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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-06-30

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

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


Tuesday, June 30, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Lefkoniko use `for military purposes'
  • [02] Britain `stored nuclear bombs at Akrotiri'
  • [03] 109 saved from drifting boat
  • [04] MPs yellow card CyBC Cup coverage
  • [05] Turkish quake proof of nuclear danger
  • [06] Cordovez expected later this week
  • [07] Stephanopoulos winds up visit with call to Turkish Cypriots
  • [08] British defend arrest of anti-bases activists
  • [09] Ruling UBP triumphs in Turkish Cypriot local polls
  • [10] Turkish Cypriot held for Limasool knife attack
  • [11] Vassiliou re-elected at head of UD

  • [01] Lefkoniko use `for military purposes'

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday his breakaway administration would extend the use of an airport in the north of the divided island of Cyprus for military purposes.

    "Because of the air base given to the Greeks in the south, Gecitkale will be used as a rapid-deployment military base," the Turkish Cypriot TAK news agency quoted him as saying.

    The Lefkoniko airport, known in Turkish as Gecitkale, was used as a military base earlier this month when Turkish war planes flew in as a tit- for-tat response to a brief stopover by Greek fighter jets at the Greek Cypriot air base at Paphos.

    Denktash did not elaborate on details of the air base plan, but his remarks appeared to be a fresh challenge to the Greek Cypriot government of Cyprus and the government in Greece.

    A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman in Ankara declined to comment and comment was immediately from the Cyprus government.

    The latest row over Greek and Turkish air force stopovers on the island led to tension on Cyprus.

    [02] Britain `stored nuclear bombs at Akrotiri'

    By Jean Christou

    BRITAIN stored nuclear bombs at Akrotiri and had to call in a team of experts to clean up a radioactive leak in 1973, a British report has claimed.

    Cyprus said yesterday it would look into the claims by a former British defence official that Britain had stored nuclear weapons at the Western Sovereign Base Area of Akrotiri during the Cold War.

    Britain has neither confirmed nor denied the claims. According to the report, based on details leaked by a senior British Ministry of Defence (MoD) official, the Cyprus government was never even informed that the nuclear bombs were being stored at Akrotiri.

    The leaked document also shows that the government was similarly kept in the dark when monitors inside the storage building detected leaking radioactive Tritium gas in 1973.

    A team of scientists had to be flown out from Britain to deal with the incident.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday the government was unaware of the reports, and was looking into the matter. But Limassol Diko deputy Marios Matsakis said the Cyprus government had asked the British government about such reports on previous occasions.

    "The Cyprus government has asked for information and the Brits have said `It's none of your business'," Matsakis said. "They (the government) were told it was all part of Britain's defence system and they refused to confirm or deny. They (the bombs) might even still be here."

    Officials at the British bases did not want to comment on the claims, but High Commission spokesman Piers Cazalet neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

    "All we say is that we do not discuss the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any particular place at any particular time," Cazalet said.

    "There has never been an accident involving a nuclear weapon, which has led to or come anywhere near to leaking or releasing radioactive material." Similar comments were made by the MoD in London.

    According to the report, whose author is nuclear disarmament campaigner Eddie Goncalves, Cyprus was not the only country which Britain used for its nuclear arms programme without informing its government. He claims that Germany and Malta were also victims in a total of some 20 mishaps said to have occurred in Britain and abroad.

    In Germany in 1984, a nuclear bomb dropped off the trailer on which is was being transported and bounced twice before ending upside down.

    [03] 109 saved from drifting boat

    By Martin Hellicar

    MORE than one hundred suspected illegal immigrants were recuperating in a Limassol hotel yesterday after being rescued overnight from a "death" boat found drifting off Cyprus.

    Two passengers reportedly died of thirst on the fishing trawler and had been thrown overboard by the time the vessel was found on Sunday.

    Eight of the 109 Arabs and African passengers taken off the Syrian-flagged Rita Allah - including four children - were being treated in hospital for the effects of dehydration and exhaustion suffered during their 11-day ordeal at sea, police said.

    "Two men aged between 20 and 30 died from lack of food and water and were thrown overboard two days ago. They were stacked in that boat like sardines. This is flesh trade," Reuters quoted a police source as saying.

    The deaths were not confirmed by official police sources but the captain of the vessel, Mohammad Mustafa, was later remanded at Limassol District Court for eight days. Charges will include taking insufficient care of his duties and illegally transporting passengers for money.

    One of the passengers, 25-year-old Iraqi Suheib Anwar Saleh, said two African passengers had died of thirst and were thrown into the water. "It was such a small boat and it developed mechanical problems twice," he said from a Limassol hotel. "We were awake day and night."

