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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-01-16

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, January 16, 1999


  • [01] Lebanon turns back boat full of migrants
  • [02] Cyprus Air union set to strike
  • [03] Clerides letter is not an arms freeze
  • [04] Kyprianou outlines catalogue of complaints
  • [05] Cyprus will face 'hot and cold showers' on road to EU membership
  • [06] Boy crushed by tractor
  • [07] Driver of armoured vehicle remanded over accident death
  • [08] Paphos bishop resumes war of words with Constantinople
  • [09] Relatives of missing slam UN 'indifference'
  • [10] Cyprus ship fined for pollution
  • [11] Appeal court quashes conviction of Nadir pilot
  • [12] Truck of hope moves to Limassol

  • [01] Lebanon turns back boat full of migrants

    By Anthony O. Miller

    CYPRUS is formally protesting Lebanon's refusal to allow a Cyprus police boat, carrying 29 illegal immigrants, from entering Lebanese waters to return them.

    The police launch Odysseas arrived back in Cyprus late last night with 23 of the immigrants, following Lebanon's acceptance of six Egyptians who held entry papers to the country.

    Police said the 23 immigrants were taken to the Larnaca detention centre.

    After a day of wrangling with the Lebanese authorities over the immigrants, the Odysseas with its crew of 16policemen was ordered back to Cyprus at around 6.30 pm yesterday.

    A Lebanese navy ship stayed close to the Cypriot police launch to ensure it did not enter Beirut harbour.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis told a local TV station last night that the position of the Lebanese Foreign Ministry had been "in no way helpful".

    "We now have to look at our relations with Lebanon because they do not seem to want to communicate with us," Koshis said.

    Earlier yesterday Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Alecos Shambos said the Cyprus police launch was being forced to stand off the coast of Beirut with its cargo of 29 "economic immigrants" under Cyprus police guard, for lack of Lebanese permission to enter the Port of Beirut and unload them.

    "It's outside Beirut port. They won't let them in. They insist that, in the absence of any `proof' that these people started out from Tripoli, they refuse to get involved, and they refuse any contact with our police" or the deportees, he said.

    "We are trying to convince them at least to have some contact on the patrol boat with the police, or to allow the police officers to go to Beirut and give all the documentation and witnesses we have in our hands. And they still refuse," he said.

    "I spoke personally with the political director of the (Lebanese) ministry of Foreign Affairs. I emphasised all... their obligations under international law and conventions, and so on -we've established beyond any doubt, we have the proof (that the migrants set out from Lebanon) - and they are not willing, they do not show any desire to co-operate," Shambos said.

    Cornelius Corneliou, director of the Foreign Ministry's Director General's office, confirmed that, "We are trying through the Lebanese representatives here, and our consulate there, to make the necessary representations to the Lebanese government" to end what increasingly looms as an international incident.

    The 29 deportees were among 30 "economic immigrants" who sailed from the Lebanese port of Tripoli and landed on Wednesday night at the eastern bay of Konnos, near Ayia Napa.

    Police quickly arrested the immigrants, Police Spokesman Glafcos Xenos said yesterday, adding that earlier reports that 50 illegal immigrants had landed in two boats were "a misunderstanding". He said police were still searching for the last of the 30 boat people still at large.

    A Thursday court hearing in Larnaca remanded them for eight days. However, an Immigration Police deportation order put the 29 boat people aboard the Odysseas later that day for return to Lebanon under Cyprus police guard, Interior Ministry Acting Director Andreas Philippides said.

    Shambos said Cyprus even gave the Lebanese embassy in Nicosia documents - "confessions" - signed by the boat people admitting they had sailed from Tripoli. But Lebanese officials "pretended there was no proof these people left from Tripoli."

    Shambos noted that after 113 boat people were rescued last June off the Cyprus coast - again having sailed out of Tripoli - Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides took a delegation to Beirut to get Lebanon's co-operation in trying to stem the tide of immigrants leaving Lebanon and winding up in Cyprus. "Unfortunately, we are faced with a lack of will to co-operate, especially in this particular case, but also in previous cases," he said.

