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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-07-10
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From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Friday, July 10, 1998
 No-fly zone, no missiles: Turks say `No deal'By Jean Christou
TOP Cyprus defence officials were present at the test-firing of two S-300 missiles in Russia yesterday as the government reiterated its pledge to cancel the controversial deal in the event of progress on demilitarisation.
A proposal for a no-fly zone over the island, which Washington says it is now willing to consider, would go a long way towards the goal of demilitarisation, the government said yesterday.
US Defence Secretary William Cohen said on Wednesday that the US would be willing to consider Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos' proposal for a no-fly zone in an effort to head off the deployment of the Russian surface-to-air missiles in November.
But Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, yesterday ruled out any negotiations over linking the non-deployment of the S-300s with the no-fly proposal.
"We will not accept any attempts to turn the subject into a bargaining chip with Turkey for the abandonemtn of the S-300s, Reuters quoted Ecevit as saying in Ankara.
Cohen said Washington was looking for ways to reduce tensions in the region after Turkey threatened to use all means possible to prevent the deployment of the missiles, which had originally been set for delivery next month.
The proposal for a no-fly zone was made by Pangalos to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright more than a month ago in Washington. "The no-fly zone is one possibility that could be explored, but we have not made any determination on what the result should be in terms of how we achieve this reduction in tensions," Cohen said.
He added that the US was not encouraging Turkey to take any military action. "There should be no mistake that we are in any way lending support for any kind of aggression on the part of Turkey," Cohen said.
Cyprus has repeatedly said it will consider cancelling the missile deal if progress is made on the political question or on the demilitarisation of the island.
Yesterday government spokesman Christos Stylianides said the proposal made to Albright by Pangalos had been adopted by the government "as part of a joint strategy by Greece and Cyprus".
Stylianides also confirmed a report in yesterday's Phileleftheros that Albright and President Clerides had exchanged letters on the missile deal, but he refused to reveal any details.
"I can confirm Albright's letter and a reply by President Clerides, who does not wish at this stage to reveal the content of the letter," Stylianides said.
Phileleftheros said Albright's letter had suggested either that Cyprus purchases shorter range missiles or deploy the S-300s off the island. The S- 300s have a range of 90 miles.
Cypriot and Greek delegations, including Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou and National Guard Commander Demetris Demou, yesterday attended the test firing of two missiles in the Astrakhan region of southern Russia, 1,200 km outside Moscow.
According to CyBC reports from Moscow, the two missiles were launched 20 seconds apart and both destroyed their flying targets.
The Interfax news agency said Russia's rocket forces had trained National Guard forces on the S-300 anti-aircraft system and that the test firings had, according to military sources, been "a complete success".
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was yesterday quoted as saying that the postponement of the arrival of the missiles meant the deal had in effect been cancelled. "The situation would have been much better if they (the Greek Cypriots) had been man enough to say outright that they had shelved the delivery of the missiles," Denktash said.
 Nurses' lunch-break delays childrens' opsBy Charlie Charalambous
FOUR children awaiting surgery at Nicosia's Makarios Hospital must now return to the waiting list after nurses walked out of the operating theatre to take a lunch break.
The hospital's chief paediatric surgeon, Eleni Theocharous, yesterday called for a disciplinary inquiry against the nurses involved and threatened to resign over the issue. Following the outcry, Health Minister Christos Solomis ordered a top priority investigation into the fiasco.
On Thursday, scheduled operations were disrupted at the children's hospital when nurses left the theatre at 1.30pm, saying their allotted time was up and refusing to wheel in the next patient.
A fifth child was apparently left in limbo after he had been partly sedated. His operation had to be delayed until late afternoon, while the other four children were sent home.
"If there are scheduled operations and the surgeon has access to the operating theatre until 3pm, the unions cannot then decide to inform staff to leave with everything having to stop," Theocharous said yesterday.
She described the staff action as unethical and totally incomprehensible under the mandate of the health service.
"There should be a disciplinary inquiry as four children were denied the required surgery."
Theocharous said that two of the children needed urgent operations, while another had waited six months for the operation so that she would not interrupt her schooling.
Frustrated and angry parents were also left in the dark as to when their children would undergo the operations. "I couldn't say when there would be available time for surgery, I don't even know if I can continue under such conditions," Theocharous said. "I can't hide the fact that my intention is to quit, because this type of thing should not be allowed to happen."
The chief surgeon also took a pot-shot at what she described as the "me- first" mentality of union time-keepers. "It's unacceptable in the health service, but only in Cyprus does this kind of incident occur."
