|Thursday, 27 June 2019|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-07-23
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Thursday, July 23, 1998
 Hannay: you must agree to disagreeBy Charlie Charalambous
THE ISLAND'S divided communities must take heart from the Northern Ireland peace process and break the current deadlock by first agreeing to disagree, Sir David Hannay said yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference in Nicosia, the EU and British envoy for Cyprus said preconditions could not be allowed to get in the way of talks.
"Preconditions are creating an impasse," Hannay said.
"It is not necessary to have a unified view of status of the two parties to have fruitful negotiations," he added.
Hannay pointed to Northern Ireland and the Falklands as examples where "negotiations started with contradictory views and an agreement to disagree." They had not, he added, revolved around "issues of status."
He said problems of status would be resolved "ipso facto by what you have agreed."
The special envoy said his latest round of intensive talks had been "useful"; the three main areas of discussion had concerned the island's EU accession process and the attempt to involve the Turkish Cypriots, the need to kick-start the UN peace process, and security issues -- which inevitably meant the S-300 missile deal.
"There is a good deal of increased tension, with more of that to come in view of the S-300 purchase."
Although Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash - still smarting from the EU's decision to accept the government's accession application - has refused to meet Hannay, the diplomat pointed out it was his loss.
Asked whether Denktash's boycott undermined Britain's efforts to facilitate peace talks, Hannay replied: "only if you think Mr Denktash is the centre of the world.
"It's not necessarily a limitation on my ability to do the job as a limitation on him (Denktash) to influence other countries."
However, the envoy said he was "encouraged" by bi-communal contact between Turkish and Greek Cypriot businessmen and said the EU attached "continuing importance" to the government's invitation for Turkish Cypriot participation.
This invitation which has been rejected out of hand by Denktash.
Hannay avoided any comment on the substance of his talks with President Clerides and Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, but the missile question was very much to the fore.
"We are in constant contact with Greece and Turkey over ways to defuse the tension," Hannay said on Ankara's appeal to Britain to help calm the rising tensions on the island.
"It is better if the missiles are not deployed and are postponed."
Hannay said Britain strongly supported a ban on military overflights in efforts to decrease tension and increase feelings of security in the region.
"We (Britain) believe a moratorium on military flights could contribute to that, and support it strongly if it makes a significant contribution, which we think it would."
But Hannay warned that deployment of Russian surface-to-air missiles would scupper any plans for direct peace talks.
"I personally believe that if the missiles are deployed it will be that much harder to get the UN process resumed."
Hannay left the island yesterday evening.
 Officials step up war of words over invasion anniversaryBy Martin Hellicar
CYPRIOT and Greek politicians yesterday lined up to lash out at the recent statements and actions of their American, Austrian and Turkish counterparts.
The attacks added to the war of words between the Greek and Turkish sides sparked by Monday's 24th anniversary of the Turkish invasion.
Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides took issue with State Department spokesman James Rubin for saying Turkish fighter jets had not violated Cyprus air-space during the north's invasion day celebrations.
Government spokesman Christos Stylianides criticised US officials for attending the same celebrations, albeit in an unofficial capacity.
House president Spyros Kyprianou challenged Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel to put meat and bones on his suggestion that Cyprus rely on the international community rather than Russian missiles for her security.
In Athens, Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos replied to Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz' warning that deployment of the S-300 could lead to renewed conflict in Cyprus.
Cassoulides came out with an ironic response to Rubin's statement, on Tuesday, that "Turkish combat aircraft did not overfly Nicosia during the celebrations, although Turkish Cypriot Cessnas and helicopters may have done so."
On Monday, Cassoulides said he wanted the international community to react to the appearance of the Turkish planes over Nicosia with the same strong protest it had reserved for the landing of Greek F-16s in Paphos last month.
"I had no illusions when I made the statement that I was eager to see what reaction there would be to the Turkish provocations," the Foreign Minister said yesterday. "I quite simply wanted to make that statement so that we could not be taken for idiots," he added.
