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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-09-23

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

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


Wednesday, September 23, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Clerides: we cannot rely on the treaties of the past
  • [02] Denktash proposes commission on land claims
  • [03] Holbrooke pledges to continue efforts
  • [04] Auditor-general 'not the right man to probe corruption'
  • [05] CyTA calls for more operational freedom
  • [06] Working for progress behind the scenes
  • [07] Should he stay or should he go? What do they think of zippergate?
  • [08] Two held for Limassol icon thefts
  • [09] Three held on doping charges
  • [10] Man killed in Limassol crash
  • [11] Red Cross appeals for clothes

  • [01] Clerides: we cannot rely on the treaties of the past

    By Charlie Charalambous

    LASTING peace in Cyprus depends on increased guarantees of a future federal state that do not rely on the treaties of the past President Clerides said in New York yesterday.

    During a speech to the Council of Foreign relations, Clerides slammed Rauf Denktash's confederation proposal, saying he would not agree to any solution that would reduce Cyprus into a Greek and Turkish protectorate.

    "I want my country to be a federal, independent republic," Clerides said.

    The president also took a swipe at the old guarantee power system when he said that Turkey, Greece and Britain had failed to fulfil their obligations.

    "Whatever solution we have to find must not contain the mistakes of the past."

    Clerides added that a new internationally endorsed arrangement to ensure Cyprus sovereignty must be in place to prevent the island becoming a protectorate.

    "A repetition of the treaties of the past will not prevent this from happening."

    The demilitarisation proposal and the idea of an international peace force on the island were again put forward by Clerides as a way of breaking the peace process deadlock.

    Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and Greek government spokesman Demetris Reppas yesterday allayed fears that Spain, Italy and France were trying to derail Cyprus' EU accession process by proposing that a solution must come before full entry.

    Reppas said any objection to decisions made during the Luxembourg and Cardiff summits were neither "practically feasible or politically correct."

    Wednesday, September 23, 1998

    [02] Denktash proposes commission on land claims

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday called for the establishment of a commission to examine disputes over property rights on both sides of the Green Line.

    "An independent, autonomous commission could be set up and identify formulae and criteria between the two sides," the Turkish Cypriot TAK news agency quoted Denktash as saying.

    "For a solution to the Cyprus problem there are a number of elements. One of these is the exchange of property. Without this there can be no agreement," he told reporters in occupied Nicosia after a routine meeting with Ann Hercus, the new UN resident envoy in Cyprus.

    But speaking from New York, government spokesman Christos Stylianides yesterday rejected the Denktash proposal, saying UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus called for the return of refugees to their homes.

    "This position was given full legal backing by the decision of the Human Rights Court of the European Union in the case of Titina Loizidou. Neither the Security Council nor the human rights court make any reference to an exchange of property as part of a settlement," Stylianides told the Associated Press news agency in a phone call from New York, where he is attending the UN General Assembly meetings.

    The European Court of Human Rights earlier this year ordered Turkey to compensate Kyrenia refugee Titina Loizidou for denying her access to property in the north. Another 40 similar cases are pending.

    Fearing a wave of claims, Turkey rejected the court's ruling, arguing that the case should have been brought against Denktash's administration.

    The Greek Cypriot side rejects Denktash's call for property exchanges and compensation as a means of consolidating the division of the island.

    Some 200,000 Greek Cypriots fled or were expelled from their villages in the wake of the invasion. Their place was taken by 40,000 Turkish Cypriots from the south and settlers from the Turkish mainland who were given Greek Cypriot property.

    Wednesday, September 23, 1998

    [03] Holbrooke pledges to continue efforts

    By Athena Karsera

    THE U.S. Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke said yesterday he would continue with his efforts to settle the Cyprus Problem.

    Holbrooke was speaking at the 53rd UN General Assembly in New York.

    "We support a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation" as stipulated in UN resolutions, Holbrooke underlined, saying he would carry on as US envoy for Cyprus pending the confirmation of his nomination as Washington's Permanent Representative to the UN.

    If appointed to the UN, he said he would "gradually phase out of the direct full time responsibility (in Cyprus) but will remain very actively involved".

    Holbrooke later admitted that "the practical obstacles in the path (of a Cyprus solution) have self-evidently become greater".

    But he nevertheless recommended "perseverance, the engaged support of the UN Secretary-General, of the other members of the Security Council, the EU, the US" to overcome these obstacles.

    Holbrooke had several separate meetings on Monday with President Glafcos Clerides and Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos. Holbrooke was accompanied by US State Department Cyprus Co-ordinator Thomas Miller at both meetings.

