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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-07-08

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

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


Wednesday, July 8, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Omirou in Russia to witness firing of S-300s
  • [02] UK officer tried to kill me, claims bases protester
  • [03] We're ready for direct talks
  • [04] Airline unions reject strategic plan
  • [05] Pilots defend second Dublin delay
  • [06] Don't panic, CTO tells Larnaca yacht owners
  • [07] Lyssarides gives Hercus lesson in semantics
  • [08] EU membership by 2003?
  • [09] Government probes expensive consultancy errors
  • [10] Nicosia blaze averted
  • [11] Committee meets to thrash out civil service deal
  • [12] Another Heat Wave?
  • [13] Police warning on crime
  • [14] Soldier dies after falling from truck
  • [15] Man drowns off Curium

  • [01] Omirou in Russia to witness firing of S-300s

    By Jean Christou

    DEFENCE Minister Yiannakis Omirou arrived in Moscow yesterday on a four-day visit whose agenda is said to include a test-firing of the Russian S-300 missiles the government has ordered.

    Omirou is set to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Igor Sergayev as part of the previously unannounced visit.

    The 1996 agreement for military and technical co-operation between Russia and Cyprus will be the main topic of discussion, Omirou said yesterday at Larnaca Airport before his departure.

    Other issues will include developments in the Cyprus problem, the Cyprus government's proposal for demilitarisation of the island and Moscow's proposals submitted to the UN Security Council on the same topic.

    "Both countries are interested in consolidating the conditions of peace, stability and co-operation in the Mediterranean and the wider region," Omirou said.

    Tomorrow and on Friday Cypriot army officers will test-launch the ground-to- air missiles, CyBC reported yesterday.

    The test is to take place at a firing range 1,200 km south of Moscow and will be watched by a Cyprus government delegation including Omirou and National Guard Commander Demetris Dimos.

    However, government spokesman Christos Stylianides yesterday declined to comment on this aspect of the minister's visit.

    President Clerides is also due to visit Moscow from July 11-14.

    The missiles, which have prompted threats of a military strike by Turkey, were due for delivery in the summer. The government says the £200 million deal will go ahead as planned, but government sources have hinted it will be autumn before the missiles arrive on the island.

    Greek Defence Minister Akis Tzohatzopoulos yesterday also said the delivery would be delayed. Speaking in Washington, he said the S-300s would arrive in Cyprus in November.

    He said the delivery had been put off by President Clerides "so as not to disturb initiatives".

    The UN has undertaken a new effort to restart the stalled political negotiations.

    "If they (Turkey) have problems with the S-300s then there is another alternative," Tzohatzopoulos said, referring to the demilitarisation proposal by the Cyprus government.

    [02] UK officer tried to kill me, claims bases protester

    By Martin Hellicar

    ANTI-BASES protestor Christos Andreou yesterday claimed a British officer tried to run him down and kill him during a protest in the Dhekelia Sovereign Base area (SBA) on Sunday.

    In a written statement, Andreou - veteran of many run-ins with SBA authorities - claimed the officer, in civilian dress, got out of his vehicle after the attempted knock-down, grabbed him by the neck and threatened to kill him.

    Andreou said the alleged attack occurred during a protest against what he said was the SBA police's "illegal" detention of farmer Hambis Himonas on reckless driving charges.

    He said SBA police stood idly by as the alleged attack took place and did nothing when he demanded that the British officer be arrested.

    The same officer drove his car at television crews covering the protest and also trampled a Greek flag that he grabbed from the protesters, Andreou claimed.

    "The English seem to be allowed to do whatever they want, just because they want to do it, because we belong to them. This is their colony and they are rulers over all of Cyprus," Andreou protested.

    A bases spokesman last night dismissed the allegations. "I have never heard such nonsense in my life," said Mervyn Wynne-Jones.

    [03] We're ready for direct talks

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GOVERNMENT is ready to respond immediately to the UN Security Council's call for resumption of settlement talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides on the divided island, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.