Civil servants union Pasydy, in a statement released later in the day, defended nurses at the hospital, saying they had been faced with an "impossible workload". Pasysdy said that too many (nine) routine operations had been scheduled for Tuesday and the situation was made worse by four emergency surgery cases.
Pasydy also accued Theocharous of "unacceptable behaviour" and inflexibility. The union said nurses were considering refusing to work under her in future.
 Defence levy rise is delayed againBy Martin Hellicar
LONG hours of back-room wrangling failed to secure party unanimity for approval of an increase in the defence levy at the House plenum yesterday.
House president Spyros Kyprianou announced - at the end of a day-long plenum session - that party leaders had agreed on a motion to call a special parliamentary session for August 5 solely for discussion of the controversial bill, pendii\ng since 1996.
The motion to postpone debate of the controversial bill - hiking contributions to the defence fund from the current three to four per cent - was carried. Yesterday's plenum session was meant to be the last before the deputies' summer break.
Kyprianou said the decision to postpone consideration of the bill had been taken following consultation with President Clerides.He also announced that a special meeting between party leaders, Clerides, Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou and National Guard chiefs would be held on Tuesday to discuss the bill.
The House president, who is also Diko leader, had called party leaders to his office three times during the day in an effort to persuade main opposition party Akel and the minority United Democrats to drop their objections to the levy increase.
Despite the fact that the bill's passage seemed assured by the support of Disy, Diko and Edek, deputies were loathe to put it to the vote in the absence of unanimity.
 UNHCR called in to help processing asylum claimsBy Martin Hellicar and Elias Hazou
THE GOVERNMENT has requested the help of UNHCR officials to establish which of the 109 Arabs and Africans rescued from a trawler found drifting off Cyprus last week are genuine asylum-seekers.
"It is a difficult and time-consuming process finding out the true identity and circumstances of those claiming to be in danger," senior immigration department officer Costas Hadjipavlou said yesterday.
The UNHCR closed its Cyprus office more than a year ago, but the government has now asked for UNHCR experts to be sent to the Island to help sort through the dozens of asylum claims from boat people alleging they face persecution in their home countries, Hadjipavlou said.
Since their rescue on June 30, the 109 passengers have been staying - at government expense and under tight police security - at the £25-a-night Pefkos hotel in Limassol.
"The obvious (unfounded) cases will be swiftly dealt with," Hadjipavlou said. "Those who are proven not to be in danger will not be granted political asylum," he said.
Passengers failing to secure asylum would face deportation, but police have said returning the passengers to their home countries would be no simple matter as most do not possess travel documents.
The police were yesterday washing their hands of the matter.
"It is now in the hands of the state," a police spokesman said.
He suggested the boat people were in no hurry to leave the Island: "To be honest, they are quite happy down there (in Limassol)."
The boat people - from Iraq, Syria, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Rwanda and Congo - have been complaining of the restrictive regime imposed by police at their hotel.
The government has promised to meet its obligations under international human rights treaties and to provide all possible assistance to the rescued passengers.
The passengers, including eight children, were half-starved and suffering from severe dehydration when a Ukrainian cargo vessel found them aboard the Syrian-flagged Rida Allah. Crammed on the deck of the tiny fishing boat, they had been drifting for 10 days after the vessel developed engine trouble two days after leaving the Lebanese port of Tripoli on June 18.
Police said two passengers had died of thirst on the fishing boat and been thrown overboard by the time the vessel was found and towed to Limassol.
The Syrian captain of the ship, 31-year-old Mohammed Mustafa, has been charged with causing death by negligence and carrying passengers on an unsuitable vessel. Passengers claim they paid Mustafa thousands of dollars each for passage to Greece and Italy.
 Deputies will not pay parking finesBy Athena Karsera
AT LEAST one of seven deputies will refuse to pay a fine for illegal parking outside the House of Representatives, his office said yesterday.
The office of Akel deputy Kyriakos Tirimos said that he, and probably the other six other deputies, would not pay the fine served to them on Tuesday. Members of the House can claim parliamentary immunity to refuse to pay the fine.
The police yesterday named the deputies given tickets for illegal parking as Disy deputies Ouranios Ioannides and Sophoclis Hadjiannis, Akel deputies Tirimos and Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Diko deputy Stathis Kittis and Edek deputy Ilias Myrianthous.
Tirimos' office stated that he and the other deputies would not pay the fines, not because of their immunity, but as no alternative parking was available to them.
