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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-11-22

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

November 22, 1998


  • [01] Clerides refuses Michaelides resignation
  • [02] The Kyprianou challenge
  • [03] Cyprus angles for millennium beauty pageant
  • [04] Police claim heroin bust
  • [05] Doctors vote for indefinite strike
  • [06] Union war behind doctors' strike

  • [01] Clerides refuses Michaelides resignation

    By Jean Christou and Martin Hellicar

    STATE-APPOINTED investigators will look into two allegations of corruption against Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides, who will remain in office despite tendering his resignation on Friday, the government said yesterday.

    The accusations to be investigated concern the minister's alleged abuse of power at the immigration department and his involvement in the sale of an apartment.

    But eleven of the allegations brought against Michaelides by Disy deputy Christos Pourgourides were dismissed out of hand by Attorney-general Alecos Markides yesterday after an extraordinary cabinet meeting, after which it was also announced that Michaelides would keep his job.

    "The President did not accept his resignation because in his opinion, but also in opinion of the Attorney-general in his ruling, the decision to investigate does not constitute guilt, and he is not considered guilty because allegations were made against him," government spokesman Christos Stylianides told journalists.

    Markides' ruling was based on a report by the Auditor-general's office, but he also recommended that a further two charges, both concerning alleged abuse of Ministerial powers, be sent back to the Auditor-general for further investigation.

    "At this moment, there is no evidence before me that would warrant an immediate decision for a criminal prosecution against the minister," Markides said.

    "What there is before me is evidence to suggest that as regards two of the allegations there is a reason, in fact a need, for an investigation to see if there is criminal responsibility in connection with the alleged actions."

    The Attorney-general made clear that he had not launched a criminal investigation but rather an investigation to see if there was a criminal offence.

    "The essence is that most of the charges are rejected on the basis of the evidence I have before me... because when someone tells me white is black and I have a mass of information that does not contain the slightest suggestion that white is black, I have no obligation or right to order investigation," Markides said.

    He added that the Auditor-general's report was not remiss, but said there was information which it had not included, and it would therefore be wrong to draw conclusions on that basis alone.

    "As far as I know, it is the first time in the history of the Cyprus Republic that the Attorney-general suggests that an investigation be conducted concerning a serving minister," Markides said.

    Michaelides had left the midday cabinet meeting early into its deliberations yesterday, announcing his resignation to journalists on his way out of the Presidential Palace.

    He returned shortly before the meeting ended at around 4pm, but made no statements until the cabinet announced its decision, with which he said he was totally satisfied.

    "Considering that 11 of the points that Mr Pourgourides has charged me with have been rejected by the Attorney-general, I'm insisting that I'm innocent and I expect that the investigation set in motion will allow the truth to shine forth and I will continue to carry out the duties of Interior Minister," Michaelides said.

    Earlier, he said that he had submitted his resignation to President Clerides during a two-and-a-half hour private meeting the two men had on Friday night following another extraordinary cabinet session at which Markides' ruling had also been discussed.

    The cabinet decided to appoint Law Commissioner George Stavrinakis and Andreas Shakas from the Auditor-general's office as the official investigators.

    The Auditor-general's initial probe into the Minister's affairs was prompted by the corruption allegations levelled at Michaelides by Pourgourides several months ago.

    They included accusations that Michaelides received luxury flats for political favours, owned property beyond the means on a ministerial salary, issued nationality to foreigners for cash and changed planning zones to assist those with whom he had property dealings.

    Earlier this week at the House Watchdog Committee, Pourgourides launched a fresh attack, charging the Minister on 30 counts of deception in his attempts to shake off the corruption allegations.

    November 22, 1998

    [02] The Kyprianou challenge

    By Martin Hellicar

    SPYROS Kyprianou is set to face an official challenge to his position as leader of the Diko party for the first time in the party's 22-year history.

    Diko executive office member Michalakis Kyprianou (no relation) yesterday announced an "intent" to stand against Spyros Kyprianou - a former President of the Republic and the current president of the House - in today's party leadership elections.

    The pretender said his standing for election would be about giving the party base a chance to vote for renewal if it so wished.