Stylianides homed in on another part of Rubin's statements. Commenting on reports that US embassy officials had attended Monday's military parade in the north, Rubin stated categorically that no US official had attended the celebrations "in any official capacity."
"US embassy employees in their own time and unofficially were apparently present. Their presence is in no way an endorsement of the event," Rubin said.
"It is positive that Mr Rubin officially stated that there was no official American participation in these events," Stylianides responded.
"However, they (US officials) were for whatever reason present in their personal capacities and this is an issue the US government should look at because with their presence they give the illegal regime a legal backing and they are acting contrary to the spirit of Security Council and US Congress resolutions," the spokesman said.
Kyprianou singled out statements by the Austrian Foreign Minister, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, for criticism.
Schussel stated on Tuesday that Cyprus should not deploy the S-300 missiles, due on the island in October, but rather put faith in the international community to provide security guarantees.
"The Austrian Foreign Minister, speaking against the deployment of the missiles, said the security of Cyprus would be taken over by the international community," Kyprianou said.
"I don't know if anyone will pay any attention, but I would like to point out that it would be a real blessing if the international community undertook it's responsibilities."
"If this was not merely a rhetorical statement, then the question must be put clearly (to Schussel) - what does he suggest?"
Turkey recently rejected a US-led initiative for the creation of a no-fly zone over Cyprus.
In Athens, Stephanopoulos again warned that a Turkish attack on Cyprus would amount to a declaration of war on Greece.
Stephanopoulos was responding Yilmaz's threat that the government's plan to deploy S-300 missiles could lead to renewed conflict on the island.
"Greece and the Greek Cypriots have not learnt the lessons of history. I want to point out that the events of 24 years ago remind us how dangerous this is," Yilmaz said during invasion celebrations.
"These threats could at some time be realised," Stephanopoulos warned. "Greece can only be restrained to a certain point when she receives such threats and attacks," he warned.
"If it is supposed that Turkey strikes Cyprus, what do you imagine that Greece would do? Accept such behaviour without protest as she did in 1974 due to the situation and to her weakness then?" the Greek president said.
 Greeks missing after driving northBy Martin Hellicar
TWO GREEKS in a hire-car crossed to the north through the Dhekelia base on Tuesday evening and have not been seen since, police reported yesterday.
But the British bases reported that three, rather than two, Greek nationals had been in the car and that British soldiers had tried in vain to dissuade them from going to the occupied areas.
The UN said only that the incident was being investigated and that they were liaising with Turkish Cypriot authorities on the matter.
According to a police bulletin, holidaymakers Thomas Niakopoullos, 36, and his friend Aspasia Saiti, both from Larissa in northern Greece, crossed to the occupied areas through the Strovilia check-point in the Dhekelia British base area shortly after 6pm on Tuesday. The check-point is on the old road to Famagusta.
British bases spokesman Captain Jon Brown said the Greeks had crossed at 8pm.
"A hire-car containing three Greek nationals went up to check-point at the East end of the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area," Brown said.
"They drove up to the check-point and said they wanted to drive to the Turkish occupied areas. They were strongly advised not to go by the soldiers at the gate. The soldiers spent a good five minutes trying to convince them that they really shouldn't do this but they insisted, and we have no power to stop them (crossing)."
Brown said the UN had been notified of the incident.
Police said they were liaising with the UN on the issue and that UN civilian police had informed them that the Turkish side were denying the Greeks were in the north.
Niakopoullos and Saiti had been staying at a Limassol hotel since July 16 and were due to return home yesterday.
 Divers blown out of the seaBy Charlie Charalambous
FIVE divers had a narrow brush with death yesterday when they were dynamited out of the sea by a fisherman looking for an easy catch.
The five tourists had to be rushed to hospital yesterday morning after an unknown individual, thought to be a fisherman, threw dynamite into the sea at Cape Greco, east of Ayia Napa.
The incident happened at around 8.20am. Police said the divers, who were at a depth of 20 metres, were brought up by the extreme pressure of a blast.
