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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-03-04

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, March 04, 1999


  • [01] Clerides embarks on 'historic' dialogue for EU reform
  • [02] 'Cyprus stop-lists Ocalan aides'
  • [03] CY pay meetings yield some progress
  • [04] Annan hopes for Cyprus progress this year
  • [05] Cyprus expects first step from Turkey on mine clearance
  • [06] Mines service to investigate radioactive threat in occupied areas
  • [07] Court to decide on hotel video evidence
  • [08] Telephonists to strike for higher wages
  • [09] Police probe drugs abduction claim
  • [10] Man jailed on gun charge
  • [11] Man jailed for Fanieros break-in
  • [12] Supermarket owner released for lack of evidence
  • [13] 35 years ago, the UN first approved a Cyprus force
  • [14] EU delegation launches website
  • [15] A different world comes to Cyprus
  • [16] Broadcasting bodies on collision course

  • [01] Clerides embarks on 'historic' dialogue for EU reform

    By Charlie Charalambous

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday embarked on a "historic" challenge to persuade the island's political leaders to embrace the government's push towards EU accession.

    "It's a historic challenge for all of us that we should find consensus on strategic and crucial issues so there are no delays or divergences from the acquis communautaire," government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday, announcing the start of the consensus dialogue.

    Clerides kicked-off his round of contacts - to seek fast-track approval of government business - by meeting European renewal party boss Alexis Galanos.

    The first phase of the dialogue will concentrate on finding the middle ground on planned legislation for liberalising the economy.

    Stylianides warned that Cyprus would be stuck at the back of the EU accession class if the political leaders did not grasp the challenge with both hands.

    "The government wishes to emphasise that this dialogue is exceptionally important so Cyprus can approach the new millennium on the best of terms, and not be a Cyprus bringing up the rear."

    Clerides is hoping that he can get majority support for pushing through deregulation of interest rates, lifting restrictions on foreign investment and putting tax hikes back on the agenda.

    Other painful issues that the government will have a hard time selling to the opposition include the government's plans to liberalise the telecommunications sector and sell off its shares in companies like Cyprus Airways and the Hilton.

    Major opposition parties such as Akel and Diko have made it clear they are not about to lose votes in order to back the government's unpopular tax and privatisation policies.

    Clerides' chances of reaching any form of consensus with sceptical party leaders seem somewhat limited, judging by comments from Diko deputy Marcos Kyprianou.

    "Unfortunately, the procedure chosen and the impression given hasn't persuaded us that the aim is consensus, but rather the opposite, such as securing votes in the House for the government's economic policies, nothing else."

    Marcos Kyprianou explained that Clerides wasn't searching for consensus, rather for ways to push through unpopular legislation backed by a pro- government minority in the House.

    "The impression given is that there are unpopular tax measures and privatisation plans that the people haven't accepted and for which a minority government is trying to secure a majority vote," the Diko deputy said.

    "I think they are trying to avoid last year's tax fiasco," he added.

    Last May, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou took a painful tax package to the House, which was unceremoniously booted out by deputies angry at the government's failure to consult, even with its own coalition partners.

    Smarting from defeat, a cautious Christodoulou has now tried to find a smoother ride for multi-million tax increases which need to see VAT rise from eight to 15 per cent (the EU average) over the next three years.

    The government needs to increase its sources of revenue - slapping extra duty on cigarettes and alcohol are part of the package - to narrow a yawning public deficit which is projected to reach nearly six per cent of GDP.

    Nevertheless, George Vassiliou, the island's EU negotiator, believes that, when it comes to the crunch, opposition parties will abandon point scoring for the good of the country.

    "In my experience, when it comes down to the need for a bill to be passed, the disagreements stop," Vassiliou said.

    And the EU negotiator warned the island did not have time to drag its feet over the freeing of interest rates and other important issues.

    "We do not have the luxury for bills like this not be passed by the House," said Vassiliou.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [02] 'Cyprus stop-lists Ocalan aides'

    CYPRUS has stop-listed the three Kurdish women who accompanied separatist guerilla leader Abdullah Ocalan in his last days of freedom, Antenna television reported last night.

    Antenna quoted security sources as saying Dylan Semse Kilic, 39, Nucan Derya, 23, and Milsa Deniz, 19, had been black-listed earlier yesterday.

    No explanation for the move was given, but Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides told deputies at the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday that, "We have to be very careful not to give the impression that our steady position (of sympathy towards the Kurdish cause)... might give Turkey the weapon that we, for any reason, want to show hostility or hatred towards Turkey."

