh investigation into allegations of pre-agreed tenders for public works.

    CID chief Nathanail Papageorgiou also told the Mail that the police was now in a much better position than it had been during Thursday's disastrous testimony to the committee, and had enough new evidence to continue with the investigation.

    The fresh evidence, given to police yesterday by Disy deputy Socrates Hasikos, involves a second phone call he says he received.

    The initial investigation began last August when the Auditor-general's assistant received an anonymous call alerting him to a "plot" by a group of eight private contractors alleged to be collaborating to fix tenders for public works projects at high prices. The government was paying 10 to 20 per cent more than the going rate for projects while the contractors divided the jobs between them, the caller claimed.

    Speaking in a television interview yesterday, Auditor-general Spyros Christou revealed that the particular tender exposed by the mysterious caller concerned the Paphos air base. He said the offer was £400,000 higher than the estimate and involved a £4 million project.

    At Thursday's Watchdog Committee, Markides had defensively argued that a 10- month investigation had failed to uncover enough evidence to take the case further. This was confirmed by Papageorgiou, who said that until yesterday, the police had had "extremely scant evidence".

    On Thursday, deputies argued that the Auditor-general and his assistant, Thassos Neocleous, had identified the caller at a closed meeting of the committee last October, but then failed to pass on the same information to police. It was said that the informant was one of the contractors involved in the scam.

    But the issue blew up again yesterday when Watchdog Committee chairman Christos Pourgourides suggested that the Auditor-general and his assistant, Thassos Neocleous, had changed their statements regarding the identity of the caller because of a threat against their lives. The Auditor-general, however, denied these claims, saying: "I am not afraid of anyone. I am not the type to fear for my life."

    Pourgourides said that "if the caller is known and Mr Thassos Neocleous or Mr Christou have been pressured or received threats against their lives to change their statements, then we've reached a deplorable state in this matter."

    "It means that not only are such crimes carried out, but that the criminals also enforce the law of silence," he added.

    The Auditor-general issued a written statement yesterday denying that he or his assistant had ever said they knew the caller and that the minutes of the October meeting confirmed that. He also pointed out that he was the first to report the alleged scam, and that since then the government had saved £15 million by changing the method of selecting contractors for public works.

    [10] Minister urges farmers to cut down on pesticides

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday urged farmers to stop the thoughtless and unreasonable use of pesticides and veterinary medicines and to adjust to European standards.

    In a message launching this year's campaign on the "Correct Use of Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine", Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous said that although "pesticides are necessary for agricultural production and the development of agriculture in general," their incorrect use "entails serious dangers". The Minister listed health risks for producers using the chemicals, risks to consumers from chemical residue on products and to wildlife as the most serious dangers.

    He also pointed to negative consequences on the exporting of Cypriot products, arising from unacceptable levels of chemicals on agricultural products.

    The campaign on the dangers of pesticides and other chemicals has been carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment for the last ten years with the aim of increasing awareness about the effects of excessive use of chemicals.

    Themistocleous stressed that the island's bid to join the Europe Union meant care had to be applied in the use of pesticides. "We are going through a transitional period," the Minister said, "that requires us to adapt to European standards. This concerns not only government services but also producers, industries and the public in general."

    According to the Minister, agricultural producers must adopt "good agricultural practice" and use pesticides "correctly and within reason" so as to grow products in accordance to international guidelines.

    He pointed out that over the years attempts have been made to promote new methods of plant protection "so that we can escape the full dependence on pesticides." The Minister mentioned the use of biological predators, different planting methods and resistant varieties, "which must be used in parallel with the judicial use of chemical preparations."

    Themistocleous concluded by calling on farmers, chemists and those who carry out health checks to become more aware of chemical risks so that the public's health may be safeguarded.

    [11] Farmer finds bronze age tomb

    A BRONZE Age tomb has been discovered by accident in the occupied areas according to Turkish press reports.

    The family tomb, found on a dirt road in the Karpas peninsula near Livadia, belongs to the early Bronze Age. It contained several artefacts and implements, which are thought to be over 4,200 years old.

    It was found by a local villager who was driving his tractor along the road. The weight of the vehicle caused part of the road to collapse, revealing the tomb.

    [12] Government not happy with Annan report

    THE GOVERNMENT is unhappy with the UN Secretary-general's latest report on Cyprus because its views are not close enough to those of the Greek Cypriot side, spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday.

    "We would have liked to have seen in the report views closer to ours," Stylianides said.

    "We would have liked the report to have reflected positions closer to ours, especially in certain issues such as the plight of the enclaved and the town of Famagusta."

    The Secretary-general's report recommending a six-monthly extension of Unficyp's mandate criticised the two sides for their continued defence spending.

    But Annan also made some brief references to other issues, such as Turkish pillaging of the fenced off area of Varosha.

    The report said there were numerous instances of property being removed from buildings by Turkish personnel, and that these had been protested by the UN.

    The report was also critical of the Turkish side's ban on bi-communal contacts and referred to the regime's stalling on progress on the issue of the missing.

    But Stylianides said the government would have preferred to have seen stronger criticism of the Turkish Cypriot side in the report.

    Annan was also critical of the Greek Cypriot side, which has been blocking a UN package of measures to reduce tensions along the buffer zone. The Turkish side has accepted the entire package of measures being discussed during the 18-month long talks.

    The Greek Cypriot side said the UN proposals on unmanning would leave residents of certain areas of Nicosia unprotected.

    "The government notes Annan's position... and states that it is ready at any time to continue the military dialogue," Stylianides said.

    "It must be made clear, however, that as far as we are concerned, the key to this issue is the protection of built-up areas."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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