Police are convinced the dynamite was used as a sure-fire way of ensuring a huge catch, but it was the divers who came to the surface first.
The tourists forced to risk life-threatening decompression as they raced up to the surface were named as Swede Harry Andersson, 42, Icelander Finn Oscarson, 32, Dane Michael Holmsteen, 33, Finn Pierjo Kabanow, 33, and their Lebanese instructor, Alex Masout, 34.
The shell-shocked divers were ferried from Paralimni hospital to Larnaca hospital, where they were placed in a decompression chamber to ensure their safe recovery.
Doctors later described the divers as being in good health, with the only serious injury received by Kabanow, who has a ruptured ear drum.
A man was spotted leaving the scene at speed in a pick-up truck, an eye- witness told police.
Coastguards said they had found a large number of dead fish at the scene, supporting police suspicions that dynamite was used.
Famagusta police said its line of inquiry was focused on those fisherman who had previously been charged for using dynamite to catch fish - an illegal but not uncommon practice on the island.
 Confusion over arrest of sons of UN staffBy Charlie Charalambous
A SEEMINGLY routine arrest of two foreign youths by Cyprus police on Tuesday escalated yesterday into an embarrassing diplomatic situation for the UN and the government.
The two 20-year-olds -- one a Somali and the other a Ghanaian -- were arrested and remanded after "burglary" tools were found in their possession.
But little did Nicosia police know that their two suspects were the sons of Unficyp staff.
Confusion then reigned as to whether they had diplomatic immunity because of their UN connection or whether they should simply be treated as any other suspected criminal.
It is understood police officers were prevented from searching the homes of the two suspects by UN civilian police citing the suspects' special status.
And when their lawyers claimed diplomatic immunity, police and the UN were rushing for their law books to try and resolve the situation.
"There was complete confusion and people on both sides were muddled about their legal status; it's a grey area," an informed source told the Cyprus Mail.
Cyprus police defended their actions yesterday.
"We can only say that the police were working within the framework of the law that relates to UN peacekeepers, and we have been assured that immunity does not cover children of Unficyp members," said police spokesman Glafcos Xenos.
The Attorney-general's office had to be brought in yesterday following claims by one of the defence lawyers, Nicos Clerides, during Tuesday's remand hearing, that police had acted outside the law in arresting the two.
"We have been informed by the Attorney-general's office that UN immunity does not apply in this case," said Xenos.
With the situation clarified, the authorities have been involved in a damage limitation exercise, and the UN yesterday stressed there had been full co-operation with Cyprus police.
"It is the view of the UN force in Cyprus that the two individuals have no UN immunity," UN spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski told the Cyprus Mail.
However, sources close to the UN told the Mail that the incident had deeply embarrassed the Unficyp hierarchy.
The two suspects were remanded in custody after a black hood, a crowbar, white stockings, a screwdriver and a pair of women's slippers were found in the vehicle belonging to one of the two.
"The onus is now on the suspects to prove that the items found in the car were not to be used to facilitate a burglary," a police source told the Cyprus Mail.
 Ten Syrians sent homeBy Martin Hellicar
TEN OF the 114 Arabs and Africans holed up in a Limassol hotel since their dramatic June 30 sea rescue were put on a flight home yesterday afternoon.
The remaining passengers saved from the Rida Allah fishing boat found drifting south of Cyprus are expected to follow suit soon, even though most of them are seeking asylum in Cyprus.
"I cannot speak for the government, but as far as I know we are making efforts to get them all sent back to their countries of origin or to other countries," Limassol police chief Miltiades Neocleous said yesterday.
"What would we want with them here anyway?" he added.
Those repatriated yesterday were all Syrians, five passengers and the five crew members of the Rida Allah. They were put on a plane to Tripoli at about 3pm, police said.
A Syrian embassy official said on Tuesday the Syrians were returning of their own free will.
