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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-03-27

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, March 27, 1999


  • [01] Widespread condemnation of Nato strikes
  • [02] Flights rerouted because of air strikes
  • [03] Bases not involved in Nato strike operation
  • [04] Share prices dip on Kosovo strikes and Athens falls
  • [05] Vassiliou hails EU budget reforms
  • [06] Republic's first defence minister Osman Orek dies
  • [07] Man jailed for drug possession
  • [08] Christofias released from hospital
  • [09] Cytanet offers cheap surfing from UK and Greece
  • [10] Milosevic and the Pinochet precedent

  • [01] Widespread condemnation of Nato strikes

    By Jean Christou

    THERE was widespread condemnation yesterday of Nato attacks against Yugoslavia, with announcements and demonstrations denouncing the air strikes.

    Over 600 people marched from Eleftheria Square to the American embassy yesterday afternoon to protest against the bombing, which began on Wednesday night.

    Around 30 Yugoslavs living in Cyprus joined the protest at the US embassy carrying banners and blowing whistles.

    The demonstration was organised by communist party Akel.

    The party's representative for international affairs, Donis Christofinis, told the crowd that Nato was leading the Yugoslav people into a bloodbath.

    "The ruthless ruler of the planet, Bill Clinton, and so-called socialist Tony Blair, Nato and the EU are writing a new dark page in the history of humanity," Christofinis said.

    "They are leading the Yugoslav people to a bloodbath; just because they stood up to Nato arrogance they are threatening to drag the whole area of the Balkans into an adventure with an unknown conclusion."

    Further demonstrations are planned for today outside the US embassy. Police said yesterday they had taken extra security measures around the embassies of all participating Nato countries.

    Strong condemnation also came from the House of Representatives yesterday.

    In a statement released early yesterday, House President Spyros Kyprianou said: "The use of force against Yugoslavia is an unacceptable provocation as regards international law and order, universal principles and the UN charter," Kyprianou said.

    No UN Security Council resolution authorised Nato or any other country to use military force against Yugoslavia, he added.

    "There is no doubt the bombings will neither cure nor solve the problem in Kosovo. On the contrary, such action will aggravate human pain, increase the wave of refugees and create further flashpoints, instability and insecurity in this key Balkan region."

    Following a meeting with Yugoslav ambassador Ivan Mrkic yesterday morning, Kyprianou said Nato's military action created a new situation on the world political scene, "which, if not set right immediately, could result in the abolition of the UN. This will result in international law being valid only when the superpower wants it," he said, referring to the US.

    Mrkic said civilian casualties caused since the air strikes began on Wednesday were growing. "We think that it is the greatest criminal act against the country," Mrkic said. "My country will not surrender. We believe we are justly fighting for our rights and we will defend our people."

    The government also reacted to the Kosovo crisis.

    President Clerides said it should be peacefully resolved and that Kosovo should remain within Yugoslav borders.

    "It is another issue whether it should receive a certain autonomy," he told journalists, adding that the UN Security Council should show more interest in the situation.

    Government spokesman Costas Serezis echoed the President's sentiments at his daily press briefing.

    "Cyprus would have preferred if the developments had taken place as a result of a decision by the UN Security Council," he said.

    In response to questions on the possible escalation of the situation, Serezis said: "Like the Greek government, the Cyprus government does not believe the situation could escalate. We are not worried," he said.

    Condemnation also came yesterday from the European Renewal Movement party of Alexis Galanos, the Human Rights Association of Cyprus, the socialist party Edek, the Cyprus Peace Council, the Federation of Environmental and Ecological organisations and the Green party.

    Saturday, March 27, 1999

    [02] Flights rerouted because of air strikes

    EUROPEAN flights to and from Cyprus are being rerouted because of Nato air strikes on Yugoslavia, with extended flight times and delays likely on some routes, airlines on the island said yesterday.

    JAT Yugoslav Airlines announced in Nicosia that all its domestic and international flights had temporarily been suspended "following the ruthless bombing" of their country by Nato.

    Airline cancellations were the norm across Europe, as air corridors were closed for use of Nato military planes.

    Flights to Belgrade have been cancelled and others rerouted.

    Nato had also issued warnings to commercial airlines not to fly over Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.

    In Nicosia, both Cyprus Airways (CY) and British Airways (BA)

    said some of their routes had been affected.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said flights to European countries had been re- routed over Italy.

    Moscow, Athens and Rome have not been affected, he said.

    Angelis said the flights would be 15 to 20 minutes longer and would involve extra cost to the company in terms of fuel.

    "The measures will stay in place as long as the situation continues," he said.