    "I want to say that President Clerides at least, on behalf of our side, is ready to enter into dialogue tomorrow even," Cassoulides said.

    Security Council president Sergei Lavrov of Russia stated in New York on Monday night that members had called the leaders of the two sides swiftly to resume peace talks abandoned last Summer. The call came after the Security Council was briefed by UN envoy Diego Cordovez on his recent visit to Cyprus.

    "We salute the decision of the Security Council to call the two communities in Cyprus to enter bicommunal talks as as soon as possible to find a solution to the Cyprus problem based on UN resolutions," Cassoulides said.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash abandoned UN-mediated talks in Switzerland last summer, saying he would return only if the EU reversed its decision to open accession talks with the Cyprus government. He has since added recognition of his breakaway state in norther Cyprus - recognised only by Turkey - to his preconditions for resuming face-to-face talks with Clerides.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides yesterday expressed the view that "the new appeal is in full compliance with the recent Security Council resolutions and proves the Council's resolve to break the deadlock and overcome the impasse in the Cyprus problem.

    The spokesman expressed hope that the Turkish side would come to understand that its position was alienating it and condemning the Turkish Cypriot side to difficulties in the future.

    Asked if the government fet the appeal indicated the Council's intention to take measures to break the deadlock, Stylianides said "at this stage, unfortunately, we do not expect practical measures".

    He added that "the government considers this appeal is further proof that the Council has the political will to exert pressure on the Turkish side to enter into a substantive dialogue to break the deadlock."

    "We neither underestimate, nor overestimate this kind of appeal, especially when they come from the Security Council," the spokesman said.

    Replying to questions, he that said when Cordovez returned to the island in September, "we expect specific positions or proposals which will be evaluated."

    Cordovez told the Security Council that his trip to Cyprus last week was the first part of a "two-phase mission", and that he wanted "to touch base with both leaders in order to see whether they were ready to resume direct talks."

    He described his meetings in Cyprus as" positive, substantive and constructive."

    The UN official outlined to the Council "some substance of what the talks might concentrate on", and the Council members "agreed to a second phase of his current effort some time at the end of the summer".

    [04] Airline unions reject strategic plan

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) unions have rejected the airline's cost-cutting strategic plan, which was presented to them by management yesterday.

    The airline's largest union Cynika rejected the plan, which aims to cut staff and staff costs, calling it catastrophic.

    But pilots union Pasipy says it is willing to discuss any plan to save money, as long as the measures are "painless".

    The plan envisages a 10 per cent pay cut plus a three year wage freeze, but suggests staff be offered 10 per cent of profits and a share option scheme.

    The five-year plan prepared by an American firm also says the airline needs to cut staff numbers by some 700 from its 1,800 employees.

    CY has already announced a voluntary redundancy plan to lay off surplus staff. Hundreds left under a similar scheme in the early 'nineties, but all have since been replaced.

    The strategic plan aims to cut costs by £10 million and increase revenue by £22 million by 2001 in an effort to return the ailing national carrier to the black after years of losses.

    It also proposes that certain services, such as catering, accounts - which has some 200 employees alone - and cleaning be passed on to third parties.

    But without the co-operation of the unions, the plan, like its predecessors, will be doomed to failure.

    Cynika, which has close to 1,500 members, including stewards, lower management and other employees, said yesterday the plan would leave its members "out on the street".

    Union chief Costas Demetriou said the plan would result in the "financial downgrading" of staff, the end of set working hours and the selling off of many CY services to the private sector.

    "From the moment this plan was first leaked, the reaction of our members has been very strong," Demetriou said.

    He said that Cynika would nevertheless study the plan in detail and then give its official position.

    Pasipy representative Demetris Tsadiotis ruled out any possibility of even considering pay cuts for pilots, some of whom are the highest-paid employees in the company.

    "We are willing to negotiate with the company on financial issues, but we wouldn't accept a wage freeze," Tsadiotis said.