The government has given assurances it will meet its humanitarian obligations towards the boat people. Earlier this month, a UNHCR official was invited to Cyprus to help establish which among those rescued were genuine asylum-seekers.
This screening process continues, but police now seem determined to repatriate or, if necessary, deport most of the passengers - who come from 14 countries, including Iraq, Syria, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Rwanda and Congo.
Neocleous said asylum applications were still being examined yesterday, but none had so far been granted.
The police chief said he did not know what would be done about those passengers who did not possess travel documents. Such stateless immigrants cannot be repatriated or sent to another country.
Since their rescue, the 109 passengers have been staying at the £25-a-night Pefkos hotel in Limassol at government expense. The bill for housing, feeding and guarding the boat people is put at £10,000 a day. The survivors have been complaining of the restrictive regime imposed by police at their hotel. Six of them escaped from the hotel last week. Five of them later returned but one was still at large yesterday.
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 died of thirst on the fishing boat and had 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 hundreds of dollars each for passage to Greece and Italy.
 Lordos claims Turks tampering with phone linesGREEK Cypriot businessmen involved in bi-communal efforts claimed yesterday that telephone lines set up between the island's two communities were being tampered with by the regime in the Turkish-occupied north.
Speaking to reporters, Dinos Lordos, who heads the group, complained of interference with the lines: "One day they work, the next they don't," he said. "In my view, this is an international disgrace," he added.
He made the statement coming out of a meeting with British and EU envoy Sir David Hannay, at which he briefed the diplomat on the status of bi-communal activities.
The new automated phone lines linking the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides of the island were set up in early May. The updated phone system was part of US envoy Richard Holbrooke's project to improve relations between the two sides in the business arena.
Previously, lines between the north and the south had been provided by Unficyp. Telephone, fax lines and e-mail are at the moment the only means of communication between the two sides, since Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash banned all bi-communal meetings in the wake of the EU's December Luxembourg decision to open accession talks with the Cyprus government.
The installation of the new phone system had taken on an added importance in view of the ban as a means for the two sides to communicate.
Days after the installation of the US-funded lines, the UN confirmed reports that the breakaway regime was charging Turkish-Cypriots international rates for their use. The Turkish Cypriot side's explanation was that the calls were being made beyond 'TRNC borders'.
Lordos said that Hannay did not see any ways to overcome Denktash's intransigence, but added that "we cannot allow room for Denktash's inhuman and unprecedented decisions to be implemented."
A scheduled November meeting in Istanbul will bring together businessmen from Turkey, Greece and both communities on the island.
 Tug-of-love mother finally reunited with childrenAndy Georgiades
A WOMAN has been reunited with her two children in Greece, bringing a long and ugly custody battle with her Cypriot in-laws to an end.
Relations between Aspasia Kalfopoulou and her children, Constandinos, 14, and Eleni, 13, became strained after the children's Cypriot father died in a car crash two years ago. Rather than live with their Greek mother, the children wished to remain with their grandparents in Cyprus.
According to reports, the family is now getting along much better, and Kalfopoulou said relations between her and the children had fully recovered.
The children are scheduled to begin school in Greece this September.
Following the father's death, the grandparents refused to return the children to their mother, saying it was their wish not to go with her.
Kalfopoulou appealed to the court in Paphos, saying her children were being "influenced" against her by their grandparents, with whom they had been living for some time.
The court rejected these claims.
Kalfopoulou was given custody of her children by a Salonica court, but the Paphos District Court nevertheless ruled that the grandparents should have custody.
The case caused a clash between the two courts, prompting Attorney-general Alecos Markides to recommend that the youngsters be returned to their mother.
But this advice was not acted upon, seemingly because police could not bear to force the children to leave their grandparents.
Kalfopoulou went on a two-week hunger strike in July 1997 to draw attention to her plight.
In the end, friends of the grandmother persuaded the children to go back to Greece with their mother. An aunt accompanied the children back home last weekend.
