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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-03-03

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Wednesday, March 03, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Clerides and Kyprianou row over protocol
  • [02] Western embassies step up security over Kurdish threat
  • [03] Shares rise for fifth successive day
  • [04] Fourth man held over Ypsonas hold-up
  • [05] Second man held over bank embezzlement
  • [06] German envoy due next week
  • [07] Radioactive waste scare in occupied mine
  • [08] Beauty pageant could open door to US market
  • [09] Elderly refugees turfed out of their home
  • [10] Non-smokers hit out at duty free bags
  • [11] Telecom liberalisation must speed up, says Vassiliou

  • [01] Clerides and Kyprianou row over protocol

    By Jean Christou

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides and House President Spyros Kyprianou yesterday traded barbs in a row over protocol.

    Kyprianou, leader of the centre-right Diko party, a coalition partner in the last Clerides government, is upset that he has been reduced to communicating with the President through written correspondence.

    A row erupted between the two men earlier this week, when Kyprianou disagreed with Clerides' plan to meet party leaders separately to discuss all outstanding issues.

    Clerides wants to start a wide-ranging dialogue with party leaders on fiscal reforms, which need to be adopted in line with European Union norms.

    He is due to have his first contact today with Alexis Galanos, chairman of the European Democratic Renewal Party.

    Kyprianou said a meeting of the National Council should have been held with all the party leaders, particularly in the wake of the government's cancellation of the Russian S-300 missile deal last December.

    The row yesterday saw Clerides issuing a three-page response to Kyprianou, which the House President described as ironic.

    Clerides said he had been communicating with Kyprianou as head of the Diko party, and not as President of the House.

    "I am sorry to say that his (Clerides') letter had a dose of irony in it," Kyprianou said.

    "I am sad that as President of the House I've been reduced to having to communicate with the President by correspondence only. Everything I wrote as President of the House I signed as President of the House and everything I wrote as President of Diko I signed as President of Diko".

    Kyprianou said the whole situation had reached the stage where he would not continue the correspondence.

    In his three-page statement, Clerides calls on political party leaders to accept his invitation to meet separately.

    Clerides said the issue Kyprianou was referring to had been discussed during several cabinet meetings and that a new meeting was not required.

    "Because discussion on the issue had been carried out, the government's position is that the essence at this time is whether decisions can be taken on critical strategy issues for the country," government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday.

    "In view of the new millennium and EU harmonisation, these were the President's intentions. At no time did he want to eclipse ideology or neutralise political differences and approaches. The president believed and still believes the government, before passing certain laws especially in the area of harmonisation, should hear all the opinions of the parties, and after studying them to try to form laws that would be the most widely accepted and consented to."

    After a meeting late yesterday afternoon, Diko said it would after all take part in the dialogue with the government, but would seek clarification on several issues before announcing its final position.

    Wednesday, March 03, 1999

    [02] Western embassies step up security over Kurdish threat

    By Charlie Charalambous

    WESTERN embassies in Cyprus have received extra protection following information that diplomats may be abducted by Kurdish activists loyal to captured guerilla leader Abdullah Ocalan.

    The French, German and Italian embassies apparently requested extra security from the local authorities after receiving intelligence information about planned Kurdish attacks.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis has reportedly ordered additional security measures to be introduced at the Israeli and US embassies as well.

    "It is true that several embassies, including the French embassy, have asked for reinforced protection just in case," a French embassy source told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    The source added: "We have received information that the Kurds might abduct an ambassador and we were told (from Paris) to ask for increased protection from the Cyprus government."

    Concerns about embassy staff being kidnapped by militant Kurds - who want Ocalan freed from a Turkish prison - were conveyed to the Foreign Ministry, which then briefed Koshis on the situation.

    As a result, the minister ordered the introduction of additional security measures to prevent any threatened Kurdish reprisals.

    "When the police receive such information, it deals with it in the appropriate manner," police spokesman Stelios Neophytou told the Cyprus Mail when asked about the abduction threats.

    "Increased security measures have been in place since Ocalan's capture and they remain in place at specific embassies," said Neophytou.

