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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-07-28

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, July 28, 1998


  • [01] 'We will not give in to blackmail'
  • [02] Rolandis warns more strikes will kill Cyprus Airways
  • [03] Boat people on hunger strike
  • [04] Queuing up to question the bishop
  • [05] Time running out to solve English School row
  • [06] British soldiers cut down 'illegal' trees
  • [07] Chronic fatigue syndrome: an appeal for understanding
  • [08] Relatives refusing to co-operate in DNA identification of missing
  • [09] Police to revamp car fleet
  • [10] Step forward in grape dispute
  • [11] CTO to target Japanese tourists
  • [12] British tourist dies of Meningitis
  • [13] Zivania on the shelves by the autumn
  • [14] Police chief stresses commitment to fight against money laundering
  • [15] Car mechanics to go on strike
  • [16] Kazakh trio held for assault on police officers
  • [17] Businessman held for fake UK notes

  • [01] 'We will not give in to blackmail'

    By Martin Hellicar

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday issued an statement promising the government would not give in the "threats and blackmail" concerning the S-300 missiles.

    The statement, read out by government spokesman Christos Stylianides during his daily press briefing, comes in the wake of renewed Turkish threats that deployment of the Russian-made ground-to-air missiles could mean war.

    "We knew there would be reactions to the missile defence system and we are facing these with responsible handlings without giving in to threats and blackmail," Clerides stated.

    The US and the EU have made their opposition to the 200 million missile deal clear, expressing concern about increased tension on the island. The government remains adamant that the missiles will arrive - but has put back delivery till October.

    Presidential advisor Alexis Galanos yesterday threatened to resign if the missiles did not arrive.

    During separate visits to the occupied areas last week, Turkey's President Suleyman Demirel and Turkey's Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz both warned that their country would react to the arrival of the missiles.

    Stylianides was at pains yesterday to dampen talk of renewed conflict and to reassure the public that the government was on top of things.

    "The government is not for tension, we have repeatedly proved this and we will do everything to ensure that there is no tension in the area," the government spokesman said.

    "The President has made it clear that a policy of stability and calm must be the main characteristic of our actions.

    "The Cypriot people need not worry as the President and all the government have proved that they can handle the whole issue with responsibility and not get into bad situations that serve only Turkish interests," Stylianides said.

    In another twist to the missile saga, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem claimed on Sunday that deployment of the S-300s in Cyprus could compromise Nato security in the region.

    "Non-Nato members Russia and the Greek Cypriot Administration will directly benefit from information on Turkish and Nato military activity gathered by the (S-300) radar system," Cem said in Ankara.

    "These missiles, while threatening Turkey, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean, at the same time affect the defence of Nato over a wide area," he said.

    The government has always maintained that the missiles are a purely defensive system.

    [02] Rolandis warns more strikes will kill Cyprus Airways

    COMMERCE Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday warned that any further strikes at Cyprus Airways (CY) would ground the national carrier for good.

    And as if to spite the minister, the union representing CY technical staff, Asyseka, approved strike action at an extraordinary general conference yesterday.

    The debt-ridden airline, with a long history of labour strife, was rocked this month when pilots union Pasipy called a three-day strike. The action was averted after CY bosses vowed to bring in foreign planes and crews to take over during the strike.

    Neither the national carrier nor the economy could survive more strikes, Rolandis said yesterday.

    "This is not a threat but a plea: if they (workers) are not careful they will destroy their company, lose their jobs, and do damage to the economy of the country," the minister told ANT1 television.

    Rolandis's statements were given short thrift by Costas Demetriou, the leader of CY cabin and ground staff union Cynika.

    The minister should address himself to the real culprits, CY management, rather than picking on employees, Demetriou said.

    Oblivious to all this, Asyseka members voted yesterday evening to call a strike at a date to be decided by the union executive. The union is angered by what it sees as management's failure to take their views into consideration or consider their members for promotion.

    [03] Boat people on hunger strike

    By Martin Hellicar

    SEVENTY of the 107 boat people holed up in a Limassol hotel have gone on hunger strike in a desperate bid to avoid deportation.