Other deputies were unavailable for comment, with some offices pleading ignorance on the entire matter.
The road outside the House also passes by Nicosia General Hospital and is one of the busiest in the capital.
Because deputies' cars and press vehicles are not usually given tickets, other citizens also tend to park illegally and passers-by are used to the sight of congested traffic and cars parked wherever they can fit, including on the pavement. This causes problems for drivers and pedestrians, who are often forced to walk in the street.
New Police Chief Andreas Angelides this week stepped in to clean up the situation, ordering officers to give tickets to any car parked illegally in front of the House, irrespective of whom it may belong to.
 House backs CY loan guaranteeTHE HOUSE plenum yesterday approved a government guarantee for Cyprus Airways to take out a $75 million loan to shore up its floundering finances.
In the last plenum session before their summer break, deputies passed the bill with 26 votes for and three against.
Those voting against were Diko deputies Tassos Papadopoulos, Nicos Cleanthous and Marios Matsakis. Papadopoulos, who has launched a personal campaign against what he claims is widespread nepotism in the troubled national carrier, has vowed not to approve any further state support for CY until it gets its house in order.
Akel deputy Christodoulos Veniamin abstained from the vote, while 26 deputies were absent from the plenum chamber at the time.
The CY Group reported losses of over £4 million in 1997 and £5.2 million in 1997.
The plenum also approved a deficit budget for the Electricity Authority (EAC) for 1998. The budget provides for spending of £210 million and income of £138 million.
 Christodoulou flies to Moscow to talk taxFINANCE Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou flew to Moscow yesterday to discuss the renewal of an agreement to avoid double taxation between Cyprus and Russia.
The agreement was first signed in 1982 with the former Soviet Union.
Before his departure, Christodoulou said the treaty needed to be modernised because "it seriously affects our relations". He added that "relations between Cyprus and Russia are excellent and in all fields and I'm sure... we will be able to find solutions to our mutual benefit."
The Finance Minister will be heading a delegation of his ministry and the Central Bank and will be meeting the Russian deputy finance minister.
The high-profile visit to Russia is the latest in a series by government figures, but Christodoulou said that his was simply "coincidental". Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou is already in Russia, while President Clerides flies to Moscow tomorrow.
 Greenpeace anger at broken promises on AkamasHOUSE President Spyros Kyprianou broke his promise to discuss the Akamas issue in Parliament before the summer recess, according to the Mediterranean arm of Greenpeace.
In a written statement, Greenpeace said it wanted to protect the Akamas from property owners seeking to destroy the natural environment and turn "the area over to wholesale tourism."
"The protection of the Akamas and its precious environment is something politicians have been avoiding for the last decade," said Dr. Mario Damato, executive director of Greenpeace Mediterranean in Cyprus.
He added that the Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment, Costas Themistocleous, had also assured him the Akamas debate would take place before the summer break.
The House broke up for its summer recess yesterday. "We see the issue has remained static," said Damato.
At least six hotel applications in the Akamas are awaiting approval while illegal constructions are ignored, according to Greenpeace.
The environmental organisation also said the Akamas was of "international importance" because of its wildlife. The Green Turtle, for instance, uses the area's beaches as a nesting site.
This turtle has a maximum of 275 nesting females breeding in the Mediterranean today and is in danger of extinction.
 Government battles to lift EU fish banCYPRUS' thriving fish export industry has been given a slap in the face with a temporary ban imposed by the EU.
Government departments are now rushing to get their act together to convince the EU that Cyprus has the necessary legislation to guarantee the quality of fish.
Concerned about the adequacy of controls on the export of fish to the European market, the EU has introduced a ban until it is satisfied that all its specifications are met.
"It has not nothing to do with the suitability of our fish for consumption, but is a problem of procedure and infrastructure," chief health inspector Sophocles Anthousis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
He said the EU had requested further details on Cyprus legislation governing fish exports, which reached 62 tones this year, a six-fold increase on 1997.
The health inspector was later backed up by Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous, who was keen to reassure consumers: "Our fish remains of very good quality and the Cypriot consumer can use them without fear.
"What has arisen is a legal, technical matter, which is relevant to the broader issue of harmonisation with the EU."
The ban is a serious blow to the fishing industry as the local market cannot absorb the excess amounts that have been earmarked for export.
Next week, the Agriculture Ministry will convene a meeting to plan a course of action to get the July 1 ban lifted.
"It is not a serious problem and we hope to solve it in the near future," Anthousis said.