    It is believed the Italian, German and French diplomatic missions are being targeted, because those countries are have been blamed by Ocalan supporters for not providing the PKK leader with asylum when he was hounded across Europe by Turkey.

    "The German embassy is aware of the dangers and the threats of such incidents worldwide and precautions have been taken," said a German embassy source in Nicosia.

    The Italian embassy confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that it had received special instructions from Rome for its staff to be extra vigilant, both on and off duty.

    "Staff have been told to be careful because of the increased risk of abduction by Kurdish elements, who might find this a convenient way to pursue their interests in freeing Ocalan," said an Italian embassy source.

    Local security forces fear that the US and Israeli embassies are prime targets for Kurdish protestors because of the alleged involvement of their secret services - the CIA and Mossad - in Ocalan's capture in Nairobi last month.

    However, the US embassy said yesterday it would not comment on security matters. And the Israeli embassy said it was taking "all the necessary security measures".

    Despite the diplomatic and police concerns about security, Nicosia was one of the few European capitals to escape violent Kurdish demonstrations in the wake of Ocalan's arrest.

    Wednesday, March 03, 1999

    [03] Shares rise for fifth successive day

    SHARE prices rumbled on higher for the fifth successive session yesterday.

    The day's biggest winner was the Popular Bank, which rose by 15.5 cents to close at 5.49, the same level as the Bank of Cyprus, which inched higher by only six cents.

    The spectacular rise in the Popular Bank shares brought it price parity with its close rival for the first time in weeks.

    "All the cards of the Bank of Cyprus are already on the table, so it was time for the Popular Bank to rally," said Stavros Agrotis of CISCO, the Bank of Cyprus' brokerage and investment arm.

    The all-share index inched up 1.30 per cent to close at 120.30 yesterday, less than four percentage points short of its all-time high of 124.03 recorded last month. The value of trade was a decent 10.21 million, of which 2.63 million were in the blue-chips of the banks and 4.4 million in the manufacturing sector.

    Traders said the volume in manufacturing stocks was exceptionally high as a result of a single transaction involving 1.9 million shares in Cyprus Cement.

    The biggest rise in the bourse's seven sub-indices, however, was in the tourism companies, which rose by 2.95 per cent. The sub-index of the banks rose by 1.74 per cent, while manufacturing, although by far the busiest in yesterday's trade, finished 0.95 per cent down.

    Wednesday, March 03, 1999

    [04] Fourth man held over Ypsonas hold-up

    By Athena Karsera

    POLICE made a fourth arrest linked to the recent bank robbery in Ypsonas as part of a sweep of the city yesterday.

    Driver Stelios Costas Christou, 26, was arrested at his Kivides home at 7am. He had been one of the first people originally questioned in connection with last week's robbery.

    Christou had been finger-printed at Limassol police headquarters on Monday afternoon, and his arrest came yesterday after his prints were matched to those found on a motor-bike linked to the robbery. The bike was reported stolen the day before the robbery and was later found abandoned.

    Christou appeared in court just before noon yesterday and was remanded for eight days.

    The police investigating officer told the Limassol Court that Christou was suspected of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit a crime and stealing a motorcycle.

    He said there was a witness account connecting Christou with all three charges.

    Christou had earlier told police he had nothing to do with the robbery and had never touched the get-away bike.

    His home and those belonging to the three other men already arrested in connection to the hold-up were amongst those searched by police during yesterday's sweep.

    Panicos Chrysostomou, 19, Herodotos Petasis, 34, and Pantelis Ioannou, 26, were arrested the day after the robbery. The trio were remanded in custody last Friday.

    Two masked men were involved in the February 25 robbery in Ypsonas, fleeing the Bank of Cyprus branch on a red Yamaha motorbike. They were then seen in a Fiat Mirafiori, which Petasis was later seen driving.

    Police have failed to find the stolen cash - 19,400 - or the guns and helmets used during the raid.

    Police sources yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the sweep fell within the framework of the fight against organised crime and involved approximately 80 officers, including elements from the riot and flying squad.

    The operation, which ended just before noon and is expected to continue today, covered Limassol town and the surrounding villages of Episkopi, Erimi and Kivides.

