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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-01-05

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, January 05, 1999


  • [01] Cabinet ministers quit
  • [02] Kyprianou slams Greece
  • [03] Clinton offer came before S-300 decision
  • [04] Greens and British face off over Akamas wargames
  • [05] Akel says Christofias' health no cause for concern
  • [06] Dead paedophile suspect was 'doing same thing in Cyprus'
  • [07] Aeroporos investigations getting bogged down
  • [08] 4 million for drought-struck potato farmers
  • [09] Teenage girl critical after hit-and-run crash

  • [01] Cabinet ministers quit

    By Jean Christou

    TWO cabinet ministers and a presidential adviser quit their posts yesterday over the government's handling of the Russian S-300 missile issue.

    Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou and Education Minister Lycourgos Kappas, along with presidential adviser Alexis Galanos,

    handed in their resignations to President Glafcos Clerides. The resignations of the two ministers were in line with Saturday's decision by their party, socialist Edek, to pull out of the government after Clerides cancelled the missile deal.

    Galanos, leader of the Democratic Renewal Party and an adviser to the president, said he had resigned for similar reasons. The resignations were accepted by Clerides at the presidential palace.

    "Reasons of political credibility, ethos and honesty made us take this decision," Omirou said. Speaking to the press he said the missile cancellation - under severe international pressure and Turkish threats - had greatly damaged the sovereign standing of Cyprus. "It was a national humiliation," Omirou said. "We must now re-assess all the facts and mark out a new course with sincerity, determination and boldness".

    He called on all those who serve in the National Guard to keep their spirits up and continue to defend the interests of the Cyprus Republic.

    According to opinion polls, the majority of Cypriots are angry at Clerides for not fulfilling his election promise to deploy the missiles on the island by the end of 1998. Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides was one of the staunchest supporters of the missile deployment and he believed the two UN resolutions passed recently and referred to as a reason for cancellation, did not satisfy the preconditions set by the government.

    The two preconditions were substantiative progress on a Cyprus settlement and talks on arms reductions leading to demilitarisation.

    The day after the missile cancellation was announced a week ago, the political bureau of Edek decided to suggest to the central committee to abandon the government. The final decision was made on Saturday evening.

    Edek deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou said yesterday it is now time for the party to move forward. He expressed satisfaction over Edek's withdrawal from government, not only because of the missile issue but on the ground of basic ideology. "There is a new path open for Edek," he said. "Now that Edek has withdrawn from the government internal party differences have been overcome".

    Omirou said it was a time for national unity and he expressed the party's willingness to contribute to efforts to tackle the "difficult times". He called for unity of all forces in Cyprus.

    Similar calls for a wider government were made by Galanos and United Democrats leader George Vassiliou. "If efforts are made in the future for a widely accepted government, or a government of national unity, then our small party would try to contribute," Galanos said.

    Vassiliou has suggested a postponement of the replacement of the two ministers who resigned. Because a government reshuffle is on the cards within weeks, Vassiliou said there was little point in making the appointments official.

    Disy deputy Ouranios Ioannides is almost certain to take over as Education Minister, but it is still unclear whether former civil servant George Charalambides wishes to be appointed as Defence Minister. Speculation was rife yesterday that he did not want the position.

    Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said the problem was nothing more than technical.

    Tuesday, January 05, 1999

    [02] Kyprianou slams Greece

    By Athena Karsera

    THE ROLE of Greece in Cyprus' decision not to deploy the S-300 missiles has came under fire from Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou yesterday.

    Speaking at a news conference yesterday in his role as Diko head, House president Spyros Kyprianou said that the Joint Defence Pact between Greece and Cyprus was now unrecognisable from the alliance originally hammered out in 1993 between President Glafcos Clerides and the then Greek Prime Minister, the late Andreas Papandreou.

    Kyprianou said he was basing his opinion on what had emerged at the last National Council meeting to decide the fate of the missiles, namely that Greece had promised mere "retaliation" to any unprovoked Turkish attack on Cyprus.

    "What does this mean?" Kyprianou said, adding that Greece had previously said such an attack would lead to all out war.

    Kyprianou expressed concern over the consequences of a Turkish attack that would, for example, spark a retaliatory bombing of an airfield in the occupied areas. Using the scenario as an example, Kyprianou said this type of action would limit any military incident to the island and was more than likely to serve the interests of those who wanted a permanent division.

    Without Greece's full-blooded intervention, "how consequential would Cyprus' defence be?" the Diko leader wondered.

    It was, ironically, left to outgoing Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou to defend Greece by criticising those who tried to blame Athens for the decision not to deploy the S-300 missiles.

