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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-02

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, April 02, 1999


  • [01] Angry scenes at Limassol court
  • [02] Italian dismay at Aspide cancellation report
  • [03] Clerides: bombing could sidetrack US initiative on Cyprus
  • [04] Stories for the fools
  • [05] Paediatric specialists on flight saved premature twins
  • [06] Retailers hit back over shopping hours
  • [07] Eoka struggle should inspire today's youth
  • [08] Christofias back in Cyprus after UK heart surgery
  • [09] Bomb scare at Disy headquarters
  • [10] News agencies warned on security

  • [01] Angry scenes at Limassol court

    By Martin Hellicar

    There were angry scenes outside the Limassol District court yesterday morning as a man suspected of planting the bomb which killed chief game warden Savvas Savva was brought up for a remand hearing.

    Police had to intervene to stop relatives and friends of the 52-year-old victim from closing in on Charalambos Spyrou, 26, as he was taken into the courtroom. The incensed relatives hurled abuse at the suspect.

    The court heard fresh evidence apparently linking Spyrou, from Kantou village, to the March 23 bomb attack in Limassol town.

    Case investigator George Aristidou told the court the suspect had, a week before the attack, hired a Pajero jeep just like the one the victim was blown up in.

    Savva was killed when a bomb went off in his car as he drove down Limassol's Makarios III avenue during the morning rush-hour, just minutes after he had dropped his two children off at school. The daylight bomb attack provoked spontaneous protests in the Limassol by residents concerned at the town's spiralling crime rate.

    Police say a man matching Spyrou's description was seen following the victim's car on a moped just before the attack and also say a search of the suspect's home after the attack turned up bomb-making equipment.

    Police chief Andreas Angelides has suggested Spyrou killed Savva to avenge the death of his cousin Marinos Spyrou, 25, who was killed by special game wardens on November 15.

    Aristidou told the court Spyrou - a former member of the National Guard's crack frogman unit - was refusing to make any statements to investigators about his movements immediately after the murder.

    Spyrou was remanded for a further eight days.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [02] Italian dismay at Aspide cancellation report

    By Jean Christou

    ITALY had no idea the Cyprus government planned to cancel a deal for a batch of Aspide anti-aircraft missiles, the embassy in Nicosia said yesterday.

    "We did not receive any communication from the government," a senior official at the Italian embassy told the Cyprus Mail.

    The official said they had seen a report in Phileleftheros on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources claiming the Cyprus government was no longer interested in purchasing the missiles.

    But it wasn't until government spokesman Costas Serezis confirmed the contents of the Phileftheros report that the embassy realised the government appeared to have changed its mind.

    "We did not receive anything from them," the official said. "In fact, we had indications that things were moving in a positive direction."

    The Aspide issue has been ongoing for more than two years. In October 1997, Cyprus signed the contract with Italian firm Alinea, which was due to be implemented within a year.

    However, Rome began to stall in the wake of the tension surrounding the government's order for the Russian-made S-300 long-range air defence system, and refused throughout last year to grant an export licence for the Aspide system.

    The government in Rome claimed the delays were for technical reasons, but with last December's cancellation of the S-300 deal, Italy suddenly said it was ready to renegotiate the Aspide deal with Cyprus.

    But according to the reports this week, the Cyprus government is no longer interested.

    "We had a contrary impression," the embassy official said. "What we read today is new. It's a different story altogether."

    Government spokesman Costas Serezis was yesterday quoted as saying the Italians had taken too long to reach a decision on the Aspides.

    "It was too late for us by the time the Italian government changed its mind, " Serezis said, adding that the government had made other arrangements.

    The government said last year it was considering buying a batch of short-to medium-range Russian missiles if the Aspide deal failed to materialise.

    The Russian-made TOR-M1 option (with a range of 12km), and the Aspides (with a range of 18km), were both suitable ground-to-air options to protect the long-range S-300s.

    The Aspide option was considered cheaper at the time, in view of the National Guard's existing stock of the Italian missiles.

    Even without the 150km-range S-300s, the Aspide system remains a viable option for Cyprus, which has no air defence system.

    Former Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou, who quit the government with his Edek party over the cancellation of the S-300s, was reported as saying yesterday that he could not understand the government's U-turn on the Aspides in favour of the Russian TOR- M1s. Omirou said he believed Cyprus should not rely entirely on Russian defence systems, and that unlike the TORs, which must come through Greece, the Aspides could be brought directly to Cyprus.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [03] Clerides: bombing could sidetrack US initiative on Cyprus

    PRESIDENT Clerides warned yesterday that if Nato air attacks on Yugoslavia continued until after the elections in Turkey, it could adversely affect international efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

    Clerides was speaking to journalists yesterday during services to mark the April 1 anniversary of the beginning of the Eoka struggle.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides also said Cyprus was worried that the situation in the Balkans was destabilising the entire region and hoped that diplomatic efforts would soon bear fruit.