    He said the boat, crammed with passengers, was bound for Crete and passengers had paid up to $2,400 for the trip. But Reuters news agency reported survivors as saying that had paid as much as $5,000 to go to either Greece or Italy.

    Another source said the passengers had been told they were bound for Italy but said the intention had always been to dump the migrants in Cyprus. Marine experts said the Rita Allah could never have take on enough fuel for the journey to Italy.

    The boat, which had been drifting for nine days since its engine failed, was spotted 50 nautical miles south of Paphos by a Ukrainian cargo vessel, the Valerian Zorin, at about 11am on Sunday, said the chief of port police, Theodoros Stylianou. He said two passengers from the Rita Allah jumped overboard on sighting the Valerian Zorin. "It would appear that because these people had been in this small boat for about 10 days they were desperate and when they saw the ship they jumped in to give the alarm," Stylianou said. One of the swimmers was rescued by the Valerian and the other by the Rita Allah, he said.

    The Ukrainian vessel notified police who sent a coastguard vessel to the scene.

    "The people on the boat were in a bad state of health due to dehydration and malnutrition, they had no food or water," a police spokeswoman said.

    The Rita Allah was eventually towed to Limassol port by the Ukrainian vessel and the six Syrian crew and 109 passengers - from Iraq, Syria, Siera Leone, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Rwanda and Congo - were taken off just after 3am yesterday. There were twelve women and eight young children among those rescued.

    "Some of them had to be carried off the boat because they were so weak," a witness said. Other witnesses described how pregnant women and children had to be carried out through a small hole in the deck by police.

    Police said the trawler had left Tripoli in Lebanon on June 18 bound for Libya. Its navigation instrument was a compass which was not working properly.

    One survivor, David Doe, aged 26, from Rwanda, said: "I took a few biscuits with me but they didn't last a day. We didn't have any water, we ran out about five days later. I used my trainers to scoop up sea water to drink. I thought I was going to die."

    Doe said the captain had told him he would "take him to a country of his choice."

    Both the vessel - with the remaining five crew still on it - and the hotel where the passengers were staying were under police guard yesterday. Police said they had not yet worked out what to do about the 109 boat people, but government spokesman Christos Stylianides said the matter would be treated as a "humanitarian" issue and every possible help would be given to them.

    It was later reported that one of the dead was Okin Mbasong, aged 23, of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Of ten people in hospital late last night, four were under police guard.

    [04] MPs yellow card CyBC Cup coverage

    By Charlie Charalambous

    HOUSE deputies, not usually renowned for their swift decision-making, have threatened to kick CyBC's £17 million budget into touch if the state broadcaster's ad-infested World Cup coverage continues.

    Politicians, spurred on by a simmering armchair revolt, yesterday caught CyBC off-side and scored a Golden Goal for viewers' rights.

    The emotionally-charged issue concerns CyBC's France '98 coverage, which is regularly interrupted by adverts; yesterday, politicians warned CyBC its budget would be snipped if it continued to butcher its live transmissions.

    Speaking at a meeting of the House Finance Committee, Diko deputy Tassos Papadopoulos said the corporation would suffer financially if the non-stop flow of ads was not plugged.

    Not only does interrupting live World Cup games with advertisements violate FIFA guidelines on TV coverage, but Papadopoulos pointed out that it also contravened recent House-approved broadcasting regulations.

    "Showing ads during live events goes against broadcasting regulations approved by the House. The ads should stop immediately," Papadopoulos said during the committee meeting.

    He suggested that money earned from such advertising violations would see a corresponding amount axed from the budget.

    CyBC management were told to make sure that the rot stopped for yesterday's Germany v Mexico (5.30pm) and Holland v Yugoslavia (10pm) clashes, and to ensure that the high-profile -- and potentially lucrative -- Second Round fixtures remained ad-free zones.

    The cash-strapped organisation has argued that it needs the revenue from such ads to help keep it afloat, a position which has failed to placate the island's football crazy viewers.

    To put it bluntly, CyBC describes the roll-call of ads, ranging from domestic bleach to disposable nappies, as a necessary evil in a cut-throat TV market.

    However, CyBC has ignored lessons from the past, especially when it was reviled when it first introduced the ads during USA '94.

    The USA '94 débâcle, highlighted at the time by the Cyprus Mail, encouraged thousands of furious soccer viewers to boycott the products advertised during games.

    An orchestrated fan-inspired backlash forced advertising big guns like Coca- Cola and Carlsberg to withdraw commercials and deploy a campaign strategy to protect the beautiful game from corporate intrusion.

    CyBC, which had an operating deficit of £3.3 million last year, is hoping that its £17.5 million budget for 1998 will pass without cuts.