    Omirou, whose party, Edek, decided to withdraw from the government on Saturday following the decision on the missiles, said Athens had given assurances it would back any decision that Nicosia took on the missiles.

    Omirou said "any attempt to shift responsibility solely on Athens is tantamount to burying one's head in the sand."

    "The Greek government saw the issue of the missiles with reservation, but assured us that it would back any decision by the Cyprus government."

    Last week, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos had warned Cyprus it would forego Athens' support if it chose to bring the missiles against its better advice.

    Tuesday, January 05, 1999

    [03] Clinton offer came before S-300 decision

    A PROPOSAL for a Washington meeting between President Glafcos Clerides and US President Bill Clinton was made before the decision not to deploy the S- 300s was taken last week, Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday.

    He was responding to widespread weekend speculation that Clinton had authorised US envoy on Cyprus Richard Holbrooke to convey to Clerides an invitation to the White House, together with his satisfaction over the S- 300 decision.

    But the reports, which were credited to a government source, went on to say that Clerides had declined the invitation until there was progress on the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking at his daily press briefing yesterday, Stylianides clarified the reports, saying that the invitation had, in fact, come earlier than at first thought; it was not a 'reward' for the decision to cancel the missiles, as was being suggested.

    "President Clerides replied it would be better if such a meeting took place after there was a concrete practical move in the Cyprus problem," Stylianides said.

    While welcoming the offer, Clerides felt such a meeting "should not have a social context but a practical political result."

    Tuesday, January 05, 1999

    [04] Greens and British face off over Akamas wargames

    By Jean Christou

    GREENS are gearing up for a face off on Thursday with police and British bases authorities over military exercises in the Akamas.

    Environmentalists on Sunday tore down signs and fencing, and damaged mobile toilet units, as part of a campaign to stop the two-day exercises from going ahead.

    A press release from the Green Party said "forces" made up of environmentalists, ecologists and other activists had demolished constructions built by the British army in the Akamas.

    The operation, codenamed "Akamas Fox", was to be a series of actions planned against the British exercises.

    "This action indicates the determination of Cypriots to stop the British army from using Akamas as their training ground," a statement from the Green party said.

    Greens in Cyprus believe the exercises have destroyed areas of environmentally sensitive land through fires started on the training grounds.

    "Destructive explosives left over are a testimony to destruction that happened in the past, which still puts life in danger," the announcement said.

    This week's exercise will not be using live ammunition, though past manoeuvres have done so.

    The British bases are allowed, under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, to use land outside the sovereign bases for military exercises for a certain period each year. Greens have for years been trying to stop the exercises altogether.

    The House of Representatives has already passed a unanimous decision calling for the exercises to cease and an alternative site to be found by the government. Discussions have already taken place between the bases and the government, but a new site has yet to be agreed.

    Bases spokesman Rob Need said yesterday the complaints of the environmentalists were groundless. He said the exercises taking place on Thursday and Friday did not involve live fire.

    Around 200 soldiers will take part in the manoeuvres.

    "No bullets will be coming out of the end of their guns," Need said. "We are grateful to be allowed to use the Akamas and will continue until an alternative site is found."

    Need said that, earlier yesterday, bases officials with Cyprus police visited the are where the damage was done on Sunday. "Criminal damages are a matter for the Cyprus police," he said.

    He said charges of malicious damage were likely to be levelled against the culprits when they were found.

    The exercises, he said would go ahead as planned. "If there is interference, then it is a matter for the Cyprus police," Need said.

    The bases have always maintained they take the utmost care not to harm the environment during their exercises, but greens believe there is no need for exercises at all, even on an alternative site.

    Green Party leader George Perdikis said yesterday it was not a matter of an alternative.

    "The military bases are an air force, they don't need to hold military manoeuvres on the ground," Perdikis said. "They are doing it to exercise their so-called sovereign rights in Cyprus."

    Tuesday, January 05, 1999

    [05] Akel says Christofias' health no cause for concern

    AKEL yesterday sought to reassure the public over the state of health of its general secretary, Demetris Christofias.

    The communist party's offices yesterday assured the Cyprus Mail that Christofias was recovering well from bronchial pneumonia and resulting kidney complications.

    In an official announcement on Sunday, Akel press spokesman, deputy Nicos Katsourides, said: "The state of Demetris Christofias' health should not inspire any concern and he will remain at the head of the party for many years."

    Katsourides dismissed rumours suggesting that Christofias would be rushed overseas for a kidney transplant saying this was "something that will be decided on in the future."