    The boat people have been living under police guard in the Pefkos hotel ever since they were rescued, starving and thirsty, off a Syrian-flagged fishing boat found drifting off Cyprus on June 29.

    The government stated last week that only three of the Arab and African passengers, all of whom have been seeking asylum in Cyprus claiming they face persecution in their home countries,

    would be granted asylum. Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides added that Cyprus did not grant asylum to anyone and that the three - from Bangladesh, Sudan and Sierra Leone - would be sent away as soon as a third country was found to receive them.

    The rest of the survivors - who hail from Sudan, Sierra Leone, Congo, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Libya, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon - are to be sent away once travel documents have been arranged for them.

    The news of pending deportation prompted all seventy men among the boat people to begin a hunger strike on Sunday. They were continuing their hunger strike yesterday, though Limassol police said their resolve was waning.

    "Twenty-eight of them had breakfast and 33 had lunch, their stomachs were obviously getting empty," a police source said.

    The survivors have been staging a protest at the hotel, wearing hastily- prepared placards decrying their fate.

    "Save my life, Cyprus" and "Please help us", the banners read.

    A spokesman for the Aliens Support Movement, Doros Polycarpou, said the boat people were desperate. He said the Iraqis among them were particularly fearful, as they believed they faced imprisonment or even execution if sent home.

    The passengers, including eight children and two pregnant women, were in a bad state when a Ukrainian cargo vessel found them crammed aboard the deck of the tiny Rida Allah. 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 before the vessel was found and towed to Limassol.

    The Syrian captain of the trawler, 31-year-old Mohammed Mustafa, has been charged with causing death by negligence and carrying paying passengers on an unsuitable vessel. The survivors claim they parted with hundreds of dollars each for passage to Greece or Italy on Mustafa's boat.

    [04] Queuing up to question the bishop

    By Elias Hazou

    THE CHURCH authorities will have to join the queue if they want to question missing Limassol bishop Chrysanthos when he returns from abroad, with the Attorney-General and local police also waiting to interrogate the controversial cleric.

    The Holy Synod has said that Chrysanthos' business dealings are in violation of ecclesiastical laws, and that the bishop's methods besmirch the name of the Holy Church.

    Chrysanthos' lawyer Sotiris Karapatakis said yesterday that the bishop was due on Wednesday or Thursday.

    Meanwhile, the Scotland Yard detectives who arrived on the island last Tuesday in connection with the case are wrapping up their investigation into the alleged fraud to which the bishop has been linked and are set to depart today. They are looking into a $3.7 million fraud case in which cash is alleged to have ended up in the Nicosia offshore branch of Belgrade- based Karic Banka.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said on Sunday that the detectives were now turning their investigation to money laundering. He also confirmed that Chrysanthos was the only Cyprus suspect in the investigation. British police are already holding three suspects in the United Kingdom in connection with the case. Last week, Koshis suggested that the bishop might be waiting for the detectives to leave before he might return. But police sources confirmed that the bishop would be questioned by local authorities and not by the detectives.

    On Saturday Archbishop Chrysostomos met with Attorney-General Alecos Markides, who briefed him on the ongoing investigation.

    The Archbishop has reportedly discussed with the Holy Synod the possibility of defrocking the missing bishop. As soon as the bishop returns, he intends to question him over a case involving the transfer of $700,000 to the Limassol bishopric from the Russian Orthodox Church. The money was intended for the construction of a Russian church in Limassol, but building never actually began.

    The Church is also concerned about allegations of charity money intended for community projects being withheld by the Limassol bishopric.

    Paphos bishop Chrysostomos told reporters that the Church "was not against" making good on the money owed by the Limassol bishopric.

    Chrysostomos meanwhile is himself involved in controversy. Parishioners at Stroumbi village in Paphos have accused him of withholding charity money. He has also clashed with the Paphos municipality, which accused him of buying lands with Church funds and disposing of them as he saw fit.

    [05] Time running out to solve English School row

    By Charlie Charalambous

    WITH feelings at the English School still running high over an allegedly rigged promotion, the row is now threatening to derail the start of term in September.