 Time share company blasts Cyprus red tapeBy Jean Christou
A NEWLY-ESTABLISHED holiday investment company has accused officialdom of almost killing tourism through red tape.
Nicosia-based Carrington Holiday Investments, a time share company, which uses 16 of the island's hotels, said Cyprus "may possibly have been the worst choice of pilot countries for such a sophisticated scheme".
Hoteliers too came under fire, after around half of the 30 initial partner units pulled out and tried to persuade others to do the same.
"None the less, those 16 hotels (which include the St George in Paphos) were sufficient to make a Cyprus launch of the product feasible," Carrington said in a statement yesterday.
"We are obviously disappointed by the attitude of the larger players within the industry. It appears that our efforts to help the Cyprus tourism industry were not as strong as their desire to ensure smaller hotels didn't get a competitive advantage."
The company also accused government officials of attempting to destroy the programme and said some bank managers had intimated to their hotel customers that the plan was "unsavoury".
"Should such problems arise... the company intends to have its bond issued from its UK marketing company thus denying Cyprus - yet again - the advantage of much needed foreign income," it said.
Carrington said the only "glimmer of hope" it had received was from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), which however "does not have the power" to promote a particular product.
Under the company's programme, tourists can become holiday investors at any of the 16 resort hotel units for a period of 12 years, giving them 12 years of pre-paid holidays for up to four people.
The hotels would commit a maximum of 20 per cent of their annual capacity to these holiday investors. As a safety net, the company says that at least 40 per cent of the income generated from Holiday Investing would be placed under professional management for 12 years.
"Unfortunately, the financial institutions in Cyprus chose to give up the opportunity," the company said.
Hoteliers Association Director-general Zacharias Ioannides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that he had no idea that such a project had been initiated in Cyprus.
But he did say that time sharing was not something the Association would generally be in favour of. "If and when we consider that this type of development may have some benefit to the economy, legislation will have to be introduced," Ioannides said.
Officials from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) were not available for comment yesterday.
 Travel agents express concern at effects of flight chaosTHE ASSOCIATION of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) has expressed its deep concern at the negative impact on tourism caused by chaos in the country's air transport.
ACTA in particular drew attention to possible long-term effects. Difficult trips to Cyprus, the association's statement explained, would leave a lasting impression on tourists.
The association calls on all interested parties to resolve the problems affecting flights as soon as possible before the tourist influx gets into full swing.
ACTA's call for action comes days after two British tour companies threatened to pull out from Eurocypria's Dublin-Larnaca charter route after two flights were delayed when Eurocypria pilots made unscheduled stops in Athens, claiming they had exceeded their flying time.
Local travel agents are not alone in suffering the economic consequences of such actions. According to Cyprus Airways, the Dublin-Larnaca flight that was delayed two weeks ago disrupted the entire Eurocypria schedule, costing the company £100,000.
There was even talk of a "dirty war" being waged by the pilots. The Cyprus Mail was told that similar incidents had occurred in the past, but had not been reported by the airline for obvious reasons.
On Wednesday, Cyprus Airways unions rejected the airline's strategic cost- cutting plan reducing staff and lowering staff costs. The pilots' union said it would under no circumstances accept pay cuts.
 'Foul' beer recalledBy Andy Georgiades
MORE than 1,300 cases of a popular imported beer were recalled from store shelves in Cyprus after an accident at a brewery coolant plant in England last week.
According to reports, brewing giant Bass announced the worldwide recall of about 8 million cans following complaints from 17 customers about an awful taste in their beer.
The massive recall involved cans and bottles from five products: Carling Lager, Carling Premier, Worthington Draught Bitter, Tennent's Gold Beer and Caffrey's Irish Ale.
"We've taken the proper precautions and taken 1,320 cases off stock," said Ian Giffin, commercial manager for Savero Trading Ltd., the importers of Caffrey's into Cyprus.
He said the stock had been replaced and that there had been no reports of the contaminated beer in the country so far.
The head of public health services, when contacted by the Cyprus Mail, said he had no information about the recall.
Giffin said consumers would know immediately if they had an infected can because of the foul taste.
Draught beer has not been affected.
The product was contaminated by a coolant said to be used in some chilled dairy products.
Contamination was due to a crack found in the cooling equipment used to process the beer at the Cape Hill brewery in Birmingham.
"The product is not harmful unless consumed in excessive quantities," said Giffin. "You'd need to drink 200 to 300 litres to become ill."
