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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-11-20

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

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


Friday, November 20, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Discrimination abolished in citizenship law for foreign spouses
  • [02] Doctors strike, but minister refuses meeting
  • [03] Scathing attack on Michaelides
  • [04] Hercus: 'How can anyone make such unflattering remarks about me?'
  • [05] Interpol called in to track down missing woman
  • [06] Turks peddle missile talk in tourism smear bid
  • [07] Turkish F-16s land at Lefkoniko
  • [08] Two thousand apply for Apostolos Andreas pilgrimage
  • [09] Youths held after boy claims rape
  • [10] Man killed in factory accident

  • [01] Discrimination abolished in citizenship law for foreign spouses

    By Martin Hellicar

    FOREIGN men married to Cypriots no longer have to wait five times as long as women in the same situation before becoming eligible for citizenship.

    The House plenum abolished this sexual discrimination yesterday by unanimously approving a bill setting the waiting period at two years for both instances.

    Until now, men married to Cypriot women have had to wait five years before they could apply for citizenship, while foreign women married to Cypriot men became eligible after only one year.

    "Until today, the relevant law has been totally unjust to women," Akel deputy Andreas Philippou, who tabled the bill 18 months ago, told yesterday's plenum session.

    "This bill represents one more step towards sexual equality for Cypriots," he said.

    Philippou's original proposal, discussed at the House interior committee, was for the waiting period to be one year for foreign spouses of either sex, but concerns that such an arrangement might encourage marriages of convenience led deputies to adopt a compromise of a uniform two-year waiting period.

    Philippou said the new law would effect about 3,000 foreign men married to Cypriot women. There are about 8,000 mixed marriages in Cyprus.

    Earlier in the day, a group of Cypriot women married to foreigners picketed the House to urge deputies to approve the law change.

    The amendment was passed without debate, but House President Spyros Kyprianou appeared doubtful about the wisdom of the move.

    "We'll have to be careful: if (President) Clerides is elected for a third five-year term there will be no men appointed," he told deputies from the chair before bringing down his gavel to signal the passing of the amendment.

    His statement, a reference to the appointment this week of Stella Yiorkadji as Auditor-general, drew laughter from most sides of the House, but not from United Democrats deputy Androulla Vassiliou, one of only three female deputies in the House.

    She angrily challenged Kyprianou to repeat what he had just said.

    "Did you not get it?" Kyprianou replied, joining in the laughter. "I think I'll leave it at that," he added.

    Friday, November 20, 1998

    [02] Doctors strike, but minister refuses meeting

    By Martin Hellicar

    HOSPITALS came to a standstill across the island yesterday as government doctors came out on a four-hour strike to push their demands for more money and recognition of their breakaway union.

    Small teams of doctors were on hand at all hospitals to assess cases arriving during the strike hours - 11am to 3pm - and refer those patients needing immediate treatment to private doctors, with the state footing the bill for those entitled to free medical care.

    The executive director of the Health Ministry, Irini Atesli, said this back- up system had worked well and there had been no problems during the strike. "Everything went very smoothly," she said.

    Atesli admitted there might be greater problems today, as doctors stage a further, 24-hour, strike - despite the same safety net system being in place.

    In Nicosia yesterday morning, about 300 placard-carrying members of the Pancyprian union of government doctors (Pasyki) picketed the House of Representatives before marching to the Finance Ministry in search of a show- down with their bÍte noire, minister Christodoulos Christodoulou.

    The minister declined to meet the protestors.

    The union has been incensed with Christodoulou's insistence that he will only negotiate government doctors' demands with official civil service union Pasydy, which 98 per cent of doctors abandoned earlier this year to form Pasyki.

    Pasyki vice-chairman Petros Petrides said the strike was the government's fault. "Calling the strike was not our choice, we were pushed into striking. We want a dialogue to solve the problems, and they (the government) stubbornly and irrationally refuse to talk."

    Christodoulou has repeatedly stated that Pasydy is the only legal representative of the government doctors, adding that most Pasyki members have not actually abandoned Pasydy.

    The chairman of Pasyki, Stavros Stavrou, retorted yesterday by saying Pasyki members were only still registered with Pasydy because their new union planned to go to court to claim Pasydy assets. Such a recourse would not be possible if the Pasyki doctors resigned from Pasydy, he said.

    Pasyki have threatened to go on indefinite strike from December 1 unless the government opens negotiations with them, but Christodoulou showed no sign of backing down yesterday.

    Petrides said House president Spyros Kyprianou had promised the strikers he would undertake an initiative to bring all sides to the negotiating table.

    Nurses' union Pasyno came out in favour of the striking doctors yesterday. Pasydy, for its part, issued a statement calling on their former members to "respect the authorities and regulations," implying that they should return to the fold.

