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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-11-03

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, November 3, 1998


  • [01] Weizman seeks to allay Cyprus fears over military accord with Turkey
  • [02] Akel deputies make fresh allegations of police violence
  • [03] Greek water deal in the offing
  • [04] Limassol hotels go into millennium mode
  • [05] Government backs farmers in land dispute
  • [06] J&P linked to new UK favours claims
  • [07] Radiomarathon kicks off
  • [08] Takeover rumours continue to fuel Paneuropean interest
  • [09] One dead, 50 wounded: the hunting season has begun
  • [10] Cassoulides starts Euro tour

  • [01] Weizman seeks to allay Cyprus fears over military accord with Turkey

    `Israel means you no harm'

    By Jean Christou

    PRESIDENT Ezer Weizman yesterday sought to allay Cyprus' fears over close military links between Israel and Turkey.

    The Israeli president said the agreement "concerns no third party" and he assured President Glafcos Clerides: "Our relations with Ankara are not directed against you."

    The issue was discussed yesterday during official talks between Weizman and President Clerides in Nicosia. But Clerides aired his concerns a second time at a state banquet held in Weizman's honour last night.

    Clerides said he was only interpreting the feelings of the people of Cyprus when he said Israel's military co-operation with Turkey constitutes "a source of anxiety and concern for our own security".

    "And I do hope that activities in this respect will not be allowed to evolve into developments detrimental to our good relationship," Clerides said.

    Weizman, who is on the island on a two-day official visit and is the first Israeli president ever to do so, said earlier in the day, after talks with Clerides, that the Israel-Turkey agreement "concerns no third party".

    The Israeli president also made it quite clear that his country would not become embroiled in the Cyprus conflict. "I can express my hopes to do something about it," Weizman said, "but we have enough troubles of our own. I don't think a country like ours, that hasn't settled its own problems, is far from settling its own problems, should have pretensions of being able to solve all the problems."

    Weizman repeated Israel's stance on the Israeli-Turkish agreement at the state dinner and stressed that there is nothing in the agreement with Turkey that could make Israel become involved if Turkey attacked Cyprus.

    "Israel is consistent in her determination to speak with those countries and elements in the Muslim world who oppose radicalism and terror. It is within this framework that you must endeavour to understand our relations with Turkey," Weizman said.

    "Needless to say our relations with Ankara are not directed against you. You are our friends and the last thing we would wish to do is harm you. I believe that my visit here proves this more than a thousand witnesses."

    Speaking to reporters after his midday meeting with Clerides, Weizman said relations between Israel and Turkey "are just between Turkey and us". "It's an agreement between two friendly countries that has been going on for some time... it has nothing to do with a third country and definitely nothing to do with Cyprus."

    Clerides told journalists he and Weizman had exchanged views on "issues over which we (Cyprus) had some concerns".

    Weizman also said Israel and Turkey have no agreement to attack Syria if Turkey "is in trouble". He said Israel has had peace with Egypt since 1979. "We have peace with Jordan... and I hope that one day we'll have an agreement with Syria," he said. "Right now it looks as if it's a phantom, a mirage... but we felt exactly the same thing 21 years ago when we started negotiations with Egypt."

    Weizman also expressed the hope that the agreement signed in Washington two weeks ago between Israel and the Palestinians would be successful and would lead to a permanent settlement and a peace agreement with Syria, Lebanon and other countries in the region.

    During his visit, which was cut from three to two days, Weizman will also meet Cypriot political party leaders and President of the House of Representatives Spyros Kyprianou.

    Tuesday, November 3, 1998

    [02] Akel deputies make fresh allegations of police violence

    By Charlie Charalambous

    FRESH allegations of police torture against the black African boat people detained in Larnaca were heard at yesterday's House Human Rights Committee.

    The committee met yesterday to view television footage showing MMAD rapid reaction police beating defenceless detainees who were lying on the ground, in an attempt to quell a disturbance on October 23.

    Akel deputy Kikis Yiangou said this was not the first time that riot police had used brutal tactics to maintain order at the Larnaca holding cells.

    Yiangou alleged before the committee that, during an earlier disturbance, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis had called in riot police, who "stubbed out cigarettes" on the immigrants.

    The opposition deputy added that following the incident, the then Larnaca police chief banned all visits to the detainees.

    Yiangou also claimed that guards at the cells refused to administer prescribed medicine to one of the sick boat people because they wanted to finish a game of backgammon.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides has appointed six criminal prosecutors to look into the alleged beatings, which have caused widespread public outrage.

    The 40-odd Africans were among the 113 boat people rescued sick and starving from the Syrian fishing trawler Ridallah in June, and taken to the Pefkos hotel in Limassol.

    In August, the Africans, mainly single males, were transferred to the Larnaca cells following riots outside the hotel.