 Paphos fire scorches olive grovesA LARGE fire in Trachipedoulas near Paphos was brought under control yesterday afternoon, after burning some four square kilometres of olive groves and almond trees.
The blaze broke out early in the morning and gave firefighters a hard time due to the inaccessible terrain surrounding the site. Personnel from the Forestry and Fire Departments and police were aided by local volunteers in an effort to bring the fire under control before nighttime. Men from the Fire Department stayed on to prevent a rekindling.
The police are investigating the causes of the blaze.
It was the latest in a series of fires that have plagued the countryside this summer.
 Evoikos captain withdraws appealTHE GREEK captain of a Cypriot-flagged tanker involved in Singapore's worst oil spill withdrew an appeal against his jail sentence, court officials said yesterday.
Michael Chalkitis, 58, was sentenced to three months in jail and slapped with $35,100 in fines for his role in the accident, which spilled 29,000 tonnes of oil into Singapore waters.
On July 14, a Singapore court found Chalkitis guilty of not taking the proper evasive actions to avoid colliding with the other ship.
"He surrendered yesterday and is now serving his sentence," one of Chalkitis lawyers said.
Chalkitis had been out on bail of just over $58,500 .
His ship, the Evoikos, collided with the Thai vessel Orapin Global on October 15, 1997 in the Singapore Strait, near one of the world's most active ports.
The massive clean-up operation was estimated to have cost $7.5 million.
The captain of the other ship, Jan Sokolowski, has not filed for an appeal. He has until tomorrow to make his decision.
With the criminal trial finally at an end, civil trials put on hold can now commence to determine which ship owner will bear the bigger financial burden for the accident.
Owners of the Evoikos already initiated proceedings to limit their liability to the sum of $7 million for pollution claims.
 Scotland Yard detectives gather evidence on missing bishopWITH BISHOP Chrysanthos still missing from the island, the two Scotland Yard detectives who arrived to question him on Monday night were yesterday gathering evidence on the fraud case in which he has been implicated.
"The investigators will question other persons too, but the bishop will provide the key testimony," Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said, stressing that the case was being handled by the Attorney-general's office and the police, and that his ministry was not involved in any way.
It is understood that the British detectives have shown local police evidence linking the Bishop of Limassol to the $3.7 million fraud case, with Chrysanthos' signature appearing on letters of guarantee.
The detectives are here to exchange information with Cyprus police. All suspects will be questioned by local police, with the Scotland Yard detectives present on an observer status.
On Tuesday the detectives sat in on a four-hour briefing, also attended by the head of the local Economic Crimes Division and an official from the Attorney-general's office.
Chrysanthos left the island last Wednesday and is believed to be in Athens. He had been due to return yesterday, but police were unable to confirm whether he had in fact done so. Attorney-general Alecos Markides has warned that a warrant for the bishop's arrest will be issued if he fails to return for questioning.
Simerini yesterday quoted sources claiming that Chrysanthos had met with a woman allegedly connected to the case in Athens, presumably in a last- ditch effort to come up with the cash. Nina Petrou is said to have involved the bishop in the fraud, which allegedly saw $3.7 million ending up in a Yugoslav offshore bank in Nicosia. The Scotland Yard detectives plan to contact the bank, Karic Banka.
 Culture for the conscriptsCONCERTS are to be laid on for conscripts in an attempt to raise their quality of life through an injection of culture.
The announcement was made yesterday by Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou and Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides, who gave details of a series of concerts to be held by singer Marios Tokkas.
Omirou said that this was the first in a series of steps to "raise the quality of life in the camps," and that holding cultural events was an excellent way to achieve this.
Cypriot singer and composer Tokkas will appear without a personal fee.
The new recruits are invited to bring their parents to the concerts, and Tokkas said that if a name was to be given to the events it would be: "An embrace of songs for our new recruits".
The concerts will be held at army training camps -- at Athalassa on August 1, Larnaca on August 2, Paphos August 3 and Limassol August 4.
Omirou said that, at this stage, organised entertainment such as this event, would only be available for new recruits and members of the Greek forces in Cyprus.