    The 29 deportees say they paid the captain of their boat between $800 and $2,000 apiece to go to Italy or Rhodes. As in past cases, the captain took the immigrants' money and dumped them in Cyprus, telling them they had arrived.

    The illegal immigrants are mostly Arab males; 18 are from Iraq, six from Egypt, two Somalis, one man from the Palestinian Territory, and one from Burundi. The sole woman was from Sri Lanka.

    "There are hundreds of them, according to our intelligence information," from all over the Middle East, Asia and Africa, illegally in Lebanon and just waiting for the chance to sail away for Greece or Italy, only to land in Cyprus, Shambos said.

    "We have to make sure that we do not reach the point where Cyprus becomes the place for anyone who, for one reason or another... thinks they can come, be put up in a hotel, have a good life here."

    Justice Minister Koshis said earlier yesterday that since last summer's refugee influx, the island's police had extended its coastal patrols. He added that four new radar systems would be purchased at a cost of 12-13 million in order to keep a better eye on the coastline for any future boats full of illegal immigrants.

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [02] Cyprus Air union set to strike

    CYPRUS Airways (CY)' largest union Cynika will stage a four-hour strike on January 28, it announced yesterday.

    The union wants the air line to cough up on pay rises in line with those given to semi-government organisations two years ago.

    They are seeking a 2.5 per cent increase in wages and a two per cent hike in benefits.

    The strike from 7 am to 11 am on January 28 will involve 1,200 CY staff including cabin crew, ground staff and 27 of the airline's 120 pilots, Cynika president Costas Demetriou said.

    He added all the indications were that other CY unions supported the strike measures.

    Speaking after a meeting with airline management yesterday Demetriou said the attitude of the company had been "completely negative". He said his union's members were simply claiming the same pay rise as other semi- government organisations received in 1997. "They have had other pay rises since then but we are not claiming those," Demetriou said.

    The Cynika chief said his union had ceased to make pay claims when the company was in the red but now that it has returned to profitability staff feel they should be paid their dues.

    CY expects to announce a pre-tax profit for 1998 of around 5 million. "We made a compromise agreement in July to postpone our claim but now we want our demands satisfied," Demetriou said.

    There was no response from the airline yesterday to the strike threat.

    Demetriou said the union hopes the government will intervene to resolve the problem before any industrial action has to be taken.

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [03] Clerides letter is not an arms freeze

    By Jean Christou

    THE CONTENT of President Clerides' letter to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan does not imply a freeze on arms purchases, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with Chinese Deputy Health Minister Longde Wang, Cassoulides said that the main aim of the letter had been to state formally to the UN Secretary-general the Greek Cypriot side's acceptance of the recent Security Council's resolutions.

    The second aim was to state that our side reserved the right to proceed with its arms purchase programme "unless the Turkish side accepts resolution 1218," Cassoulides said.

    The resolution, passed in December, call on the UN chief to work intensively with the two sides on the island to achieve an undertaking to refrain from the threat or use of force as a means of resolving the Cyprus problem, and on a staged process aimed at limiting and then substantially reducing the level of all troops and armaments on the island.

    In his letter to Annan, Clerides said that, in order to comply with the provisions of the resolution, he had "unilaterally" taken the decision not to import and deploy the Russian S-300 missiles in Cyprus.

    Clerides cancelled the deployment of the missiles in Cyprus at the end of December after coming under heavy pressure from the international community. Discussions have now begun between Cyprus, Russia and Greece on the possible deployment of the missiles in Crete.

    Clerides' letter to Annan, however, makes it clear that Cyprus cannot indefinitely postpone the completion of certain agreements for the purchase of arms and military equipment necessary for the defence of the Republic.

    "I therefore hope that I will within a reasonable time hear from your excellency that the other side has accepted in toto and not selectively operative paragraphs...," the letter said.

