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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-09-12

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

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


Saturday, September 12, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cyprus turns to Russia for short-range missile system
  • [02] Government stands by Apostolos Andreas pilgrims
  • [03] Clerides spearheads anti-corruption drive
  • [04] 'Police treat child abuse like petty crime'
  • [05] Chrysostomos stands by his bishop, for now
  • [06] Clinton stance on federation welcomed
  • [07] Jet-ski puts Russian tourist into hospital
  • [08] Government doctors angry at Oncology Centre fees
  • [09] Doctors hit back at negligence claim
  • [10] Illegal immigrants jailed
  • [11] Economic ties with India

  • [01] Cyprus turns to Russia for short-range missile system

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS may consider buying a batch of short- to medium-range Russian missiles if a deal with an Italian firm for a similar defence system fails materialise by the end of October, it was revealed yesterday.

    The Russian-made SA-15, with a range of 12 km, and the Italian Aspide missiles, with a range of 18km, are both suitable ground-to-air options to protect the controversial long-range S-300s, also Russian made, which are due to be deployed in Cyprus later in the year.

    The S-300s, which have a range of 150km, have come under repeated threat from Turkey, which says it will strike the missiles if they are deployed on the island.

    According to a defence source, although a contract for the Aspide system has already been signed with Italian firm Alinea, the government in Rome has not yet given its permission to export the missiles to Cyprus.

    If they had, there would be no need to make a new deal with Russia, he said.

    Quoting its own sources, CyBC radio yesterday said that if the export licence for the Aspides was not given by the end of October, the government would consider a new package from Russia, at a cost of $120 million. Boosting the National Guard's existing stock of Aspides would only cost half that, CyBC said.

    The new missiles would have to be in place before the S-300s are deployed, and the whole issue was put to the House Defence Committee behind closed doors at an afternoon session yesterday.

    CyBC said Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou told the Committee that if the Italian government was still stalling the sale of the Aspides by the end of October, then the government would have to look elsewhere.

    Omirou told journalists after the meeting: "Once again my response is that on the defence issues 'silence is golden'."

    The defence source confirmed that the issue had been raised at the committee. But he stressed that the government had not been given any authorisation to act.

    "There was just a briefing on this. At this stage there are only thoughts. Nothing is definite," he said.

    Reports surfaced earlier this week that delivery of the S-300s would be delayed by two months, and that they would not arrive until December but the rumours were immediately quashed by the government. The suggestion was that the government wanted to wait for the arrival of a secondary system to protect the S-300s.

    But CyBC said yesterday that a senior army officer told the Defence Committee the secondary system need not necessarily be in place before the S-300s.

    The government has repeatedly insisted the missiles would arrive on the island as planned, unless there is the prospect of substantial progress on the Cyprus problem or that some agreement can be reached with the Turkish side on demilitarisation.

    Talks have stalled and chances of progress have faded considerably since the Turkish Cypriot side this month announced that it would only discuss confederation as a solution to the Cyprus issue.

    Saturday, September 12, 1998

    [02] Government stands by Apostolos Andreas pilgrims

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday said it would not cancel Sunday's pilgrimage to the Apostolos Andreas monastery just to avoid trouble by demonstrators.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said there was no reason to stop the visit to the monastery in the occupied areas.

    "If we did, we would be sending a message to the international community that we are preventing the exercise of human rights," Stylianides said. "In our opinion, this would put us in the same category as Rauf Denktash, who has in the past taken such a stance by stopping the Turkish Cypriots (from crossing to the free areas)."

    Members of the anti-occupation group Pak have threatened forcibly to join over 1,000 pilgrims given permission to visit the Orthodox monastery in occupied Karpasia.

    Most of the pilgrims are old, sick or Greek Cypriots who have come from abroad.

    "This is a case of simple human rights, and it has to be seen as the fulfilment of a religious wish for some people," Stylianides said.

    He added that the government was appealing for any demonstrations on Sunday to be peaceful, and called on demonstrators not to create trouble or cause incidents.

    Police are expected to be out in full force, with Pak having called on all Greek Cypriots to bring their own transport to cross to the north.

    Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that police planned to block off all roads leading to the Ledra Palace checkpoint through which the 1,100 pilgrims will cross to the north.

    Only those on the list to visit the monastery would be allowed to pass through to the Ledra Palace checkpoint, he said.

    "I think they (the demonstrators) may not do anything," Christopoulos said. "The majority of the people are against them."

    Pak says that if the 1,100 pilgrims are allowed to cross freely to the occupied areas, there is no reason why others who wish to cross cannot do so as well.

    Saturday, September 12, 1998

    [03] Clerides spearheads anti-corruption drive

    By Charlie Charalambous

    SIMMERING public discontent over fat cat politicians has prompted President Clerides to tell his ministers that their sources of income can no longer be a private matter.

    Amid growing allegation that politicians and government employees are getting rich on dirty money, ministers have been told to set an example.

    President Clerides put forward his declaration of interests proposal during Wednesday's meeting of the Council of Ministers, government spokesman Christos Stylianides revealed yesterday.

    "On the advice of President Clerides, which was accepted by the Council of Ministers, it was decided that all members of the cabinet declare their wealth and sources of income," Stylianides said.

    "This is to prevent a climate of suspicion against those in public life."

    And the sudden urge for transparency in public life will even encompass the wealth of minister's spouses.

    "There will be no cover-up, and financial assets will be made public if need be," the government spokesman stressed.

    Stylianides said the process had already begun, and the financial statements from all 11 ministers would be handed over by Clerides to the Auditor-general for further investigation.

    "This is happening because an anti-corruption bill before the House has been pending since 1993."

    Political parties have dragged their feet over a government-backed bill, which would force ministers, deputies and civil servants to declare their wealth and sources of income.

    Efforts to prove that the government has clean hands come in the wake of the controversial 1.4 million land deal cut between the Electricity Authority and the Church.

    Moreover, Disy deputy Christos Pourgourides recently said he had evidence suggesting that businessmen, politicians and top civil servants were involved in a sordid web of kickbacks to secure multi-million state construction projects.

    Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou - who reportedly earns over 3, 000-a-month on his ministerial salary and civil service pension - said he was ready to reveal his wealth.

    "I am ready to make public my financial wealth. I have nothing to fear and nothing to hide," he said yesterday.

    Saturday, September 12, 1998

    [04] 'Police treat child abuse like petty crime'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    POLICE have been slammed for treating sensitive child sex abuse cases as no worse than petty theft.

    Ombudsman Nicos Charalambous yesterday filed a damning report on the behaviour and attitude of the police towards complaints of child abuse within the family.

    And in the light of his probe into domestic violence and child abuse, the Ombudsman has proposed that a special unit of qualified and experienced police officers be set up to handle such cases.

    Charalambous recommended a shake-up in the way police handled such cases, after he was called to investigate complaints from parents who claimed they had faced indifference from police officers when alleging that their daughter had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by a specific person.

    The findings of the Ombudsman's report were submitted to Police chief Andreas Angelides.

    His report accuses police of treating child abuse allegations as a "routine complaint", and not showing the required "zeal or determination" to investigate such matters.

    "Cases of child abuse are investigated by non-qualified members of the police in this field, resulting in such cases being treated like theft, burglary or dud cheques," the report said.

    Part of the problem, Charalambous says, is that violence and abuse within the family must be handled by professionals, such as qualified psychologists and sociologists.

    "There is a void, which does not comply with the provisions laid out by the 1994 Prevention of Violence in the Family and Protection of Victims Act."

    The report also points out that "as children are the most vulnerable members of society, it is inconceivable that they do not receive the most expert of handling."

    And the authorities come under fire for the "unreasonable" length of time it takes to bring suspected child abusers before the courts.

    "In this specific case (examined by the Ombudsman), there was an unjustified delay in bringing criminal proceedings against the suspect," the report said.

    Saturday, September 12, 1998

    [05] Chrysostomos stands by his bishop, for now

    By Charlie Charalambous

    BELEAGUERED Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos is still a trusted cleric until proven otherwise, Archbishop Chrysostomos said yesterday.