Theatrical performances by the Cyprus Theatre Organisation are also planned.
 Blue flag for Le MeridienA LIMASSOL hotel has been awarded the prestigious 'Blue Flag' for the Summer of 1998.
For beach-lovers, it means the waters in front of the Le Meridien hotel are in full compliance with the European Union Bathing Water Directive.
Under this directive, a beach must have (among other things): safe and easy access to and from the beach, availability of first aid, regular cleaning and a sufficient number of litter bins, life-saving equipment, and public toilets maintained by the hotel.
The hotel worked closely with the local authorities under its "environmentally friendly" operating policies to obtain the rating.
 Police probe $70,000 break-inPOLICE were yesterday investigating a Larnaca burglary which netted its perpetrators $70,000 worth of jewellery and cash.
Russian businessman Valeri Sookhov was the victim of the burglary which occurred at his house some time between midday and 7 pm on Tuesday.
$13,000 in cash and $57,000 worth of jewellery were taken from the house on the Larnaca to Dhekelia road.
 Car dealers rubbish Yiangou claimsA NICOSIA car dealership has ridiculed allegations that it used arms money to pay for a luxury Audi it recently donated for use by the President.
PM Tseriotis Ltd stated there was no basis to allegations by firebrand Akel deputy Kikis Yiangou, who had claimed the vehicle was paid for with commission that the dealership received for its part in securing a government arms contract for a French firm.
Company director Anna Diogenous clarified that the commissions to which Yiangou had referred were legally received in 1991-92 and were declared to the Income Tax office. She said the Audi, donated seven years later, was a joint gift from Audi, Germany and Unicars Ltd and had not cost the company the full sale price of £80,000.
Earlier this week, Akel party mouthpiece Haravghi took the unprecedented step of publishing a front-page apology - addressed to President Clerides - for having carried Yiangou's claims.
Haravghi noted that the company had received the commission during George Vassiliou's presidency and that the car had been donated to the Presidency and not to Clerides in person.
 Pesticide warning from greensTHE INCORRECT use of pesticides is a real threat to the public, the Ecological Environmentalist Movement has warned.
In a statement issued yesterday, the movement said pesticides could cause "severe toxic reactions" in certain people.
The statement also warned that users could suffer from side affects if they did not properly protect themselves during spraying. Indiscriminate use could also cause pollution and contaminate the ground and water supplies, the statement added.
And the ecologists warned of a broader threat to the economy, citing the example of a batch of agricultural exports which had recently been sent back with excessive residues of pesticides.
The Ecological Environmentalist Movement calls for a change in the law to ban the uncontrolled use of pesticides. It recommends organic agriculture, which "does not allow the use of pesticides and is friendly to the environment and man."
 Cyprus clubs win in EuropeCHAMPIONS Anorthosis and league runners-up Omonia last night all but secured their qualification to the next round of the repective European competitions they are playing in.
Anorthosis secured a comfortable 2-0 away win over Valetta and look almost certain to meet Olympiakos Piraeus in the second qualifying phase of the European Cup.
Omonia trounced Northern Ireland club Linfield 5-1 at the Makarios stadium and look certain to advance to the next phase of the UEFA Cup.
THe champions victory in Valetta was comfrotable although they suffered an early scare when the home side were awarded a penalty for a foul on Andrews. The same player took the kick but international keeper Nicos Panayiotou saved it.
Both goals were scored in the second half. Substitute Paris Elia opened the scoring four minutes after the restart and Yiannakis Okkas got the second 11 minutes before the end.
Serbian midfielder Boban Gitanov, playing his first ever game in a European competition, was Omonia's goalscoring hero in Nicosia. He scored once in each half.
Last season's top league scorer Reiner Rauffman also got on the scoresheet, by converting a first half penalty. Kondolefteros completed the scoring for Omonia. Ferguson hit Linfield's consolation goal.
The return legs will be played next Wednesday.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998