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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-02-09

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, February 09, 1999


  • [01] Man hurt in another Limassol bomb blast
  • [02] Deal to reroute missiles ratified
  • [03] Akamas exercises postponed as talks continue
  • [04] Cyprus pays tribute to King Hussein
  • [05] Man hurt in picket line brawl
  • [06] Harbour workers vow to continue strike
  • [07] Israelis decide against appeal
  • [08] Mayor supports Larnaca protests against site of new plant
  • [09] Dam good weekend for water reserves
  • [10] Concrete strikers pour into Nicosia
  • [11] Greens protest against 'let us spray' Polis
  • [12] Ministers face decision on Miss Universe pageant
  • [13] Buffer zone pig row settled

  • [01] Man hurt in another Limassol bomb blast

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A 21-year-old unemployed man was seriously injured early yesterday morning when Limassol was rocked by its second bomb blast in three days.

    Stavros Stavrou received injuries to his arms legs and chest when a device exploded in the basement of his home in the Ayia Fyla area.

    The bomb went off as Stavrou was getting out of his car after parking in the garage at around 1.15am.

    Stavrou was rushed to Limassol General hospital for emergency surgery. His condition is described as serious but out of danger.

    Police believe the incident is linked to organised crime and the battle between warring factions to control drugs and prostitution in Limassol.

    Explosives expert Antonis Shiakallis said Stavrou was lucky to survive the blast.

    "If the device had been placed another ten inches higher the victim would have been killed," he said.

    The victim's father, Andreas Stavrou, has been the target of two attempted murders in the past two years, surviving attacks outside his Ayia Napa cabaret and his home in Ayia Fyla.

    Yesterday's bomb attack follows an incident on Saturday morning when a booby-trap device exploded in central Limassol, injuring 31-year-old car wash owner Evanthis Ioannou.

    Shiakallis said the same type of booby-trap device was used in the attack on Stavrou.

    On Sunday, Ioannou was remanded for five days by a Limassol district court as a suspected drug dealer, and police are now investigating whether the attack on him was drug-related.

    Police fear that Ioannou, who has survived two bomb attacks in a matter of weeks, was on the hit list of a rival gang wanting to control drug dealing in the town.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [02] Deal to reroute missiles ratified

    By Martin Hellicar

    CYPRUS and Greece yesterday rubber-stamped their controversial joint decision to deploy the S-300 missiles in Crete rather than Cyprus.

    The agreement to redirect the Russian-made ground-to-air missiles was signed in Athens yesterday afternoon by Cyprus Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis and his Greek counterpart, Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

    Chrysostomis is to visit Moscow next week to seek Russian consent for Cretan deployment.

    Speaking after a three-hour meeting, Tsohatzopoulos said that all details regarding the missiles' transportation to Greece and their installation there had been finalised. He said the S-300s had also been discussed in relation to the joint Cyprus-Greece Defence pact, and it had also been decided how the missiles fitted into the framework of the pact.

    "Greece and Cyprus have a common defence against any threat," Tsohatzopoulos told reporters after meeting Chrysostomis. "Greece guarantees the security of Cyprus."

    Tsohatzopoulos declined to specify exactly when the missiles would be taken to Greece, and he did not divulge any details about the financial aspects of the deal.

    Asked if Cyprus would be getting a different type of missile from Greece in place of the S-300, he again avoided specifics, saying only that "measures would be taken" to ensure that Cyprus could defend itself.

    Bowing to mounting international pressure, President Clerides announced on December 29 last year that the 200 million missiles, ordered in late 1997, were not coming to Cyprus. Turkey had threatened to attack the missiles if they were deployed in Cyprus, prompting the EU, US and UN to push Nicosia to rethink the order.

    The government has made it clear that the missiles are to be deployed and not simply stored in Crete. Reports yesterday suggested Greece would be paying the outstanding amount (about 10 million) owed to the Russian manufacturers and would be stationing in Cyprus some form of shorter-range air-defence system to replace the S-300s.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [03] Akamas exercises postponed as talks continue

    By Anthony O. Miller

    BRITAIN is postponing war games, set to open today in the environmentally fragile Akamas peninsula, pending the outcome of more talks with Cyprus on an alternative site, the British High Commission said yesterday.