    Staff, parents and old girls and boys have called for the school board to remove headmaster Thomas Thomas over what they see as his bullying tactics and favouritism towards certain teachers.

    The promotion row has rumbled on since March and staff are still insisting that Thomas must go, even though the board has cleared him of any wrongdoing.

    "There will be a head-on collision and an exceedingly difficult situation if the headmaster is still there on September 15," an English School source told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    To make matters worse, 16 of the 17 heads of department and two deputy heads have threatened to resign from their positions if Thomas is still at the helm come September.

    Staff have already passed a vote of no confidence in Thomas by an overwhelming 59-3 in a secret ballot.

    "If the resignations go ahead it will make the running of the school near impossible," the source said.

    Board chairman John Hadjiantonas agreed that there were problems, but believed they could be dealt with in due course.

    "There are difficulties without doubt, and feelings are at play that perhaps influence future developments, but I'm of the view that if the dispute follows its normal course (arbitration), then I think we have a way of dealing with the situation," Hadjiantonas told the Cyprus Mail.

    The chairman denies reports that the school is ill-prepared for the new term and is facing a regime of chaos and disruption.

    "Some of the information has been incorrect: we have filled vacant positions and there has been full co-operation from staff and heads of department."

    A ministerial committee, appointed to investigated the issue, is expected to submit its recommendations to the Council of Ministers tomorrow.

    Informed sources say the committee could recommend that the board be replaced or that Thomas should go, irrespective of the fact he has only served two years of a five-year contract.

    This would take into account the fact that both staff and parents told the committee that Thomas had to go.

    "It is quite certain the headmaster will have to go eventually, and we regret he hasn't taken the opportunity of leaving now," a staff source said.

    Schoolwatchers believe that if the government fails to grasp the thorny issue with both hands it will more than likely condemn the school to a vicious internal war, where students will be ultimate losers.

    [06] British soldiers cut down 'illegal' trees

    By Andy Georgiades

    BRITISH military personnel resumed their removal of "hundreds" of illegally planted trees within the Sovereign Base Area (SBA) near the village of Xylaphagou yesterday.

    The area near Pyla is a live-firing range used by British forces.

    "Some of the trees have been there for a very long time, but news ones are still being planted," the Deputy Chief Public Relations Officer, Captain Jon Brown, told the Cyprus Mail.

    Bases authorities say the illegally planted acacia trees are used to trap birds, contrary to laws of the Republic of Cyprus and the Sovereign Base Areas.

    They say the trees, which grow rapidly and obscure visibility, pose a hazard to soldiers who train in the area using weapons with live ammunition. Surface irrigation piping and boreholes from the illegal planting also pose dangers.

    A written statement from SBA said: "The trees have been planted with no regard for the environment but simply for financial gain through the illegal practice of trapping birds with mist-nets."

    Trees will be cut down and burned. Irrigation equipment will be left for the owners to claim.

    The Pyla training grounds cover 560 hectares on the Dhekeleia Sovereign Base Area. One-third is used for agricultural cultivation, but the majority lies within the firing area and is not licensed for cultivation.

    Captain Brown said that protests against the uprooting of the trees had taken place in the past, but reported "no new incidents" so far.

    Last month, Hambis Himonas, an anti-British activist, was jailed for two months by a Bases court for reckless driving and assaulting a police officer.

    He objected to British soldiers cutting down trees within the same firing range.

    Himonas was released last week after serving half his term.

    [07] Chronic fatigue syndrome: an appeal for understanding

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CHRONIC Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) sufferer Olga Kamakaris yesterday made a heartfelt plea, through the Cyprus Mail, urging the local medical profession to recognise her rare disorder.

    "Doctors in Cyprus don't know anything about this syndrome, but I am offering money to anyone who is concerned enough to start a research project," said Kamakaris.

    She is willing to sell some of her personal possessions to assist anyone who wants to make a serious study of the debilitating disorder.

    "Research is needed to help get the syndrome recognised in Cyprus, and to help the many sufferers who need professional help but are not receiving it."