    Antenna did point out that, according to their sources, none of the three women had in fact showed any interest in coming to the island.

    The three women were brought to Athens from Kenya last Thursday. Two were given political asylum in Greece and the third has a Belgian passport.

    On Saturday, the women launched a forthright attack against their hosts, accusing Greece of being part of a Turkish, US and Israeli conspiracy to capture Ocalan.

    "We will never forget that our leader was handed over by Greek officials," Kilic told a news conference.

    She said Ocalan would not have followed the Kenyans leading him to his Turkish captors if he had not been assured of safe passage by the then Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    Pangalos and several other government officials resigned over the affair.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [03] CY pay meetings yield some progress

    By Jean Christou

    A SERIES of meetings yesterday between Cyprus Airways (CY) and its employees could help break the current deadlock over pay rises, union bosses said.

    Two of the airline's five unions, Pasipy which represents pilots and Sypkka which represents cabin crew, say they will not ask for pay rises in 1999, but made it clear they had other demands which they want fulfilled.

    The other three unions, led by Cynika, the airline's largest, will insist on the 4.5 per cent rise in wages and benefits granted to semi-government organisations.

    The three unions cover engineers, administrative and other staff, along with a small proportion of cabin crew and pilots.

    CY management met separately with the two union blocs, first with Pasipy and Sypkka and then with the other three unions.

    Cynika leader Costas Demetriou said some progress had been achieved, and a new series of meetings had been set up for later in the month to continue the dialogue on pay.

    It is believed the decision was taken following a new confidential proposal by the company; reports suggested the pay rises would be discussed as part of negotiations on a new collective agreement, a proposal previously rejected by Cynika.

    "With the ideas that were expressed, we appear to have left the deadlock behind," Demetriou said. "Progress will definitely be made over the next one or two meetings."

    CY management is set to meet the three unions on March 19. It will meet Sypkka on March 12 and Pasipy on March 15.

    Demetriou was critical of the two unions for not insisting on the pay demands.

    "Our positions should not be separate," he said.

    "We believe this is wrong because it strengthens the company's position. In Cynika there are also pilots and stewards; we want a rise for these people and the three unions are unanimous about what they believe in."

    Demetriou said he believed that, if the issue came to further strikes, the two unions would still support the majority of employees in their industrial action.

    "At least from what they told us, nothing has changed on this issue," he said. Cynika staff staged a four-hour strike on January 28.

    After yesterday's separate meetings on employee demands, CY management met again with all five unions to hold discussions on the future of the company, in relation to international air liberalisation and the resulting competition that CY will soon have to face.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [04] Annan hopes for Cyprus progress this year

    UN SECRETARY-general Kofi Annan has said that, although the Cyprus Problem is now more complicated, he hopes the peace process on the island my be advanced this year.

    Speaking on Tuesday in New York, Annan reiterated that the government's decision not to deploy the S-300 missiles in Cyprus had helped reduce tension in the area. This had come about, he added, "based on the work of (UN permanent representative on Cyprus) Dame Ann Hercus".

    Hercus is currently holding shuttle talks with the two sides, under a media blackout.

    "We will continue our efforts to try and seek a solution to this conflict. It is not an easy conflict and as you know, we have lived with it quite a while." Annan said.

    He added that during the course of this year, he hoped the process could be moved forward, but said he was not in a position to give details at present.

    Annan was speaking mainly about the increased tension between Greece and Turkey after the arrest of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.

    "I hope that this difficult period, this tension, will be overcome and that it is not going to lead to any war," Annan said.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [05] Cyprus expects first step from Turkey on mine clearance

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS will attend the first meeting of states that are party to the Ottawa Convention for a global ban on landmines in May, the Foreign Ministry confirmed yesterday.

    March 1 marked the entry into force of the Convention banning anti- personnel mines, signed in Ottawa by 160 countries including Cyprus. Major non-signatories included the US, Russia, China and Israel.

    Ratification of the treaty is now beginning among the 160 signatories, with the first meeting due to take place in Mozambique between May 3 and 7.

    Alecos Shambos, Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Ministry, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that a Cypriot delegation would be attending the meeting.

    He said that, although Cyprus has not yet ratified the treaty, it was before the House of Representatives.

    "We have reaffirmed our readiness to remove the mines," Shambos said, adding, however, that the co-operation of the Turkish side would have to be secured to do the job.

    "And I don't think there are any signs for this type of positive co- operation," he said.