    The talks, which began last Friday and resumed yesterday, could end the use - though not the right to the use - of the Akamas for war games by Britain, High Commission Spokesman Piers Cazalet said yesterday.

    "There will be more meetings this week (to discuss) ... possible use by the Bases of the National Guard Firing range at Kalo Chorio" as a substitute for the Akamas.

    Cazalet said the talks have been "constructive and useful so far, and there's no reason to think they won't continue in that way".

    In that light, Major-General Angus Ramsay, commander of British forces in Cyprus, postponed exercises that were to have involved fewer than 100 British troops and no live ammunition, Bases spokesman Rob Need confirmed.

    "It's not just the assessment of the suitability of the (Kalo Chorio) site, it's the conditions upon which that site is offered," that would determine whether Britain would accept the National Guard firing range as an alternative, Need said.

    "The aspiration to train elsewhere remains, so it is in our interest to move as quickly as we can," in reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement, Need said.

    Cazalet noted a local agreement could be negotiated on an alternative site to the Akamas for SBA training without amending the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, which ended Cyprus' status as a British colony. Under the treaty, Britain is entitled to use territory in the Republic several times a year for war games.

    "The right to use the Akamas would still exist. It would still be there," Cazalet said. "We wouldn't make use of it. It would be a local agreement which would have effect, and that's all that matters, really."

    The treaty's signatories included Britain, Greece, Turkey, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. But with all bi-communal activity currently blocked by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, there is little chance he would ever sign any amendment to the Treaty of Establishment that might benefit either Britain or the Republic.

    Cazalet said local environmentalists, who had threatened to try again this month to disrupt any SBA exercises in the Akamas, "can for this week, certainly" put away their protest placards. Need said he saw no anti-war games protesters in a drive through the Akamas at the weekend. He said he was delighted at the apparent reduction in confrontational tactics.

    George Perdikis, Greens Party leader had said his members planned to "face them" if the British held exercises today in the Akamas. Early last month protesters destroyed signs, fencing and damaged portable toilet units in their campaign to stop the Akamas exercises. The bases threatened to seek compensation for some 50,000 in damage to the British property.

    On learning yesterday of the postponement, Perdikis said he hoped there would be a positive outcome to the negotiations between the Cyprus government and the British Bases.

    "The story is not only to get the British out of the Akamas," Perdikis said; "the story is to pursue the government to put into practice the plans for a national park," included in an European Union plan that was financed by the World Bank.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [04] Cyprus pays tribute to King Hussein

    PRESIDENT Clerides was one of more than 40 world leaders who attended yesterday's funeral in Amman of King Hussein of Jordan.

    Cyprus joined the rest of the world yesterday in paying its last respects, and sent a message to the Jordanian people expressing "deep sorrow" over the King's death.

    "King Hussein contributed very much to the peace process in the Middle East and his death is a very real and great loss to Jordan and the whole region, " said the government in an official tribute yesterday.

    In the tribute, Hussein was described as a "personal friend" of President Clerides who had a "great vision for peace".

    "Quite rightly he is called one of the greatest men in contemporary world history," said the government's tribute.

    On leaving Larnaca airport yesterday morning, Clerides described Hussein as a leader of international standing who contributed greatly to the Middle East peace process.

    "He was an exceptional figure, who spoke his mind and dealt with matters in such a way that Jordan, despite its many enemies, managed to survive as an independent state," Clerides said. He was accompanied to the funeral by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides.

    The government also congratulated the new King Abdullah on the assumption of his duties.

    A book of condolences will be opened at the Jordanian consulate in Nicosia this morning.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [05] Man hurt in picket line brawl

    By Athena Karsera

    A PICKET was slightly injured yesterday while trying to stop colleagues not on strike from entering a Larnaca hotel. Unions also met yesterday to discuss extending strike action throughout the hotel industry.