    Clerides said the continuation of the bombing for an extended period might turn into an obstacle to the international community's efforts for a Cyprus solution.

    According to the Cyprus government, the US is working on various ideas that might lead to a new initiative on the Cyprus problem after the Turkish elections this month. Last year, Clerides claimed the US was planning a 'big push' on the Cyprus problem after the presidential elections on the island. Hardly anything materialised.

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

    Talks on the Cyprus problem have been deadlocked since late 1997 when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash declared them 'dead' in retaliation at the opening of Cyprus' EU accession talks.

    UN Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus has been conducting secret shuttle talks between the two sides since last October.

    EU and US mediators who visited the island last month left pessimistic about the possibility of progress following meetings with both sides.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [04] Stories for the fools

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE S-300s are going to Belgrade, Ocalan has escaped and Matsakis is off to Kosovo with his own brigade of desperadoes willing to die for the defence of Serbia. Stories for fools on the front pages of the April 1 editions of local dailies yesterday.

    Most all the spoofs were inspired by the Kosovo crisis, and two papers chose to resurrect the S-300 saga.

    Left-wing Haravghi carried a front-page story reporting that the Russian- made missiles, already re-directed from Cyprus to Crete, were now on their way to Belgrade.

    The suggestion was that the Cyprus government had decided that, with the Nato offensive continuing, the fellow-Orthodox Serbs were in more dire need of the 200 million ground-to-air missiles than Greece.

    The paper quoted a "reliable source" with links to Russian missile manufacturers Rozvorouzenie as saying Athens was getting cold feet about having the missiles and arrangements were thus being made for their transfer to Belgrade.

    The relentlessness of the Nato bombing raids and the failure of their recent Kosovo peace initiative had persuaded the Russians to ignore the ban on weapons sales to Yugoslavia - opening the way for the transfer of the controversial missiles to that country, Haravghi reported.

    The fragile credibility of the story was further dented by the fact that it occupied only a couple of column inches towards the bottom of the front page - less space and prominence than reports on the on-going Larnaca hotels strike and alleged police corruption.

    Politis chose a slight variation on the same theme, but relegated it to the back page, shying away from taking the joke too far.

    "The S-300s from Crete to Cyprus" the headline read. "Dramatic developments" was the strapline.

    The Nato attacks on Yugoslavia and the possibility that this might lead to a Greco-Turkish clash had prompted Athens and Nicosia to review their controversial decision to redirect the missiles to Crete.

    New Government spokesman Costas Serezis' recent visit to Athens on "family business" was nothing of the sort, the paper reported. Serezis was in fact acting as a go-between for top-secret and urgent missile talks between President Clerides and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    The two leaders decided the threat of increasing regional instability meant the missiles had to come to Cyprus after all, Politis said. Russia had given assurances her fleet would make sure the missiles got to Cyprus and the only detail to be decided was whether the S-300s would go to Crete first and then to Cyprus or come here direct.

    Alithia did more than most in trying to make its April fool's story convincing.

    It reported that firebrand Diko deputy Marios Matsakis was "by the time you read this on Serbian soil" along with 300 other volunteer defenders of the Serbian "cause".

    Matsakis has already stated his willingness to help the Serbs and Anorthosis football club has called for local volunteers to fight Nato alongside the Serbs.

    Alithia just took the story one (giant) step further.

    Matsakis - a former member of the British Territorial army - had been appointed chief of a battalion of 300 volunteers secretly assembled in the shadow of Stavrovouni monastery, the paper reported.

    It even carried a photomontage of Matsakis inspecting a line of camouflage- clad, machine-gun toting, volunteers.

    The volunteers had been visited before their departure by Archbishop Chrysostomos, who blessed the contingent, the paper stated.

    The volunteers were to fly to Belgrade from the Paphos air-base at 2.30am yesterday, on board a Greek air-force C-130.

    The right-wing paper added a further twist to the story, reporting that left-wing opposition party Akel had complained that their men had been barred from the contingent's leadership.

    Matsakis could not be contacted on his mobile phone when the Cyprus Mail sought his comment on his Yugoslavia "mission" yesterday. Maybe Cyprus GSM links do not stretch as far as Yugoslavia.

    "Ocalan has escaped" screamed the Machi headline. The strapline was a bit of a give-away though, pronouncing as it did that the daring escape had taken place at "At 4:00 in the morning" - a full two hours after local papers have to go to bed by law.