    BA spokesman Peter Louca said their flights from London to destinations including Larnaca, Athens and Tel Aviv were affected.

    "A small number of flights... are being rerouted causing minor delays," he said, adding that delays would run from about half an hour to an hour.

    Saturday, March 27, 1999

    [03] Bases not involved in Nato strike operation

    THE BRITISH bases will not be affected by the Nato military strikes on Yugoslavia, a spokesman said yesterday.

    But bases residents and Cypriots living close to Akrotiri were concerned on Wednesday night when nine Red Arrows came thundering into the RAF base, spokesman Rob Need admitted yesterday.

    Need said that, by coincidence, the Red Arrows had flown in just after 7pm, just two hours before the Nato strikes began. There was no connection between the two events, he said, adding that the bases would not be used as part of the Nato operation. He mentioned distance as being a factor.

    "It's business as usual here," Need said.

    The government also confirmed yesterday that the bases would not be used in the Kosovo operation.

    Government spokesman Costas Serezis said: "The British bases will not be used. There is no reason when Italy is closer and so many other countries are participating in the Nato air force; why should Cyprus be used?" he said.

    Meanwhile, Need said the Red Arrows were in Cyprus as part of their annual training and would be on the island for up to six weeks.

    He said the Bases were currently waiting for feedback from local mayors as to whether the Red Arrows would be putting on their annual aerobatic show on the island.

    "We would be delighted if they said 'yes'," he said.

    Saturday, March 27, 1999

    [04] Share prices dip on Kosovo strikes and Athens falls

    By Hamza Hendawi

    CONCERN OVER Nato's aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia, Wednesday's plunge on the Athens Stock Exchange and profit-taking combined yesterday to push share prices in Cyprus down by 2.63 per cent with losses across the board.

    The all-share index closed at 120.76 and the value of trade was 6.52 million. "Some seemed to have panicked today over the situation in Yugoslavia," said Elias Kazanos of S.B. Unigrowth Ltd. "The market initially suffered massive drops, but then partially recovered when some investors with cash realised that there were some good buys around."

    "It was all psychological," said Kazanos, who said that a drop in share prices in Athens by nearly five per cent on Wednesday has fed the negative sentiment in the market. "The market will probably recover its losses on Monday if the situation does not worsen in Yugoslavia," he added.

    The drop in the Athens Stock Market, which was accompanied by a two-month low of the drachma, reflected fears in Greece of the conflict in Yugoslavia spiralling into a wider Balkan war into which the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia could be dragged. Shares in Athens made a partial recovery yesterday when they bounced back by 2.22 per cent.

    The markets were closed in both Athens and Nicosia on Thursday.

    Another factor contributing to the market's dip in Cyprus yesterday was caused by the Bank of Cyprus going ex-dividend, having paid a final 1998 12- cent dividend to shareholders. The share shed 11 cents to close at 5.54, accounting for nearly 35 per cent of all trade.

    The Popular Bank fared worse, shedding 12 cents to close at 5.79. The other two bank titles, Hellenic and Universal, also finished down.

    "The drop was partly caused by some investors cashing in," explained Hellenic Bank Investment's Marios Georgiades. "But others seem to be taking a few days off from the market to wait and see what happens in Yugoslavia."

    Traders said the market was down by nearly five per cent soon after the start of trade yesterday, but shares later made a partial recovery when some investors began snapping up bargains.

    Saturday, March 27, 1999

    [05] Vassiliou hails EU budget reforms

    GEORGE Vassiliou, Cyprus' chief negotiator for EU accession talks, said yesterday the budget reforms passed this week by the EU heads of state and government at their Berlin summit was critically important to aspirant EU member states.

    The budget agreement, following all night Thursday-Friday talks, paved the way for opening the European Union to 11 new members, six - including Cyprus - in a first wave, and five in a second.

    Vassiliou, a former Cyprus president, spoke on the margins of the fifth meeting of the chief EU negotiators for Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. All six countries are in the first wave of EU enlargement. The two-day meeting opened yesterday in Limassol.

    "For us, the six candidate member states, (the agreement) is of paramount importance, because if there was no agreement, then it is almost certain that there would have been a delay in the accession process," Vassiliou said.

    The 'Agenda 2000' budget package aims to stabilise EU spending on farm and regional aid programmes, which swallow most of its $94 billion annual budget.

    The Limassol meeting is examining such issues as competition policy, free movement of goods and capital and the harmonisation of the island's banking sector with EU law as well as the financial aspects of Agenda 2000.

    Vassiliou said the meeting's participants would try to co-ordinate to speed up their accession process.