    Cassoulides said copies of the President's letter had also been sent to the Greek government and distributed to Cypriot missions abroad and to Unficyp chief of mission Dame Ann Hercus, who is due back on the island today after a brief trip to New York and London for talks on the Cyprus problem.

    Political party leaders on the island are up in arms over the letter, saying they had not been informed. Several called for the letter issue to be discussed at a National Council meeting.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has repeated his call for a Cyprus solution based on a confederation, as opposed to the UN-backed framework for a federal solution.

    Denktash told Bayrak radio on Thursday he did not advocate anything other than a confederation.

    "Anything other than confederation does not befit the existence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," Denktash said.

    He said recognition of the 'TRNC' was a precondition for reconciliation. He said a confederal solution did not entail any concessions from the 'TRNC'.

    "If we are not recognised, there can be no a confederation," he said. "If there is no confederation then there is no agreement."

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [04] Kyprianou outlines catalogue of complaints

    By Martin Hellicar

    A PROTEST letter winged its way from the office of Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou to the doorstep of President Glafcos Clerides yesterday.

    The epistle, according to Kyprianou, contains a long list of complaints and pointers about the President's handling of the Cyprus problem in the wake of the redirection of the Russian S-300 missiles to Crete.

    The letter rounds off a week of unremitting assault on Clerides by the House president and former President.

    The attack was sparked by statements Clerides made on Sunday in response to two deputies leaking military information at a House defence committee meeting earlier in the week.

    "We must talk less and think more. We must behave with greater responsibility and not talk without checking what we say," Clerides said.

    Come Monday, a livid Kyprianou called reporters to his office.

    "I take this as an insult," he stated. "I advise Mr Clerides that he should not suggest to us, if he was referring to us, that we think more and behave with greater responsibility."

    The Diko leader accused the President of lying to the National Council concerning the S-300 issue in the run-up to his controversial decision not to bring the missiles to Cyprus. He claimed that Clerides had prepared a letter to Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis concerning the S-300s which he read out to party leaders at a National Council meeting. He declined to reveal what the letter was about but said the President had never sent it to Simitis.

    The Clerides letter was leaked by local papers the following day. It outlined to Simitis the reasons why Clerides believed Nicosia and Athens should ignore international pressure not to deploy the S-300s.

    On December 29, after Greece made it clear she no longer supported deployment of the S-300s in Cyprus, Clerides announced his decision to negotiate with Moscow for deployment of the missiles in Crete. Turkey had threatened to attack the missiles if they ever arrived.

    Kyprianou has strongly criticised the decision not to bring the missiles, saying it had dealt a deadly blow to the Common Defence Dogma military pact with Greece.

    On Tuesday, the Diko office announced that letters outlining the party's concerns about the Dogma and recent Cyprus problem developments in general were to be sent to both Clerides and Simitis.

    At another press call that same day, Kyprianou defended his decision to reveal that Clerides had never sent "that letter" to Simitis. "After the end of that National Council meeting, I returned to the room and told the President that I would stand by his side if he assured me of his single- mindedness," Kyprianou said.

    But Clerides let him down by not bringing the S-300s, Kyprianou said: "I don't like liars," Kyprianou said.

    Also this week, Kyprianou has launched a no-holds-barred attack on United Democrats leader George Vassiliou - the only party leader, with the exception of the leader of Clerides's Disy party, who has backed the President on the S-300 issue.

    He alleged that Vassiliou - a fellow former President - had been guilty of divulging "information" on the S-300s to foreign embassies.

    Vassiliou has denied the allegations outright.

    Apart from the S-300s and the Dogma, the letter sent to Clerides yesterday also includes the Diko leader's opinions on Clerides's promise to the UN of a temporary freeze on fresh weapons purchases.

    On Thursday, Kyprianou complained that Clerides had not consulted the National Council before sending the relevant letter to UN Secretary general Kofi Annan - a letter leaked on Wednesday night.

