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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-10-11

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

October 11, 1998


  • [01] Britain responsible for the boat people: Markides
  • [02] Stelios sets his sights on Cyprus
  • [03] £8,000 pay rise for Eurocypria post
  • [04] Driver killed
  • [05] Fifth man held in weapons inquiry
  • [06] The tourists and the turtles
  • [07] Brush-fire was arson, police say
  • [08] Finnish visit begins

  • [01] Britain responsible for the boat people: Markides

    By Anthony O. Miller

    BRITAIN, not Cyprus, is responsible for caring for the 75 boat people who washed ashore in a leaking boat this week within the British Sovereign Bases Area (SBA) at Akrotiri, Attorney-general Alecos Markides said yesterday.

    "For the time being, clearly, the authorities of the bases" are responsible for them, Markides told The Sunday Mail, "because in accordance with the Treaty of Establishment, the Bases are not within the territory of the Republic. Therefore, for the time being, these people are not in the Republic."

    "If they (the British) say that under the Treaty of Establishment we are bound to accept these people, I think that the task of all of us will be facilitated if they point out the relevant article of the Treaty of Establishment," he said.

    Piers Cazalet, British High Commission spokesman, said yesterday that lawyers for the Republic and for the High Commission were discussing who has jurisdiction over the 75 illegal immigrants, most of them said to be Iraqis.

    "When the lawyers finish their discussions and agree on whatever they're going to agree, well fine, we can comment on it. Until then, it's too early, " Cazalet said.

    Whatever solution emerges, Britain appears to believe that Cyprus has some responsibility for the immigrants' futures under the Treaty of Establishment, which ended Cyprus' status as a British colony in 1960 and ceded the Episkopi and Akrotiri bases to Britain, in perpetuity, as sovereign territory.

    Despite their 'sovereign' designation, the Bases are "not quite" as much a part of Britain as, for example, Trafalgar Square, Cazalet said. "They're dependent territories. They have a slightly different legal and constitutional status."

    "Perhaps they (the Bases) are not part of Britain because they (the British) do not want to say they are a part of Britain," Markides said. "On the other hand, they do not accept they are a part of Cyprus" either, he added.

    "Therefore, if the British High Commissioner will indicate on what particular article of the Treaty of Establishment he is relying in order to demand that we accept these people, we shall certainly oblige," Markides said.

    "I do not think we are bound, prima facie," to accept them, he said, but added he would study the matter thoroughly before giving a final opinion.

    Meanwhile, "whether we keep them and keep looking after them for the foreseeable future has its own ramifications," Bases Spokesman Captain Jon Brown said yesterday, "because we need to be able to pay for that and... get them housing or jobs."

    "That's one of the reasons we're talking to the Republic of Cyprus, because they obviously have more experience in this than we do, especially bearing in mind the recent case" of 113 people found drifting offshore under a punishing June sun in a grossly overcrowded fishing boat.

    "We don't know who these people are, whether they're political asylum seekers or economic refugees," Brown said of the 41 men, 10 women, 19 children and five infants - including one born aboard the boat - now in SBA care. "They've all been very vague about the details" of their journey and origins.

    "All I do know is that when the (three crewmen) jumped off the boat into the inflatable (dinghy) and disappeared, a couple of people on the boat who knew something about boats got the engine going again," Brown said.

    "After a long time (at sea)... they saw the cliffs and the red cross on the (Princess Mary) Hospital," and aimed the boat for it, he said, ending two days at sea.

    Cazalet and Brown said no SBA search is under way for the three crewmen, believed to be Lebanese, as searchers would not know where to look. The three were said to have been paid $2,000 by each of the 75 passengers they eventually abandoned at sea.

    "I wouldn't like to speculate as to what we're going to do with them," Brown said, "but for the moment... we're looking after their humanitarian needs," and all 75 appeared to be "doing fine".