    "With the announcement of this intent (to stand) I simply want to send out the political message that the party base has the right to choose, especially when it comes to the position of party leader," Michalakis Kyprianou said.

    "From the day of the party's foundation, party leader Spyros Kyprianou has been re-elected unopposed. I think the party base has the right to exercise the holy right of choice."

    Michalakis Kyprianou stopped short of any actual criticism of the party leader, but said there were "very many" within the party who now "believe it is time for renewal."

    The centre-right party has been in turmoil ever since it backed a loser in last February's Presidential elections. The decision to abandon an alliance with President Clerides's Disy party and join left-wing Akel in backing George Iacovou led to many party stalwarts jumping ship.

    November 22, 1998

    [03] Cyprus angles for millennium beauty pageant

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS is the top contender to host the Miss Universe pageant in the summer of 2000, Commerce Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    In fact, four scouts from the competition's joint organisers, the American CBS Network and the Donald Trump Corporation, will arrive in Cyprus next month to look at possible sites that might be suitable, Rolandis said. The Council of Ministers has been informed, he added as well as the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), "but its not simply a tourist event," the Minister said.

    Speaking to the Sunday Mail yesterday, Rolandis said Cyprus had been offered the international beauty competition by the organisers for the summer of 1999, but had refused.

    The offer was made to him at the Salonica Fair in September, he said.

    "It is our position to have the competition on the island where Aphrodite was born, but it would have been impossible to be ready for 1999 so we said no," Rolandis said.

    Now the island must compete with another 17 countries for the millennium pageant. But Rolandis is more than optimistic that Cyprus will secure the competition, which would be held in May or June 2000.

    "The organisers already feel that the island of Aphrodite would be a good place for the competition in such a landmark year," Rolandis said. "So we are working towards that basis," he added. "It would be the main event of the millennium in Cyprus. It will put Cyprus on the map."

    The Minister said that once the organising executives are satisfied that a suitable site can be provided, the pageant will come to Cyprus. But this, he admitted, is the main stumbling block.

    "Where it will be is a good question," Rolandis said. "This is a major event, the third largest after the Olympics and the World Cup."

    He said in terms of logistics, the pageant attracted 2.5 billion television viewers in 75 countries.

    Locally the competition, which usually has over 150 competitors, usually attracts and audience of around 10,000, Rolandis said.

    The families and chaperones of the contestants would bring their number alone to not less than 500 people, he added.

    He said obviously the pageant should be held the Paphos area, the birthplace of Aphrodite. Curium was mentioned, but is unlikely to be big enough, Rolandis said, adding that sites in other parts of the island would also be looked at.

    "But Paphos is where Aphrodite was born," he said.

    November 22, 1998

    [04] Police claim heroin bust

    POLICE yesterday claimed to have bust a drugs ring peddling heroin on the island.

    Four suspected members of the ring were remanded in custody by Limassol District Court yesterday on suspicion of possession, use and supply of heroin.

    Iranians Ali Mohammad Khalajtehrani, 28, and Yousef Malak Pour Layegh, 28, were remanded for eight days and Georgians Denis Sachmbazov, 24, and Thomas Arapides, 21, for six days.

    The court heard that the four were arrested in Limassol on Thursday following an under-cover operation mounted after Limassol drug squad received a tip-off.

    The Georgians were stopped in a car in Limassol at around 10pm on Thursday. Police said they found a plastic bag containing a brown powder resembling heroin and two syringes on the suspects.

    Later that same night, police arrested the Iranians after a search of their car turned up 28 grams of a brown powder believed to be heroin.

    Police said the two Georgians had named the two Iranians as their suppliers.

    November 22, 1998

    [05] Doctors vote for indefinite strike

    GOVERNMENT doctors yesterday decided to escalate their industrial action by calling an indefinite strike from December 1 - unless the state recognises their breakaway union in the meantime.

    The executive council of the Pancyprian union of government doctors (Pasyki) met yesterday to decide on its next move after a four-hour warning strike on Thursday and a similar all-day action on Friday failed to bring the government to the negotiating table.

    Pasyki chairman Stavros Stavrou said afterwards that further strike action could only be averted if Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou agreed to negotiate on doctors' demands with the union.