    Kyprianou said he would save his opinions on the armaments freeze for his letter to the President.

    The Diko leader has been one of Clerides's strongest critics ever since the acrimonious break-up last year of the Diko-Disy coalition that got Clerides elected in 1993. Diko jumped ship after Kyprianou claimed Clerides had broken a promise he allegedly made in 1993 - that Kyprianou would be backed by Disy for the 1998 Presidential elections.

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [05] Cyprus will face 'hot and cold showers' on road to EU membership

    By Andrew Adamides

    LEOPOLD Maurer, the EU's chief negotiator for Cyprus, yesterday called on the government to speed up the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector and warned that there would be good and bad times ahead on the road to accession.

    Speaking at the House of Representatives after meeting with the House Committee for Foreign and EU affairs, Maurer said Cyprus "will have to be aware that in the next few years, we will treat you not with very much love, but there is the objective that Cyprus should become a member of the EU."

    He said Cyprus would have to be conscious of its position. "You are treated now not only as a normal member state but as an ideal state," he said, adding that Cyprus should note that it would be in a position to influence Brussels' decisions.

    There would, Maurer concluded, be "hot and cold showers" for Cyprus along the way.

    He said that, of the acquis communautaire chapters opened at the start of substantive talks last November, two remained open: those on telecommunications and security policy.

    "We would like to convince you that you should liberalise a little bit earlier than you had proposed in your negotiating position" Maurer said of Cyprus' telecommunications.

    Outlining the current goals of his mission, Maurer went on that an element of his mission was to present a progress report in mid-February on four chapters, including the all-important freedom of movement, company law and competition policy.

    After this, he said, the next goal was to prepare the second round of talks during which current EU president Germany is keen to introduce a further eight chapters.

    The continuing occupation by Turkey was, he said, a big problem, but the EU wanted to understand it and act accordingly. Maurer added that the EU also wanted to see evidence of the Cypriot people enjoying the benefits of the accession process, and that parliament had a major role to play in this.

    Maurer is visiting the island for three intensive sessions of talks, chaired by him and Cyprus chief negotiator George Vassiliou. He arrived with a seven-member EU team on Thursday. The talks end on Saturday.

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [06] Boy crushed by tractor

    A TEENAGE schoolboy died yesterday in Paphos after the tractor he was driving toppled over and crushed him to death.

    Sixteen-year-old Kyriacos Andreas Pantelis was last seen driving his tractor around in circles at his local village football pitch in Peristerona.

    Police believe the tragic accident was due to human error. It is thought the boy lost control of the vehicle, which then toppled over and trapped him.

    The accident happened at around 4pm yesterday.

    Pantelis, a pupil at Polis Chrysochou gymnasium, was rushed to the local hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

    His body will be transferred to Paphos General hospital for a post mortem to be carried out.

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [07] Driver of armoured vehicle remanded over accident death

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE DRIVER of an armoured vehicle that crushed a teenage National Guardsman to death on Thursday was yesterday remanded in custody by a military court.

    Eighteen-year-old Dimitris Fotiou, from Kofinou village in the Larnaca district, was remanded for four days on suspicion of causing a fatal accident.

    Fellow conscript Michalis Pentaliotis, 19, from Agios Dometios in Nicosia, was run over by a Cascavel armoured vehicle at the end of an army exercise on the Kalo Chorio firing range in the Larnaca area. Another National Guardsman, 19-year-old Constantinos Prodromou, from Engomi in Nicosia, was seriously injured in the same incident.

    Police investigator Theodoros Sergiou told the army court, convening in Larnaca yesterday, that the exact circumstances surrounding the death were still unclear and were being looked into by both the police and the National Guard.

    The incident happened at around 10.45am on a bend on a steep track in the firing range area. The Cascavel that Fotiou was driving ploughed into a column of soldiers walking away from the range, the court heard.

    Pentaliotis was laid to rest at the Agios Georgios church in Agios Dometios yesterday afternoon. The funeral was attended by President Clerides and other dignitaries.