    "I doubt that we'll have any resolution of this on Monday," Cazalet said. "I think it will take a little longer than that."

    October 11, 1998

    [02] Stelios sets his sights on Cyprus

    By Hamza Hendawi

    EASYJET'S Stelios Hadjioannou does not mince his words, a personality trait perfectly suited for a man who owns and runs a no-frills, low-cost airline.

    "Sue the bastards," he quotes a movie line in the way of spicing up the conversation about his court action against giants British Airways, which he accuses of cross-subsidising Go, a seat-only airline launched by BA in May.

    His predatorial skills are all too obvious when he speaks of what he has in store for Cypriots when he finally arrives to feed on the London-Larnaca and Larnaca-Athens routes, the busiest and most profitable for the ailing Cyprus Airways.

    "I am a UK-based airline and as such have a right to fly to Larnaca from London," he said in a telephone interview with The Sunday Mail. "It is more like a question of allocating an aircraft for the Larnaca route rather than someone giving me permission to start."

    EasyJet, which turned a profit last year, has a confirmed order with US aircraft manufacturers Boeing for 27 of their 737-300 models, and has taken an option on 15 more. The airline has been taking delivery of one aircraft per month since August, and the airliner assigned to the Larnaca route is due to be handed over in May 1999 when EasyJet hopes to fly to Larnaca from London.

    "My first priority will be to fill the plane on every flight. We will worry later about profit," he said.

    As for the lucrative Larnaca-Athens route, the Cyprus-born Hadjioannou said it would remain inaccessible to EasyJet until Cyprus joined the 'Open Skies' deregulation now in force within the 15-nation European Union.

    Cyprus is one of six European countries on a fast-track EU accession course, but is not expected to become a member before 2001.

    "When that time comes, we shall make it so cheap to travel to Athens from Larnaca that people will have no trouble going to Greece for a weekend or even just for bouzoukia."

    Hadjioannou means it. To fill more seats on EasyJet flights, he has launched a coupon-scheme in The Times that allows readers of the London daily to fly to Scotland or Amsterdam for as little as £12 sterling and to Barcelona and the south of France for £15.50.

    "Our philosophy is that a seat sold at any price is better than a seat that is empty. We offer no meals during flights, we issue no tickets, we don't pay travel agents. We have eliminated all marginal costs."

    Like his peers in seat-only airlines such as Ireland's Ryanair, Britain's Go and Virgin Express, Hadjioannou maintains that his company is not taking business away from traditional airlines, and that this will also be the case when he begins flights to Cyprus.

    "We are in the business of flying a lot of people on very busy routes. We shall not take any of its (Cyprus Airways') business, but we create a new market for ourselves. The people we carry are new passengers."

    So is Cyprus Airways safe from Hadjioannou?

    "I don't spend sleepless nights analysing Cyprus Airways accounts," said the EasyJet boss. "Believe it or not, I have other things to worry about."

    Cyprus Airways, in the red for two years in a row, burdened with high operating costs and plagued by poor management-union relations, would be ill-advised to take Hadjioannou's words at face value.

    October 11, 1998

    [03] £8,000 pay rise for Eurocypria post

    By Jean Christou

    EUROCYPRIA, touted by national carrier Cyprus Airways as its low-cost charter subsidiary, has hired a CY pilot as operations manager at a salary £8,000 higher than his predecessor.

    The post of Eurocypria Operations Manager, essentially that of chief pilot and manager combined, became vacant in March when foreign pilot Bill McDonald left the company after months of wrangling with management over his salary, informed sources told The Sunday Mail.

    The sources said McDonald's salary was in the region of £65,000 including allowances, some of which he never received when he left. The post also includes a company car.

    From April 1 Eurocypria appointed senior captain Emilios Economides as Acting Operations Manager at a salary of £64,000 until the post was advertised and filled.

    Economides himself applied for the job having several months of experience in the post.