    "A lot of the allegations surrounding the bishop are just rumours," Chrysostomos told reporters yesterday.

    The Limassol bishop has been implicated in a series of alleged financial scams involving millions of pounds.

    Both the Church and the government have launched investigations into the allegations.

    "Surely we need to know if there are serious enough issues to justify his (Chrysanthos) possible expulsion (from the Church)," the Archbishop said.

    "Obviously, if such serious problems exist, then we will take action."

    But the Archbishop erred on the side of caution, saying it would be unwise to accuse Chrysanthos of any wrongdoing before the Church had the opportunity to study the evidence.

    "We will wait for the findings of the investigative committee."

    Asked if he was concerned about the large sums of money allegedly involved in the bishop's financial dealings, Chrysostomos said the Church needed millions to carry on its work.

    "The Church spends millions each year on the upkeep of priests, on building churches and helping the poor, but obviously there are checks, which is why we appointed an investigative committee."

    The intense media pressure on the bishop's business interests has also raised the issue of what the Church does with its money.

    Understanding that public opinion now supports closer financial scrutiny of the Church, the government has started making noises about unpaid taxes.

    Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday he was seeking a meeting with the Archbishop over the matter of 6 million in outstanding taxes on the Church's property deals.

    But Chrysostomos dismissed the idea that the Church was liable to any tax on the transfer of property.

    "The Church is not a profit-making organisation, but a philanthropic institution and therefore cannot be taxed."

    Saturday, September 12, 1998

    [06] Clinton stance on federation welcomed

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday welcomed US President Bill Clinton's affirmation that a Cyprus solution should be based on a federation and not a confederation, as proposed by the Turkish Cypriot side.

    "We are satisfied when any Security Council member, and especially a permanent member, remains firm on a bi-zonal bi-communal federation," government spokesman Christos Stylianides said.

    He was commenting on statements Clinton made when receiving the credentials of Cyprus' new ambassador to the US, Erato Kozakou-Marcoulli.

    In his statements, Clinton described Cyprus as a "longstanding friend of the US and an important member of the international community." The bond between America and Cyprus had remained strong, he said, since the island became independent in 1960, "despite the difficult times Cyprus has experienced."

    Clinton said the US had worked "intensely" in co-operation with the Cyprus government to bring about a Cyprus solution, which should be under UN auspices.

    Praising the island for its "vibrant, progressive economy", and its "efforts to promote peace and reconciliation" across the globe, Clinton also vowed that America would keep working on behalf of Cyprus.

    "We will not rest until success is achieved (in the search for a solution), " he promised.

    On her part, Marcoulli, the former ambassador to Sweden, said the Cypriot government expected America to support President Glafcos Clerides' proposal for the demilitarisation of the island. To this end, she added, the US should encourage the UN to take an initiative on this.

    In addition to his remarks on Clinton, Stylianides also said that Greece's ambassador to Cyprus Kyriacos Rodousakis had yesterday briefed President Clerides on a meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and US State Department co-ordinator on Cyprus Thomas Miller held in Athens on Thursday.

    Stylianides said Rodousakis had also informed Clerides about Pangalos' meetings with UN Cyprus representative Dame Ann Hercus, but gave no details of what had been discussed.

    Saturday, September 12, 1998

    [07] Jet-ski puts Russian tourist into hospital

    A RUSSIAN tourist was injured when a jet-ski crashed into the peddle boat that he and his wife were riding.

    The accident occurred on Thursday in Paphos, when British tourist Lee Edward Bakker, 21, hit Michael and Marina Samokkine's peddle boat, under unknown conditions.

    Michael Samokkine was taken to Paphos General Hospital and kept in for treatment.

    Bakker was found to be without a driving licence, which is required for hiring a jet-ski in Cyprus, and was charged.

    Also charged was Marios Archilleas, who had rented the jet-ski to the tourist.

    Anyone wanting to hire a jet-ski in Cyprus should be over 18 and hold a valid driving licence.

    Police are currently trying to get legislation passed requiring a special jet-ski licence for use of the high-powered crafts.