    The doctors want higher wages, better pensions, increases in overtime pay and improvements in the way the Health Service is run.

    Friday, November 20, 1998

    [03] Scathing attack on Michaelides

    By Charlie Charalambous

    INTERIOR Minister Dinos Minister was yesterday accused of lying about his wealth and taking the public for a ride in trying to shrug off corruption allegations stacked up against him.

    The charges were levelled at Michaelides by his accuser Christos Pourgourides, who launched a scathing attack on the minister during yesterday's session of the House Watchdog Committee, of which he is the chairman.

    "There is a serious problem of corruption in this country. The activities of the Interior Minister are just the tip of the iceberg. If we do not change course fast, we will be crushed," Pourgourides said in an hour-long statement.

    Akel deputy Kikis Yiangou appealed to the minister to resign and stop taking the public for fools.

    "Morally and legally, Michaelides has a responsibility to resign. The whole procedure is a fiasco," said Yiangou.

    Michaelides appeared before the committee last week to deny all the allegations one by one, and make it clear that he had dirt of his own on Pourgourides.

    The committee chairman prepared a 16-page counter-offensive yesterday, in which he strongly suggested that Michaelides was in the pocket of bankers and big business interests.

    Pourgourides' statement charged the minister on 30 counts of deception.

    "The minister has a clear perception that it is politically unethical to acquire loans without security or to buy property at discount prices from companies who have cases before the Interior Ministry every year."

    The deputy pointed out that no mere mortal could approach the Bank of Cyprus and secure without any guarantees a £100,000 loan to invest in buying company shares.

    "What independent decisions could the minister make towards those who loaned him money without security? Not only to the Bank of Cyprus, but to the three wealthy businessman who were also shareholders?"

    Pourgourides described as a "classic case of money laundering" the way Michaelides had received money for what he described as a "fictitious" property sale.

    "The payment was made, and it was £96,000 without any sales document being signed. The apartment floor remained unrented until it was sold again. When sold, the money paid by the first purchaser was given to Michaelides," said Pourgourides

    Pourgourides, whose initial 14 corruption allegations prompted a probe by the Auditor-general, was responding to Michaelides' insistence that he had done nothing wrong.

    The list of allegations accuses the minister of receiving luxury flats for political favours, owning property beyond his means on a minister's salary, issuing Cypriot nationality to foreigners for cash and changing planning zones to assist those with whom he had property dealings.

    "If his aim was to get rich quick, he should have become a trader, not a minister. The office of Minister exists to serve the public. It doesn't exist for someone to get rich quick," Pourgourides said.

    Among the points raised on the inconsistencies in Michaelides' denials, Pourgourides said the minister had told the media he had bought a flat from J&amp;P for £50,000, of which £20,000 had been paid in cash.

    But in a letter to Clerides denying the accusation, Michaelides had stated the flat was purchased with two separate loans.

    "This means he lied during a news conference, when he said he had paid £20, 000 in cash. He also lied when he said he paid back the loan with the rents, " said Pourgourides.

    The deputy also questioned how the J&amp;P sea-view penthouse flat was only worth £50,000 when Michaelides acquired it in 1988, when smaller flats in the same complex were going for double the price.

    "The minister bought the flat at £282 a square metre, when in 1987 a flat was sold - not a penthouse - at £384 a square metre, and in 1991 two flats went for £609 and £667 a square metre."

    Michaelides was also taken to task on claims that he owned no property in the UK, but had helped his daughter secure a loan for a £160,000 Sterling London flat.

    "If his daughter came back to live in Cyprus in 1996, then why did they buy a flat in England for a £160,000 and a £271,000 house in Cyprus at the same time.

    "The interest on the house loan is £1,125 alone."

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides is expected to inform Clerides today about his ruling on Auditor-general Spyros Christou's report.

    Pourgourides said that Markides had also appointed an investigator to probe his claim that Michaelides had had his law office bugged.

    He filed the complaint after Michaelides revealed to the committee last week that he had inside information about Pourgourides instructing his son to go to London and investigate whether the minister had property there.

    The deputy said the private conversation took place at his Limassol office, and there was no way Michaelides could have known details unless the office was bugged.

    Michaelides has denied this allegation, but the committee said yesterday it was not happy with the minister's reluctance to reveal the source of his information.

    The committee will discuss the matter again at a later date.

    Friday, November 20, 1998

    [04] Hercus: 'How can anyone make such unflattering remarks about me?'

    By Anthony O. Miller

    U.N. CHIEF of Mission Dame Ann Hercus yesterday dismissed as a mere storm in a shot-glass a story in the Times claiming UN troops were "in a mutinous mood" over her banning of alcohol sales at the UN golf club, and the closure of another canteen serving beer.