    Holbrooke will be meeting Clerides again later this week, as well as meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Wednesday, September 23, 1998

    [04] Auditor-general 'not the right man to probe corruption'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    PRESIDENT Clerides' decision to order the Auditor-general to investigate corruption allegations against Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides has been challenged by the House Watchdog Committee.

    During a committee meeting yesterday, deputies argued that Auditor-general Spyros Christou had no jurisdiction to investigate private individuals implicated in the alleged scandal.

    As a result, the House Watchdog Committee agreed to send a letter to Clerides in which it expressed its disagreement with the way the president had handled the issue, and urged for an independent investigator to be appointed.

    "We are giving the president a 10 to 15 day grace period to look at our demand and realise that the Auditor-general is not the appropriate official to examine this issue," said Disy deputy Socrates Hasikos.

    "In effect, the committee unanimously disagrees with the Pourgourides allegations being handed over to the Auditor-general."

    Diko deputy Tassos Papadopoulos had suggested it was unconstitutional to appoint Christou to carry out such a wide ranging probe into bribery and corruption.

    In such cases, Papadopoulos said, it should either be up to the Council of Ministers to appoint an independent investigation team or left to the Attorney-general to appoint a criminal investigator.

    Although the committee said it had nothing against Christou carrying out an investigation, it said the main thrust of any probe should be carried out by an independent or a criminal investigator who would have greater powers than the Auditor-general.

    "We are not saying that Clerides is trying to cover up the issue, but that he made the wrong choice during a limited space of time before leaving for New York," Hasikos said.

    But later yesterday, Markides made clear that he did not have the authority to appoint an investigator to probe allegations against a cabinet minister, adding there was nothing irregular about Clerides ordering Christou to carry out an investigation.

    He said an independent investigator could be appointed by the Council of Ministers at a later stage, but as the cabinet was not scheduled to meet for some time, Christou could start doing the groundwork.

    "The Auditor-general is in a position, with services at his disposal, to collect a large amount of evidence in a short space of time," Markides said yesterday.

    "I'm in close contact with the Auditor-general and if he faces difficulties due to a lack of investigatory powers then I will intervene."

    Michaelides has been accused by watchdog committee chairman Christos Pourgourides of 14 counts of bribery and corruption and colluding with big business to cheat the public purse.

    Pourgourides claims Michaelides has amassed over 2 million by unlawful means since he became interior minister.

    The committee chairman has made public further allegations of secret bank accounts, close ties with a Lebanese arms dealer and ownership of immovable property in Limassol, Nicosia and elsewhere.

    Michaelides denies all the allegations and dismisses the charges as an orchestrated smear campaign to hound him out of office.

    On Monday, deputy Attorney-general Loucis Loucaides said Michaelides should offer his temporary resignation in view of the charges against him.

    He said it was his opinion that among the 14 counts of bribery and corruption there were grounds for a criminal investigation.

    Echoing the views of the watchdog committee, Loucaides was doubtful that an investigation by the Auditor-general would be sufficient, unless it ran parallel to a criminal investigation.

    Meanwhile, Michaelides gets a respite from the mounting political pressure when he leaves for Brussels on official business today.

    Wednesday, September 23, 1998

    [05] CyTA calls for more operational freedom

    By Hamza Hendawi

    CyTA, the island's state-owned telecommunications company, yesterday called on the government to reform the regulations directing its operations, saying it needed total freedom to chart its own policies and deal with future competition.

    "CyTA needs to secure the ability to prepare and carry out business plans and budgets, to set rates and formulate regulations for its own internal operations without any form of state intervention," said Michalakis Zivanaris, the company's chairman and chief executive.

    "It is clear that if we don't adapt quickly to the constantly changing international market, we shall be forced to pay an extremely high price for a shortsighted policy which ignores modern economic realities," he warned in an address to the company's annual general meeting yesterday.

    CyTA enjoys a near monopoly on telecommunication services on the island, a fact which, together with its reliable network, explains the authority's consistent increases in profits in recent years.

    Yesterday, Zivanaris said 1997 pre-tax gains increased by 33.2 per cent to 34.9 million from 26.2 million in the previous year. Revenues stood at 125.4 million last year, a 15 per cent increase over 1996.

    Cyprus, which opened talks to join the European Union nearly six months ago, has recently told the 15-nation group that its telecommunications market would not be fully open to competition until 2003, the date widely floated for the island's accession to the EU.

    "Time is running out," Zivanaris told a news conference later. "Once competition enters the market, the authority must be allowed to work without the constraints it has today and which certainly won't apply to its competitors."

    Rated as one of the more profitable state-owned corporations, CyTA is at present the responsibility of the Communications and Works Ministry.