    The new appointee, Pavlos Attalides, was a senior captain with CY. He has the same qualifications as Economides but not the same administrative experience. Attalides has been hired at a salary of £72,000.

    He was appointed by the Eurocypria Board two weeks ago but did not accept the job until Friday.

    The sources said this was because to fill McDonald's shoes Attalides would have had to take a £20,000 wage cut from the £84,000 he was receiving as a senior captain at CY.

    They said that to get around the problem the Board has been suggesting increases in the salary of Eurocypria Operations Manager, initially to £67, 000, then £70,000 and finally £72,000, which is £8,000 more than the salary paid to the previous job holder.

    Meanwhile Eurocypria's other pilots have been denied a pay rise, being told by CY Chairman Takis Kyriakides that there is no money for existing wage hikes but that new positions are a different story, the sources said.

    "For all its supposed policies, Eurocypria is no longer a low-cost airline, " one source said.

    "If they can find someone to work for £64,000 with the same qualifications and additional experience as Attalides then why not hire him?" the source said, referring to Economides.

    But Eurocypria General Manager Charalambos Hadjipanayiotou said the Board agreed that Attalides was "the best man for the job" despite the fact that Economides had the same qualifications "more or less", in addition to six months on the job.

    "Having a few months on the job does not give him any advantage," Hadjipanayiotou said. "In 1978 he (Attalides) was the best trainee pilot all over the UK and won a prize for this."

    The only reason that he never made it as chief pilot at CY was because of the seniority of others in the airline, he added. He said Eurocypria does not operate like that.

    The charter firm's pilots have been fighting since last year to prevent management from filling their top posts with CY pilots.

    "It's not only a matter of qualifications and experience," Hadjipanayiotou said. "You also have to consider performance and merit and other considerations."

    Hadjipanayiotou did not elaborate, but he denied that Economides had been penalised for telling the House Ethics Committee earlier this year about the alleged rigging of pilot recruitment procedures to make a political appointment.

    Eurocypria denied senior management had suggested a change in grades to accommodate a candidate favoured by Disy.

    The Committee heard that Eurocypria hired applicants one, two, three and five - the alleged Disy candidate - from a final list for four posts, and that candidate number four had been passed over to accommodate number five.

    Economides told the house even then that there was already a CY pilot, believed to be a 'Disy man' being pushed to contest his own position as Acting Operations Manager even though Eurocypria pilots were paid less.

    "He has been promised an additional £15,000-plus to do this," Economides told the House at the time.

    Hadjipanayiotou said he did not know what Attalides' political beliefs were, and that the Board, which comprises members of all the parties, had been unanimous in its decision to appoint him.

    October 11, 1998

    [04] Driver killed

    A MOPED driver was killed in an accident in Larnaca early yesterday morning.

    Andreas Loizou, 43, an insurance salesman, was passing through the Phaneromeni Avenue junction at 4.30am when a car, driven by Stavros Loucas, 25, collided with his moped. Loizou was killed instantly.

    Loucas, a full-time soldier in the National Guard, was found to be within the legal limit when given an alcohol test.

    He was arrested and remanded in custody for 24 hours.

    October 11, 1998

    [05] Fifth man held in weapons inquiry

    A FIFTH man wanted in connection with the possession and transportation of illegal weapons was arrested by police yesterday. He was remanded for eight days.

    Andreas Sinesis, 33, is thought to have been the third man in a black BMW car whose occupants, say police, received three packages later revealed as automatic weapons.

    Police allege that the two men handing over the weapons were Theodoulos Sinesis and Pavlos Kouilis. they were arrested during a police operation early on Monday morning.

    Kyriakos Sinesis and Giorgos Xiourouppas, said to be the other two occupants of the BMW, were arrested later that day. Police believe the weapons would have been used in the murder of two underworld figures.

    Andreas Sinesis was arrested at approximately 8.10am yesterday at a house in Kophinou, between Nicosia and Limassol. He did not resist arrest.