    The unnamed striker suffered minor leg injuries when a taxi driver carrying hotel workers insisted on passing, despite being blocked by picketers. The man was hurt in the resulting brawl.

    The Peo union's hotel representative, Andreas Trahanas, said the pickets had strengthened their measures "and have not allowed any strike-breakers to go in".

    He said that on the tenth day of the strike, delivery men were also not allowed entry to the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels.

    Unions were meeting last night to discuss whether workers at other hotels should join the strike action.

    Yiannakis Phillipou of Peo said he was disappointed that the Cyprus Tourism Businesses Association (Stek) and Hoteliers' Association (Pasyxe) had sided with the owner of the two hotels, Lordos Holdings.

    "It bothers us because they are two organisations with whom we discuss problems in the industry," Phillipou told CyBC radio. He said they had been expecting the two associations' support.

    Picketers outside the two hotels are protesting against the dismissal of 73 of their colleagues after sections of both hotels were turned over to private contractors.

    The director of Lordos Holdings, Constantinos Lordos, has said that he will return to the negotiation table only when picketers stop blocking the hotel entrances for at least 48 hours.

    The company says the dismissals were necessary to combat millions of pounds in losses at the two hotels.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [06] Harbour workers vow to continue strike

    By Athena Karsera

    LARNACA harbour workers yesterday entered the eighth day of strike action with a vow to continue their protest.

    At a meeting in Nicosia with the leadership of the unions Sek, Peo and Deok it was also decided to block the harbour entrance.

    The unions said the strike would only be called off if the government came up with a specific plan to solve the harbour's problems.

    The workers are protesting over a lack of work at the harbour and a delay in the voluntary redundancy packages.

    They also want the implementation of a Development Committee decision to modernise the harbour, guaranteeing them two to four years of further employment.

    The Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation, Oev, expressed concern yesterday over the continuing strike and about Limassol harbour suffering a similar fate.

    Their announcement came after the Ministers of Communications and Tourism, Leontios Ierodiaconou and Nicos Rolandis, met Limassol MPs on problems faced by Limassol harbour.

    During the meeting, Ierodiaconou put the responsibility for the harbour's difficulty in competing internationally on the workers themselves.

    He said that if staff continued to refuse to work shifts and operate the harbour on a 24-hour basis, he would not recommend the government or House upgrade the port.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [07] Israelis decide against appeal

    TWO Israelis jailed for approaching restricted military areas in Cyprus will not appeal against their three-year sentence, their lawyer said yesterday.

    "Although I consider the sentence severe this does not justify filing an appeal," lawyer Antis Triantafyllides told Reuters news agency.

    Igal Damary, 49, and Udi Hargov, 37, were jailed last week after they pleaded guilty to approaching restricted military areas at Zygi on November 6.

    Prosecutors struck a plea bargain with their lawyers and agreed to drop charges of spying, which the two had denied.

    Triantafyllides said he could not appeal against the sentencing because the court had, he said, correctly laid out all the facts and legal arguments in summing up its verdict.

    He said the two men had agreed with him not to lodge an appeal.

    Asked if he would apply for a presidential pardon, Triantafyllides said: "Not now... that is something we will consider later."

    During the trial the Israelis' lawyers said the two belonged to an anti- terrorist squad and that they had come to Cyprus for a meeting with other intelligence agents.

    Police said their suspicions were roused after they saw the two loitering close to a port area where military equipment was being delivered.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [08] Mayor supports Larnaca protests against site of new plant

    By Anthony O. Miller

    LARNACA Mayor George Lycourgos yesterday threatened to mobilise public protests by residents opposed to plans for a second permanent desalination plant near the airport.

    The first planned protest is a rally tomorrow at 12.30pm that will block traffic at the roundabout leading to Larnaca Airport, Lycourgos told a news conference yesterday.

    Many residents oppose siting the desalination facility near the airport, citing adverse effects on the environment. They already feel under seige from air pollution caused by the island's oil refinery, and the exhausts from jet aircraft.