    The victim's father, Modestos, is the chief of Civil Defence and his mother is employed at the Presidential Palace.

    Prodromou's condition is not considered critical.

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [08] Paphos bishop resumes war of words with Constantinople

    SPARKS flew again yesterday between Paphos and Constantinople, with Bishop Chrysostomos stepping up a war of words with the chief secretary of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Philadelphia Bishop Militonas.

    The clergymen were arguing over the Ecumenical Patriarchate's opinion on the Cyprus Church's ruling that an elderly Greek monk, Elder Iosif, was guilty of molesting nuns in Cyprus almost 20 years ago. Iosif is a monk at the Mount Athos monastery of Vatopedhi, which falls under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Constantinople.

    The Paphos Bishop first made public the allegations, which many have seen as an attempt to discredit the candidacy for Bishop of Limassol of one of Iosif's associates, Abbot Athanasios of Machairas. His allegations were backed by the Holy Synod of Cyprus, but Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has stood by Iosif.

    The Paphos Bishop yesterday reopened the rift, calling into doubt the Patriarchate's opposition to Cyprus Synod's decision against Iosif.

    Speaking on CyBC radio, Chrysostomos said that he had spoken to Militonas, who had assured him of the Ecumenical Patriarch's position.

    But Militonas denied ever having spoken to Chrysostomos about the issue.

    Militonas repeated the Patriarch's view that no fault could be found in the character of Elder Iosif, and that Constantinople stood by its previous opinion.

    Chrysostomos has described the Patriarchate's decision not to act against Iosif as an insult to the Cyprus Holy Synod.

    "If the Patriarchate has reached such a decision, then it wasn't well thought out and appears to insult the decision of the Cyprus Holy Synod," the Bishop's said at the time. "The Holy Synod was the responsible body."

    Iosif, now 80, was accused of molesting seven nuns and infecting them with venereal diseases 17 years ago. The Cyprus Synod found him guilty of "embracing" a girl who was 11 years old at the time, according to witness testimony and to a letter he wrote to a young nun which implicated him in the alleged scandal.

    The Holy Synod upheld the Bishop of Paphos's allegations against Iosif, but a letter of support was issued by the Patriarch.

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [09] Relatives of missing slam UN 'indifference'

    RELATIVES of missing persons yesterday launched a scathing attack on the UN representative to the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP), accusing him of gross indifference.

    Agapios Hiratos, president of one of the two national committees for missing persons, said that recent comments by Jean Pierre Ritter, the UN representative to the CMP, were "out of order.

    Hiratos was speaking after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides.

    According to reports this week, Ritter, who is due on the island tomorrow, has said that the issue of missing persons is one to be sorted out between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

    Ritter allegedly made the comment in a letter to Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos.

    "You have to understand that this kind of approach, if this is exactly what he said, is out of order and it's a serious point of order for the representative of the UN General-secretary in Cyprus in relation to the investigating committee," Hiratos said.

    Christopoulos said he had received a letter from Ritter, which he said was in response to a letter he himself had sent the UN representative. "There is nothing in the letter for the public," Christopoulos said.

    However, he confirmed that there were some differences of opinion that needed to be resolved. Ritter, he said, would be on the island on Sunday.

    Files relating to the fates of some 400 Greek Cypriots and 200 of the 803 Turkish Cypriots missing were exchanged between the Greek and Turkish sides at a meeting last year in line with an agreement between the leaders of the two communities in July 1997.

    The procedure collapsed in the middle of 1998 after the two sides failed to agree on the next step.

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [10] Cyprus ship fined for pollution

    THE Cyprus-flagged ship, Luckyman, was fined 7,500 sterling plus 960 in legal costs after pleading guilty to causing a 25-kilometre oil slick in waters off Scotland, the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said yesterday.

    The bulk carrier, owned by Cyprus-based Lindos Shipping Company Ltd, was spotted last June 18 by a Netherlands' Coast Guard surveillance plane at the head of the huge oil slick.

