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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-03-23

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, March 23, 1999


  • [01] Pangalos meddled in missiles deal: Clerides
  • [02] Pourgourides launches libel suit against Michaelides
  • [03] Dinos hands over - but hints he may be back
  • [04] US 'working hard' to end Cyprus deadlock
  • [05] Lebanon to decide today about Larnaca boat people
  • [06] We'll fight them on the beaches, say strikers
  • [07] New 'pet passports' scheme may not apply to Cyprus
  • [08] Third desalination plant may be built
  • [09] Man remanded after Limassol bomb incident
  • [10] Christofias recovering well after heart surgery
  • [11] Armed robbers hit pizza parlour

  • [01] Pangalos meddled in missiles deal: Clerides

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday suggested that former Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos meddled in the Russian S-300 issue by negotiating their non-arrival without Nicosia's consent.

    During a live TV interview last night, Clerides defended his decision to divert the controversial missile deployment to Greece to avoid conflict on the island and appease Europe in view of Cyprus' EU ambitions, but also blamed Pangalos for getting involved.

    "The reason the weapons system didn't come was because it could have caused tensions and led to a heated incident and the whole of Europe could have accused us for creating an unnecessary flashpoint," said Clerides in his first full-length speech on why the missile deal was cancelled.

    The president also conceded that it was the international community, continually hinting at the dangers, which persuaded him to make the u-turn.

    Turkey had threatened to strike down the missiles if they were deployed on the island.

    Clerides was criticised for his December 29 decision which prompted socialist partners Edek to leave the government days later.

    Asked whether the missiles were used as a political bargaining chip which went wrong Clerides said: "It wasn't Cyprus which negotiated the non- arrival of the missiles. The idea that they should not come and should be replaced with something else was orchestrated by the then Foreign Minister of Greece.

    "The creation of a no-fly zone in exchange for the S-300s wasn't our proposal but that of Pangalos when he met US secretary of state Madeleine Albright." (The US later rejected the proposal.)

    Despite saying that reneging on the missile deal with Russia was necessary, Clerides admitted: "The non-arrival of the S-300s does have disadvantages because we have an air base but no means to defend it."

    However, the president qualified this by saying that the defence pact with Greece, of which the Paphos air base is a component, would continue to be upgraded.

    "It is foolish for people to conclude that because the S-300s did not come we don't have a defence pact - the defence pact continues to exist."

    Even though the Russian missiles were eventually diverted to Greece the government still believes that an anti-aircraft weapons system is needed to protect the Paphos air base, said Clerides.

    "We won't leave Cyprus without a defence weapons system," said Clerides.

    In declaring that Cyprus was looking for anti-aircraft missiles, he also confirmed that his previous commitment to the UN - in freezing all weapons purchases to facilitate a dialogue - had now lapsed.

    Replying to questions on the Cyprus problem, Clerides blamed Ankara for trying to put down pre-conditions for direct talks, such as recognition for the Denktash regime as a sovereign entity.

    "If I agreed to all these demands I would be agreeing to confederation, which is basically accepting two separate states," said Clerides.

    Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    [02] Pourgourides launches libel suit against Michaelides

    By Charlie Charalambous

    DINOS Michaelides may no longer be in office, but his long-running feud with Disy's Christos Pourgourides continued unabated yesterday when the deputy slapped a 250,000 libel suit on the former minister.

    Pourgourides is also seeking an injunction, from the Limassol district court, to prevent Michaelides from making further allegations about his private and professional conduct.

    Although cleared of any wrong-doing, Michaelides resigned from the government last Thursday after persistent corruption allegations by Pourgourides failed to go away.

    Michaelides, a shrewd politician who has tasted ministerial power over two decades, was never going to bow out quietly, as a radio outburst over the weekend showed.

    Last Saturday, on CyBC's Third Radio Programme, Michaelides made similar allegations against Pourgourides that the deputy had made against him.

    A court order issued yesterday bars Michaelides from repeating such allegations in public, unless he appears before a Limassol district court tomorrow morning and "shows good reason why the injunction should no longer be valid", said the court order, a copy of which was seen by the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Both Michaelides and Pourgourides are lawyers by profession.

    Pourgourides has filed a libel suit against Michaelides for the alleged "defamatory" radio remarks he made on Saturday, and is seeking 250,000 in damages and costs.

    Pourgourides says he was slandered during the CyBC radio interview, "which was heard all over Cyprus and overseas", and that he suffered as a result.

    In response, Michaelides challenged anybody who doubted the allegations levelled at Pourgourides to follow the "appropriate legal procedures".

    The former minister said he had proof to substantiate his allegations and the evidence at his disposal had been submitted to the party leaders and House President Spyros Kyprianou.

    A House plenum debate on the original corruption allegations by Pourgourides is scheduled for next week.

    Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    [03] Dinos hands over - but hints he may be back

    By Martin Hellicar

    DINOS Michaelides officially handed over the reins at the Interior Ministry yesterday, but hinted he would be back.

    "I have become accustomed to handing over, but I have got used to taking over too," said Michaelides, who resigned last week in the face of persistent corruption allegations.

    The former minister was referring to events just over a year ago, when he had to resign as Interior Minister after his then party, Diko, abandoned government in the run-up to the February 1998 presidential elections. Michaelides left Diko and was re-appointed to the ministry after Clerides won re-election.

    He repeated yesterday that he was innocent of the abuse of power allegations levelled against him, saying he could still "look people in the eye". Michaelides has been officially exonerated of the charges made by House watchdog committee chairman Christos Pourgourides.

    Christodoulos Christodoulou, who made the sideways shift from Finance Minister to take over Michaelides' former post, heaped praise on his predecessor.

    "It is a fact that Dinos Michaelides worked extremely hard for many years and made a tireless effort to meet the great duty of providing services for the people and the country," said Christodoulou, whose move to Interior is considered a demotion. He said he would try to match his Michaelides's work rate.

    The man who took over from Christodoulou at the Finance Ministry, Takis Clerides, also moved into his new office yesterday, as did the new Government Spokesman, Costas Serezis.

    Serezis takes the post vacated by Christos Stylianides, who resigned last week in protest at the cabinet clearing Michaelides of allegedly using his position to change planning zone regulations for his personal benefit. Stylianides' resignation precipitated Michaelides's departure.

    Clerides, 48, said he was "fully aware" of the current economic difficulties the country faced, but that he was optimistic about future financial prospects. He said there were wrongs that would have to be righted swiftly if Cyprus was to meet the challenge of the internationalisation of its economy, but added that he had every confidence in the competence of his new staff.

    Christodoulou said he had every confidence that Clerides could meet the challenges the economy faced.

    Of his own tenure as Finance Minister, he said: "I have my conscience clear that I carried out my duties fully, worked hard, was always honest and forthright, and did not hesitate to take decisions even when there was a personal and political cost involved."

    In his first statements as Government Spokesman, Serezis asked for the co- operation and understanding of the local media.

    Serezis, 62, admitted that, having been in Greece for 25 years working as a TV presenter, he would need time to reacquaint himself with the Cypriot reality.

    "I certainly need a reasonable time to get up to date on the subject matter of my job," he said.

    Stylianides thanked reporters for the co-operative attitude they had shown during his 13 months in the post.

    Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    [04] US 'working hard' to end Cyprus deadlock

    By Jean Christou

    THE UNITED States is working on various ideas which might lead to a new initiative on the Cyprus problem, it was revealed yesterday.

    US Ambassador Kenneth Brill told journalists his government was looking at various ideas and scenarios which might turn into a new initiative.

    But he made it clear that nothing would emerge until after next month's elections in Turkey.

    "We are working hard to look for ways to move the process out of the deadlock," Brill said.

    He said that UN Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus is working "heroically" between the two sides and "doing an excellent job of it".

    "We would like to see the process pick up even more speed in the coming months," Brill added.

    He said he was unaware of a reports in a Greek weekly newspaper on Saturday that the US has a plan on the territorial aspects of a solution.

    Epentitis reported that included in this solution would be the return of Famagusta and Morphou to the Greek Cypriots. It would also include one constitution for the proposed bizonal bicommunal federation and two additional constitutions for each of the two federal states.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday also commented on the newspaper report, denying in a written statement that were specific plans. But he did say there were scenarios put forward by the British.

    "The Cyprus government has no information at all about, nor has it been officially informed on, the existence of a specific plan for a Cyprus solution," the statement said.

    "It is a fact that during contacts between President Clerides and US State Department Co-ordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller,

    and the contacts of the Foreign Minister in Washington with US officials, the American position was and remains that the Cyprus settlement would be based on a bizonal bicommunal federation."

    On Sunday, US President Bill Clinton pledged to intensify his administration's efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem by convincing all parties to return to negotiations.

    In a latter to Rhode Island Senator Leonidas Raptakis, Clinton said he shared his concerns that there has not been more progress towards a settlement.

    "I want to assure you that I am just as committed to finding a solution to the problems that have plagued Cyprus for far too long," Clinton said.

    He added that the US would intensify its efforts to convince all parties that negotiations were the only way to resolve the conflict.

    Talks on the Cyprus problem have been deadlocked since late 1997 when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash declared them "dead" over Cyprus' EU accession course.

    EU and US mediators who visited earlier this month left the island in pessimistic mood about the possibility of progress, following their meetings with both sides.

    Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    [05] Lebanon to decide today about Larnaca boat people

    By Martin Hellicar

    TODAY COULD be decisive for the future of 89 Arab and African immigrants being held on board a cruise boat in Larnaca port since Thursday.