    Akel deputy Doros Christodoulides told the committee yesterday that, on August 19, riot police stormed the hotel to restore order, and subsequently took "a group of immigrants to the roof, where they were beaten up."

    He said that Markides had ordered an investigation following such complaints, but so far nothing had been done.

    Committee chairman Yiannakis Agapiou said he was "horrified" by the television pictures and said the government should "apologise" to the international community and promise that such incidents would never happen again.

    "According to a 1988 UN declaration, any detainee is protected from being subjected to torture or beatings, and there can be no excuse for such actions under any circumstances," said Agapiou.

    Deputy Attorney-general Nicos Charalambous said the investigation into allegations of police brutality against the 41 boat people would be completed in 15 days.

    Tuesday, November 3, 1998

    [03] Greek water deal in the offing

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GOVERNMENT is closing in on a deal to ship 15 million cubic metres of water from Greece in a last-ditch drought relief measure.

    The chief advisor of the Greek water supply department (Eydap), Dionisios Xenos, and Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous are to discuss the plan when they meet in Nicosia today.

    Themistocleous said yesterday the only possible sticking point for the plan to bring water by tanker from the Megara area of Greece was the transportation cost.

    "The critical point, which we will be looking into, is what it would cost for the water to come to Cyprus. Because as far as the water itself is concerned, we are talking of it being provided at cost price," the minister said.

    "We have to see what the (overall) cost would be compared to alternative sources, such as desalination."

    Faced with fast diminishing dam supplies and a protracted drought, the government has already called for tenders to supply the island with two mobile desalination plants or imported water.

    The minister shied away from promising that an immediate agreement with Eydap was in the offing, saying only that his meeting with Xenos was the "natural development" after months of talks with the Greek government.

    The plan under discussion provides for 15 million cubic metres of water to be shipped to Cyprus per annum.

    Themistocleous did not say when the Greek water would arrive if an agreement was finalised with Eydap.

    The acting head of the water development department, Christos Markoullis, said the discussions with Eydap did not mean tenders for mobile desalination plats or imported water were no longer in the running.

    The government last considered importing water in 1991 - from Crete - but shelved the idea due to costs. But subsequent technological advances and the fact that, unless it rains, water reserves are set to run out by the end of the year, have made shipments an increasingly attractive proposition. The occupied areas are already supplied with water from Turkey by balloon.

    Tuesday, November 3, 1998

    [04] Limassol hotels go into millennium mode

    By Jean Christou

    LIMASSOL hotels are closing down in droves to refurbish in time for the millennium, and many already have bookings for New Year's Eve 1999, managers reported yesterday.

    The town's Churchill Hotel is closing for six months and will reopen as the Holiday Inn, while Le Meridien is to shut in December for ten weeks of renovation, and the Saint Raphael has already closed.

    Le Meridien's manager John Wood said yesterday his hotel's refurbishment would cost in the region of 1.5 million, while new conference facilities would cost another 3 million.

    "We expect with the Millennium to be very busy," Wood said adding Le Meridien already had 60 to 70 bookings for the celebrations.

    Wood, who is also chairman of the Hotel Managers Association of Cyprus, said most hotels were going into millennium mode and making a lot of changes, either closing down or closing floors for refurbishment.

    "We are upgrading for the millennium," echoed Churchill manager Petros Pierides. "And we expect to open up as the Holiday Inn." He refused to say how much the upgrading would cost.

    With so many top hotels out of action, it appears businessmen going to Limassol might be pushed for somewhere to stay.

    However, Woods said Le Meridien clients had been taken care of, and that the hotel's losses would be minimal.

    "This is not a bad winter, but we believe next winter is going to be very good," he said, adding that a lot of companies, as well as individuals, would be celebrating the millennium.

    "The outlook is relatively bright," Wood said, adding that the painful Limassol road construction was almost at an end.

    "What is boils down to is that Limassol has probably seen the worst, and the future can only get better," Wood said.

    "Basically, (hoteliers) are looking forward. Limassol has had a rough time but the future seems to be positive."

    Referring to the closure of a lot of hotels in the town in recent years due to a lack of tourists, Wood said: "That era seems to have come to an end."

    Tuesday, November 3, 1998

    [05] Government backs farmers in land dispute

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE BRITISH authorities have been taken to task by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides over the right of Lysi farmers to cultivate their land within bases areas.

    The government said it strongly supported the rights of Greek Cypriot farmers, following Saturday's abortive attempt by Dhekelia SBA police to escort five of them to their property in the Pergamos area.

    "The Cyprus government's position is clear: we strongly support the restoration of the basic human rights, not only of the people from Lysi, but of all refugees," Cassoulides said on Sunday before leaving on a tour of European countries.