    "But we are prepared to negotiate and find painless ways for the company to save money."

    Pilots say the company is targeting their high wages as the source of the airline's financial woes, but believe the strategic plan actually highlights major holes in management practices as well.

    The Cyprus Airways Group loss in 1997 was £4 million compared to losses of £5.2 million in 1996.

    [05] Pilots defend second Dublin delay

    PILOTS from Cyprus Airways (CY) charter firm Eurocypria yesterday defended the action of a colleague who made an unscheduled stop on a Dublin to Larnaca flight because his official flying time had expired.

    A statement from CY pilots union Pasipy said responsibility for the incident - the second in two weeks - lay squarely with Eurocypria management.

    The latest incident has left large tour operators threatening to review their policy towards Eurocypria.

    Over 170 passengers had their Dublin-Larnaca flight delayed for six hours when the captain decided his flying time was up by two hours and made an unscheduled stop in Athens.

    A similar incident occurred two weeks ago, lending credence to the belief that Eurocypria pilots and management are engaged in a dirty war involving an unofficial work to rule.

    The pilots say that, under international regulations, they are limited to 12 hours' flying time; management says the same rules in fact allow that time to be extended by three hours at the pilot's discretion.

    Pasipy said yesterday that problems with cleaning at Dublin Airport regularly led to delays; Eurocypria management had been informed of the situation, but continued to schedule flights in a way which ensured that pilots would go over the flying limit on a regular basis.

    Pilots insist they are well within their rights to refuse to take the planes on to Larnaca.

    "The responsibility lies completely with Eurocypria management," Pasipy said. "They insist on programming flights on a tight schedule, knowing the difficulties being faced by pilots when there are delays at the airport."

    Pasipy said the pilot in the Dublin-Larnaca incident had landed in Athens only after receiving the written permission of the company while he was still in Dublin.

    The union is now calling on the civil aviation authority in Britain - under which Cypriot pilots are licensed - to intervene to vindicate its members.

    "If pilots exceed flying time, they risk losing their licence, careers, jobs and families," Pasipy said.

    The union said CY management was continuing to sway public opinion against pilots, "when its clear that the pilots' love for the company is undisputed."

    [06] Don't panic, CTO tells Larnaca yacht owners

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE CYPRUS Tourism Organisation (CTO) yesterday urged boat owners not to panic, saying it was business as usual at Larnaca marina despite the crane tender stand-off.

    "The situation is completely normal, the licensee is carrying out his business as usual and customers are being serviced," CTO official Phoebe Katsouris told the Cyprus Mail.

    The CTO official, however, declined to comment on a Cyprus Mail report on the nightmare ordeal of one British boat owner, whose yacht was used as a hostage by the yellow crane operator against his blue rival.

    Although the blue crane has secured a court order to return to the marina after being forcibly removed three months ago, the CTO is confident that the issue will be resolved amicably on Friday.

    "The whole matter is taking the course of legal procedure, which we must abide by, and there will be another decision on Friday," Katsouris said.

    A Larnaca court is expected to rule on Friday on the CTO's request for an injunction order against the blue crane, which lost the new tender but failed to make way for its rival at the start of the year.

    After having had its fingers burnt following the costly row earlier this year, the CTO is quite happy to tread water for now.

    "We are strictly bound by the court decision and I wouldn't like to comment further on the situation," said Katsouris.

    She also confessed that she did not know that the blue crane was back at the marina or what its current function might be.

    [07] Lyssarides gives Hercus lesson in semantics

    IT WAS only her first day on the job, but the country's new UN boss, Dame Ann Hercus, has walked straight into the touchy politics of the Cyprus Problem and stumbled, according to the leader of socialist party Edek.

    Dr. Vassos Lyssarides said that Hercus made a verbal blunder when she referred to Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash as "his excellency."

    Lyssarides said that title should be reserved for President Glafcos Clerides.

    "I am worried she has begun on the wrong foot," he said.