    They want the government to relocate the desalination plant to another site. They have long sought the relocation of the oil refinery, and the government has pledged to relocate it, but questions of cost may prohibit this.

    "Just because there is an available space, it doesn't mean that the unit should be put there. There are also other problems that the Minister (Costas Themistocleous, Agriculture) doesn't mention," Lycourgos said.

    "He has told us that the building won't cause any problems. It doesn't have to do only with the building, but many other things," he said, including pylons and high-tension wires. "There is the danger of upsetting the balance of the eco-system."

    "He hasn't told us about that, because an environmental study would be necessary. How does he or anyone else know what will happen?" the mayor asked.

    "There is one message to the Minister, and it has been confirmed by the experts: that he has to take out a site study, an environmental study in particular, and then decide," on the site.

    European Union environmental experts present at the news conference said the proposed permanent desalination plant would cause more damage to the already fragile Larnaca environment.

    Faced with this, Lycourgos said, his municipality has no choice but to fight Themistocleous' decision to site the new facility in Larnaca.

    Two Israeli joint-venture companies last week won the bid to build the island's second permanent desalination plant.

    After the contract is signed, an environmental assessment will be done and reviewed before building begins, said Nicos Tsiourtis, Water Development Department (WDD) senior water engineer.

    It will take "two months to carry out the (assessment) and two months to evaluate it," Tsiourtis said. "So we'll start work in the fifth month - by May or June."

    The new plant's first water would not start flowing before December 2000 at the soonest, unless the new plant is finished earlier than the expected 18 months.

    Cyprus gets 80 per cent of its water from aquifers, which are all dangerously over-pumped, bone-dry or too seawater-contaminated. It also draws 40,000 cubic metres of water daily from the Dhekelia desalination plant at peak output. Scant reservoir reserves provide the rest.

    Meanwhile, the government hopes to award two tenders this week for two 'mobile' desalination plants to help Cyprus - in its fourth year of drought and strict rationing - get through the coming summer.

    Their bids require them to be on-line 22 weeks after being awarded, and Tsiourtis said he hoped these would be adding to the island's water reserves by "sometime between June and July".

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [09] Dam good weekend for water reserves

    By Andrew Adamides

    THE WEEKEND may have been drab and depressing, but some good came out of the miserable weather yesterday when it was announced that water levels in the reservoirs have been boosted again.

    At 8am yesterday, the total amount of water behind Cyprus' dams stood at just under 39 million cubic metres, 14.5 per cent of their total capacity. At this time last year, they held just 33 million cubic metres.

    Since Friday, five million cubic metres of water have flowed into the reservoirs. Especially affected were the island's largest dams, including Kouris, which now has 9 million cubic metres of water in it, Asprokremos with 15 million, Evreto with 5 million and Dipotamous, which now contains

    almost 700,000 cubic metres.

    Senior water development technician George Socratous said that Cyprus "is in a better position than last year", but he warned that levels were still on the low side. The five million cubic metres which flowed in at the weekend was the largest single increase for some time, he said.

    But the wintry weather wasn't good news for everyone, as the residents of Polis Chrysochous yesterday counted the cost of a whirlwind which swept through the town just after midnight on Sunday, damaging buildings and uprooting trees. Police, the Fire Brigade and Municipality workers were out in force clearing blocked streets of debris.

    Among the buildings damaged were the local gymnasium and the police station, as well as private houses.

    Deputy Mayor Andreas Simionides said an emergency council meeting would decide what measures should be taken. The full extent of the damage had not yet been calculated, he said, adding that his house and garden had been among those which had sustained damage.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [10] Concrete strikers pour into Nicosia

    A CONVOY of about 25 concrete mixers converged on Nicosia yesterday to protest against the implementation of "stifling" controls on the ready-mix industry.

    The island's 60 ready-mix production centres came to a standstill, forcing a halt to work on many construction sites.

    The concrete mixers converged on the Works Ministry to demonstrate against the government's chosen method for monitoring the implementation of strict controls on ready-mix quality.

    Neoclis Kyriacou, of the Association of Ready-mix Concrete Producers, described the government's soon to be introduced monitoring plans as "complicated, time-consuming and bureaucratic".