    Kamakaris' plea to doctors to become more aware about CFS follows her own research, which estimates that "around 110 people suffer from this disease in Cyprus, and many of these individuals may not even know it."

    Although the syndrome is not a killer in itself, many are driven to suicide because of the crippling symptoms, American experts say.

    Kamakaris upholds this view: "the pain is so intense that it drives many people to suicide."

    The debilitating disorder is characterised by profound tiredness, and a sufferer can be exhausted by the slightest physical exertion.

    There are no specific symptoms, but CFS sufferers can complain of sore throats, insomnia, muscle pains and impaired memory, among other ailments.

    "I have gone for days without having a bath because I just don't have the strength; even simple tasks like reading and talking become too much of a pain to bear," said Kamakaris.

    It is only by a process of careful elimination that doctors can diagnose CFS correctly, but unfortunately lack of knowledge in Cyprus is letting such cases slip through the net.

    Although a scientifically recognised syndrome, the cause of CFS has not been identified and no specific diagnosis is available.

    It is therefore important, says Kamakaris, that doctors listen carefully to the patient in order to reach the right diagnosis.

    However, the wider media is partly to blame for public misconception of CFS, as it has been described as "Yuppie flu" and a "female disorder" (current statistics show the breakdown to be 60-40 towards women).

    This is partly due to the body of evidence being small and published findings being of a preliminary and unsubstantiated nature.

    Although there is no known cure for CFS, Kamakaris believes well-funded research would at least go some way in helping sufferers to understand their condition, and as a consequence better to cope with it.

    [08] Relatives refusing to co-operate in DNA identification of missing

    AROUND 15 per cent of relatives of missing persons have not yet donated blood for the purposes of DNA identification of remains of the 1974 war victims.

    The objectors claim that giving blood is tantamount to writing off their relatives as dead and buried.

    The touchy chapter follows the launching of a DNA bank on the island to identify the remains of the missing after they have been exhumed.

    The DNA bank was set up following a July 1997 agreement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots to resolve the issue of the missing. This fell through early this year, obliging the Greek Cypriot side to go it alone. Efforts are currently concentrated on exhuming the remains of some 20 to 25 unknown Greek Cypriots known to be buried in the free areas.

    The DNA bank is housed at the Institute of Genetics in Nicosia, and the project is headed by Dr Marios Kariolou. George Sergides, official at the Missing Persons Committee (MPC), insists that the ultimate goal is to establish the fate of all 1,618 missing persons. Recently, DNA testing carried out in the United States established the fate of Andreas Kasapis, the only missing person to be identified so far, as a casualty of war.

    The MPC calls on all missing persons' relatives to co-operate. "We are trying to convince them that giving blood does not mean that their relatives are dead," Sergides said. "But some of them are understandably reluctant to participate for emotional reasons."

    The blood bank also welcomes blood samples from relatives of Greek soldiers who are missing since the 1974 hostilities.

    [09] Police to revamp car fleet

    TO KEEP pace with the demands of modern crime prevention, the police are to receive 600 new vehicles by the year 2001, at a cost of 2 million.

    The Finance Ministry has approved the new vehicles, mostly four-wheel drive, in response to the growing needs of upgrading police capabilities.

    According to the four-year action plan, around 100 vehicles will be purchased this year and the remaining 500 over the next three years.

    The spanking new Japanese vehicles will replace those that have suffered mechanical problems or have reached the eight-year limit of their usefulness.

    It has also been decided that vehicles of lower horsepower should be scrapped from the force's fleet altogether in favour of three types of transport vehicle, which will have four-wheel drive with engines of 1,600 and 2,000 horsepower.

    Currently, the police car fleet consists of vehicles of varying horsepower, from 1,200 to 1,800; these will gradually be phased out as they are judged unsuitable for modern policing.

    However, a 1996 government agreement with official car importers - which allows public service vehicles to be returned for the purchase price - could be under threat because their second-hand value has diminished as rival forecourts are flooded with cheap Japanese imports.

    It is understood that new car dealers are pressing for this agreement to be abandoned, and the Auditor-general's office has called on the government to renegotiate a deal for the new batch of vehicles.