    The budget requires approval by the House of Representatives.

    [05] Turkish quake proof of nuclear danger

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE DEVASTATING earthquake which hit South Eastern Turkey on Saturday was ample proof of why Turkey should not be allowed to build a nuclear power plant in the region, Greenpeace stated yesterday.

    "Saturday's earthquake has proven that the area is quake-prone, and in no way should Turkey be allowed to build a nuclear reactor in the area," Irini Constantinou, of Greenpeace Cyprus said.

    Over 100 people lost their lives after a tremor measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale struck in the Adana area just before 5pm on Saturday. The quake was also felt in Cyprus.

    Greenpeace International have been campaigning against Turkish plans to site two nuclear reactors at Akkuyu, on the Southern coast of Asia Minor, about 60km from the coast of Cyprus. The pressure group say a nuclear power plant in such a seismically active area would be a disaster waiting to happen.

    Greenpeace Cyprus plans to release more information relating to the proposed site's vulnerability to quakes before the end of the week.

    The environmental group now plans to focus its campaign on the foreign firm that wins the tender for the Akkuyu plant, Constantinou said. A Canadian and a Japanese company are in the running for the contract. Turkey announced the winner of the contract would be made known this month, Constantinou said.

    Turkey plans to build seven to ten reactors by the year 2020.

    [06] Cordovez expected later this week

    By Andrew Adamides

    UNITED Nations Special Representative on Cyprus Diego Cordovez is expected to arrive on the island on Thursday or Friday, government spokesman Christos Stylianides announced yesterday.

    He said President Glafcos Clerides had cleared his schedule for both Thursday and Friday in anticipation of the UN official's visit, but added that nothing had yet been finalised, although the government had been officially informed that Cordovez would be visiting.

    Asked what the government's position would be on resuming talks on the Cyprus problem through a third party, rather than directly between the leaders of the two communities, Stylianides said the government was open to any suggestion concerning matters of procedure that could "facilitate the substance" of the Cyprus problem.

    Stylianides also confirmed reports that Clerides would visit Moscow between July 11 and 14 at the invitation of Moscow Mayor Yuri Ruskov. The spokesman said he would be a guest there at the World Youth Games, which are taking place between July 12 and 18.

    Clerides will also hold "courtesy meetings" with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Patriarch Alexei.

    Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday left for Luxembourg to attend a working dinner for the Foreign Ministers of the 11 EU applicant countries, hosted by the British Presidency.

    During the dinner, the Foreign Ministers will be briefed by British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on the outcome of the recent Cardiff EU summit.

    The dinner is taking place on the sidelines of the regular meeting of the EU General Affairs Council, which marks the end of the British six-month EU presidency on June 30.

    The presidency will then be taken over by Austria, which is sending its Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister, Wolfgang Schussel, to visit Cyprus early next month.

    The visit was announced yesterday by House President Spyros Kyprianou after a meeting with President Clerides to discuss forthcoming visits by foreign diplomats.

    The aim of Schussel's visit is to "exchange views with the government in regards to Cyprus' accession course with the European Union," Kyprianou said.

    Schussel has already visited Cyprus once, in April 1989.

    [07] Stephanopoulos winds up visit with call to Turkish Cypriots

    By Jean Christou

    GREEK President Constantinos Stephanopoulos wound up his four-day official visit on Sunday, giving assurances that the Cyprus problem remained Greece's top priority.

    Stephanopoulos was accompanied to Larnaca airport on Sunday by President Clerides and other dignitaries.

    Before departing, he described his visit, the first-ever official visit by a Greek President since Cyprus gained independence in 1960, as successful.

    "The visit was valuable because it helped me understand better the depth of the patriotic feelings of the Greek Cypriots and their determination to continue their struggle until vindication," Stephanopoulos said.

    The Greek President also sent a message of peace and reconciliation to Turkey, which he hoped it would accept.

    "It is not possible for Turkey to continue to behave in this way if she wishes to be within the bounds of prudence and respect of basic human rights," Stephanopoulos said.

    He also said he wanted to convey to the Turkish Cypriots that the future of Cyprus concerned both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, "and the happiness of the one community depends on the happiness of the other".

    Stephanopoulos also addressed himself to the international community, stressing how great its responsibilities were towards Cyprus; "because so far there has been a reluctance to take a firm stand concerning a solution to the Cyprus problem," he stressed.

    "I believe the international community has not used its full potential and I would like to urge it to show greater and keener interest in the issue," Stephanopoulos added, though he expressed gratitude for the efforts of the UN.