    At the time, the ship was about 40 nautical miles east of Wick, Scotland, en route from Liverpool to a port in Poland.

    The Netherlands aircraft was patrolling the UK sector of the seas under the Bonn Agreement, which co-ordinates anti-pollution activities among several EU states.

    Photographs taken by the plane's pilot showed the Luckyman at the head of the oil slick. The photos, which were passed to the MCA, were used to gain the ship captain's guilty plea in Southampton Magistrates Court to having dumped an oily mixture into the sea that produced the oil slick.

    "This is the seventh successful pollution prosecution by the MCA within the last 11 months for... offences in UK-controlled waters," an MCA spokesman said. "Ship operators should be more aware that there is routine surveillance, and therefore the chance of detection and prosecution is high."

    Captain Andreas Constantinou, senior ship surveyor at the Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping, said yesterday his department had not yet been officially notified by the MCA of the charges or fine against the Luckyman.

    But he added that his department's records did not show any other complaints lodged by any country against the ship.

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [11] Appeal court quashes conviction of Nadir pilot

    A LONDON Court of Appeal yesterday quashed the conviction of Peter Dimond, 57, the pilot jailed on charges of obstructing justice when he helped fugitive Turkish Cypriot tycoon Asil Nadir flee from the UK.

    Dimond was convicted on August 3 last year of obstructing justice by arranging for a light aircraft to fly Nadir to Northern France, from where he boarded a private jet which took him to the occupied areas, where he remains, despite British attempts to secure his extradition.

    Nadir is still wanted in Britain on 13 charges of theft involving 30 million sterling allegedly stolen from companies within his Polly Peck conglomerate. He claims he will not get a fair trial in the UK.

    Dimond did not fly either of the planes used for the journey, but travelled with Nadir and remained in the north until January last year, when he returned to Britain on business and was arrested there.

    A three-judge panel yesterday quashed his conviction, ruling that Dimond could not have breached bail conditions when Nadir was not technically on bail.

    Dimond had denied any wrongdoing, but went on record during his trial as saying that Nadir had been unfairly treated by the British authorities.

    Saturday, January 16, 1999

    [12] Truck of hope moves to Limassol

    THE CYPRUS relief drive for Honduran hurricane refugees - Cyprus CARE - is collecting medicines, food, cooking and household gear, and building materials today at its 'Truck of Hope' in the Orphanides car park in Limassol from 8.30am to 4pm.

    Tomorrow, the grass-roots Cyprus charity group will be packing up the spoils of today's and last Saturday's Nicosia collection at the Limassol warehouse of Orbit Moving &amp; Storage, which has donated the truck for the collection effort.

    Dry foods desired include rice, beans, pasta, sugar, baby milk formulas and powders. Medicines include fungicide creams, panadol, soluble aspirin, cough medicines, vitamins and rehydration salts.

    Building materials may include plastic sheeting, roofing nails and materials, hammers, screws and screwdrivers. Seeds needed include Red Grade- 2 Beans, field corn, broccoli, green beans, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, tomato, onion and green pepper.

    Other critical items are buckets and saucepans with lids and other cooking utensils, waterproof gear, pillows and blankets. No more clothing is needed. A 40-foot container full of it has already arrived in Honduras, one of several Central American countries ravaged by Hurricane Mitch in early November.

    The container's 16,000-kilogramme cargo included blankets, food and medicines. One Cypriot, who refused to be named, paid the 1,200 cost of shipping the container out of his own pocket.

    Two Cyprus pharmaceutical companies - Remedica Ltd and Medochemie, both of Limassol - have donated some $70,000 worth of medicines to Cyprus CARE.

    For more information, call Carrie Hutton in Nicosia at: 776-218, or 773-390, or (09)-417-213.

    The charity also accepts cash or cheque donations. Hutton and Cyprus CARE lawyer, Stelios Triantafyllides (02-678-888) can help with any cash or check contributions.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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