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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-25

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

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


Tuesday, August 25, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Soldiers warned to stay clear of danger clubs, cabarets
  • [02] Deputy attacks get-rich-quick political cheats
  • [03] Under pressure Clerides is `no quitter'
  • [04] UN's so-peaceful peacekeepers are now `punch-bags'
  • [05] Local calls up soon, and international calls down
  • [06] Pace picks up in bishop probe
  • [07] Cyprus hopes to double tourism intake
  • [08] Plight for families of the mentally ill
  • [09] Minister rebukes PSEKA chairman
  • [10] Bilingual school's first term nearer

  • [01] Soldiers warned to stay clear of danger clubs, cabarets

    By Martin Hellicar

    BRITISH soldiers stationed in Cyprus have been warned to steer clear of certain Limassol and Larnaca night-spots in the wake of a number of suspected gangland attacks.

    There have been one murder and two attempted murders in the coastal towns over the past month in what police have described as a gangland feud.

    "British services personnel have been warned to stay away from a number of tavernas, night clubs and cabarets in and around Larnaca and Limassol," bases spokesman Mervyn Wynne Jones said yesterday.

    "Recent Cypriot media coverage of gangland-type incidents gives us cause for concern and our personnel are being advised to remain vigilant when spending off-duty hours in certain parts of the local community."

    British soldiers stationed at the Akrotiri and Dhekelia bases have acquired a reputation for sometimes unruly behaviour while off-duty. Incidents of violence involving British servicemen have in the past led bases authorities to ban British soldiers from tourist towns like Limassol and Ayia Napa. But, this time round, bases authorities seem more concerned about the safety of their men.

    Police believe the recent murder and attempted murders are part of an underworld war between gangs fighting it out for control of the lucrative cabaret market - thought to be a front for prostitution, drugs and gambling rackets.

    Last Monday, pub owner Charalambos Neoptolemou, known as Lemis, was seriously injured in a bomb explosion outside his pub.

    The feud, which police say began years ago and has claimed a number of victims, exploded after the July 31 killing of 32-year-old Andros Aeroporos outside Limassol's Show Palace cabaret.

    Ten days later, 31-year-old Loucas Fanieros was lucky to escape unhurt when his car came under machine-gun fire in the Larnaca red light district.

    On June 19, Andros Aeroporos and his brothers Hambis, 35, and Panicos, 25, had been acquitted of an attempt on the life of Loucas' father, Antonis Fanieros, 57, a year before.

    No arrests have been made for the murder of Andros Aeroporos or the attacks on Loucas Fanieros and Neoptolemou.

    Meanwhile, police yesterday said they were close to solving another Limassol attempted murder, this time not linked to the feud.

    On Sunday, police found a motorbike they believe was used by the hooded gunman who shot Limassol cabaret owner Evangelos Michail Christodoulou, alias Aggelis, at 4.20am on Saturday outside the Brazil cabaret on Zinonos street in Limassol. The bike was stolen from a shop near the cabaret shortly before the attack, police said.

    The hunting gun allegedly used in the attack has yet to be found.

    A 35-year-old Limassol man is being held in custody on suspicion of carrying out the attack, which left Aggelis, 35, with gunshot wounds in the left hand and right shoulder. The victim was in a "steady" condition in Limassol hospital yesterday.

    According to police, the suspect hit-man is denying any involvement in the attack but has made some contradictory statements about his movements on the night of the shooting.

    Tuesday, August 25, 1998

    [02] Deputy attacks get-rich-quick political cheats

    By Charlie Charalambous

    DISY deputy Christos Pourgourides has launched an astonishing attack on get- rich-quick politicians who allegedly collude with wealthy businessmen to cheat the public purse.

    In an interview in Sunday's Phileleftheros, Pourgourides claimed there was widespread corruption in the civil service and politicians were taking kick-backs to influence the awarding of major public construction projects.

    The government responded yesterday when its spokesman, Christos Stylianides, said such allegations would be taken seriously but chastised the Disy deputy for going public first.

    "I believe we are in political crisis on a global scale, a crisis in public confidence towards politicians," said Stylianides.

    But he added: "If there are serious allegations then they should be made through the proper channels, before such announcements are made through the media, avoiding harming public confidence."

    President Clerides will pass on evidence on alleged scams in public life, to the Attorney-general who would then decide if an independent investigator should be appointed, said the spokesman.

    Among his allegations, Pourgourides cited state doctors receiving "envelopes" to treat patients, politicians enjoying all-expenses-paid holidays and police investigators scared to prosecute wealthy figures.

    "Over a few years, politicians who started out poor have suddenly accumulated large fortunes," said Pourgourides in the interview. He also alleged there were certain high-powered businessmen who thought they were "above the law".

    "Roads have changed course because they affected the property of the wealthy," Pourgourides, who is the House Watchdog Committee chairman, told Phileleftheros.

