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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-01-09

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, January 09, 1999


  • [01] Greens and bases all claim victory
  • [02] How much military hardware is Greece supplying
  • [03] Bourse gives offending companies until September to widen capital base
  • [04] Inspectors bar ham from school menus
  • [05] Economist: missile decision might be too late

  • [01] Greens and bases all claim victory

    By Jean Christou

    BRITISH officials and local environmentalists yesterday all claimed victory in the war of words over the military exercises in the Akamas.

    The two sides have been at loggerheads all week, with greens saying their actions reduced the scope of the exercises, while the bases insisted the manoeuvres had gone ahead unimpeded.

    Protestors were in the area of the exercises from around 8.00pm last night. Some 100 British troops were moved in by helicopter and carried out manoeuvres from around 2.30am until 7.00am, leaving the area in the same way. No live ammunition was involved.

    The original plan had been to carry out three days of exercises involving up to 300 soldiers.

    Dozens of environmentalists camped overnight to protest the exercises, but were hindered in their undercover operation by Cyprus riot squad officers monitoring the situation.

    "Because of efforts of environmentalists and Paphos residents, the colonialists had to use methods and weapons other than what they would normally use, which is insulting and humiliating for them," Perdikis said.

    "Unfortunately, the Cyprus police force and the government have been humbled as well, not only by accommodating the British imperialists again, but also by spending taxpayer's money on unnecessary operations."

    Perdikis blamed the government for the past week's wrangling, saying it had stalled in acting to put an end to the exercises, or in finding an alternative site.

    Bases spokesman Rob Need said he had heard the claims of victory from environmentalists and politicians on the island.

    "Their public relations officer is a professional like I am and I would make similar claims to him," Need said.

    But Need admitted that the furore had influenced the exercises, in that the solders were not transported to the area by vehicle. "We are not in the business of seeking confrontation," he said.

    The bases are allowed, under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, to use land outside the Sovereign Base Areas for military exercises for a certain period each year.

    But environmentalists have been protesting for years over the damage caused to the eco-sensitive area, and have brought increasing pressure to bear on the Cyprus government through campaigns at home and abroad.

    As Need predicted, the British bases hailed yesterday's exercises as a success, although they did apologise to residents in nearby areas for the explosions that may have disturbed many of them. Over 8,000 spent blank cartridges as well as shotgun cartridges left by hunters were cleared from the area, a bases announcement said.

    "We understand the environmentalists have a particular standpoint, which they have demonstrated and for which I can sympathise and we look forward to the opportunity to take our training away from this beautiful area and into an alternative location provided by the Cyprus government," said Major Roland Ladley.

    "For the record, my soldiers respect the environment and will do no damage because their survival depends on them remaining undetected."

    Bases spokesman Captain Jon Brown, who was in the area, said he saw the protestors' vehicles near the exercise area, but "no one came near the troops".

    "They had no idea where we were because we were working under cover of darkness," Brown said.

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

    The bases are likely to seek compensation amounting to £50,000 for the damage caused to British property.

    Saturday, January 09, 1999

    [02] How much military hardware is Greece supplying

    By Martin Hellicar

    LEAKS of military information dominated the local political scene yesterday, provoking much squabbling between rival camps.

    Disy deputy Antonis Karras, faced with a storm of protests over his claims that Greece had stationed in Cyprus weapons systems worth "hundreds of millions of pounds", yesterday said his statements were not revelations at all.

    Akel deputy Doros Christodoulides slammed Karas for revealing military secrets and questioned the validity of his figures. He then indulged in revelations of his own, detailing how much the government was spending on Greek-made armaments.

    There was no official confirmation or denial of either deputy's claims yesterday. A gentleman's agreement between all political parties bars public statements on defence issues.

    Karras said what he had "revealed" during Thursday's House defence committee session had only been a regurgitation of information that had already appeared in the Athens press.

    "I maintain that what I did yesterday was to bring to the fore something that is a fact and is already known," Karras said.

    Fellow deputies at the committee were stunned when the governing party's deputy, with the TV cameras on him, said that Greece had sent to Cyprus weapons systems manned by Greek army officers and worth "maybe hundreds of millions of pounds."

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides declined to comment on Karras's statements. He stuck to repeating the government line that defence issues were off limits for comment.

    In Athens, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas commented only that defence issues were being handled "responsibly" by Athens and Nicosia.

    Karras said his aim in breaking the code of silence on defence issues had been to "prove wrong" those who claimed Greece was getting cold feet about the Common Defence Dogma military pact with Cyprus.