    She also denied the Times' claim that she had ordered midnight closings of enlisted mens' clubs in the Buffer Zone that served beer to off-duty troops of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

    But Hercus did acknowledge that her "general investigation into liquor" had found that "a handful" of UN personnel had been selling duty-free alcoholic beverages from Unficyp stocks to unentitled individuals in Cyprus.

    The Times story, quoting unidentified sources, portrayed Hercus as an effective diplomat, who is nonetheless seen as "puritanical", bordering on teetotalling and constitutionally opposed to mirth.

    "Really? How could anyone make unflattering remarks about me," she laughed, denying the claim that she was a fun-hating teetotaller. "No. Absolutely not. Absolutely not... I don't know why anyone would want to make unflattering remarks," she chuckled.

    Hercus said she did indeed ban duty-free booze sales at the UN Golf Club in Nicosia, but only because about half its 66 members were civilians not connected to Unficyp, and thus not entitled to buy duty-free liquor. Only the club's UN personnel and diplomatic members have such privileges, she explained.

    Such sales to ineligible individuals were "a minor breach of the terms and conditions under which we get access to duty-free liquor. It's important as far as I'm concerned that we keep to the rules," Hercus said.

    So she said she decided golfers needing a 19th-hole tipple could use "a locker system" common in golf clubs, whereby golfers bring their own booze and store it in their lockers.

    Hercus said she was "very surprised" that golf club members would bristle at being required to "keep to the rules, because in fact members have been breaching the rules."

    She said she had also closed a bar near a soccer pitch three months ago because "we could not see an particular justification" for keeping it open, especially after Unficyp soldiers said they preferred having a beer back at their own enlisted men's clubs.

    "And I had not received one word of complaint or disgruntlement in relation to that closure," Hercus said, dismissing any suggestion that her edicts might spark mutiny.

    Hercus flatly denied the Times claim that she had clamped a midnight closing time on Buffer Zone enlisted men's clubs, noting: "They've always closed at 12... There's no change in that rule whatsoever."

    She said she had sent to UN headquarters in New York the findings from her "general review of liquor", looking into allegations that duty-free alcohol and tobacco from Unficyp stocks were making their way into the Cyprus economy.

    But she said she "wouldn't have a clue" how the Times estimated the improper duty-free liquor sales totalled as much as £1.25 million. And she insisted "there has been no general ban on liquor" sales or consumption in UN facilities.

    Acting UN Spokesman Major Paul Kolken conceded the golf club booze ban would be a new twist during the popular all-island golf championship, scheduled for the UN links this weekend.

    But he quipped: "I think they come to play golf, not to drink alcohol. And they can still consume alcohol if they bring their own."

    Hercus was incredulous at a Times claim that her brisk new manner had driven long-time Unficyp spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski to seek a hardship posting in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.

    There is "absolutely not" a shred of truth it, she said.

    "I thought he went to Tajikistan because the UN had sent him there before, he's a stunning Russian speaker, and he was asked to go there. All I know is United Nations Headquarters rang me up and asked me if he could be released to go to Tajikistan again."

    Friday, November 20, 1998

    [05] Interpol called in to track down missing woman

    By Anthony O. Miller

    POLICE said yesterday they considered as "suspicious" the claim of the husband of a Cyprus woman, who is the subject of an Interpol missing- person's search, that she died in a London hospital and was buried in the family cemetery plot there.

    Police and Foreign Ministry sources said yesterday they were trying to determine the whereabouts of Dina Kolokasi, 44, of Ayios Dometios, who is said to have gone missing on November 1 in Dubai, where her husband, Zaharias, works for a builder.

    According to Simerini, the woman's brother, Tasos Papatheoharous, and sister, Androulla Demetriou, told Sigma TV they feared Dina Kolokasi might have been murdered or kidnapped.

    The brother and sister claim Zaharias has given different people different explanations as to his wife's absence, according to the newspaper and Police CID Deputy Division Commander Charalambos Argyrou.

    They claim he has variously said his wife died suddenly of kidney cancer and was buried in a London family cemetery plot; that she died of a brain haemorrhage; and that she had left him.

    "It is quite suspicious," Argyrou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. "She was never in the hospital or died in England. It is not true," he said.

    Argyrou said Cyprus police were working with Interpol in Britain and Dubai to try to trace the missing woman and "are awaiting the results of the investigation in Dubai," as the London search appears to have turned up no trail.

    He said that to his knowledge, to date no warrant to detain or arrest Zaharias Kolokasi had been requested by Cyprus or issued by Dubai authorities, but this did not worry him.

    "We trust the investigators in Dubai. They are police. They know how to conduct an investigation."

    Cornelius Cornelious, director of the office of the Foreign Ministry's director-general, said Cyprus has requested the help of the British High Commission with Dubai authorities, as the Republic has no embassy or consulate in that Gulf emirate.