    The Limassol duty officer yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that police had searched the homes, shops or cars of six people yesterday.

    He said no weapons or explosives had been found during the searches, but that several objects were confiscated as evidence.

    Wednesday, March 03, 1999

    [05] Second man held over bank embezzlement

    A MAN employed at a Nicosia betting shop was remanded in custody yesterday in connection with the 1.3 million embezzlement from a Popular Bank branch.

    Yiannakis Martoudis, 35, was arrested by police yesterday and later remanded for four days by a Nicosia district court.

    Police want to question him in connection with the bank scam in which branch manager Haralambos Kokkinos has allegedly admitted to accessing customer accounts and redirecting them to a third account.

    This third account fuelled Kokkinos' gambling addiction, a court heard last Friday when the Strovolos bank manager was remanded for eight days.

    Kokkinos, also 35, apparently told police he blew the money on the horses and dog racing.

    Police believe that the bank account into which the money was syphoned was created in Martoudis' name; they suspect he had full knowledge of what was going on.

    Wednesday, March 03, 1999

    [06] German envoy due next week

    GERMAN special envoy Detlev Graf Zu Rantzau is to visit Cyprus next week to discuss latest developments on the national problem and the country's EU accession progress.

    Speaking yesterday, German embassy spokesman Andreas Schroeder said that Zu Rantzau would in particular be discussing "recent developments after the decision not to deploy anti-aircraft missiles in Cyprus, and the events of the past three months."

    He added that the accession process and the overall situation in Cyprus would also be on the agenda, as would the continuing UN peace effort on the island.

    Asked if the Ocalan affair would have any bearing on the envoy's talks, Schroeder said that, "unfortunately the Ocalan affair is not helpful, but we hope that this problem will be solved in a certain way."

    The spokesman added that he hoped the Ocalan situation would not have a negative effect on the Cyprus question.

    Zu Rantzau will arrive on Sunday, and meets President Glafcos Clerides on Monday morning. During his five-day stay, he will also have meetings with Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and Cyprus' chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou.

    He will also meet foreign diplomats, including British High Commissioner David Madden and US Ambassador Kenneth Brill. In addition, the German envoy will meet with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and UN permanent representative Dame Ann Hercus.

    Hercus yesterday met with President Glafcos Clerides for an hour in the framework of her shuttle talks initiative. In compliance with the media blackout ordered by Dame Ann, no statements were made after the meeting.

    Meanwhile, Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides yesterday confirmed that US state department special representative on Cyprus Thomas Miller would visit Cyprus before March 15. He said Miller's visit had been scheduled and confirmed before the Ocalan affair broke out, and that, although Miller would probably not be able to avoid the issue, his visit had nothing to do with the tension it had caused.

    Stylianides also said that, although no date had yet been given for the visit, it was expected to take place before Cassoulides travels to Europe later in the month.

    The government spokesman also hit out at Turkish attempts to pull Cyprus into its dispute with the Kurds, saying this was "propaganda".

    Wednesday, March 03, 1999

    [07] Radioactive waste scare in occupied mine

    By Martin Hellicar

    TOXIC waste problems in Cyprus are not limited to the government-controlled areas. The occupied north, according to reports in the Turkish Cypriot press, has its own legacy of hazardous waste pollution - radioactive at that.

    As a government official admitted to the Cyprus Mail last week, thousands of tonnes of toxic waste are every year dumped into unsuitable landfill sites in the free areas - posing a serious pollution risk and threat to human health.

    But the situation would appear to be even more worrying in the north, if reports in Kibris newspaper are anything to go by.

    The daily stated that when the US-owned Cyprus Mining Company (CMC) abandoned its workings at Karavostasi during the 1974 invasion, it left behind acid wastes but also waste monitoring equipment containing radioactive Caesium 137.

    Turkish Cypriot nuclear scientist Mehmet Ozerkman, who used to work for CMC, told the paper that 12 vats full of acid at the mine ore smelting site contained 14 monitoring devices which had been emitting radioactivity ever since the site was abandoned.

    Forty Turkish Cypriots who used to work at the Karavostasi site are undergoing medical tests to see if they have developed cancer from exposure to the radioactivity at their former work place, the paper reported.

