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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-03-17

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

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


Wednesday, March 17, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Stylianides quits in protest over Michaelides
  • [02] Stylianides had enough of a government he could no longer defend
  • [03] Ex-offshore boss saved from immediate deportation
  • [04] Unficyp commander to stay on beyond his tour of duty
  • [05] Turks move offending buoy
  • [06] Shepherd jailed for Kilani killing
  • [07] Georgians held after mass brawl
  • [08] Police seeking to weed out unfit officers
  • [09] Edek calls on Lordos to back down over strikes
  • [10] More must be done for the elderly
  • [11] Looking for WRAC bridesmaids

  • [01] Stylianides quits in protest over Michaelides

    By Charlie Charalambous

    DARK clouds hovered over the Clerides administration yesterday after the shock resignation of government spokesman Christos Stylianides over the Michaelides affair.

    Seemingly distancing himself from an unpopular government stained by stubborn sleaze allegations, Stylianides stood down in protest at last week's cabinet's decision to clear Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides.

    His very public schism - for "reasons of principle" - is now expected to instigate a fully-fledged reshuffle in which Michaelides is widely tipped to be the first out the door.

    Nevertheless, in his resignation speech to the press, the former government spin-doctor made it very clear his desertion was no slur on the president.

    "I spoke to the president today about the decision. We maintain a good relationship and he is someone I respect," Stylianides said yesterday.

    "But I took this decision solely on reasons of principle," he added.

    As a loyal government spokesman to the last, Stylianides tried to deflect any link between his resignation and a direct criticism of Clerides.

    "I evaluated and assessed the evidence differently and no one should judge the president's ethical character, which is beyond reproach."

    In his letter of resignation, Stylianides made it clear that, in the light of his disagreement over the handling of the Michaelides affair, his position "as the person with prime responsibility to defend in public the decisions of the Council of Ministers" had become untenable.

    It is understood Clerides refused to accept the letter of resignation when the two met yesterday morning, but Stylianides was adamant.

    He will remain in office until a replacement is found.

    Despite the rumours of an imminent reshuffle, Clerides offered a brisk "no" when reporters asked if it was on his agenda following the resignation.

    "It is not a problem, I will appoint someone else today or tomorrow," Clerides told reporters on leaving the Presidential Palace.

    But, in a sign of apparent cracks in the ruling party, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades made it clear yesterday he thought a reshuffle was now necessary.

    Asked about the issue on his return from Athens yesterday afternoon, Anastassiades replied: "It's a time for taking decisions that will send a general message of political intentions, and for the creation of a government of wider acceptance."

    The Disy chief said he regretted the resignation, adding he would meet with Clerides to discuss the "necessary political changes" that would have to ensue.

    The Michaelides corruption allegations have dogged the government for over six months, and even though the minister has been cleared by Attorney- general Alecos Markides and then Auditor-general Spyros Christou, last week's cabinet acquittal was a bridge too far for Stylianides.

    Not wanting to disclose details of exactly what was said at last week's meeting of the Council of Ministers, Stylianides would only say:

    "I didn't agree with the decision and that should speak for itself."

    Although the post of government spokesman holds cabinet rank, the position does not carry voting rights in the approval process.

    Informed press speculation claims Stylianides was not a lone dissenting voice during last Wednesday's cabinet meeting, which rubber-stamped Michaelides' declaration of innocence.

    Communications Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou is reported to have urged the cabinet to kick Michaelides out, and influential presidential secretary Pantelis Kouros is said to have expressed grave reservations on the matter.

    Junior governing coalition party the United Democrats have come out against the decision, which was taken while their man, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous, was away on business.

    Describing the resignation as a body blow to the government, the UD yesterday sought an urgent meeting with the president, announcing that the party organs would meet to discuss the matter today.

    The minister at the centre of the resignation row stood by his guns yesterday, saying he had not "deceived" the cabinet, and the decision had been the "correct one".

    This was not the view taken by his accuser, Disy deputy Christos Pourgourides, or by the opposition parties who slammed the cabinet's approach as a whitewash.

    The cabinet had been considering an ombudsman's report criticising the administration for zoning changes on land which Michaelides was subsequently to buy.

    Wednesday, March 17, 1999

    [02] Stylianides had enough of a government he could no longer defend

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE RESIGNATION of Christos Stylianides may have more to do with his ambitions as a career politician and less to do with his dislike for Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides.

    In his letter of resignation, the former government spokesman said that: "As a matter of principle, I cannot defend this decision (to exonerate Michaelides)."

    But the cabinet's whole-hearted backing for corruption-embroiled Michaelides was only part of the problem, according to informed sources.

    Although Stylianides said his decision to resign had caused him much torment and soul-searching the night before, it is understood he had made no secret of the fact he was keen to bail out of the government sooner rather than later.