    Kyriacou said the proposed monitoring method was "too complicated" to explain but would cost the state between 80,000 and 100,000 a year. The association could propose a far more efficient and cost-effective monitoring system, Kyriacou insisted, adding that ready-mix makers were not against the introduction of the new regulations per se.

    If the government failed to respond to yesterday's 24-hour strike "in the next few days" then the association would consider further action, Kyriacou said.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [11] Greens protest against 'let us spray' Polis

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE WIDESPREAD practice of spraying weed killer on road-side verges and wasteland in built-up areas poses a serious health and environmental risk, environmentalists said yesterday.

    In an announcement, the Ecological Movement group focused on weed-control practice in Polis Chrysochou, Paphos. Polis municipality had repeatedly turned a deaf ear to the protests of a local resident concerned about the dangers of spraying, the greens claimed.

    "The municipality worker doing the spraying was wearing a mask, which is indicative of how dangerous the herbicide was, but no official thought was given about the risk to children using the roads," the Ecological Movement said.

    The herbicide used could also contaminate the soil and groundwater, they said.

    But a Polis municipality official dismissed these concerns as groundless.

    He said spraying was a necessary road safety measure: "Because of the rains, which have come early this year, the weeds have shot up, making road side signs invisible."

    The municipality never sprayed on empty lots, as the greens claimed, but only on road verges, the official insisted.

    "The sprays used are not dangerous, they are deactivated on contact with the soil," he said.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [12] Ministers face decision on Miss Universe pageant

    By Andrew Adamides

    THE COUNCIL of Ministers will decide on Thursday about whether or not Cyprus will host the 2000 Miss Universe pageant.

    If the ministers okay the idea, then it is highly likely that the pageant will be held here, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    The biggest obstacle to staging the show is that Cyprus lacks a venue fully suited to the contest. A high-capacity indoor venue is needed, which must comply with contest regulations. At present it is thought that either the Eleftheria Stadium in Nicosia, which falls just short of the usual requirements, or the new GSP stadium will be used.

    The GSP stadium is still under construction, but Rolandis said that it will be finished either by late this year or early next year, and if a cost- effective way can be found to put a roof on the open-air stadium then this will be the most likely venue.

    Hosting the Miss Universe pageant would be a massive boost for Cyprus' economy and image. A worldwide audience of 2.2 billion watch the contest each year, and although the cost of staging it will be between four and five million dollars, the TV rights alone are worth between $3 and $5 million.

    The organisers, the Donald Trump Corporation and CBS, see Cyprus as a particularly suitable venue for the millennium pageant, given that it is the mythical home of Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty.

    Tuesday, February 09, 1999

    [13] Buffer zone pig row settled

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE STINK caused over the Kokkinotrimithia buffer zone pig farmers seems to have dissipated yesterday following a "cordial meeting" of Foreign Ministry and UN officials.

    When Greek Cypriot farmers were denied access to the buffer zone area by UN troops last week the government suggested that peacekeepers were acting in a heavy handed manner.

    The government was also forced to declare that the UN-patrolled buffer zone - which covers three per cent of the island - came under its direct sovereignty, not theirs.

    But a discussion at the Foreign Ministry to clear the air has smoothed over the storm in a pig farm saga.

    "We had a cordial meeting at the Foreign Ministry and there was no disagreement on the status of the buffer zone or practical arrangement on access to it," UN spokesperson Sarah Russell told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Last Wednesday's stand-off occurred when farmers were denied entry because they were not on an updated list which their employer must fill out for the issue of special UN passes.

    "This is the only enterprise in the buffer zone where we had a problem, and it's because of the employer," said Russell.

    It is understood the Foreign Ministry has undertaken the task of getting the employer to supply a new list for the UN.

    "The UN is still hoping to receive a list of names who require passes, and we hope there will not be any more incidents of this kind," Russell said.

    It is unlikely that routine UN checks, like the one which caused such a fuss last week, will take place before the new list is submitted.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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