    But the government spokesman defended Hercus. Christos Stylianides said that he did not see her choice of words as a problem, because she is working under the good offices of the United Nations.

    That isn't good enough for Lyssarides, who offered a few words of advice.

    He said that Hercus must learn to "take people's sensitivities into consideration" and "choose her wording more carefully," especially in light of the new role awarded to her on Monday.

    Lyssarides made his comments shortly after a meeting with the president about the proposed Committee on National Policy.

    In July, Clerides will hold a meeting with political leaders to discuss the new committee, planned as an expanded form of the National Council. Lyssarides, who suggested its formation before the election, said only some minor changes would be made to his original proposal.

    [08] EU membership by 2003?

    A TARGET date for Cyprus' accession into the European Union was given yesterday by the chief negotiator for the Cypriot team, former president George Vassiliou.

    After a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, Vassiliou said January 1, 2003 was the guideline that his team was now working with. He added that no date was certain, and that accession could very well happen either before or after that date.

    Vassiliou said accession depended less on Cyprus' readiness than it did on the interests of the EU.

    Still, the former president remained confident that accession would become a reality, as long as Cyprus did its part and was prepared to deal with those "issues regarding harmonisation" with the community.

    He said that "the whole policy of the EU on enlargement" would play a larger factor in the process than anything else.

    But as long as Cyprus was "properly prepared," Vassiliou said the accession process should continue to run as positively as it had since negotiations began in March of this year.

    [09] Government probes expensive consultancy errors

    By Charlie Charalambous

    ACCOUNTANT-GENERAL Leontios Savvides is considering whether a UK consultancy firm blamed for the construction of defective bridges on the Limassol to Paphos highway should be blacklisted.

    According to Savvides, the foreign experts carried out several feasibility studies for the Public Works Department, which fell wide of the mark.

    "What we've noticed is that the studies omitted important factors linked to road construction, which includes bridges, or that they weren't as professional as they should have been," Savvides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    He said he was still in the process of collecting all the evidence before deciding whether he should request that the UK-based firm, known as ACER or HYDER, be blacklisted by the Central Tenders Board.

    "Before blacklisting, the firm must be officially informed of the accusations and given time to reply in writing and have legal representation before the board takes a decision," Savvides said.

    Problems incurred during the construction of the bridges meant the contractor had to be compensated from the public purse to the tune of £1.2 million to make up for delays and extra work involved.

    It is also understood that design faults have been found on a bridge built by a Chinese company on the Petra tou Romiou to Timis road section.

    The Accountant-general is concerned that, on these occasions, well-paid consultants failed to evaluate the quality of the geological sub-strata.

    Only once work began were the deficiencies realised, causing expensive delays while new plans were drawn up.

    Defective plans from the same consultancy firm for the Larnaca-Famagusta road allegedly caused disruptions to a project that has already overshot its deadline.

    Savvides has now asked the public works department to prepare a report on all the glitches thought to have been caused by poor advice.

    [10] Nicosia blaze averted

    By Elias Hazou

    A MAJOR FIRE was averted yesterday when a buffer zone blaze near the Nicosia suburb of Pallouriotissa was put out in a joint operation by UN peacekeeping forces and the Cyprus Fire Brigade.

    The fire destroyed a small area of wild brush, but buildings in the nearby industrial area were spared as the fire was quickly brought under control.

    It was the second fire so far this year, coming only a day after Monday's devastating outbreak near Kambos, which raged for over 12 hours.

    The fire at Kambos, in the northwestern part of the island burned 2.5 square kilometres of forest.

    A Forestry Department worker, Elias Panayi, suffered burns while fighting the fire and had to be transported by helicopter to Nicosia General Hospital.

    By 9pm on Monday the Kambos fire was under control.

    But Forestry Department environment officer Antonis Koutalianos, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that 180 men had stayed on to monitor the area between Pyrgos and Kambos.

    "Look-out posts have been set up, backed by patrols," Koutalianos said.

    He said that firemen were visibly tired after three long days of firefighting in higher than average July temperatures.