    Cyprus applied for full EU membership in 1990 after signing an association agreement in 1972 and a customs union protocol in 1987.

    Saturday, March 27, 1999

    [06] Republic's first defence minister Osman Orek dies

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday offered his condolences to the family of Turkish Cypriot politician Osman Orek, the first Defence Minister of the Republic of Cyprus.

    "President Clerides was saddened by the news of Orek's death, and expresses his sincere condolences to his family," Government Spokesman Costas Serezis said.

    Orek, who died en route to London, was born in Nicosia in 1925.

    He took part in the London Conference, where representatives of Greece, Turkey, Britain and the island's two communities signed an agreement for the final settlement of the Cyprus dispute, establishing the independent Republic of Cyprus.

    From 1960 to 1963 he was the Republic's first Defence Minister, one of its three Turkish Cypriot ministers under the Cyprus Constitution, imposed on Cyprus by the Zurich and London Agreements in 1959.

    The Constitution was described by UN Mediator on Cyprus, Galo Plaza, in his report to the UN Secretary-general in 1965 as "a constitutional oddity".

    Difficulties implementing it led the Republic's first president, Archbishop Makarios, to suggest 13 amendments in November 1963.

    The Turkish government called the amendments "unacceptable" and the island's Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the government.

    Saturday, March 27, 1999

    [07] Man jailed for drug possession

    A LARNACA man was yesterday sentenced to three years in prison for possessing 1.2 kilos of hashish.

    A three-judge criminal court, sitting in Larnaca, passed sentence against 23-year-old Lazaros Lazarides, who had been arrested during a police sting operation last November.

    On November 3, 1998, drug squad officers caught Lazarides with 1.27 kilos of hash in a supermarket car park following a tip-off about a suspected drug deal.

    At the time of his arrest, Lazarides named two other people who were involved in the deal: Panayiotis Solomou, 28, from Larnaca and 36-year-old Greek national Ioannis Paretzoglou.

    The two had earlier been arrested after a car chase on a Larnaca beach.

    Police found around 1.21 kilos of hashish in their car.

    Paretzoglou and Solomou were jailed for five and four years respectively on drug related charges.

    Passing sentence, the court took into account the assistance given to police by Lazarides and the fact that he was a drug user seeking rehabilitation.

    Nevertheless, the court said that drug crime was one of the most serious that society faced and Lazarides must pay the penalty for his involvement.

    Saturday, March 27, 1999

    [08] Christofias released from hospital

    AKEL General Secretary Demetris Christofias was yesterday released from London's Saint Mary's hospital after successful open heart surgery.

    Christofias was operated in preparation for a kidney transplant.

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

    Christofias suffered kidney damage during treatment for his pneumonia and is to receive the kidney from one of his four sisters.

    Christofias' personal doctor Michael Minas, who accompanied him to England, yesterday told reporters that the communist leader would be undergoing a kidney transplant within the next three months.

    Christofias will remain in England for another week and is expected to return to Cyprus on April 1.

    Saturday, March 27, 1999

    [09] Cytanet offers cheap surfing from UK and Greece

    CYTANET subscribers will now be charged local rates when surfing the Net from Greece and the United Kingdom.

    In an announcement released yesterday, Cyta said that the new deal would considerably lower costs for its customers living or travelling in the two countries.

    Cytanet subscribers accessing the Internet from other overseas countries still international rates to log into their Cytanet account.

    Cyta also announced that they were currently involved in talks to offer the same rates for subscribers in the United States.

    For more information, contact Cytanet's Services Centre at 0800-8080 or at the Internet address - and selecting the "Free Internet Roaming" option.

    Saturday, March 27, 1999

    [10] Milosevic and the Pinochet precedent

    By Gwynne Dyer

    "THE OFFICIAL position of defendants, whether heads of state or... officials in government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment," reads the Charter of the International Military Tribunal that tried the Nazi leaders after the Second World War. But Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic had no reason to worry about that, because the Nuremberg trials were only for Germans.

    Wednesday's landmark ruling by Britain's Law Lords that being a former head of state gives former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet no immunity from prosecution for crimes he committed while in power is another matter entirely. It means that Milosevic cannot afford to lose power if he hopes to avoid prison or the gallows. But whether that makes him more or less likely to end the war quickly is another question.

    It's true that Milosevic already had to worry about the international tribunal that has been created for Bosnia, scene of the worst crimes of mass murder committed under his auspices. However, the danger of prosecution was actually pretty limited.