    Christodoulou refuses to recognise Pasyki, saying that its members did not follow proper procedures in forming the union after abandoning umbrella civil service union Pasydy.

    Pasyki doctors are demanding better pay, bigger pensions and a reorganisation of the Health Ministry.

    Back-up medical teams were on hand to deal with emergency cases during last week's hospital shut-downs. A similar arrangement would be put into operation should the indefinite strike go ahead next month.

    November 22, 1998

    [06] Union war behind doctors' strike

    By Martin Hellicar

    THIS week's strike action by government doctors has brought to the fore a dispute between the doctors and civil service union Pasydy that has been simmering for the past five months, at least.

    Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou has consistently fanned the flames of the feud by insisting he will not recognise the breakaway Pasyki union the doctors formed after they abandoned Pasydy in June.

    "Pasydy have declared war on us, they have said so themselves quite openly, " Stavros Stavrou, chairman of Pasyki told the Sunday Mail earlier this week.

    Pasydy made no secret of its dissatisfaction with the doctors when they left the fold last Summer claiming the umbrella civil service union had failed to defend their interests.

    But Pasydy general secretary Glafcos Hadjipetrou was keen to play down the dispute when he spoke to the Mail earlier this week.

    "We hope and believe these rifts will be healed and the doctors will return to Pasydy," he said. He attributed the formation of Pasyki to "personal differences" and described the breakaway union as a temporary "aberration" that would not last long.

    Despite the fact that 98 per cent of state doctors have signed up with Pasyki, Hadjipetrou said government doctors had not really left Pasydy.

    However, the response of a Pasydy switchboard operator, when the Mail asked to speak to someone from the Pasydy doctors' section, shed a different light on things: "I'm sorry, but we don't have any doctors in Pasydy any more - you should talk to Pasyki."

    When pressed, Hadjipetrou qualified his statement that no doctors had left Pasydy by saying "none of the doctors - except the three who were expelled - have actually resigned from Pasydy."

    In June, Stavrou, then head of the Pasydy doctor's section, his second-in command Petros Petrides, and section secretary Chrisoulis Christofi were shown the door by Pasydy for "inciting" doctors to leave the fold (the three have since taken up mirror posts in Pasyki).

    But the other 490 or so doctors who have joined Pasyki have not actually officially resigned from Pasydy.

    And there lies the rub.

    There may be only a handful of government doctors left in Pasydy but the fact that Pasyki members have not actually resigned from Pasydy gives Christodoulou the excuse not to recognise the breakaway union.

    Stavrou says Pasyki members are only holding back from resigning from Pasydy because they want to take the civil servants' union to court to claim union assets they say they paid for. Pasyki are the true representatives of the government doctors, he says.

    Christodoulou disagrees. He says doctors have to resign from Pasydy before they can form a new union. They have not done this, so Pasyki is a non- entity, he says.

    Christodoulou says he has a ruling from Attorney-general Alecos Markides vindicating his stance.

    Stavrou told the Mail he was hopeful Christodoulou would have a change of heart and accept Pasyki as interlocutors, but that was before the events of this week.

    The minister's reaction to doctors coming out on a four-hour warning strike on Thursday and an all-day strike on Friday was to dig in his heels and declare he would be "breaking the law" if he talked to Pasyki.

    Pasyki duly charged Christodoulou with being a Pasydy minion and blamed him for their strikes, saying the minister's refusal to talk to them had left them with no other option.

    Pasydy have steered clear of direct involvement in the Pasyki-Christodoulou spat, but have urged the doctors to "respect the authorities."

    Doctors are seeking higher salaries, greater overtime pay, bigger pensions and improvements to the organisational structure of the Health Ministry.

    The losers in the whole affair are the patients deprived of normal hospital service.

    The Movement for Patients Rights has taken issue with both the strikers and the government.

    "The striking doctors and the government have a huge responsibility towards patients," a statement from the movement read.

    Union demands cannot take precedent over patients' needs, the movement protested to doctors. But neither can the government refuse to talk to an organised group representing workers "by citing legalistic reasons", the movement stated, pointing the finger at Christodoulou.

    With neither Pasyki nor the minister showing any sign of backing down, further disruption for patients seems certain.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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