    Athens' commitment to the pact - under which Greece would come to Cyprus's defence in the event of a Turkish attack - has been questioned by opposition politicians in the wake of the controversial government decision to send the Russian S-300 missiles to Crete rather than bring them to Cyprus.

    The ground-to-air missiles were originally ordered, in January 1997, to defend the Paphos air base so that Greek air force jets could be stationed there.

    "I wanted to answer to those who said the Greeks had fooled us, that the Greeks had taken the missiles from us," Karras said.

    But he acknowledged he could have been wrong in making such public statements on defence issues.

    "I accept my responsibility. I resign my parliamentary immunity so that anyone who wants to accuse me and take me before a court can do so, if they can prove that I made a revelation that helped the enemy."

    Opposition deputies were quick to condemn Karras's actions.

    Diko's Nicos Moushiouttas said he understood his colleague's desire to defend the dogma but questioned his methods for doing so.

    Edek issued a party statement condemning Karras' revelations as "unacceptable and inexcusable."

    Christodoulides predicted that Karras's statements would "further exacerbate the problems in Greco-Cypriot military relations."

    He said the government had "learnt nothing" from the S-300 "fiasco" and was repeating the same mistakes of divulging what should be military secrets.

    Opposition parties have charged President Clerides with publicising the deal to purchase the S-300s in an effort to secure his re-election in February 1997.

    Christodoulides doubted Greece had sent military hardware of the value Karras had spoken of to Cyprus.

    The opposition party deputy went further in questioning Greece's military commitment to Cyprus, claiming the National Guard was paying over the odds when buying weapons from Greek manufacturers - thus making his own revelations about defence issues.

    "We buy weapons from Greece that we could get from any other country... weapons that can be found on the international market at half the price."

    He said Cyprus had spent £80 million on Greek-made weaponry in 1997 and "more than that" in 1998.

    The chairman of the House defence committee, Takis Hadjidemetriou, was keen to play down the whole situation and steered clear of commenting on the content of Karras' or Christodoulides' claims.

    "I don't believe there is any ill intention on anyone's part," he said.

    There was no point in continuing the debate on Karras' claims, Hadjidemetriou said. "Karras has accepted his responsibility," he said.

    Concerning Christodoulides's statements, Hadjidemetriou said his committee always did its best to ensure weapons were procured at competitive prices.

    Meanwhile, Greece's ambassador to Nicosia, Kyriacos Rodousakis, gave assurances that Athens was steadfast in her commitment to the Dogma and would go to war with Turkey if she attacked Cyprus.

    Rodousakis was speaking after a meeting with House president and Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou - who has expressed misgivings about the validity of the Dogma following the re-direction of the S-300s.

    Rodousakis admitted he had not succeeded in allaying Kyprianou's fears.

    Saturday, January 09, 1999

    [03] Bourse gives offending companies until September to widen capital base

    THE CYPRUS Stock Exchange yesterday gave nine listed companies until September 30 to broaden their capital base or face possible delisting.

    The nine companies, which include national carrier Cyprus Airways, had in early 1996 been given a three-year grace period to sell more shares to the public to conform with the bourse's regulations.

    The grace periods for the nine were scheduled to expire next month or in March, but suggestions in a local newspaper report on Thursday that the companies faced imminent delisting triggered alarm among investors.

    The nine companies are: Universal Life Insurance, the Cyprus Cement Company, Cyprus Pipes, CCC Tourist Enterprises, the Cyprus Tourist Development Company, Amathus Navigation Company Ltd., Dome Investments, Cyprus Airways and CCC Holdings and Investments Ltd.

    Between them, the nine have a market capitalisation of about £160 million of a total market capitalisation of about £1.3 billion. The government has a controlling stake in two of the nine: Cyprus Airways and the Cyprus Tourist Development Company.

    "When this (new September 30) deadline expires, the board of the Cyprus Stock Exchange is obliged to examine whether these companies should be delisted, after first asking the companies to explain their position," the CSE said in a statement.

    Saturday, January 09, 1999

    [04] Inspectors bar ham from school menus

    By Athena Karsera

    HAM has been pulled off the menu in all state school cafeterias after government studies showed the meat to be especially vulnerable to outside conditions.

    The studies were made following parents' complaints to the Central Committee for the Control of School Cafeterias.

    The Committee recently unanimously decided to withdraw the meat from the menu, advising the sandwich filler's replacement with turkey ham, roast, halloumi and other cheeses.

    Middle school inspector and Central Committee secretary Androulla Hadjiyasimi yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that there was nothing wrong with the ham itself, but that cafeteria conditions were not ideal for a product that would be unsuitable for consumption within a few hours once it was taken out of the fridge.