    [10] Step forward in grape dispute

    PARTIES in the grape dispute yesterday hailed a meeting between unions and Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis as an important step forward.

    The four unions representing vine-growers -- Panagrotiko, Pek, Eka and Agrotiki -- asked the government to subsidise the export of table grapes by 50 per ton.

    Rolandis said the demand seemed reasonable, but that the Council of Ministers would discuss the matter tomorrow. He added that the government would have the final word on the issue.

    The secretary General of Panagrotiko, Koullis Papachristophorou, said yesterday exports had been declining for the last ten years and that the previous government subsidy of 28.50 did not cover vine-growers' expenses.

    In the last two weeks, vine-growers have been protesting for higher government subsidy because of low grape exports and a failure of the wine- manufacturing industry to buy their goods. Protests have included a refusal to pick or process table grapes, and dumping grapes on the Limassol to Paphos road at the Pissouri roundabout.

    [11] CTO to target Japanese tourists

    THE CYPRUS Tourism Organisation (CTO) is set to begin a 12-week study on how to attract Japanese tourists to the island.

    According to reports, the CTO has hired three companies specialising in tourist research, two Cypriot and one Greek, to create profiles of 11 European countries plus Japan.

    The results of the above studies will be used to develop a strategy for tourism until 2010.

    In addition to Japan, the twelve markets to be researched are: Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Holland, Greece, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark.

    A director at the CTO said the profiles for the European countries would aim to determine what negative ideas people hold about Cyprus and what preferences they have for visiting a foreign country.

    For Japan, however, the terms differ considerably. The first goal will be to determine the level of knowledge the Japanese have about Cyprus with the hopes of one day making the island a traditional holiday centre for the Japanese.

    [12] British tourist dies of Meningitis

    By Rita Demetriou

    A BRITISH tourist died in the early hours of Sunday morning of an acute form of bacterial meningitis.

    Robert Coleman, 59, was rushed to Larnaca General Hospital after he was taken ill at around 10 on Saturday. Doctors transferred him to the Pathological Unit, where he was closely monitored, but Coleman passed away just after 3am on Sunday. The cause of death was cited as menincoccal sceptacaemia and shock.

    Coleman arrived in Cyprus on Thursday morning and was staying in an apartment at Pervolia. According to witnesses he appeared to be nervous and anxious the whole time he was there.

    Pathologist and Diko deputy Marios Matsakis yesterday urged all those who had been in contact with Coleman to take the necessary antidote for bacterial meningitis.

    Dr. Matsakis also told the Cyprus Mail that this incident should be taken seriously, as it reflected a trend recently observed in the UK. He quoted a recent case of a five-year-old boy, Matthew Scott, who died of bacterial meningitis on holiday in France.

    "This disease should be taken seriously," Matsakis said. "There is an increased incidence of meningitis in England, which could lead to a small scale epidemic."

    [13] Zivania on the shelves by the autumn

    By Andy Georgiades

    THE NATIONAL drink of Cyprus, available under-the-counter for years, is preparing to make its way onto store shelves - nice and legal.

    If zivania, a drink that makes Ouzo taste like spring water, can clear one last hurdle, it will finally be available to the "free" market.

    "We still have to go through parliament," a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism said yesterday, "so it's not available for the time being."

    After years of discussion, the rules controlling the production and distribution of zivania - a clear alcohol distilled from grapes - onto the free market will go before the House of Representatives this autumn. If all goes well, the next time you go to buy beer or alcohol, you'll have the choice to buy zivania as well.

    But according to reports, a few supermarkets in Nicosia have jumped the gun and have already started stocking zivania on their shelves in the wake of the news.

    "No legal action will be taken," the ministry spokesman told the Cyprus Mail, "because passage of the bill is just a matter of time."

    A law forbidding the mass production of zivania dates back to 1900, when Cyprus was still a British colony.

    The British prohibited its distillation because much of it was impure and caused food poisoning, or sometimes death.

    The government wants to make sure that none of that happens again.