    SBA police vehicles detailed to escort the Lysi farmers had to beat a hasty retreat when they were faced by a group of angry Turkish Cypriot protesters, who attacked the vans with stones.

    Bases spokesman Rob Need said plans to bring Greek Cypriot tractors on the land had had to be shelved for the foreseeable future because tensions were running high and the threat of injury loomed large.

    Farmers blame Saturday's about-turn on the reluctance of the bases authorities to enforce the law when it could mean a confrontation with Turkish Cypriots.

    But, however much the government supports the farmers, it seems the issue of securing their safety is a major stumbling block.

    Cassoulides said he had spoken with British High Commissioner David Madden on the issue and had been given assurances that the SBA "would accompany the farmers so they could exercise their legal rights."

    However, this statement was tempered with a proviso:

    "If (the bases) believe they should not go ahead because their is a risk to their safety, this is an issue which is being examined."

    Nevertheless, Cassoulides said the issue was still an open-ended affair.

    Lysi farmers, who have waited 24 years to gain access to their land - which is currently cultivated by Turkish Cypriots - are now seeking redress through the European Court of Human Rights.

    Tuesday, November 3, 1998

    [06] J&P linked to new UK favours claims

    BRITISH minister Alan Meale has been implicated in another "favours for friends" lobbying scandal after allegations that he gave a prominent Cypriot businessman privileged access to parliament.

    According to the Sunday Times, Labour's environment minister gave a House of Commons research pass to his millionaire friend Haris Sophoclides, a senior member of Britain's 300,000-strong Greek Cypriot community.

    A researcher's pass gives virtually unrestricted access to the Commons and passholders can obtain early viewing of sensitive reports, at the same time as senior officials.

    Sophoclides, who is managing director of J&P's London office, is alleged to have paid for Meale to visit Cyprus on no less than six occasions.

    As president of the influential Greek Cypriot Brotherhood, Sophoclides arranged for the lobby group to donate 10,000 to Labour's election campaign.

    The property developer has also organised two holidays in Cyprus for Labour Prime Minister John Prescott and his wife, the Sunday Times said.

    The paper claims that Meale gave out a second pass to Sophoclides' son, Tony, who acts as Prescott's Commons researcher.

    When questioned about his conduct, Meale admitted that he had not read the government's ministerial anti-sleaze code.

    "All I need is (Sophoclides') advice on matters related to Cyprus or I just wanted to ask his advice on one or two other things," explained Meale.

    J&P, one of the largest construction groups in the region, has a turnover of 500 million sterling and a long history of British government contracts abroad.

    The company is embroiled at home in allegations involving Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides, who allegedly accepted a luxury J&P flat on the cheap for "political favours". The company has denied it did anything wrong.

    These latest allegations follow last week's report in the Sunday Times that Meale had breached guidelines after lobbying his own department to promote a 14 million football complex in north London's green-belt.

    The scheme would benefit Greek Cypriot millionaire and Barnet Football Club chairman Tony Kleanthous, who has known Meale for three years.

    There has not been any suggestion that Kleanthous offered the minister anything in return for his intervention.

    Tuesday, November 3, 1998

    [07] Radiomarathon kicks off

    THE RADIOMARATHON enters its second day today, raising funds and awareness for people with special needs.

    Starting from 6am yesterday, the streets were filled with hundreds of volunteers operating from 54 kiosks across the island and collecting money from drivers and passers-by.

    Seven specialised vans will carry on with their fund-raising tour of villages today.

    A Telemarathon on CyBC highlighted the day's achievements and accepted pledges by telephone. There was also a television auction of art works and memorabilia, with bidding for President Glafcos Clerides' desk chair and tenor Luciano Pavarotti's neck tie and autographed pictures.

    Several events took place in the marathon effort to raise funds and public knowledge of the problems faced by people with special needs.

    Five representatives of the Pancyprian Association of Reserve Commandos began their two day journey from Latsi to Paralimni.

    The first leg took the crew of a 7.5 meter inflatable boat from Latsi to Limassol, collecting contributions from Polis and Paphos on the way. Today funds will be collected from Limassol, Larnaca, Ayia Napa and Paralimni.

    Veteran cyclist Michael Agrotis' 12-hour bicycle tour meanwhile began at Ayia Napa yesterday, ending at Athienou. He will be leaving from Agros at 8.30 am today, finishing at Polemidia at 5.30 pm.

    Paraplegics took part in a march from Yermasoyeia to Kofinou yesterday and will today march from there to Nicosia's Eleftheria square.

    The Runners' Health Association ran from Palaiochori to Eleftheria square, while the Cyprus Motorcyclists' Federation had a twelve-hour ride starting from Kato Pyrgos to the Ayios Nicolaos round-about.

    Today, the Federation will end their journey - also at Eleftheria square.