    For weeks, according to his inner circle of friends, Stylianides has expressed his disillusionment with the government's performance and plummeting popularity.

    Having one eye on a high-profile career in government, Stylianides was no longer prepared to be the fall guy for a do-nothing government which had lost the public's trust and confidence.

    Several weeks ago, he himself conceded that the government had a negative image and that the administration was totally lacking in co-ordinated policy statements.

    The one-time dentist started out in politics as a member of a group - the Movement of Political Modernisation - that promoted unity across the party spectrum, and he accepted his appointment by Clerides last year, hoping he would be part of a government of national unity.

    In his letter of resignation, he cited the growing rift with his political beliefs, saying that to remain in office would have brought him "into conflict with the firm positions and programme of the Movement of Political Modernisation... and in constant clash with my strongly-held views regarding the moral dimension of politics."

    Despite his genuine respect for Clerides - stressed in his parting comments - Stylianides was not a Disy yes man. In fact, his politics were closer to Edek's - the party that left the government over the S-300 missile cancellation.

    And it appears that Stylianides saw the Michaelides fiasco as the final straw.

    The government is currently rock bottom in the opinion polls, the public sentiment had swayed against Michaelides and Stylianides was clearly finding it increasingly hard to cover up the administration's bungling incompetence.

    Stylianides will be remembered as a hard-working government spokesman rather than an exceptional one, but maybe his forthright honesty in leaving a government he could no longer defend will be his lasting legacy.

    Wednesday, March 17, 1999

    [03] Ex-offshore boss saved from immediate deportation

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE LAW firm of CP Erotocritou and Attorney-general Alecos Markides yesterday may have saved an ex-offshore company director from a deportation to Pakistan that could end his chances of rejoining his pregnant American wife - all because the Migration Department's chief refused to answer his letters.

    Eric Ernest, 31, of Nicosia, was arrested yesterday by Immigration Police and jailed in Unit 10 of the City Prison, pending deportation, because his pleas for a three-month tourist visa had gone unanswered since last July, his lawyer, Pavlos Erotocritou said.

    "They picked him up here with me, at Micromania," said Carl Tate, owner of Micromania, a Nicosia computer games store. Tate said Ernest was handcuffed, booked, then taken to his home to pack his bags before being jailed in Unit 10.

    "Is there no dignity in the system?" demanded a furious Tate. "He had been here for many years. He's got money. He had an offshore operation. He just asked for a written response" to his request for a three-month tourist visa, Tate said, so he can leave Cyprus and rejoin his wife in the United States.

    A flurry of phone calls followed Tate's plea to the Cyprus Mail for help, and soon Erotocritou's law firm and Markides's deputy, Louisa Zanettou, were co-operating on the case.

    "The Attorney-general's office... promised us they would give instructions not to deport him, and they are expecting a detailed letter from us (today) about the situation," said Yiannakis Erotocritou, father of Pavlos and namesake of the law Nicosia firm.

    "The Attorney-general has been very helpful. At least Ernest will get a proper examination of his case. This is what the Attorney-general's office has promised us," said Erotocritou-senior, who is also the Philippines Consul to Cyprus.

    Ernest, a Pakistani national, has sought a tourist visa since the Central Bank revoked his offshore business license last June, Pavlos Erotocritou said.

    "He sent (several) letters to (Migration Department Chief Christodoulos) Nicolaides, asking for a tourist visa... until he completed his applications to the US authorities, in order to get a (US) visa to go to the United States with his wife," he said.

    "He wrote to Nicolaides on October 29, 1998, telling him he got married, wanted to go to the United States, and needed a three-month visa so he could have a mailing address in Cyprus to receive his documentation through the US Embassy here - because the US embassy in Pakistan is not processing any applications," Pavlos Erotocritou said.

    But "he did not get any answer" from Nicolaides. "Nicolaides did not answer" at least three letters," and neither did anyone else, he said. "Of course, the immigration officers do act sometimes without considering things," Erotocritou said.

    But he added that Ernest's deportation would "definitely" ruin his chances of reuniting with his pregnant American wife in the United States.

    "In order for (the US embassy) to issue a visa, I think they need... a tourist visa. He only needs three months," Eritocritou said.

    According to Tate, Ernest's business, Main Man Enterprises, was "an offshore company dealing with the oil industry as a middleman. He was also a member of the Offshore Enterprises Association. He acted as their accountant for two years."

    "The guy has been working all these years here. He has been earning a living. We want offshore companies to come here, and we are throwing them out. I wonder why. It is rather strange," Pavlos Erotocritou said.

    "Judging from other (similar) cases, as soon as the Attorney-general gets involved and stops the deportation order, they also release them...

    "Obviously, Mr Ernest has not been living in a suitcase. He has been here for years. I believe he was a student here from 1992," he added.