    He believes that political corruption in awarding contracts for multi- million pound public projects is widespread, reaching even ministerial level. "Millions are changing hands in commission for securing large construction projects," said the deputy.

    Pourgourides said he has a list of names and documentary proof - which he has yet to reveal - to uphold his claims and will file his report to President Clerides next month.

    Among his demands to clean up public life, Pourgourides wants to see an Italian-like anti-corruption task force to investigate his allegations.

    A Bill obliging politicians to declare their private interests and sources of income has floundered in the House - lacking cross-party approval - since being submitted five years ago. Pourgourides has now raised the prickly question as to why politicians are reluctant to be put under closer scrutiny.

    Tuesday, August 25, 1998

    [03] Under pressure Clerides is `no quitter'

    By Jean Christou

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday jumped to the defence of President Clerides after a call for him to resign over the missile controversy.

    On Sunday, Diko deputy Tassos Papadopoulos said Clerides should resign if the Russian S-300 missiles were not deployed on the island as planned.

    Clerides is under pressure from the international community and reportedly also from Greece - with which Cyprus has a defence pact - to cancel the multi-million dollar deal.

    British High Commissioner David Madden yesterday repeated that his government was still working towards this goal.

    However, the Cyprus government remains adamant that the missiles will be deployed unless there is substantial progress on the island's political question.

    "I want to say that President Clerides is not a quitter," Cassoulides told reporters yesterday. "He has received a mandate from the people of Cyprus to serve the national interest in the best possible manner and this is what he intends to do."

    The minister also called for unity among the political leadership to serve the national interest better through joint decisions.

    Cassoulides stressed that the decision of the National Council was to deploy the missiles unless there is progress on the Cyprus problem or towards demilitarisation of the island.

    He added that President Clerides was handling all the issues in the best possible manner. "It is his responsibility to captain the vessel and remain at the helm of the Cyprus ship," he said.

    Clerides will have talks with the Greek leadership in Athens on Thursday. Cassoulides said the talks would focus on the course of the Cyprus problem, on EU accession talks and on defence issues.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday that cancelling the missiles would cause more problems then their deployment would create. "We believe that cancelling the order for the missiles will indeed create wider problems in our defence planning," he said.

    But Britain hopes the missiles will never be deployed, High Commissioner David Madden said yesterday after a meeting with President Clerides. "We are hoping that conditions will be such that the S-300 does not need to come to the island of Cyprus. That is what we are working for," Madden said.

    He said there were various ways of achieving cancellation of the deal, including progress on a military flight moratorium over the island.

    The proposal, backed by the US, has been rejected by Ankara but the Cyprus government would agree to the creation of a no-fly zone over the island with international guarantees.

    Tuesday, August 25, 1998

    [04] UN's so-peaceful peacekeepers are now `punch-bags'

    By Jean Christou

    TOUGH UN peacekeepers are being used as punch-bags by local youths after strict orders to turn the other cheek during pub brawls.

    "We have been very strict and our internal policy has made soldiers so docile that people believe they can punch them," said Unficyp spokesman Peter Schmitz.

    Schmitz was commenting on an incident on Saturday night in which two British UN soldiers were beaten in a Paphos pub brawl, allegedly by a gang of some 10-15 Greek Cypriot youths.

    The two soldiers were injured and taken to Paphos hospital where they were treated for multiple injuries before being released.

    "Two peacekeepers were hurt in a fight they didn't provoke," Schmitz said. He said one of the soldiers was hit over the back of the head with a bottle when he left the pub and was then kicked and punched by a gang.

    "The other one (soldier) came out and got the same treatment," Schmitz said. He said the UN wants a full investigation by Cyprus police though he admitted the fact that so many were involved in the attack would make this difficult.

    "Our position is that we have been very tough with our soldiers and they have been told to steer clear of brawls," Schmitz said.

    UN peacekeepers and British bases soldiers were banned form Ayia Napa earlier in the year after a series of incidents. Schmitz said the ban is still in force - but other towns are, however, not out of bounds.

    Schmitz said the UN soldiers are now so careful that they have become the "easy victims" of others. "We want to make it clear we are not here to be punched in a bar," he said. "They (soldiers) need recreation too after extended periods on the line. If incidents happen they are not taking home fond memories."

    Tuesday, August 25, 1998

    [05] Local calls up soon, and international calls down

    By Elias Hazou

    LOCAL phone rates may soon go up - and international calls go down - as the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) looks to "fall in line" with EU policies on telecommunications.

    A Cyta spokesperson told the Cyprus Mail that a study is under way to increase local phone rates and lower international charges as part of the drive to make the semi-public organisation "more competitive". The study is expected to be completed in September or October.