The brewer has asked its customers to return any cans and bottles with one of the letters F-G-H-J-K-L-M before the expiry date back to the place of purchase for a refund.
A hotline was set up in the United Kingdom by Bass. It received 20,000 calls from anxious beer drinkers in just a couple of days.
Caffrey's has been available in Cyprus for the past two years, but only on tap for about four months. More than 25,000 cases have been sold since the beer's introduction.
 Hard work lies ahead on EU accession courseTHE EUROPEAN Union's general assessment of Cyprus' accession course is that things are running smoothly, but hard work still lies ahead, Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday.
Speaking after the first meeting of the Ministerial Committee for the Republic's harmonisation with the EU, chaired by president Glafcos Clerides, Stylianides said that the "hard work" would have to be carried out by the public sector. Cypriots in general had to be kept informed, he added, pointing out that this especially applied to trade unions, business associations and the like.
The meeting, between ministers and senior civil servants, dealt with the procedures for the preparation of Cyprus' EU accession, and the findings of the screening process so far.
Stylianides added that "views had been exchanged, and decisions taken with regard to issues that will be negotiated during the Austrian EU rotating presidency."
The issues include education, research and industrial policy.
During the meeting, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides also briefed participants on the accession course, and said that such meetings would become regular fixture.
Cyprus' chief EU negotiator, former president George Vassiliou, yesterday met with Greek deputy Foreign Minister George Papandreou in Athens to discuss matters related to Cyprus' accession. A government press release said that after their talks, the two also took part in a meeting of Greek and Cypriot officials at which the island's harmonisation with EU law was discussed.
 Thieves steal Salamis statuesTHE SALAMIS ruins have been plundered by thieves who stole two statues, Turkish Cypriot press reports said yesterday.
According to Kibris, thieves removed the sculptures from the open-air museum at Salamis on Tuesday night by cutting through iron supports. The statues each weigh approximately a tonne.
The report added that although its journalists had tried to obtain more information about the circumstances of the theft from the 'Department of Antiquities and Museums', none was provided.
But another daily, Yeniduzen, reported that 'police' believed the statues had been stolen by a gang of professional thieves specialising in antique pieces, and may have been linked to the robbery of a museum in the occupied areas in May last year.
The two statues are both approximately two metres tall. The first is made of black granite, and is missing its head, while the facial features of the second have been worn down by the elements over the years.
 Pole held over stolen passportA 40-YEAR-OLD Polish citizen was taken into police custody yesterday for allegedly holding stolen documents.
Sorbian Andrjej-Bialystok was remanded in custody for six days to assist police in their investigations.
Information pertaining to the case will be requested from Interpol.
According to Larnaca police Sergeant Prodromos Prodromou, Andrjej-Bialystok arrived in Cyprus on the September 2, 1996 and got a job on the ship Salamandra, currently docked in Larnaca marina. On March 7 last year, he applied for permission to stay in Cyprus and provided the Immigration Service with a Polish passport. This was then sent to Warsaw as part of routine checks and a year later the Cyprus authorities were notified that the passport had in fact been stolen. It had apparently also been issued in another name.
Andrjej-Bialystok had already used the passport to travel extensively overseas with no trouble from authorities.
At the time of his arrest, Andrjej-Bialystok told police that he had been set up by his ship because they owed him money.
 Women fly the flag in Cyprus embassiesWOMEN may be sorely absent from political life in Cyprus, but the government has appointed two women ambassadors to the country in Washington and Beijing.
With the cabinet decision to appoint Erato Markouli as its top diplomat in the USA and Loria Markidou in China, Cyprus is now represented abroad by a record six women.
On the suggestion of Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, the cabinet appointed Markouli as ambassador to Washington, the first woman ever to take up the post.
Markouli replaced veteran diplomat Andros Nicolaides while Markidou replaces Lakis Spanos.
The other four female diplomats flying the flag abroad are Mirna Kleopa in Rome, Rea Giordamli in New Dheli, Anthoula Mavronicola in Prague and Thalea Petrides in Strasbourg.
 Man killed in head-on crashA HEAD-ON collision claimed yet another life yesterday on the Limassol to Trimiklini road.
Sixty-year-old Andonis Kyriacou from Trachoni lost control of his car and collided with a van coming from the opposite direction. The van driver, Efthymios Chrysostomou, tried to swerve away, but his vehicle hit the crash barriers and was struck by Kyriacou's car.
Kyriacou died instantly, while Chrysostomou suffered minor injuries and was treated at Limassol Hospital. The deceased had been a technician at that same hospital.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998
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