    Asked if he thought racism was involved in Ernest's treatment, Pavlos Erotocritou replied: "I do not really want to comment. You know the difference between a darker shade here in Cyprus, and I am sorry to say that," he said.

    "I am not going to see this as a racist matter. On the other hand, I cannot say that I have seen any Germans, any Americans or any Russians getting this kind of treatment," he added.

    Wednesday, March 17, 1999

    [04] Unficyp commander to stay on beyond his tour of duty

    By Jean Christou

    UNFICYP'S Argentinian Force Commander Major Evergisto Arturo de Vergara has been asked to stay on in Cyprus beyond his tour of duty, it was confirmed yesterday.

    Sarah Russell, spokesperson for the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus, told the Cyprus Mail that de Vergara's two-year term had expired in mid-February, but that he had been asked to stay on.

    Russell said she was not in a position to state why the Argentinian general had been asked to remain in Cyprus.

    However, a report by Agence France Presse (AFP) out of New York on Monday said that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had objected to the appointment of a Dutch replacement for de Vergara.

    Russell said she was not aware of any protest having been lodged by the Turkish Cypriot side on the issue of de Vergara's replacement.

    She said the entire matter of a new Force Commander was being dealt with by UN headquarters in New York.

    AFP said de Vergara had been asked to stay on until the end of April. Russell said she could only confirm that the Argentinian commander had been asked to "stay on".

    AFP said Denktash's objections came to light during informal discussions on a replacement for de Vergara.

    According to Western diplomats, Denktash is opposed to the appointment of an Unficyp commander from any EU country.

    The Turkish Cypriot side is bitter over the EU's December 1997 decision to go ahead with negotiations for Cyprus' accession.

    Since then, Denktash has called a halt to all contacts between the two sides, stated that the intercommunal talk are dead and has refused to meet any Western diplomats in their capacity as EU representatives.

    In the most recent incident, Denktash agreed to meet last week with German EU presidency Cyprus envoy Detlev Graf zu Rantzau as Germany's emissary, but not as an EU representative.

    Rantzau left the island at the same time as US State Department coordinator Thomas Miller after a series of meetings on both sides. Both men left deeply pessimistic on the possibility of any progress on the Cyprus issue.

    But Unficyp Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus yesterday resumed her six- month old shuttle talks, despite the failure of the two envoys to make any progress last week.

    Speaking after a meeting with President Clerides yesterday, Dame Ann said: "The shuttle talks continue. They will continue next week, the week after that and the week after that."

    Wednesday, March 17, 1999

    [05] Turks move offending buoy

    THE TURKISH Cypriot side yesterday removed a controversial buoy it had placed near the Maritime Security Line (MSL) off the island's east coast, the UN said.

    Unficyp spokesperson Sarah Russell confirmed reports that a Turkish naval vessel had entered the area off Paralimni yesterday and removed the offending marker.

    On Saturday, the Turkish side went to replace buoys in the area, which is the seaward extension of the 180km-long buffer zone that divides the island.

    However, instead of replacing the buoys in their original positions, one was moved closer to the MSL, Russell confirmed.

    The Greek Cypriot side protested, and Unficyp chief of mission Dame Ann Hercus discussed the issue with Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Alecos Shambos on Monday.

    The same day, Unficyp asked the Turkish side to move the offending boy back into its original position.

    This was done yesterday, according to Russell.

    "They have picked up the offending buoy and put down two more, but further away towards their side," she said.

    Russell said there was now a total of three buoys in the area, but they were all in line now, she said.

    Saturday's incident was filmed by Antenna television, which showed footage of a Turkish naval ship in the area. This fuelled outrage on the Greek Cypriot side over the action by the Turks.

    Diko Deputy Marios Matsakis was on board a nearby dinghy, which approached the Turkish vessel, while fisherman reacted to the move with "concern and fear", local reports said.

    The MSL is often a source tension between both sides. In the past, Greek Cypriot fisherman have been shot at or arrested by Turkish troops after mistakenly crossing the MSL. They also claim that the Turkish side regularly steals their drifting nets.

    The Turkish side says that Greek Cypriot fishermen and pleasure boats deliberately cross the MSL as a provocation.

    Unficyp has repeatedly warned over the danger of incidents in the area and asked civilian craft to stay away.

    Wednesday, March 17, 1999

    [06] Shepherd jailed for Kilani killing

    A 63-YEAR-OLD Kilani man was jailed for seven years yesterday for killing a deaf-mute fellow shepherd by smashing his head with a rock.

    Polis Michail Magos was sentenced by the Limassol District Court for the murder of Takis Onisiforou, 65, outside the village on the afternoon of January 11 this year.

    The attack with a large rock took place about a kilometre outside the village, near where both shepherd had animal pens.

    Magos had confessed the crime to police, saying that the victim had provoked the attack by throwing a stone at him first.