    Karavostasi is in the Morphou district, only about three kilometres from the Greek Cypriot village of Ayios Nicolaos.

    It is not clear whether radioactive emissions from the abandoned site could be affecting the government-controlled areas, but Caesium 137 is easily dispersed in groundwater or in dust.

    Kibris followed up its radioactive waste report with revelations about 50 barrels of cyanide it said had been buried at the old CMC mines at Lefka, 2km away from Karavostasi.

    The paper said the deadly waste was buried as long ago as 1945, when CMC decided to stop mining for gold at Lefka and process the available ore for copper instead. Cyanide is used in extracting gold from ore and CMC's supplies were surplus to requirements after the switch to copper. So the US- owned company decided to dispose of the waste underground, the paper stated.

    It is believed the barrels of waste were dumped at two sites in the buffer- zone. A lake near Karavostasi has been so contaminated by seepage from these barrels that a Turkish Cypriot shepherd lost all 200 of his sheep when he made the mistake of letting his flock drink from it in 1995, Kibris reported.

    The head of the government Environment Service, Nicos Georgiades, could not be contacted for comment on the matter yesterday.

    Wednesday, March 03, 1999

    [08] Beauty pageant could open door to US market

    By Anthony O. Miller

    STAGING the Miss Universe 2000 Pageant in Cyprus is just one arrow in the quiver of Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis, who said yesterday that Cyprus was taking special aim in targeting America as a source of tourists and business investment for Cyprus.

    "What we have in mind about the millennium is directed to a great extent to the US market. We are targeting the US market, which is a very important market," Rolandis said.

    "We are trying to increase American tourism (but) we get a very small percentage" of the 11 million Americans expected to visit Europe this year, he said.

    Of these, "some 2 million visit the Middle East" - Israel, Egypt and elsewhere. He wants "to get those who are travelling to the Eastern Mediterranean" to visit Cyprus, he said.

    To do this, Rolandis said, he is working on tourist packages and even direct flights from the United States to Cyprus - though this last effort has produced "no results so far," he added.

    The campaign includes staging the Miss Universe 2000 Pageant in Cyprus: "It will place us on the tourist map of the US, because the advertising value of the this event in the US, according to CBS estimates, is $280 million," Rolandis said.

    That is how much it would cost "to buy this advertising time for Cyprus, in addition to other indirect benefits."

    Rolandis and US Ambassador Kenneth Brill yesterday discussed not only grabbing a share of the US tourism market, but the larger picture of Cyprus as an Eastern Mediterranean hub for US high-tech companies.

    US-Cyprus sectors they discussed included medicine, solar and environmental technologies, telecommunications, computer hardware and software, and agro- industries, Rolandis said.

    But their talks yesterday were constrained - "we are at the very beginning of discussing this subject" - by the fact the Council of Ministers has not yet reviewed his Ministry's 60-page, 12-volume, industrial policy statement.

    It took him, "personally," and 10 of his top experts five months to compile, he said. He said the policy statement would "open a new industrial era in Cyprus, including high-technology." It will be discussed by ministers later this month.

    "So, before I have the decision of the Council of Ministers on the new industrial policy... I cannot be very specific," Rolandis said.

    Despite this, "we exchanged some very useful matters on this with Kenneth Brill" yesterday about trade, industry and investments, he said, adding "trade relations are quite good" with the United States. They continue to be good."

    Besides trade with America, Rolandis said Cyprus expected to improve trade ties with Russia, Israel and the European Union. "We are targeting a number of markets for this co-operation."

    Rolandis said he met last week with a Miss Universe 2000 Pageant vice- president, discussed details, and the woman and her organising committee were "pleased with Cyprus."

    "They were (also) puzzled with what they saw in Cyprus. They never anticipated seeing such a developed country in this part of the world. They liked it very much," he said.

    While the pageant is traditionally staged in "the Americas," Rolandis said, its organisers "now feel that they could move outside the US."

    "By selecting Cyprus, and also giving the connection of the Year 2000, the millennium, with the country where 'the first Miss Universe ever' was elected 800 years before Christ... there is a special connection between a beauty contest of this magnitude, and Aphrodite," he said.