    Currently, income from international calls is used to subsidise the costs of local calls, which are relatively low compared to other European countries. Calls between zones or districts are 3.3 cents a minute, while calls inside the same zone are a mere 1.3 cents every four minutes.

    New EU directives on telecommunications stipulate separation of services so that one service does not finance or subsidise another.

    The Cyta spokesperson said that since some 90% of Cypriots make calls abroad, the new pricing policy would actually benefit subscribers.

    Privatisation of a number of telecommunications organisations abroad, such as in England and France, has brought stiffer competition and would affect Cyta as Cyprus looks set to join the EU in five years.

    Tuesday, August 25, 1998

    [06] Pace picks up in bishop probe

    By Elias Hazou

    MOMENTUM in the ongoing investigations into Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos' financial dealings is expected to pick up pace now that public officials have returned from their mid-August summer break.

    Sources at the Attorney-general's office yesterday confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that the findings of a police report on the bishop's financial activities would be submitted to Attorney-general Alekos Markides "some time in the next few days". The same source explained that the report covered only one case, which is thought to be the $3.7 million scam originating in Britain.

    The other cases allegedly implicating the cleric are under investigation, the Cyprus Mail was told, and "much work" had still to be done.

    Greek daily Phileleftheros reported yesterday that a "top secret" police report submitted to the Holy Synod includes "information" on Chrysanthos' alleged involvement in a total of 26 cases.

    The Church governing body is expected to convene in early September to question the bishop on many of the cases which have made headline news over several weeks.

    Despite the storm of allegations, Chrysanthos has so far avoided talking to the media in depth about his involvement in these cases, simply telling reporters that "in the end, the truth will shine."

    But on Sunday Chrysanthos appeared to admit to an Antenna reporter that he held bank accounts abroad. The televised comments followed police reports that the bishop's accounts would be accessed.

    The bishop's lawyers have denied that the bishop in any way benefited from his business transactions, suggesting that he had been misled by his "partners."

    Tuesday, August 25, 1998

    [07] Cyprus hopes to double tourism intake

    By Michele Kambas

    CYPRUS has set its sights on almost doubling its foreign exchange earnings from tourism in the next five years by attracting more affluent visitors.

    With visitor numbers up this year, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis sees a bright future. "I believe three million tourists (a year) is a good figure for this country," he told Reuters in an interview.

    "If we can achieve it, our income in the next five years, taking into account inflation, should be close to two billion pounds ($3.78 billion)," he said.

    How will it be done? Rolandis said Cyprus plans to attract more affluent tourists with casinos, marinas, golf courses and more attention on its 7, 000 years of history.

    The minister's sunny optimism contrasted with the `clouds' on tourism's horizon - Cyprus is still sweltering in one of the most serious droughts in decades and faces a possible missile crisis later this year. But, said Rolandis, fears that heightened tension could deter tourists have proved unfounded so far this summer, with arrivals up 14 per cent year-on-year in June.

    Tourism officials initially projected growth of between five and 10 per cent this year. "We expect the final figure to be at the top end of our expectations," the minister said.

    In 1997, Cyprus welcomed 2.06 million tourists, generating foreign exchange receipts of some 900 million pounds, or roughly one fifth of its gross domestic product.

    While this year's figures look good, Rolandis conceded that there was a certain "numbness" in core markets - such as the German and the Russian - in the outlook for the autumn. "We do not have any estimates as yet on the second half... there is a certain numbness in some countries but we still do not know whether this means arrivals will be lower," he said.

    To achieve the long-term goal of three million visitors spread all year round, Rolandis said the government has set the wheels in motion for a series of projects. "We are looking at a number of infrastructural works like the building of marinas, golf courses, casinos and theme parks," he said.

    At present there are no casinos in Cyprus. Rolandis, a member of a ministerial commission now studying gambling legislation, said he would like to see one casino in each district. The matter is expected to go to parliament later this year.

    Development plans also call for seven extra golf courses to add to the two now in operation.

    (Reuters)

    Tuesday, August 25, 1998

    [08] Plight for families of the mentally ill

    By Athena Karsera

    FAMILIES of the mentally ill are concerned about the quality of services provided for them, including issues such as the lack of halfway house facilities for patients discharged from psychiatric institutions.

    One of the organisations which aims to give a voice to the mentally ill and their families is the Movement for Families of the Mentally Ill. Its spokesman, Takis Pavlou, told the Cyprus Mail that the organisation has three goals: to obtain more financial aid for the mentally ill and their families, to ensure better services and to promote the appropriate placing of the mentally ill into society.

    The movement was created in 1989 out of Larnaca's Mental Health For All programme, and is one of several co-operating organisations in every town.

    Pavlou said the first issue, financial aid, is problematic - funding is provided only by social security, the welfare department and volunteer organisations. He said that amounts are often not enough to cover the patient's needs, leading families into financial difficulties.