    The three automatic weapons have not yet been located, although on Wednesday a sports bag containing 100 cartridges thought to be connected to the case was recovered. The BMW has also been found and searched.

    October 11, 1998

    [06] The tourists and the turtles

    By Hamza Hendawi

    THE DECOR is gentle and tasteful. The inside of the main structure blends Byzantine and classical features. The rooms are built like turn-of-the- century Cypriot houses with every one enjoying a breath-taking view of the majestic Asprokremmos Bay.

    Scattered in between the lounge's bamboo chairs and their invitingly fat and colourful cushions are chests, old vases and tables - some marble, some cast in stone. On one wall hangs an icon by a famous Greek artist. Mosaics of traditional Hellenistic motifs adorn the floors.

    Outside, the grounds are immaculately landscaped and painstakingly cared for. Indigenous trees have been transplanted onto the grounds. Looking after them, the rose bushes and the lawns is a 27-strong team of gardeners.

    Welcome to the £27-million Anassa Hotel, a five-star establishment whose owners boast that it ranks among the best in the Mediterranean.

    Others have different ideas. Very different.

    "It is a very big hotel," said Green Party spokesman George Perdikis. "You can see it from miles away. It is shouting 'I am here: the hotel owned by Alecos Michaelides'," he told the Sunday Mail.

    "To me it's just another big hotel," said Irene Constantinou, the Cyprus representative of Greenpeace.

    Michaelides, a former foreign minister, Perdikis and Constantinou are key players in a long and drawn-out battle over the Akamas Peninsula. It's about endangered turtles, a dwindling population of monk seals, bat- infested sea caves, reptiles, vegetation and birds.

    It involves President Glafcos Clerides' government, the future of tourism in Cyprus and persistent allegations of corruption.

    The 185-room Anassa, which opened in the summer, has become something of a cause célèbre in this well-publicised battle of wills over the Akamas. It has come to symbolise something of a fight between good and evil and just who is good and who isn't depends on who you speak to.

    Looking at it differently, and at risk of oversimplifying the issue, it is about the prevention of another Ayia Napa, a resort which has earned notoriety for its tacky bars, wild nightlife, promiscuous sex and concrete jungle-like landscape.

    Michaelides, whose involvement in hotel business dates back to 1972, is bewildered by the controversy over his hotel and, while happily admitting to applying and obtaining several - albeit small - building relaxations for the Anassa, he insists that he has done nothing wrong or illegal.

    "Let the list of all the relaxations given to hotels in Cyprus under the governments of George Vassiliou and Glafcos Clerides be published and let us see who got the most," he challenges.

    "Is there a single hotel on the island that was built without relaxations?"

    Relaxations of density obtained for the Anassa, he said, total three per cent; but he points out that he sought no compensation from the government when the permitted density of construction on the land was reduced from 57 per cent to 30 per cent by former president Vassiliou in 1990.

    In a two-and-a-half hour interview with the Mail at the Anassa, Michaelides spoke with passion about how he travelled to Hawaii, the Caribbean, to the islands of Bali in Indonesia and Phuket in Thailand, to see for himself what it was like in some of the world's best hotels.

    About the top American architects and interior designers he commissioned for the Anassa, he said: "I told them that I wanted this hotel to reflect the history of the island and that I did not want it to look like a hotel."

    The Anassa, as hotels go, is clearly in a class of its own.

    A standard room in the hotel, where a top suite costs up to $1,000 a night, is 27 square meters in size and cost £120,000 compared to build. In other five-star hotels on the island the rooms are no more than 18 square meters in size and cost a maximum of £70,000.

    Its patrons appear to be of the sort that authorities in the island hope to attract in bigger numbers to shift into quality tourism: middle or upper class Europeans with much higher disposable incomes than the package holidaymakers Cyprus mostly gets at the moment.