    Katsourides said a transplant was seen as only one of several alternatives if the current treatment proved ineffective.

    Christofias has been in hospital since December 22, after being diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia following a visit to London. During his treatment, Christofias suffered kidney damage, for which he is currently being treated.

    Akel said this treatment was expected to continue for the next two weeks.

    Tuesday, January 05, 1999

    [06] Dead paedophile suspect was 'doing same thing in Cyprus'

    CYPRUS police believe that a British paedophile suspect who died in custody last month was "doing the same thing in Cyprus", it emerged yesterday.

    British military police are investigating the apparent suicide in custody of a former army doctor deported last year from Cyprus on suspicion of child abuse.

    Paul Morris, 46, was deported in November, following an application by British military police.

    "We knew he was doing the same thing in Cyprus," a police source told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Morris, who was being held in military custody in Colchester on suspicion of involvement in a paedophile ring, was found dead in his cell on December 20.

    He had deserted from the army 17 years ago, after rumours that he had molested children during his running of a boys' football team.

    He showed up in Cyprus a year later, married a local woman and adopted two children from refugee camps in Lebanon.

    In Cyprus, he taught at a private school in Limassol and was also coach for a school football team in Nicosia.

    "As far as I'm aware, there were complaints from parents, but they did not wish to pursue the matter," the police source said yesterday.

    No formal complaints had been submitted to the police, he said, adding that parents had appeared reluctant to take the matter any further.

    The British Ministry of Defence told the BBC on Sunday that the special investigations branch of the Royal Military Police was investigating the death, thought to be suicide.

    The British Bases said yesterday they had not known of Morris' presence on the island and had not in any way been involved in his case, which had been handled by military authorities in the UK and Cyprus police.

    Tuesday, January 05, 1999

    [07] Aeroporos investigations getting bogged down

    INVESTIGATIONS into the murder of Hambis Aeroporos seem to be becoming more complicated than police had originally thought.

    Requesting an extension for the remand of one the suspects from the Limassol court on Sunday, police investigator George Aristidou said police still had to question 150 people in the case.

    He added that police were also looking for more evidence, including further witnesses.

    The court granted the new eight-day remand for Prokopis Prokopiou.

    A search of Limassol's Vati rubbish dump, which police believe may conceal important evidence linking the suspects to the crime, had so far proved fruitless, Aristidou told the court.

    The most concrete evidence in police hands remained the mobile telephone abandoned at the scene of the crime. But this evidence is thought to be too circumstantial to be used in criminal prosecution.

    Prokopiou is one of five suspects arrested in connection with the murder of Aeroporos last month.

    The suspect was first remanded on December 19 while undergoing kidney dialysis at Limassol general hospital.

    The 35-year-old Prokopiou is suspected of being the driver carrying Hambis' murderers.

    Two police officers, Christos Symianos and Savvas Ioannou, alias Kinezos, have also been arrested in connection with the murder along with nightclub owner Sotiris Athinis and his sister Zoe Alexandrou, the owner of the mobile phone found at the scene.

    Prokopiou is a former employee at Symianos' father's restaurant, while Symianos is said to be a close friend of Athinis. Athinis' brother Melios was shot dead in November 1995. Sotiris Athinis survived a bomb attack outside his club in August last year.

    Aeroporos was gunned down in broad daylight by three hooded men on December 15, 1998. His brother Andros was murdered earlier in the year.

    Ballistic evidence from an M58 automatic found at the scene of Hambis' murder showed it had also been used to kill his brother.

    Tuesday, January 05, 1999

    [08] 4 million for drought-struck potato farmers

    POTATO farmers are to receive 4 million in subsidies in order to counteract the negative effect on their crops of 1998's bad weather.

    Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous and Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou announced the package yesterday after it was authorised by the Council of Ministers.

    The financial support is being given in the framework of a government policy to bail out farmers who face problems caused by weather and other unpredictable factors.

    Last year was particularly bad for farmers as the severe drought damaged many crops.

    Tuesday, January 05, 1999

    [09] Teenage girl critical after hit-and-run crash

    A TEENAGE girl was left in a serious condition after being knocked down in a hit-and-run accident in the early hours of Sunday.

    According to Nicosia police, Gabriela Stylianou, 18, was run over by a motor scooter in an underground crossing outside Nicosia's First Kykkos Lyceum at 1.50 am.

    She is being treated at Nicosia General hospital, and was yesterday reported to be out of danger.

    The driver, for whom police are now searching, abandoned Stylianou at the scene of the accident.

    Police are calling on anyone with any information on the accident to contact their nearest police station.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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