    Pavlou said that financial needs become even more acute because most mentally ill people are not aware of the consequences of their actions. Examples include mentally disturbed people speaking on the telephone for hours, leaving lights on for long periods or dramatically over-eating.

    The movement proposes that the mentally ill be regarded as extraordinary cases, not within the framework of general welfare. Pavlou said: "They should be seen as special cases like the physically handicapped are, and have certain rights, not simply as people who are too sick to work."

    Families suffer more expense when the patient needs emergency treatment and the appropriate services have closed for the day. According to a psychiatry department nurse at Nicosia General Hospital, psychiatrists are on call only in Nicosia - families in other towns may need to take the patient to casualty where a specialist doctor has to be called in. Pavlou said this often forces families to use expensive private clinics.

    Additionally, he said, community nurses who visit the homes of mental patients stop work in the early afternoon.

    Representatives of the movement have taken up the issues with the House of Representative's Health Committee. The House has promised to review the amount of aid and the ministries of health and labour are being consulted.

    Pavlou argues that mentally ill patients are merely given medicinal treatment and do not have anyone with whom they can discuss the root of their problems.

    Another problem is that there are no proper facilities for patients discharged from hospital. Currently, older patients, who cannot be cared for by relatives are sent to old people's homes but the bigger dilemma is what happens to younger people whose families cannot care for them.

    Pavlou said that, regardless of their age, these younger people are usually also put in retirement homes, adding to the difficulties.

    He cited, as a an example, the case of a younger man in an old people's home who became so desperate that he assaulted another resident before running away. The patient went back to the mental institution where he had previously been treated, begging to be re-admitted.

    A major problem for families of the mentally ill is that those caring for relatives cannot take holidays or even a day's break. The government has proposed to set up a hostel for younger patients who have no-one to care for them.

    The movement is also concerned at the lack of training for patients to enable them to play some kind of active role in society. They propose a system like that used overseas, under which patients are taught a trade.

    Pavlou summed up the situation: "Cyprus is always talking about our induction to the European Union and yet we have no place in our society for the mentally ill, like other European countries."

    Tuesday, August 25, 1998

    [09] Minister rebukes PSEKA chairman

    By Andrew Adamides

    COMMENTS from a leader of the Greek-American organisation PSEKA, claiming that the American Jewish lobby is working for Turkey, drew comments from Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday, who said that more care should be taken over statements like these.

    Speaking before the annual conference of overseas Cypriots convened in Nicosia yesterday, PSEKA's chairman, Phillip Christopher, said the Jewish lobby, headed by US former deputy Richard Helm, has launched a PR campaign condemning the S-300 missiles ordered by Cyprus. He also claimed that Helm is paid $800,000 a year by Ankara.

    In his rebuke, delivered before his departure for Lisbon to visit Cyprus' pavilion at Expo '98, Cassoulides said: "It would be an offence to the members of Congress, such as Ben Gilman and many others, to utter such things. We should be more careful."

    The Nicosia conference is being attended by around 40 participants from PSEKA and the international overseas Cypriots' organisation, POMAK. At the four-day meeting, issues varying from the purchase of the S-300s to the problems of second and third generation overseas Cypriots will be discussed.

    Tuesday, August 25, 1998

    [10] Bilingual school's first term nearer

    By Andrew Adamides

    AS plans for the first ever bilingual school in London catering to the Greek Cypriot community come closer to fruition, representatives of GALE, the Greek Association for Language Enhancement, are back in Cyprus to finalise details of Cyprus' financial contribution to the project.

    The project began in earnest last year when a suitable building in Croydon became free, and 80 per cent of the 4 million required to fund the school was acquired from the British Education Ministry.

    GALE is anxious to conclude the financing side of the project - it is asking the Cyprus government for a one-off 500,000, split into instalments - since the building has now stood empty for a year and is costing Croydon Council 20,000 a month.

    At present, the government provides the UK Cypriot community with 36 part- time teachers. GALE head, George Kastelanides, says it is a struggle to fit in Greek lessons on such a basis.

    The founding of a school, he says, will provide a more comprehensive solution to the problem of keeping British Cypriot children in touch with their roots.

    It is hoped that the school, St Cyprians, will open in September 1999, at first offering primary education, with the possibility of a secondary department being established later.

    The school will teach the British national curriculum, but with the addition of Greek language classes, and will also focus on Greek culture and the Greek Orthodox religion. Such schools already exist in other overseas Cypriot communities around the world.

    GALE representatives are set to meet House President Spyros Kyprianou on Monday and will meet President Glafcos Clerides, who has expressed firm support for the project, later in the week.

    Kastelanides says the project is 95 percent there, with funding also coming from private sources. The school's running costs will be met by the British government. Additional funding from Cyprus is, he adds, more of a psychological boost than anything else, something to let the British Cypriots know they have the material backing of their homeland.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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