    But Michaelides can sing the praises of his hotel for an eternity, and that still won't cut any ice with the environmentalists, who see the Anassa and its owner as something of an anathema. They sense grave danger in the precedent it sets and fear that developers would follow in its footsteps.

    "The whole building is illegal," declared Perdikis of the Green Party, who nevertheless confesses that he is resigned to the fact that the Anassa will never go away.

    Like many of his peers, he also believes the hotel was allowed to be built through a series of relaxations and permits given to Thanos Hotels, Michaelides' company, during his Cabinet tenure.

    Already, he says, the hotel has interfered with the green and loggerhead turtles, both endangered species which come to the Akamas to lay their eggs between June and August, and that it may also have scared away monk seals living in the area.

    "We have reports that hatchlings emerged from the sand and headed for the hotel instead of the sea and subsequently died," he said.

    Andreas Demetropoulos of the Agriculture Ministry's Fisheries Department, which monitors both the nesting grounds of the turtles and the monk seals, says he has no proof that young turtles met such a fate, but that the assumption is plausible.

    "It is a reasonable assumption for them to walk toward the lights of the hotel behind them, since they are brighter than the reflection of the light by the sea, which is what should lure them to the water," he told the Mail.

    Demetropoulos, however, said the beach in front of the hotel was not among the main nesting sites for the estimated 250 female turtles, which come to lay their eggs in the summer.

    He said a sea cave close to the hotel, contrary to what some environmentalists claim, had not been visited by any of the fewer than five monk seals living in the Akamas. "But the bats living in that cave and in others in the Akamas are constantly disturbed by tourists. Some even throw stones into the caves to see them fly," said Demetropoulos, himself an environmentalist.

    The future of the Akamas, however, appears to be in the hands of the government now. According to Constantinou of Greenpeace, the Cabinet was expected to take a decision before the end of this year to adopt a 1996 World Bank report recommending that the 320-square-kilometre peninsula be declared a national park, but allowing a level of development that would blend with the area.

    But local communities, which own most of the land, have made it clear that the proposed national park should be restricted to a mere 50 square- kilometres of forest areas.

    Constantinou says the government will have to compensate land owners to the tune of £30 million if the park is to be declared.

    "At the moment, anybody can do anything anytime in the Akamas," said Constantinou.

    Michaelides remains unconvinced. "I love nature, I really love nature," he professes. "I would never cut a tree," he reassures.

    And he has this to say to environmentalists:

    "We need to develop and give people economic opportunities, but we must respect nature at the same time. I am against the idea of people who chose an area away from where they live and tell its inhabitants to do nothing so it can be protected."

    Michaelides may have to explain this to the turtles who, according to Constantinou, laid their eggs all over in the Mediterranean 50 years ago, and have now totally disappeared from the developed western Mediterranean.

    October 11, 1998

    [07] Brush-fire was arson, police say

    POLICE said they suspect arson was the cause of a brush-fire yesterday south of Souni village on the Erimi-Omodhos road. British forces in Episkopi, with the aid of two bases helicopters, helped Cyprus fire- fighters to put out the blaze.

    No injuries or damage to buildings were reported. The fire started at about 1.45pm and was brought under control by 3.55pm, Cyprus Police Inspector Vassos Ioannou said.

    Limassol police said they expected to make an arrest in the case soon.

    Three Cyprus fire trucks, two from the British bases and two Wessex helicopters, with underslung 'rainmaker' buckets, helped to extinguish the flames.

    October 11, 1998

    [08] Finnish visit begins

    FINNISH Foreign Affairs Minister Tarja Halonen arrives in Cyprus today for a two-day visit.

    Halonen will meet President Glafcos Clerides, House President Spyros Kyprianou and Foreign Minister Ioannis Cassoulides, as well as several senior officials.

    A statement said the purpose of the visit was "to further our good bilateral ties and discuses issues of mutual interest in negotiations with the EU and Finland as an EU member".

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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