    Koutalianos added that all that was needed to prevent a repeat of such incidents was some "common sense".

    Most forest fires are started by people leaving stoking fires unattended, or by throwing lit cigarette stubs.

    [11] Committee meets to thrash out civil service deal

    A MINISTERIAL committee yesterday debated the renewal of collective agreements for civil servants.

    But questions have been raised as to whether such a renewal is consistent with the government's declared policy of reducing the public deficit. Asked what his views were on this point, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, who was chairing a conference of ministerial committees, said he could not comment until after a decision had been reached with the civil servants.

    He added that the committees would contact the workers' unions in case no agreement was reached between the committees and the government.

    Referring to the débâcle in the postal services, Christodoulou said that "important steps have been made in the right direction".

    Last month, postal workers staged a number of crippling strikes drawing attention to their demands for a shorter working week.

    Representatives of the postal workers are to meet the ministerial committee next week.

    [12] Another Heat Wave?

    REPORTS that temperatures will rise again today have prompted worries of another heat wave.

    After just two days of respite from last week's searing heat, meteorologists are warning that the temperature will rise again today, reaching a maximum of 37 degrees celsius in inland areas. Temperatures last week regularly broke the 40 degree barrier.

    Two elderly people died on Sunday of fever, possibly brought on by the high temperatures, and the rise in humidity has also caused problems for people suffering from asthma and heart problems.

    People are being warned not to leave children and pets in parked cars, where temperatures can very quickly rise to fatal levels. A child died in Sicily last week after being forgotten in his parents' car, where the temperature rose to an asphyxiating 60 degrees celsius.

    [13] Police warning on crime

    THE SUMMER months not only bring higher temperatures, they also bring an increased risk of crime, the office of the Chief of Police had warned.

    To help keep the crime rate at a minimum, police yesterday asked the public to take the following precautions in order to keep themselves safe and to preserve Cyprus' good name oversees.

    --When absent from your home, try not to make it look so obvious. Work with your neighbours to create a "neighbourhood watch" and look out for one another.

    --To determine if a house is empty, prospective burglars will ring the bell and wait too see if someone answers. If a suspicious person does this to you, contact police.

    --Do not leave tools or ladders outside your home, they could be used to break into your home.

    --Copy down the make and serial numbers of video, TV, radio and photographic equipment. Take photos or put special markings on jewellery to make identification easier.

    --Do not leave valuables in plain view.

    --If you discover you've been burgled, call the police immediately and don't touch anything.

    The police advise that all people could better protect their homes and businesses with the proper use of heavy safes, quality locks, and iron bars on windows.

    Other suggestions include leaving cash registers open and empty, installing alarm systems, hiring security guards and installing lights that work with motion sensors.

    [14] Soldier dies after falling from truck

    A TEENAGE National Guardsman died yesterday morning after falling off an army troop transporter, the Defence Ministry has announced.

    Charalambos Angeli, from Akoursos village near Paphos, was sitting in the back of a Stayer truck with fellow-soldier Spyros Spyrou, travelling from Paphos town to Kissonerga village, when he fell onto the road, an official announcement stated.

    "For unknown reasons, Charalambos Angeli fell out of the vehicle onto the tarmac with the result that he suffered a fatal skull fracture," the Ministry stated.

    The National Guard Command (GEEF) has ordered an investigation into the incident, which occurred at 11.40am, the Ministry said.

    [15] Man drowns off Curium

    A YOUNG man, thought to be Egyptian, drowned in the sea at Curium at around 1pm yesterday.

    The man's companion rushed to his aid on hearing his calls for help, but also got into trouble and had to be assisted by other swimmers.

    A helicopter from the British Bases transported the two men to the military hospital at Akrotiri, where one was reported already dead. The other has been transferred to Limassol General Hospital. The two were seen leaving a nearby restaurant just before they went into the sea.

    Police are investigating the identity of the two swimmers, thought to be between 25 and 27 years old.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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