    Marathon runner Giannis Kourou came to Cyprus from Australia for the third year running for the occasion of the Radiomarathon. Yesterday he ran from Linopetra Gymnasium to Ypsonas. He will run from Aradippou Gymnasium to Xylotymbou today.

    The mayor of Athens, Demetris Avramopoulos, also joined marched from George II square ending in Eleftheria square yesterday afternoon.

    Tuesday, November 3, 1998

    [08] Takeover rumours continue to fuel Paneuropean interest

    By Hamza Hendawi

    PERSISTENT rumours of a major takeover in the insurance sector have given the Cyprus stock market a good start to the month, with the all-share index rising yesterday by 0.52 per cent to close at 89.67 points.

    The Shacolas Group said last Thursday that it had been approached by parties interested in its Paneuropean Insurance. It did not name the parties and there has been no further word from the conglomerate since.

    But the share value of Paneuropean, Interamerican and Philiki - the two insurance firms for which Paneuropean is the holding company - continued to rise yesterday on the back of the rumours.

    Paneuropean rose by nine cents to close at 1.09, while Interamerican and Philiki rose by 4 and 5.5 cents respectively. Both closed at 0.98 apiece.

    "It was same old story," said Yiannos Andronikou of yesterday's trade. "The same rumours and the same results."

    According to the rumours, those interested in Paneuropean include Alpha Bank limited, which began operations in Cyprus on October 1 after taking a majority stake in the now-defunct Lombard NatWest Bank, the National Bank of Greece and the former Greek owners of Interamerican Insurance.

    A takeover of Paneuropean means that large chunks of shares in Philiki and Interamerican will change hands. The company's market capitalisation stood at 22.80 million at end of September. Paneuropean is one of only two insurance companies in the market's top 10 companies in terms of capitalisation. The other one is Universal Life, the bourse's fifth largest company in terms of capitalisation.

    The intense activity in shares of the fiercely competitive insurance sector produced a volume of 590,150, nearly 25 per cent of yesterday's entire volume, and pushed up the industry's sub-index by 3.47 per cent to close at 64.69.

    In the leading banks sector, Bank of Cyprus consolidated its position ahead of the Cyprus Popular Bank when its shares closed yesterday at 3.79, four cents above those of its rival. Activity in the blue-chip sector accounted for more than 40 per cent of trade with a volume of 767,091.

    A promise of a freebie made by Bank of Cyprus Chairman Solon Triantafyllides to shareholders last month has dramatically increased demand on the share, although there will be no announcement on details of the bonus before January.

    The freebie will mark the centenary of the bank and, in the words of Triantafyllides, is meant to reward the faith and support of shareholders.

    Tuesday, November 3, 1998

    [09] One dead, 50 wounded: the hunting season has begun

    THE HUNTING season opened on Sunday with one death from a heart attack plus 50 injuries, including a boy aged 12.

    Policeman Andreas Economides, 44, from Nicosia died of a heart attack while hunting in the area of Platanistasa.

    The catalogue of 50 light injuries throughout the day included 12-year-old Marios Georgiou who was hit by pellets at Mesoghi while out hunting with his father.

    In all, 55,000 hunters took to the woods, shooting down around 100,000 partridges and 12,000 hares.

    Tuesday, November 3, 1998

    [10] Cassoulides starts Euro tour

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides will today leave Spain, where he has been holding talks with his Spanish counterpart Abel Matutes, for London, where he will meet British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.

    On his way to Spain, Cassoulides stopped off in Athens for talks with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos, as "part of regular contacts" between the Cypriot and Greek governments. All the meetings are in order to discuss the latest developments in the Cyprus situation and the island's EU accession, substantive negotiations for which begin next week.

    Speaking at Larnaca Airport prior to his departure on Sunday, Cassoulides warned that any further attempts to associate a settlement of the Cyprus problem with the EU accession would render the problem insoluble.

    An attempt by France to link the two was scuppered by the EU last week.

    "Any connection of the Cyprus problem to the accession course will signal the end of efforts to settle the Cyprus issue," Cassoulides warned, adding that this would mean "a veto would be given to Turkey to decide when and if Cyprus will join the EU and will offer Ankara another reason to be intransigent in the Cyprus peace effort".

    Underlining once again the importance of Turkey's role in any Cyprus settlement, he warned that such a stance would not be helpful in forging stronger and closer ties between the EU and Turkey.

    Referring to the UN shuttle talks begun last month by UN permanent representative Dame Ann Hercus, Cassoulides said these constituted the first stage of a process that may lead to proximity talks and then direct negotiations. He refrained from disclosing any further details.

    From London, Cassoulides will fly to Brussels on Sunday, where he is to represent Cyprus at the start of the substantive EU accession talks.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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