    It could be a problem for Milosevic if one of his leading Bosnian Serb henchmen, like Radovan Karadzic, was captured, and spilled the beans to the Hague tribunal about the orders he got from Belgrade. But it would not be in his own interests to confess, and until Nato lost patience in Kosovo and started bombing on Wednesday night, men like Karadzic faced little risk of arrest anyway. Nato troops were leaving them alone to keep Bosnia quiet.

    But now Milosevic faces a much higher level of risk. He could lose power in Belgrade if he allows allied troops into Kosovo to supervise a peace agreement there. He could also fall if he goes on defying Nato and his own people overthrow him to stop the bombing. Either way he becomes, like Augusto Pinochet, an ex-head of state - and probably an exiled one.

    That is never an ideal situation, but it has proved both safe and comfortable for other ex-dictators from Haiti's 'Baby Doc' Duvalier (now living in France) to Ethiopia's Haile Mariam Mengistu (in Zimbabwe) to Uganda's Idi Amin (in Saudi Arabia). The precedent created by the British ruling makes them all vulnerable to extradition.

    Insofar as Pinochet himself goes, the judgment is only a limited triumph for international justice, for the Law Lords ruled that he could not be extradited for any charges that were not criminal offences in Britain at the time. So since Britain only incorporated the provisions of the International Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment into its own Criminal Justice Act in 1988, Pinochet can only be extradited to face trial for crimes he committed after that date.

    This is good news for Pinochet, since the mass murders and systematic torture of thousands mostly happened in the first years after his coup in 1973. Of the 30 charges Spain originally brought against him, it must agree to try him only for three post-1988 instances of torture and murder before Britain will agree to send him to Madrid for trial. And there are still several further legal hoops to go through in Britain before even that comes to pass.

    But the Law Lords did say, quite unequivocally, that being an ex-head of state no longer confers immunity from prosecution for all offences. In Lord Phillips' words: "International law is on the move... There are some categories of crime so grave that they shock the consciousness of mankind and... any individual who commits such a crime offends against international law."

    Lord Saville, who characterised Pinochet as "a prime example of an official torturer", said that Pinochet lost his immunity from extradition when Chile, Spain, and Britain all ratified the Torture Convention in 1988. "If there were states that wished to preserve such immunity (for their heads of state) in the face of the universal condemnation of official torture, it is perhaps not surprising that they kept quiet about it."

    For those younger dictators who were still killing and torturing people after 1988, the ruling is a nightmare. After they lose power, they are vulnerable to demands for extradition not just from the country they ruled, but from any other country whose nationals they murdered - demands that could pursue them no matter where they take refuge.

    Just as Spain has asked Britain to extradite Pinochet for the murder and torture of Spanish citizens in Chile and elsewhere, so Canada could ask France to extradite Duvalier for the murder or torture of people with dual Haitian-Canadian citizenship - and the fact that he was a head of state when he ordered the crimes no longer gets him off the hook.

    Now put yourself in Milosevic's shoes. This fourth Balkan war of the 90s is his last - after Kosovo, 'Yugoslavia' (i.e. Serbia) has no other non-Serb republics left to drive into revolt - and Milosevic risks losing power in the collapse. If he does, there are not a lot of places he can go that would shelter him from the demands for extradition that would surely follow him. When you are responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people, you must expect some resentment.

    In fact, the only safe havens for Milosevic, if he must leave Belgrade, are Russia or Belarus, where the principle of 'Slavic solidarity' blots out all his sins. (Never mind that most of his victims were also Slavs, and that other Slavic countries, from Poland to Ukraine to Bulgaria, can tell the difference between mass murderers and Slavs worthy of support.)

    Even Russia and Belarus would not be completely safe havens, for their courts must treat extradition requests from their major creditors and trading partners seriously. So what goes through Milosevic's mind as he contemplates the end-game that has now begun?

    Perhaps not very much, for he reportedly just sits in the dark drinking a good deal of the time. His circle of advisers is so narrow that he may not even understand the implications of the Pinochet decision. But if he does, how will it affect his decisions in the next days and weeks?

    Not very positively, for he may well conclude that fighting all the way to the last ditch is likelier to keep him out of jail than making a deal that might turn him into an ex-head of state, an exile and a target for extradition. On the other hand, it is clear that Nato is desperate to cut any deal that will save it from having to commit ground troops to drive the Serbian forces out of Kosovo. It would be quite willing to leave Milosevic in power in Serbia proper if the Serbs themselves don't throw him out.

    So on balance, he is likely to tough it out for a while, and then look for a deal in which Nato itself recognises him as the legitimate ruler of a yet more shrunken 'Yugoslavia'. You can extradite ex-heads of state, but you can't extradite ruling ones.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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