    He said the Foreign Ministry had been keeping in close touch with the missing woman's brother and sister since they first sought help last Friday, but had "unfortunately not" got any information on her whereabouts.

    Cornelious said he had also asked Attorney-general Alecos Markides for advice in pursuing the Republic's quest for information about the missing woman.

    Friday, November 20, 1998

    [06] Turks peddle missile talk in tourism smear bid

    By Jean Christou

    THE TURKISH Cypriot side has been trying to smear Cyprus' tourism lifeline during this week's World Travel Market (WTM) in London.

    But the campaign used out of date leaflets and scare tactics that would do no good to their own tourism prospects - as a glance at the flyers is enough to scare prospective visitors away from the region as a whole.

    The front page of the leaflet says: "A holiday in Cyprus: Friendly peaceful people?".

    Inside, it calls on tourists to boycott 'South Cyprus'.

    "Say no to Russian missiles and Russian soldiers in Cyprus. Don't forget a holiday in south Cyprus means your money will be used to buy more Russian guns to create more mass graves."

    The leaflet then warns that "Cyprus might have its hottest summer yet", referring to a missile deployment date of August 1998, three months ago.

    A CTO spokesman said yesterday they were aware that the Turkish side launched such campaigns every year, but said they would have no information on the extent of the campaign until the official representatives returned to Cyprus from the UK. The WTM ended on Wednesday.

    But returning from his trip to the annual travel event - the biggest one around - Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday had an upbeat message for the industry. He said that Cyprus could expect an increase in British tourists next year to the tune of eight to 10 per cent. Britons account for some 40 per cent of tourists visiting the island every year.

    "If we achieve this we will have more than a million tourists from the UK in 1999," he said.

    The overall prospects for 1999 are for 2.25 million tourists, some 150,000 more than 1998, Rolandis said.

    Friday, November 20, 1998

    [07] Turkish F-16s land at Lefkoniko

    SIX TURKISH F-16 jets landed at the military air base at occupied Lefkoniko yesterday as part of ongoing joint military exercises in the north.

    Quoting unnamed officials, Agence France Presse (AFP) said two of the F-16s were due to return to Turkey later yesterday, while the other four would stay for the duration of the six-day exercises, codenamed "Taurus" and "Determination".

    The joint exercises between Ankara and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime are in response to the recent joint manoeuvres between Cyprus and Greece.

    The Cyprus government is expected to protest against the Turkish exercises to the UN as Turkish military jets continuously violate the Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR).

    Four Turkish frigates, two submarines, and other Turkish warships docked in occupied Kyrenia on Wednesday.

    A Turkish Cypriot official welcoming the arrival said: "Your arrival gives us strength and moral support. The Turkish naval ships are giving the other side a message while constituting a source of strength for us."

    Friday, November 20, 1998

    [08] Two thousand apply for Apostolos Andreas pilgrimage

    MORE THAN 2,000 people have applied to make the pilgrimage to the occupied monastery of Apostolos Andreas on November 30, the Humanitarian Affairs office said yesterday.

    Commissioner Takis Christopoulos said only 1,000 pilgrims would be able to go. The deadline for applications was yesterday.

    Christopoulos said although the number of applications was lower than for previous visits, it was more than expected considering that November 30 - the Apostle's feast day - is a working day.

    Over 6,000 people applied for the 1,000 places on the last pilgrimage in August, and 10,000 applied for 600 places on the previous trip in November last year.

    "We are having hell of a job sorting them out," Christopoulos said. He added that the final list of names should be ready by next Tuesday.

    As usual, priority is being given to the old, the seriously ill and Cypriots from the diaspora who have come from abroad especially to make the pilgrimage.

    It will be the fourth such visit in the past 18 months.

    Friday, November 20, 1998

    [09] Youths held after boy claims rape

    THREE youths were remanded in custody by Nicosia District court yesterday on suspicion of repeatedly raping a 13-year-old boy.

    The remand hearing took place behind closed doors, but police said the suspects had been arrested for allegedly raping the boy three times over the past two months. The alleged rapists threatened their victim with a knife during one of the attacks, police said.

    Police were called in after someone alerted the boy's relatives on Tuesday that the three youths had tried to rape the 13-year-old for a fourth time, police said.

    There were angry scenes outside the court-room in Nicosia yesterday morning as relatives of the alleged victim confronted relatives of the alleged rapists.

    The suspects, who come from a village in the Nicosia district, were remanded for eight days.

    Friday, November 20, 1998

    [10] Man killed in factory accident

    A 56-year-old father of two was killed in an accident at the Evrika factory in the Limassol industrial estate at 7.20pm yesterday.

    Police said mechanic Nicos Lambis, from Pano Polemidia, was killed instantly when he was struck by a piston in a plastic bottle-making machine he was repairing.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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