    The Lebanese authorities are today expected to inform Nicosia whether they will accept the boat people, intercepted off Cape Greco in a small Lebanese- flagged fishing boat last Thursday afternoon. Police believe the immigrants sailed from Tripoli in Lebanon, and Cyprus has a deal with Beirut for return of illegal immigrants coming from there.

    But officials at the Lebanese embassy in Nicosia have made it clear they do not accept the police line about where the 89 boat people, including 18 children and 17 women, came from. The situation is complicated by the fact that none of the immigrants - who hail from Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Somalia and Sierra Leone - has travel documents, having thrown these overboard as the coast guard neared their boat off Cape Greco.

    "An answer is expected from Lebanon tomorrow," Assistant Larnaca police chief Charalambos Koulentis said yesterday.

    He said it was not clear what would happen to the immigrants should Beirut say "no".

    "We don't know what will be done with them; we'll see depending on what answer we get (from Lebanon)," Koulentis told the Cyprus Mail.

    He said the police guard on the Royal Prince - playing host to the immigrants at Larnaca port - had been increased following an incident on Sunday in which the 14 African immigrants were set upon by their Arab counterparts.

    Reports suggested the Arab boat people attacked the Africans because they were not participating in a hunger strike they began on Friday. Koulentis said only that there were "certain incidents", and that the situation was now "under control".

    He confirmed that the adult Arab boat people had been on hunger strike since Friday but said police had "persuaded" them to give up their protest on Sunday night. The assistant police chief declined to comment on how this had been achieved.

    Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    [06] We'll fight them on the beaches, say strikers

    By Jean Christou

    STRIKING workers from the two Lordos Hotels in Larnaca have taken to the beaches in an attempt to win sympathy for their cause from tourists.

    The dispute also turned nasty yesterday when leaflets were discovered circulating in the Larnaca district calling on people to 'spit on' those employees still working at the hotel. Police said the two-page leaflets naming around 20 people were discovered at Dhekelia and at Aradippou. They were also found at several schools in the Larnaca area.

    They said the people listed are "traitors to the cause" of the staff at the two hotels. Police are investigating.

    Around 160 workers from the Lordos Beach and the Golden Bay hotels are striking over the dismissal of 73 of their number in a staff shake-up.

    Moving the picket line from the entrance of the two Lordos hotels is part of a new strategy by the workers, who are now in their 53rd day of strike action.

    Yesterday union representatives announced that a series of new measures would be taken, which included the 'enlightenment' of tourists on the beaches close to the two hotels.

    "We have moved our fight to the beaches," said Andreas Poullis of Sek. The other measures in the pipeline are being kept under wraps for the time being, he said.

    But Poullis did say that tomorrow union members from all over Cyprus will gather in front of the two hotels in a show of support.

    "We have decided to escalate measures," said Peo union representative Andreas Trachanas.

    "Fifty-two days have passed and we have given clear messages both to ministers and other interests on our measures, but so far we have not had the expected response," Trachanas said.

    "So from today (Monday) we have decided to up our measures, meaning that these beach pickets will be held on a regular basis and also certain other things we can't announce just yet."

    Lordos Holdings last week went ahead with its threat to replace striking staff when it issued dozens of letters of appointment to prospective staff.

    The company says the strike is illegal because the workers did not give adequate warning of their action and because it was not a majority decision. The company also says the decision was not taken by secret ballot, as required by labour laws.

    Lordos Holdings has taken the strikers to court and obtained two court orders prohibiting unruly behaviour and banning strikers from preventing entry to the hotels.

    The company has also given the government notice of its intention to seek damages for what it says is the failure by police to protect its hotels against unruly pickets.

    In a letter sent over a week ago to Attorney-general Alecos Markides and Justice Minister Nicos Koshis, the company says it holds the government financially liable for damages incurred by the two Larnaca hotels because of the dispute.

    Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    [07] New 'pet passports' scheme may not apply to Cyprus

    By Athena Karsera

    PET OWNERS living in Cyprus who return to the UK with their animals may not benefit from a new law introducing a 'passports for pets' scheme that would do away with quarantine.

    The Times newspaper in London reported yesterday that the change in British law could mean that ex-pats and British servicemen will no longer have to face the heart-breaking decision of leaving their pet behind or subjecting the animal to six months in quarantine when they return to Britain.

    Agriculture Minister Nick Brown is expected to announce before Easter that Britain is abandoning its 100-year-old quarantine rules in favour of a new 'passports for pets' system, the paper said.

    The system would identify animals by microchip and vaccine record, and "could even be piloted at one or two ports before the end of the year".

    Countries in the programme include many European states, New Zealand and Australia, while the ministry "is still analysing its position on North America and Canada".

    But the old law is expected to remain in force for animals coming from Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, South America - and possibly Cyprus.