    The accused then hit Onisiforou with his cane knocking him to the ground, before bludgeoning him to death with a large rock. He turned himself in to police later that day.

    The murder was the second one in Kilani involving elderly residents in 15 months.

    In October 1997, Matheos Christofi was killed in an axe attack in the middle of the village in broad daylight. A 60-year-old man, Michalis Efsthatiou Panis is on trial for the killing.

    Wednesday, March 17, 1999

    [07] Georgians held after mass brawl

    EIGHT Georgian Greeks were yesterday remanded in police custody following a mass brawl at a Kato Paphos coffeeshop on Monday night.

    The Georgian Greeks, aged between 27 and 44, were remanded for eight days by a Paphos district court and face charges of breach of the peace and assault.

    All hell broke loose on Monday night when around 20 Georgian Greeks, who had congregated at the Paphos coffeeshop, started fighting after rowing between themselves.

    When the dust settled, eight Georgian Greeks were arrested by police and taken to court yesterday.

    Police said the brawl started after the group got into a petty row over Georgian politics and tempers escalated as chairs and tables went flying.

    The coffeeshop was wrecked in the mass fracas, as were some park cars outside on the street. The repair bill is estimated at over 1,000.

    One man, George Kartelov, 30, was hurt during the fighting and was later transferred to Nicosia General hospital with serious injuries.

    Wednesday, March 17, 1999

    [08] Police seeking to weed out unfit officers

    FOLLOWING the revelation that the education system must deal with 170 "problem teachers", the police force is determined to weed out 150 officers on medical grounds.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis is backing a plan to pension off members of the police force who are unfit for service.

    A study commissioned by the police force has discovered 150 officers who have psychological or other health problems, making them a risk to the public and fellow colleagues.

    A commission has recently been set up to push forward the process in deciding which officers must take early retirement as a matter of priority.

    Since the medical criteria were introduced, some five to six policemen have been leaving the force every week on full benefits.

    "We are not out to victimise anyone or deny them of their rights, but those with serious medical problems cannot be part of the force," police spokesman Stelios Neophytou said yesterday.

    He explained that those 150 deemed unfit made up only a tiny portion of the island's 4,000-strong police force.

    Wednesday, March 17, 1999

    [09] Edek calls on Lordos to back down over strikes

    SOCIALIST Edek and its youth wing Edon yesterday came out in full support of striking staff at the two Lordos hotels in Larnaca.

    In a statement, Edek called on hotel owners Lordos Holdings to open a dialogue with the workers. It also said it was looking at the legal aspects of the mass sacking that sparked the dispute.

    The party's youth branch meanwhile in a separate statement called on the young people of Cyprus to take part in a show of support with the workers outside the two hotels on Saturday.

    Edek said that, if the dispute between Lordos Holdings and its hotel staff was not resolved, it could spread throughout the tourist sector.

    Some 160 staff at the Lordos-owned Golden Bay and Lordos Beach Hotels are entering their 49th day of strike action over the dismissal of 73 of their number when sections of the two hotels were turned over to outside contractors.

    Lordos Holdings claims the ongoing strike is illegal and has said it will not negotiate the redundancies.

    The company has already begun to replace striking staff at the two hotels.

    It has also informed the government of its intention to sue over the alleged failure of police to protect hotel property from unruly strikers last month.

    Wednesday, March 17, 1999

    [10] More must be done for the elderly

    THE state spends the equivalent of $200 million (about 100 million) on the elderly, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Moushiouttas said yesterday.

    But he admitted that, even with this expenditure, the needs of senior citizens were not being met.

    Speaking at a press conference on the occasion of the United Nations International Year for the Elderly, Moushiouttas said pensioners accounted for 11 per cent of the population. His ministry was currently carrying out a survey to identify and handle problems faced by pensioners, he added, pointing out that the basic pension had recently been increased in order to help those who had made low contributions during their working lives.

    As an example of the need for increased care for OAPs, he said there were just seven state-run old people's homes catering for 266 residents, while 120 privately-run institutions cared for a huge 4,243.

    Wednesday, March 17, 1999

    [11] Looking for WRAC bridesmaids

    IF YOU were one of former WRAC Maureen Deeley's bridesmaids at her wedding in Cyprus 36 years ago - she's on the lookout for you.

    Maureen, 57, was in the Women's Royal Army Corps for four years, and is now looking for former colleagues, including her two bridesmaids, for the WRAC's 50th anniversary this year.

    The two, Glenis Horrobin and Olive (Maureen has forgotten her surname) lost touch after they left the island in 1964.

    Maureen, whose maiden name was Terry, is organising a reunion dinner for October and hopes to take part with former WRACs in a Festival of Remembrance in November.

    Anyone who may be able to help her trace Olive, Glenis or any other WRACS can contact Maureen on 00 44 121 2443298.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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