    There are some 38 minefields and booby trapped areas in the 180-km long buffer zone that divides the island and a further 73 minefields located within 500 metres of it. It is estimated there are more than 16,000 landmines still buried on the island.

    UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan said on Monday he hoped as many states as possible would participate in the May meeting.

    "The battle ahead is to make this treaty fully effective, not just in law, but also in implementation, not just in the capitals of the signatories, but also in the fields and forests where mines still exist, not just in principle but in practice," Annan said in a statement.

    Successive UN Secretary-generals have in their reports on Cyprus expressed serious concern over the fact that no progress has ever been made in removing landmines from the island.

    UN Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus brought the issue to the fore when she was appointed as the Secretary-general's Permanent Representative late last year. She said the demining issue was high up on a list of subjects she had raised with President Clerides.

    Shambos confirmed the issue was part of the "Hercus process".

    "There is every willingness on our part to go ahead, provided there is a positive response from the other side," he said.

    Canada, which contributed troops to Unficyp for 30 years, has already said it would be willing to assist Cyprus in the removal of the landmines.

    Last year, two Argentine peacekeepers narrowly escaped injury when a mine exploded under their patrol vehicle near the Turkish occupied village of Lefka.

    In 1997, a 37-year old father of three was killed in a mine explosion after following his dog into a minefield in the government-controlled area, near to but not inside the buffer zone.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [06] Mines service to investigate radioactive threat in occupied areas

    By Martin Hellicar

    AGRICULTURE Minister Costas Themistocleous has instructed the Mines Service to investigate reports of dangerous waste at Lefka and Karavostasi in the occupied Morphou area.

    "The Minister asked for a report from the Mines Service as soon as he saw the reports," Nicos Georgiades, director of the Ministry's environment service, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibris reported earlier this week that both radioactive monitoring equipment and barrels full of deadly cyanide had been left behind at the Cyprus Mining Company's (CMC) abandoned mines and smelting works at Lefka and at Karavostasi respectively.

    The Mines Service had records of what was used at the two sites and could shed light on what might be present, Georgiades said.

    The government scientist declined to comment on the risks posed by the toxic waste reported to be at the two occupied villages, saying it would be wrong to do so before the Mines Service had produced its report.

    He admitted that the government could do little about it, even if it was proved an environmental risk existed. Karavostasi is deep in Turkish-held territory, while Lefka impinges on the UN-controlled buffer zone.

    "We could not do anything, except maybe put some pressure on the Turkish side through the UN," Georgiades said.

    Kibris stated that when the US-owned CMC abandoned its workings at Karavostasi during the 1974 invasion, it left behind acid waste but also waste monitoring equipment containing radioactive Caesium 137.

    The paper followed up its radioactive waste report with revelations about 50 barrels of cyanide it said had been buried by CMC at Lefka in 1945.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [07] Court to decide on hotel video evidence

    NICOSIA hotels held two-hour strikes in sympathy with Larnaca colleagues yesterday, while a court continued its hearing into 46 Larnaca pickets accused of violating court orders taken out by management.

    The 34 Lordos hotel pickets and 12 union representatives first appeared in Court on February 15.

    They had been issued with a summons for allegedly breaching court orders taken out by management prohibiting them from blocking the entrances to the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels.

    Staff at the two Larnaca hotels have been striking since the end of January seeking the reinstatement of 73 employees dismissed when sections of the two hotels, and a third currently closed for the winter season, were turned over to outside contractors.

    Lordos Holdings, the company that owns the hotels, has said the cut-backs were necessary to combat chronic losses at the hotels.

    Yesterday, the Larnaca District Court tried to determine whether a video recording of a February 4 episode at the entrance of the Lordos Beach hotel was admissible evidence.

    The incident was recorded from the roof by a hotel employee.

    The video allegedly shows a taxi trying to enter the hotel car-park and being obstructed by the pickets.

    Defence lawyer Nicos Papaefstathiou objected to the video being shown in court, saying a screening would violate the strikers' rights.

    Prosecuting lawyer Antonakis Andreou replied that the unions did not want the tape to shown so that the true events could be covered up.

    The Court will make its final decision on whether the tape can be used on March 10.

    Meanwhile, all Nicosia hotels held a two strike starting at 10 am yesterday in support of their colleagues at the two Larnaca hotels. Similar strikes have already taken place in other towns across the island.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [08] Telephonists to strike for higher wages

    GOVERNMENT telephonists are to go on strike today, demanding to be placed on higher salary scales.

    The telephonists are also after guarantees from the government that they won't be usurped by mechanised networks and that positions will be created for telephonists who are replaced by machines.