    This is because of concerns over the Turkish-occupied area and its links to Turkey. Although the Republic and the occupied areas are themselves free of rabies, the disease is still relatively commonplace in Turkey.

    Speaking last September when the British plan was first proposed, Pavlos Economides, head of the Cyprus Veterinary Services Department, said that good co-operation between the Greek and Turkish sides on animal control meant that the UK had nothing to worry about.

    He said that there had been no instances of rabies reported on either side, and that the Republic had already abandoned quarantine in favour of a six- month observation period during which the animal is kept at home.

    Sweden had already accepted Cyprus as being rabies-free, and animals travelling there from Cyprus would not have to go into quarantine, Economides said.

    The new British 'passport' system would mean an animal being implanted with a microchip certifying it has come from a rabies-free country.

    The cost of the implantation and follow-up vaccines and checks is still much less than the amount pet-owners currently pay for quarantine.

    According to The Times, the initial implant will cost 150 Sterling, plus 60 for the follow-ups. Border checks are expected to cost 20.25 per animal. Six months of quarantine costs between 1,500 and 2,000.

    Toulla Poyiadji, President of the Cyprus Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the Society would applaud the introduction of the electronic pet passports.

    She said that the UK should already have agreed to allow Cyprus animals in without quarantine since it had signed the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, "and subjecting animals to quarantine is cruel".

    She noted that a bill calling for Cyprus' own non-electronic pet passports was currently at the Attorney-general's office waiting to go before the House.

    She said that the bill calls for all dogs to be registered and to have regularly updated vaccination cards.

    "We have been trying to persuade them to table the bill for two years now," she said.

    Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    [08] Third desalination plant may be built

    THE government is considering plans for a third desalination plant, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous announced on the occasion of International Water Day yesterday.

    "My ministry will study the need and viability of the construction of a third desalination plant, possibly alongside the power station being constructed at Vassiliko," Themistocleous said.

    The minister confirmed that the government sees desalination as the solution to the island's chronic water shortage. A desalination plant at Dhekelia is already operational and the government has approved plans for another at Larnaca and two mobile plants.

    Themistocleous, speaking at seminar in Nicosia on water saving equipment, also stressed the need for conservation: "We have a responsibility and obligation to handle water correctly and make every effort to save it."

    But the green party issued a statement condemning state water policy as unsustainable.

    Water was being wasted on golf courses and thirsty non-native crops while ground water reserves were severely over-exploited, the environmentalists claimed.

    Desalination was a costly and polluting solution, they added.

    Meanwhile, with the island's dams only about 22 per cent full, the Nicosia Water Board said water cuts were set to continue this year and possibly next year too.

    Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    [09] Man remanded after Limassol bomb incident

    A MAN was remanded in custody for five days by a Limassol Court yesterday in connection with a home-made bomb that was found under a port worker's car.

    Pantelis Christos Michael, 30, from Limassol, was arrested on Sunday evening, 12 hours after the explosive device was found under a car belonging to Andreas Georgiou Christou, 52, a harbour worker, in the Zakaki area of the town.

    Christou spotted the bomb at 7am and called the police who immediately cordoned off the area and made it safe.

    Police say the bomb contained a large amount of explosive.

    It is not yet known why the device did not explode.

    Also in Limassol on Sunday a car belonging to a special policeman was destroyed in an arson attack.

    Police say the attack on the car belonging to police constable Nicos Odiatis took place at about 5am.

    Odiatis is a member of Limassol's MMAD rapid reaction force, and police say the vehicle may have been torched because of personal differences.

    The car, estimated to be worth 8,000, was parked outside the apartment building where Odiatis lives.

    Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    [10] Christofias recovering well after heart surgery

    AKEL general-secretary Demetris Christofias is reported to be recovering well after his five-hour open heart surgery operation in London on Friday.

    An Akel spokesman said the communist party leader is expected to be discharged from St Mary's hospital on Friday and then to return to Cyprus after a week's convalescence.

    Christofias had the surgery in preparation for a kidney transplant.

    He spent a month in hospital in Cyprus over December and January after being diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia following a visit to London.

    He suffered kidney damage during treatment for this condition and is to receive the transplant from one of his four sisters.

    Akel said the date of the transplant would depend on Christofias' progress after his heart operation.

    Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    [11] Armed robbers hit pizza parlour

    ARMED robbers held up a pizza parlour in the Engomi area of Nicosia on Sunday.

    Police say two hooded men armed with knives threatened the manager of Domino's Pizza and made off with 1,662.

    The robbery happened at about 12.20am, and the robbers escaped on foot in the direction of Ayios Nicholas church.

    Branch manager Nicos Kotsikoyiannis, 19, told police that the bandits were aged between 20 and 30 years old. He described them as being of average build, one about 1.80 metres and the other 1.75 metres tall.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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