    When the new law is put in place, the making of zivania will be overseen by the Council of Vine Producers (SAP). Under the new rules, the details of the producer must be written clearly on each bottle to ensure it is approved for consumption.

    When asked why it has taken so long for a "national" drink to become legitimised, the spokesman said that because zivania could cause certain health problems, it has to be "properly" regulated.

    He added that, because Cyprus is in the midst of EU harmonisation, the export of zivania to other parts of Europe would be inevitable.

    [14] Police chief stresses commitment to fight against money laundering

    A FIVE-DAY seminar on money laundering opened in Larnaca yesterday, organised in co-operation with the US Justice Department.

    Police Chief Andreas Angelides, who addressed the opening ceremony of the seminar -- entitled 'The International Asset Forfeiture Seminar' -- confirmed that Cyprus wished to play an important role in the international fight against money laundering.

    In his speech, he outlined the steps Cyprus had taken to fight money laundering, and stressed the importance of training the Cyprus police and customs officers, which would be undertaken by American instructors.

    "It is a problem that knows no boundaries but it is probably more acute in certain areas than others, as is the case of the extended region where Cyprus is situated," he said.

    He quoted a passage from the European Committee on Crime Problems' recent report, which recognises that "the attractiveness of Cyprus for laundering operations at the placement stage is diminished by virtue of the existence of foreign exchange regulations, the relatively limited role of cash operations in Cyprus' economy and the absence of independent bureaux de change and casinos."

    Angelides assured that Cyprus was giving priority to maintaining all international standards, extending training programmes and enhancing the quality of supervision of the offshore sector.

    The Police Chief also highlighted the important role of the Unit for Combating Money Laundering, which was initiated in December 1996. The unit is responsible for gathering, classifying, evaluating and analysing information. He also expressed the need for close co-operation between services and countries, which he said the present seminar would strengthen.

    "Due to the important role we want to play in the international fight against money laundering, we consider this kind of training seminar useful for the members of the Cyprus police and other officials in enhancing their professional skills," he said.

    [15] Car mechanics to go on strike

    CAR MECHANICS and garage workers yesterday became the latest in a long line of trades threatening strike action over the failure to renew collective agreements.

    Garage workers' unions Oviek-Sek and Semmikpeo are threatening to strike in ten days' time. The warning was sent to the Department of Labour and Social Insurance.

    The decision was made after an impasse in negotiations for the renewal of collective agreements in the business, which expired on December 31 last year.

    The unions have called all members to a meeting on Thursday to decide on the exact date and extent of the strike action.

    [16] Kazakh trio held for assault on police officers

    THREE MEN from Kazakhstan were yesterday charged with assaulting police officers who arrested them for disturbing the peace in Paphos town on Sunday.

    Paphos District Court heard that Nicolaos Spyriades, 36, and brothers Savvas and Oleg Sutnikov, 53 and 45 respectively, were involved in a fracas in Kato Paphos on Sunday afternoon. Three local residents complained to police that the three men had insulted and provoked them as they drove down a main street.

    Police intervened to arrest the Kazakhs - two of whom have Greek passports - and took them down to Paphos police station, the court heard. At the station, the suspects allegedly refused to co-operate with police and then attacked two police officers.

    The suspects denied disturbing the peace and assaulting police officers. The court ordered their trial begin on November 9.

    The presiding judge ordered that the three be released on 750 bail, but the suspects failed to come up with the money and were therefore remanded in custody till their trial.

    [17] Businessman held for fake UK notes

    AN ENGLISH businessman was yesterday caught red-handed at Larnaca airport using counterfeit bills.

    Twenty-six-year-old Abdu Fatal Samad was arrested just outside Larnaca airport, having barely set foot on the island.

    On arrival, he had headed straight to the duty free shop, where he spent 120 sterling. The cashier later realised that the money bills were counterfeit. He informed airport security, who stopped Samad just as he was boarding a bus. He was searched by police, who found ten more counterfeit bills that carried the same serial number.

    Samad was remanded in custody by a Larnaca court and will be detained for eight days while the case is being investigated. The suspect denied his guilt, claiming he was not aware that he was carrying counterfeit money.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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