    Bidding the Greek President farewell, Clerides said the visit was of "tremendous" importance because Stephanopoulos had sent all the right messages in all directions, "to the domestic front, abroad, to the Turkish Cypriots and to all those forces that are interested in a Cyprus settlement."

    Clerides also accepted the Greek President's invitation to pay an official visit to Greece soon.

    [08] British defend arrest of anti-bases activists

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE BRITISH bases yesterday dismissed allegations that they singled out three anti-bases demonstrators for strong arm tactics when they were arrested on Sunday.

    Ecologists and the right-wing New Horizons party yesterday slammed the bases for arresting anti-British activists Christos Andreou, his wife Theanou, and Antonis Samoutis.

    "The accusation that they were attacked by five individuals in uniform is nonsense," bases spokesman Captain Jon Brown told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    He said all had been arrested for obstructing police officers carrying out their duties within the Eastern Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia.

    They were protesting against the recent conviction and two-month jail sentence handed out by a bases court against Hambis Himonas for assault and reckless driving.

    "We believe they were trying to stop the cavalcade of the Greek President, which was heading towards Ayia Napa. We believe they were attempting to bring the so-called plight of Himonas to the attention of the Greek President," a bases source said.

    A statement by the ecologists slammed Cyprus police special branch for not only "standing by, but enjoying the incident of violent arrest".

    New Horizons charged the bases authorities of victimising the three in order to serve a greater political aim, as dictated by the British government's policy on Cyprus.

    "It was an unacceptable political act," said a party statement.

    The statement added: "The government should, once and for all, give a clear political message to the English that it will not bow to unacceptable provocation."

    But Captain Jon Brown said yesterday it was time for all those who "don't understand" to realise that the legality of the SBA is provided for under the Treaty of Establishment.

    "It provides for the bases to have their own courts and laws and to carry them out under due process."

    The trio were charged and released later on Sunday, but it is unlikely they will appear before a bases court, as they need to be summoned on SBA territory first.

    [09] Ruling UBP triumphs in Turkish Cypriot local polls

    LOCAL ELECTIONS held in the occupied areas on Sunday resulted in an overwhelming victory for the ruling National Unity Party, which won 18 out of the 28 'municipalities'.

    The Republican Turkish Party won four, the Democratic Party two, and the Communal Liberation Party also two. In addition, there was one independent winner.

    According to the Turkish Press reports, 'Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu, leader of the National Unity Party, hailed the result as a great victory for his party.

    According to the reports, 118,833 voters went to the polls on Sunday. Up for election were 28 'mayors', 214 Council Members, 199 Mukhtars and 780 Village Elders. Voting began on Sunday at 8am and finished at 6pm.

    In spite of a Saturday ban on campaigning, many Turkish Cypriot newspapers published stories designed either to discredit or promote particular parties.

    Yeni Demokrat, the Democratic Party mouthpiece, carried pictures of piles of effluent on the streets of occupied Nicosia, with the headline "The Capital Expects Change", tying in with the "Change" slogan of the Democratic Party.

    National Unity Party mouthpiece Birlik, meanwhile, announced that several people were suing the 'mayors' of Kyrenia and Famagusta, both opposing party members, for endangering their lives with unhealthy drinking water and polluted seas.

    The election results were announced in the occupied areas yesterday, and not on Sunday night as expected, due to a computer system collapse at the Near East University monitoring station.

    [10] Turkish Cypriot held for Limasool knife attack

    A TURKISH Cypriot from Limassol was yesterday being held in police custody in connection with a midday knife attack in the town on Saturday.

    Forty-six-year-old Moustafa Zichni is suspected of attacking fellow- Limassolian Kleanthis Panayides, 41, with a pen-knife outside a supermarket.

    Panayides suffered a number of cuts in the attack and had to be treated in Limassol hospital, though he was not kept in, police said.

    Police said they had a witness statement implicating Zichni in the attack, and arrested him at 4.15pm on Saturday. A pen-knife was found on the Turkish Cypriot at the time of his arrest and he later confessed to attacking Panayides, police said.

    Zichni was on Sunday remanded for five days by Limassol District Court.

    [11] Vassiliou re-elected at head of UD

    CYPRUS' EU negotiator George Vassiliou has been re-elected as leader of his United Democrats party.

    Vassiliou was elected unopposed during a party conference on Sunday. Michalis Papapetrou was elected as deputy president.

    Agriculture minister Costas Themistocleous retained his post as general secretary of the party.

    "The United Democrats are participating in the government to work for the good of the people and promote a consistent policy on the Cyprus question," said a statement to close the conference.

    During his conference speech, Vassiliou backed the government's demilitarisation proposal and warned against any move which could spark a conflict.

    The United Democrats hold two seats in the House, that of Vassiliou and his wife Androulla.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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