    Calls on the government to turn CyTA, and other profitable state-owned companies such as the Electricity Authority, into a public company before selling off a chunk of it to private investors have grown in recent years.

    Such a sell-off, economists and traders say, will give the island's fledgling stock market a tremendous boost and will attract in droves the foreign investors who have so far spurned the small bourse in search of more rewarding pickings elsewhere.

    Zivanaris, however, disclosed yesterday that the Ministry of Communications and Works had begun consultations with CyTA unions over the possibility of turning the authority into a company with a majority stake held by the government. He gave no details, but the prospect of a partial sell-off of CyTA must have come as welcome news to the heads of at least two brokerage firms who attended yesterday's annual general meeting.

    As an example of CyTA's need to be more flexible, Zivanaris yesterday said the corporation must readjust its rates so they can be competitive.

    "One consequence of this rebalancing will be a significant rise in the cost of local telephone calls and a large reduction in international rates.

    "Any country failing to make such reductions to its international rates in good time will be by-passed and, as a consequence, its position in the international telecommunications market will be marginalised."

    Wednesday, September 23, 1998

    [06] Working for progress behind the scenes

    By Jean Christou

    A THIRD joint meeting between Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen is to take place in Istanbul in mid-December.

    The meeting will take place under the auspices of the

    International Peace Research Institute of Oslo, Norway, whose director Dan Smith leaves Cyprus today after a three-day visit.

    In an interview with the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Smith said he had met with businessmen from both sides during his visit, in an attempt to restart efforts for bi-communal contacts.

    All bi-communal activities were stopped by the Turkish Cypriot side nine months ago after the EU's Luxembourg decision to go ahead with accession talks for Cyprus.

    The ban was put in place only a month after the historic first meeting between the businessmen in Brussels under the chairmanship of US envoy Richard Holbrooke.

    But Smith said the second meeting in Oslo in June had shown that businessmen on both sides were interested in pursuing contacts.

    "In the political sense, it (contact) is completely blocked. "Everybody knows that," Smith said.

    "Any movement will be the result of a political decision.

    Our point is that the resolution of conflict is more than just a political question. It is social and economic as well."

    Smith said that if there was an easing of the political situation and if negotiations got into a positive track then it could be possible to develop real business relations between the two sides.

    But he added that in the current situation, it was difficult to foresee any such progress in the near future.

    Peace Institute officials put the current situation as low as two to three on a scale of one to ten.

    But they are not deterred.

    "With the knowledge we have of other such processes we don't expect big successes (in Cyprus)," Smith said, adding their motto was "just to get on quietly with the work".

    "We don't reject attention, but we don't have to get the headlines... we have the stamina."

    Smith has been involved in peace processes in the Balkans, the eastern Mediterranean, the Caucasus and Colombia.

    He said that despite the lack of contact here, there were ways in which both sides could do things separately to get projects going.

    One which has already been touted is a programme to protect and restore historical monuments all over the island.

    "There is no trade element involved, but it still needs the co-operation of officials and has to have the will of the authorities on each side," Smith said.

    He added that apart from that, the main thing that could be done would be to launch a project that would involve conducting feasibility studies to explore what kind of economic co-operation there could be and to have these ideas developed in the event of a solution.

    "There have to be some results (from the contacts), there have to be some steps forward," Smith said. "They can be small steps and in a place like Cyprus small steps are big steps."

    Smith said the Greek and Turkish businessmen were only partly in touch because of the ban on contacts.

    "If there's any timing behind my visit it's that now people are coming back from vacations and we want to see how to get the process moving."

    He referred to the previous successes of the group and particularly the extension of phone lines between the two sides through the UN "during this particularly difficult year".

    "One of the things... is helping people see new solutions to old problems and ways of helping people to have a dialogue, even when they disagree," Smith said of the Norwegian Institute. "That allows us to facilitate processes that are difficult but which without us would be harder.

    "A peace process which is only on the political side might well result in an agreement, but then you might find that the business community and others are totally unprepared."

    He said that among the Greek and Turkish businessmen, there were friendships that went back a long way. "They talk the same language and have a lot in common," he said.

    "They are clearly willing and wanting to keep it going. Of course, they want results and they want it quicker than is feasible, especially over issues about which they care very much."

    Smith said the situation in Cyprus had been unresolved for far too long and had further deteriorated this year.

    "The worst prospect in the end is that if neither party on the island, or outside mediation brings about a result, then finally people turn their backs on the problem and say 'okay, that's the way it's going to be'... a permanently divided island."

    Wednesday, September 23, 1998

    [07] Should he stay or should he go? What do they think of zippergate?