    She said the Committee decided to implemented their decision from the start of the new school term after the Christmas break. Letters would be sent to all the schools on Monday, she said, and after that ham should be replaced by one of the alternative fillers, "as long as they were of the specified quality".

    Hadjiyasimi added that the standards of state school cafeterias were controlled by the Health Inspection Services, which is advised by her Committee.

    If the Inspection Service believes that a particular product is inferior, then it is sent for examination by the general laboratory, leading to a decision by the Central Committee. If the product is seen as unsuitable, it is withdrawn from the cafeteria menu.

    Hadjiyasimi said private schools were responsible for the standards of their own cafeterias and what was served on the menu.

    Saturday, January 09, 1999

    [05] Economist: missile decision might be too late

    By Anthony O. Miller

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides's decision not to take delivery of the S-300 missiles in the Republic was sensible, declares the latest issue of the Economist, but history will "bleakly record" it was probably too late to gain its goal: a Cyprus solution.

    The respected news magazine, in a wide-ranging overview of the missile crisis, broke no new analytical ground, and in fact omitted mention of some of the more obvious external forces that bore heavily on both Clerides' decision and the original missile deal's failure to win the island an end to 24 years of division.

    And it confusingly suggested that, were peace talks to have begun in earnest, they might have produced both "a loose federation" and "a loose confederation" of the island's Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. The Republic has endorsed the former notion and rejected the latter, while the reverse is the case with the Turkish occupied north.

    The magazine notes that Clerides' decision to deploy the missiles in Crete "has done him no good at all at home." It said one opinion poll showed 71 per cent of Greek Cypriots wanted the missiles deployed in Cyprus - despite Turkey's threat to destroy them, perhaps triggering an intra-Nato Greco- Turkish war.

    Some Greek Cypriots, furious at Clerides, are refusing to do military service or to pay the defence levy (recently raised to a maximum of four per cent); Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou has pledged a party vote against any defence bill sent to Parliament; and two Edek ministers - one defence, the other education - quit the Clerides government in protest, the magazine noted.

    In a brief account of the missile débâcle's history, the Economist notes the deal with Russia did initially succeed in placing Cyprus squarely - perhaps for the first time since Turkey's 1974 invasion - on the maps of America and Europe.

    But that "success" backfired. It worried the West that Cyprus would go up in flames. So America sent US Presidential Emissary for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke on what ultimately was a futile year trying to wheedle Clerides and his lifetime bête noire, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, to the talks table.

    This, the Economist noted, was because Denktash "dug in his heels," demanding his rump 'republic' be recognised as a state before talks could resume. And Ankara - furious at being snubbed in its quest for an EU invitation - "refused to help".

    Continually pressed by Greece (which feared its EU hopes for Cyprus would die in a war), and by America, Europe and UN interests, Clerides pushed back the missile delivery deadline time and again, finally conceding defeat on December 29, and agreeing to have the missiles sent to Crete.

    But the magazine omitted the crucial role of the Nato relationship between the United States and Turkey in Ankara's refusal either to help move Denktash closer to Clerides, or help Clerides out of the box the missile purchase had put him in.

    Despite the end of the Cold War, America still needs the use of its Nato air base in Incirlik, Turkey, from which to patrol the "no-fly zone" over northern Iraq, to launch attacks against Baghdad and generally project US power in the oil-rich, but troubled Gulf region.

    So despite the fact that Turkey transferred some of its US-made weapons to northern Cyprus, Washington has gingerly skirted the fact that this arms transfer violated US law, allowing Turkey to keep those US-munitions in occupied northern Cyprus instead of forcing Ankara to remove them as called for by UN resolutions, and help begin the demilitarisation of the island.

    In this regard, the magazine further failed to note that demilitarisation of Cyprus - an old suggestion of Clerides and one of his original pre- conditions for cancelling the missiles - would have gone a long way to bringing to the talks table a Rauf Denktash made all the more obdurate by knowing his recalcitrance is backed by some 40,000 US-armed Turkish occupation troops.

    The magazine declares that, while the risk of war is now behind Clerides, chances of resumed peace talks that might bring the entire island into the European Union are "shrouded in mist".

    It notes that, with Turkey in domestic turmoil, Ankara "is in no position... to produce any sort of clear-cut initiative."

    "It is hardly the time to expect subtle diplomacy from the Turks," the Economist notes.

    Though the magazine does rather optimistically suggest that a turmoil- ridden Turkey, "grateful for the Greek-Cypriots climbdown over the missiles, " might perhaps persuade Denktash to give up his demand for recognition and sit down to hammer out a deal with Clerides in exchange for some vague commitment of 'equal' treatment.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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