    Wednesday, March 03, 1999

    [09] Elderly refugees turfed out of their home

    BULLDOZERS moved in before dawn in Xylotymbou village yesterday morning to demolish the home of two elderly refugees who had doggedly refused to budge despite an eviction order.

    On Monday, Angelis Mina, 86, and his sister Kyriakou, 82, had won round one of their battle against the bulldozers by refusing to leave their home long enough to give fellow villagers and Diko deputy Marios Matsakis time to intervene. Angelis and Kyriacou's home - which they have lived in since abandoning Kontea village in 1974 - was propped up by fellow villagers to try and limit the damage done by the earth-removers.

    But the siblings' luck ran out at 5am yesterday when the bulldozers moved in to finish the job before fellow-villagers had a chance to respond.

    Angelis and Kyriacou were left out on the street with their meagre belongings.

    The siblings owned one sixth of the land on which their home stood, but the owners of the other five sixths decided to sell it to a developer, a move they were, by law, entitled to make. They offered Angelis 14,000 and help to move to the Aik refugee estate outside Larnaca in an attempt to convince him to agree to the sale, but he declined. The money was deposited in an account in Angelis's name and the property on which his home stood sold.

    With the elderly refugees still refusing to leave their home, the new owner secured an eviction order and sent the bulldozers in.

    Angelis and Kyriacou were yesterday staying in temporary accommodation till a new home could be found for them.

    Wednesday, March 03, 1999

    [10] Non-smokers hit out at duty free bags

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRUS Airways is damaging the island's tourism and political prospects, not by strikes but displaying tobacco advertising on duty free bags.

    This claim was slapped on the national carrier yesterday by the Non-smoking League, which is outraged that CY peddles lethal duty free cigarettes instead of the island's cultural heritage.

    Non-smokers are unhappy that the airline adorns its plastic bags with tobacco brand names, and not pictures of Aphrodite or Ayia Napa beaches, which they say represent the historic and social life of the island.

    "Cyprus Airways has the capability and the chance to project on a daily basis the island's charms and culture with beneficial consequences to the economy and solving the national problem," a press release from the League yesterday.

    It suggested that the airline should work with the Cyprus Tourism Organisation towards this aim, but "instead, Cyprus Airways promotes killer products like cigarettes on its plastic bags, something which even the smallest corner shop doesn't do," the press release said.

    Tobacco advertising is only banned on television and radio in Cyprus.

    The airline is currently operating non-smoking flights from Larnaca to London and Athens, although pilots are allowed to puff away in the cockpit.

    Wednesday, March 03, 1999

    [11] Telecom liberalisation must speed up, says Vassiliou

    THE LIBERALISATION of the telecommunications sector must be speeded up in keeping with European directives, Cyprus' chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou stressed again yesterday.

    Vassiliou was speaking after a morning meeting with President Glafcos Clerides and others to discuss the acceleration of the liberalisation of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA).

    He noted that this process had been "slow" and pointed out that this was beneficial neither to Cyprus nor to CyTA itself, as it wold not be able to compete in the new liberalised market.

    EU officials have singled out the telecommunications' sector as lagging behind Cyprus' harmonisation process.

    During yesterday's meeting, Vassiliou said decisions had been taken on how to proceed with liberalisation and described the meeting as "useful".

    "We came to common decisions about how we're going to proceed, and now the only thing that's left for us is to actually go and do the work." he said.

    Communications Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou, who also took part in the meeting, said that the decisions taken included proposals being prepared to go before the House which, in effect, would make CyTA a private company. All changes in the law would, he added, be ready by the end of the year.

    "We have to make the process quicker, and we discussed how to change the procedures so that the necessary laws can be drafted," he said.

    The government announced plans in January to turn the state telecommunications monopoly into a joint-stock company.

    The announcement, which appeared to be a prelude to the eventual privatisation of CyTA, triggered an angry response from trade unions and opposition politicians, who argue liberalisation should not automatically mean privatisation of the semi-government organisation - just a relaxation of its monopoly.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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