    A British tourist was last month given a three-month suspended jail sentence when his jet-ski collided with a banana boat, injuring two teenage girls. The incident sparked calls for tighter regulation of jet-skis.

    Saturday, September 12, 1998

    [08] Government doctors angry at Oncology Centre fees

    THE BREAKAWAY Pancyprian Government Doctors Union yesterday complained about patients having to pay for treatment at Nicosia's Oncology Centre, recently opened by the government and the Bank of Cyprus.

    Government doctors also criticised what they called the existing "monopoly" at the Oncology Centre, where, due to disagreements over pay, only private sector doctors are employed.

    The union called for negotiations on pay to be reopened.

    The doctors also questioned the wisdom of a government proposal to relocate the Nicosia General Hospital Neurology Department to the Green Line Institute of Neurology and Genetic Research, a move they say would be disastrous if war ever broke out.

    And union chairman Stavros Stavrou warned that if the government continued to take their complaints lightly, they would strike in a month and a half.

    Government doctors earlier this year walked out of civil service union Pasidy in an acrimonious split, saying it was not doing enough to advance their claims.

    Saturday, September 12, 1998

    [09] Doctors hit back at negligence claim

    PAPHOS surgeons yesterday slammed 'exaggerated' media reports claiming that their blunders had been responsible for tonsil patient Avgi Panayiotou having to be rushed to Nicosia for emergency treatment on Thursday.

    Panayiotou, 32, began haemorrhaging after a tonsil operation in Paphos, and was airlifted by police helicopter to Nicosia, where the emergency procedure was carried out at Nicosia General Hospital.

    She is now out of danger.

    At a press conference yesterday, Head Surgeon Dr Stathis Toumas, said media reports accusing doctors of botching the operation were completely false.

    He said the bleeding had been noticed during the process of waking up Panayiotou after the procedure had been completed. Doctors had then tried to stem the bleeding in the correct manner by applying pressure, he added.

    This procedure lasts for between 30 and 45 minutes, and Toumas said that only after this had failed was the decision taken to airlift Panayiotou to Nicosia.

    Dimitris Poyiadji, head of the Paphos hospital, said there would be no investigation into the case, as he was satisfied that there had been no negligence on part of the doctors. He also said that Panayiotou's family had not requested that there be an inquiry.

    Saturday, September 12, 1998

    [10] Illegal immigrants jailed

    FIFTEEN illegal immigrants found near Protaras on August 4 were yesterday each sentenced to a month in prison.

    The migrants had set sail from the Lebanese port of Tripoli, thinking they were being taken to Italy.

    Passing sentence, district judge Tefkros Economos said yesterday: "We sympathise with the difficult position that these people are in, but we must protect other people from illegal actions."

    He added that his aim was to discourage others from attempting illegal entry.

    The eight Indians, one Pakistani, four Kurds and two Sri Lankans had paid to be taken to Italy, but were instead dumped on the shore near Protaras.

    On June 29, 113 migrants were rescued off a stricken trawler, the Rida Allah, after leaving from Tripoli two weeks earlier. Most of them face deportation.

    Saturday, September 12, 1998

    [11] Economic ties with India

    THE INDIAN High Commission has hailed the recent third meeting of the joint India-Cyprus Economic Committee as marking an "important stage" in the efforts of the two countries to maximise the results of their economic co- operation.

    The meeting, which took place in Nicosia last week, included discussions on ongoing liberalisation and market reforms in both countries, as well as general overviews of both economies.

    The Cypriot delegation, headed by Panicos Pouros, Permanent Secretary in the Planning Bureau, also briefed the Indians on the state of Cyprus' EU accession bid. India reiterated its support for the bid.

    Special emphasis was placed on encouraging private sector involvement on behalf of both sides. To this end, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Central Bank of Cyprus will be leading a delegation to India aimed at raising Cyprus' profile as a business centre. The delegation will also be promoting Cyprus as a base for the distribution and marketing of Indian products in the region. Other trade accords were also agreed upon.

    Negotiations will also begin soon on a health co-operation agreement.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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