    In an official press release issued yesterday, the Finance Ministry described the telephonists' demands as "not in line" with the expectations of other civil servants at the same level.

    It added that, if the salaries were upgraded, those already on the scales the telephonists aspire to will also expect to be upgraded, and it will end up costing the government a fortune.

    At present, the highest salary a telephonist can make is £880 a month. On the scales the telephonists are demanding, the highest-paid telephonists would make £1,036 a month.

    The ministry said that, as a gesture of good will, the government had recently upgraded salaries and granted telephonists promotions.

    The strike was, it added, completely unnecessary.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [09] Police probe drugs abduction claim

    POLICE have made an arrest in connection with a suspected drug-related abduction in Nicosia.

    According to a police report released yesterday, 25 year-old Kyriacos Agapiou was arrested on Tuesday night for allegedly abducting and causing actual bodily harm to Nicos Eleftheriou, 27.

    Police believe the abduction may be linked to drug dealing.

    According to Eleftheriou's statement to police, on Monday night Agapiou tricked him into a car, which took him to a deserted spot on the Cyprus University campus, where a second man, who was masked, threw tear-gas towards the vehicle and pulled Eleftheriou out of Agapiou's car.

    The masked man then attacked Eleftheriou.

    Following the attack, Agapiou took him to Nicosia General hospital, where he was diagnosed with injuries to his head, body and as having concussion.

    Eleftheriou discharged himself on Tuesday afternoon.

    He told police that he owed Agapiou £750 for drugs he intended to sell to other people.

    Police investigations are continuing.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [10] Man jailed on gun charge

    LARNACA Assizes court yesterday jailed 22-year-old Charalambos Martis for three years on charges of carrying an offensive weapon and intending to use it to cause harm.

    The court heard that during a sting operation in the Famagusta area, designed to smash a local drugs ring, an undercover officer set up a meeting with dealers by posing as an Arab with £20,000 to spend on drugs.

    The meeting was set up for an Ayia Napa car park, where the officer playing the part of the 'Arab' arrived with a companion. Martis, from Frenaros, arrived, demanded to see the cash and then took the 'Arab's' companion to see the drugs they were buying.

    However, he then returned alone with a tear gas spray and a knife and demanded the 'Arab' turn over the cash to him. For his own safety, the undercover officer did so, but then pulled his gun and alerted other officers waiting nearby. Martis was arrested just 50 metres away.

    In passing verdict, Martis' lawyer asked the court to take into account the fact that Martis had been persuaded by others to be involved in the deal, that he'd used no actual violence and that he had voluntarily shown police where he threw away the knife and tear gas spray.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [11] Man jailed for Fanieros break-in

    A MENEOU man was yesterday jailed for breaking into the Aradippou home of Loucas Fanieros.

    Larnaca Assizes Court heard that Christakis Antheas, 23, had been driven to the house by a friend and had entered it in the hope of finding evidence that two Russian Greeks he believed to be Fanieros' bodyguards were staying there. Once inside the house, he found two other people sitting in there, realised he had been mistaken about the Pontiac Greeks, and left, but was later arrested.

    Antheas' lawyer asked the court to take into account that

    Antheas hadn't been the instigator of the crime, that he was broke and had only agreed to do it for the money he'd been offered, and that, after his arrest, he had given police evidence that could help solve several murder investigations.

    But although the court said it had taken into account Antheas' hard life and troubled background, a statement said it had "no option" but to sentence him to nine months in prison.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [12] Supermarket owner released for lack of evidence

    A MAZOTOS supermarket owner suspected of paying a would-be killer groceries to murder his wife's lover was yesterday released without charge for lack of evidence.

    Kyriacos Vassiliou, 40, was arrested after 32-year-old painter Demetris Gavriel told the supposed victim that he had been promised £5,000 in food and cash to kill Vassiliou's wife's older live-in lover.

    Vassiliou's 36-year-old wife left him in January 1998 to live with Pavlos Anastasis, a 53 year-old taverna chef.

    She is now eight months pregnant.

    Gavriel, also known as Billy, went to Anastasis' home on February 19 and revealed Vassiliou's alleged plan.

    Both he and Vassiliou were arrested on February 23 and remanded for five days on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

    A police spokesman yesterday said the Court had found Gavriel's statement against Vassiliou inconsistent.

    Gavriel remains in police custody.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [13] 35 years ago, the UN first approved a Cyprus force

    THIRTY-FIVE years ago yesterday, after months of clashes between Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the island, the UN Security Council authorised the establishment of a UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus - for a limited period of three months.