    By Andrew Adamides

    THE WRATH of Hillary Clinton is something most people probably wouldn't want to face - and following zippergate, a certain president has probably had to face rather more of it than anyone would like to.

    But in addition to annoying Hillary, has Bill Clinton annoyed the people of Cyprus with his sex, lies and video tape saga?

    "Just because he's a president, he shouldn't be allowed to just mess around and leave," said Theodoros Efstathiou, 56.

    But he thinks Clinton will stay, and if he goes it'll only be because he was pushed.

    Steven Kyriakides, 78, agrees. "If he goes, he'll be back as president within five years," he says, adding that if Clinton does step down, it'll be because others in the political arena pressure him to do so.

    Sex scandals are, he thinks, part of politics, and Clinton "is not the only one." Kyriakides also thinks that politicians' illicit affairs should not be out in the open.

    And male opinion in other age groups seemed pretty much the same. "It's just what men do," said 24-year-old Charalambos Charalambous. "I don't know if he should stay or go, but only his wife should be angry with him."

    But it takes two to tango, as they say, and what do those of the opposite sex think of Bill and Monica's not-so-appropriate adventure?

    "He shouldn't stay, he should leave," said Stella Hadjigeorgiou, 20. "Someone like that who's in charge of a country should have higher morals. And he lied about it, which makes it 10 times worse."

    She doesn't think politicians' sex lives should be media fodder, but does believe that "if it comes out, it should be handled appropriately."

    However, female opinion on the matter does seem somewhat divided. Mary Theodosiou, "twentysomething - early twenties", said that "at least Clinton does things, he's not like our politicians who are so boring all they can do is talk forever."

    And should the private lives of Presidents be public knowledge?

    "Eh, this is Cyprus," she says. "In Cyprus everything is public knowledge anyway. But you won't find any sex scandals, because all politicians do is steal money. If Lewinsky came to them they would fall over from shock."

    Wednesday, September 23, 1998

    [08] Two held for Limassol icon thefts

    TWO MEN were remanded in custody for eight days yesterday on suspicion of stealing icons.

    Antonis Iosif Parpour, 75, and Giorgos Petrou Kaplanis, 20, were arrested after police found 32 icons in Parpour's home after a tipoff.

    In his statement Parpour apparently admitted that the icons were stolen, naming Kaplanis as his supplier. Kaplanis later admitted to stealing the icons from three Limassol churches, police said.

    Limassol police are still searching for a third man in connection with the case.

    Police are meanwhile continuing their investigations into two other icon thefts, one from a church in an uninhabited village near Paphos, and the other from a church in Peristerona in the Nicosia district.

    Wednesday, September 23, 1998

    [09] Three held on doping charges

    THREE men have been arrested in connection with the alleged doping of a race-horse.

    Sherif Mohamed Salama Hussein and Haled Fawzy Awad Kandil, both from Egypt and now residing in Cyprus, and Savvas Charalambous, 45, are being held in custody to assist with investigations into the alleged illegal doping of a race-horse.

    The case was bought to the attention of the police on Monday by a Cyprus Race Track horse trainer, Panayiotis Javarjidi. According to Javarjidi's testimony, the horse, Princessa Salma, who came first in a race on July 11, was doped.

    During interrogation, police said Hussein had implicated Kandil as having given an injection containing drugs to Princessa Salma 15 minutes before the race. Hussein then allegedly implicated Charalambous, the owner of a coffee shop outside the race-course, as having provided them with the doping substance.

    Ayios Dometios police are investigating the incident.

    Wednesday, September 23, 1998

    [10] Man killed in Limassol crash

    A 43-YEAR-OLD Famagusta man was killed in a car crash in Limassol yesterday.

    The accident happened on Shoukri Street at around 5am when Panayiotis Agathocleous crashed into a car driven by Neophytos Sophocleous, 51 from Mesa Yeitonia.

    Agathocleous was seriously injured and was taken to Limassol General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Sophocleous was also taken to hospital, and was treated for injuries. Agathocleous was not wearing a seat-belt.

    Limassol Traffic Police are investigating the exact cause of the accident.

    Wednesday, September 23, 1998

    [11] Red Cross appeals for clothes

    THE CYPRUS Red Cross Society is asking for donations of dress material and men and boy's shirts and trousers.

    All interested parties are asked to make their contributions in time to reach Society Headquarters by 9 am next Wednesday.

    The Headquarters are situated behind the post-office off Prodromos Street, Nicosia. Packages can also be sent to P.O. Box 5374, Nicosia.

    More information can be obtained at 02-666955.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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