    On March 5, 1964, the Cyprus Mail reported that the peace-keeping force would be composed of contingents from Commonwealth and non-aligned countries. Then UN Secretary general, U Thant, was instructed to make the necessary arrangements in consultation with the governments of Cyprus, Britain, Greek and Turkey. U Thant was authorised to appoint a force commander and a mediator to try to end intercommunal violence on the island.

    Addressing the Security Council before the vote, U Thant emphasised that the force would a "fixed and firm operation of three months."

    Spyros Kyprianou, then Foreign Minister, told the Security Council: "I would like on behalf of my government to express to the Council our appreciation for the understanding shown by all members and their sincere desire to help in solving the problems of Cyprus."

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [14] EU delegation launches website

    THE EUROPEAN Commission's delegation to Cyprus yesterday launched its website, offering the latest information on the EU's relations with Cyprus and the island's accession course.

    Welcoming net surfers with a page proclaiming "Nicosia, capital of Cyprus with its Venetian bastions, the last divided capital of Europe", the site includes background information about the EU, information about EU institutions and the Euro. It also offers a Euro currency converter. Regularly updated EU press releases relating to Cyprus will help internet surfers keep track of the EU's relationship and dealings with Cyprus.

    The site also offers many EU-themed links to other sites.

    It is currently available only in English, but Greek and Turkish versions will soon be on line as well. The Cyprus EU negotiating team has already launched its own website aimed at keeping both Greek and Turkish Cypriots up to date with the accession process.

    The new EU site's address is

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [15] A different world comes to Cyprus

    By Andrew Adamides

    IN AN event described as the biggest in the history of the Cyprus fashion scene, top Greek fashion designer Michaelis Aslanis is to show his Summer 1999 collection in Cyprus on June 14.

    At a glamorous press conference yesterday, sponsors Rado Swiss Watches and ad agency Telia and Pavla/BBDO said that the collection, named 'A Different World', would be shown at Pavilion Six at the State Fair. All proceeds from the show will go to support Cyprus' Olympic team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

    The collection, which will premiere in Greece on May 10 is extra special, as it marks Aslanis' 25th anniversary in the fashion business. Models from both Greece and Cyprus will be participating. Tickets are available from Telia and Pavla/BBDO on 02-377745.

    Born in Halkida, Greece, Aslanis studied at the Vakalo School of Graphic Design, Art History and Theatre before opting into the fashion world. His first collection came out in 1974, and he is now considered to be amongst the finest Greek designers. He has participated in a Red Cross benefit fashion show in Monaco at the personal request of Princess Caroline, along with the likes of Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent and Calvin Klein. He also took part in a Paris show crammed full of top designer names to mark 25 years of the city's prêt-à-porter.

    He has also recently brought out a collection of hosiery Aslanis Theassis, which is currently available in Cyprus.

    Thursday, March 04, 1999

    [16] Broadcasting bodies on collision course

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE BROADCASTING advisory committee would appear to be on a collision course with the broadcasting authority even before it has officially taken on its duties.

    The state-appointed members of the advisory committee faced off with the head of the broadcasting authority, former Justice Minister Alecos Evangelou, at the House interior committee yesterday.

    The House committee was considering provisions pertaining to the advisory committee contained in a package of regulations backing up the 1998 broadcasting law. The advisory committee will only begin work after the regulations - which impose strick controls on sex and violence on television - have been approved by the plenum.

    Evangelou and advisory committee members disagreed over what the committee's remit should be. Advisory committee members, led by Journalists' union head Andreas Kannaouros, called for the committee to be informed and consulted on all the issues considered by the broadcasting authority.

    "We don't want to get in the authority's feet, but we want the advisory committee to know of all that is going on," Kannaouros said.

    Evangelou blanched at this, insisting the authority should not be obliged to let the advisory committee in on everything.

    Kannaouros went further: "Shouldn't the advisory committee be allowed to issue announcements?" he wondered.

    "For God's sake, no! It is an advisory body to the authority, it cannot do this," interior committee chairman Nicos Katsourides replied. "It would be like a newspaper's sports department issuing statements for the newspaper," the Akel deputy said.

    Katsourides backed Evangelou, saying the advisory committee should be just that, and no more.

    Everyone at the committee was at pains to insist confrontation between the broadcasting authority and its advisory committee was the last thing they wanted, but the atmosphere during yesterday's discussion did not bode well for future relations between the two.

    The interior committee is to continue examination of further aspects of the 100-page broadcasting regulations next week.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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