    The paper quoted a "foreign news agency" as reporting from Istanbul that Kurdish commandoes had rescued the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) leader from the clutches of the Turks.

    The commandoes carried out a daring raid on the prison island of Imrali off Istanbul - where Ocalan has been held since his capture earlier this year - overpowered the Turkish guards and whisked the rebel leader away. The whole operation lasted no more than 10 minutes, the paper reported.

    The commandoes and Ocalan had disappeared without trace, suggesting they had left Turkish soil, Machi added.

    The prize for least credible spoof went to Simerini.

    Former Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides and his tormentor, House Watchdog committee chairman Christos Pourgourides had buried the hatchet, the paper stated on its back page. Pourgourides's persistent allegations that Michaelides abused his ministerial post for personal gain may have forced the latter to resign, but President Clerides had managed to get the two men to agree to make no further statements on the matter, the paper reported.

    Exchanges between the two politicians have become increasingly virulent in recent weeks. A reconciliation between the two is about as likely as a marriage between Matsakis and UN chief of mission Dame Ann Hercus.

    The Cyprus Mail's spoof about the national carrier offloading unpopular shares by lottery went international yesterday after being picked up by Reuters news agency.

    Reuters noted that the Mail's genuine story about pizza parlours coming under scrutiny for using a soya-based cheese substitute was in fact seen as an April fool's story by many readers.

    Which just goes to prove that truth really can appear stranger than fiction.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [05] Paediatric specialists on flight saved premature twins

    By Andrew Adamides

    WHEN Kenyan Grace Ndanyu left London for Nairobi as a passenger on a Gulf Air jet, little did she know that she was bringing with her not one but two stowaways who would make their presence felt just two hourse into the flight. She also didn't plan on a two-month stay in sunny Cyprus.

    Grace, 30, had been in London on an extended four and a half month visit to friends there, and on February 28 was travelling from Heathrow to Abu Dhabi on the first leg of her trip home. She was aware of her preganancy, but did not know she was carrying twins, and had had absolutely no ante-natal care whatsoever.

    By an amazing stroke of luck, when her premature labour began at 35,000 feet, Grace couldn't have been in better hands, as also on the flight were three paediatricians, a surgeon and a specialist in palliative care, all on their way to a Middle East medical conference.

    "It was pure luck from the babies point of view that there were specialists on board who knew about small babies," palliative care specialist Dr Halcyon Leonard told the Reuters news agency.

    "I think they probably owe their lives to the fact that there were paediatricians on board. I don't think I could have resucitated a baby that small and I am sure the air crew couldn't have done."

    Leonard, from Kingston upon Thames, delivered them in the plane's galley before handing the twins - Joseph and Lucia - over to the paediatricians who resucitated them.

    One of the child specialists, Dr James Gould of Ipswich Hospital, said it took him 40 minutes to resucitate first-born Joseph in the plane's tiny toilet.

    "It wasn't easy - particularly during landing when I had to hold onto the baby to stop him falling on the floor as well as holding the oxygen," said Dr Gould, who had to use an oxygen system designed for a much larger child.

    Lucia caused even more trouble by being a breech birth, he added.

    At birth, the twins weighed just one kilogramme each, as they were a full three months premature. The flight was diverted to Larnaca and they were taken to the Makarios Hospital where they remain and are making good progress.

    However, while the doctors have publicly criticised the equipment available on the plane, calling for better drugs, saline drips and surgical gloves, Grace has spent the intervening time since she left hospital holed up in the Excelsior Hotel, an oasis of seventies kitsch in 90s Nicosia, courtesy of Gulf Air.

    Jobless Grace says she's very grateful to the doctors for saving both her life and those of her babies, but is lonely and growing tired of the media frenzy surrounding her. Her boyfriend, the father of the twins, also called Joseph, is a school caretaker and cannot afford to travel to Cyprus.

    Short of cash, ordinary, genuine Grace currently spends her days visiting the twins in the mornings, and will be doing so for at least another month, as the babies are not expected to be ready to leave hospital before then.

    After that, she'll be heading back to Kenya for a family reunion with Joseph, who has yet to see his children.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [06] Retailers hit back over shopping hours

    THE UNION of Cyprus Retail Businesses yesterday condemned the decision by shopkeepers union Povek for an early Friday shutdown in protest at a proposal to extend shopping hours.

    The Cyprus Federation of Professional Shopkeepers, Povek, on Tuesday announced that shops would be staging a national shutdown at 1pm today.

    Povek also said shopkeepers and representatives from all towns would congregate outside the House of Representatives at 3pm in protest at the proposal to stretch closing times to 10 pm, six days a week.

    The proposal was first brought before the House Labour Committee by deputies Nicos Pittocopitis and Elias Mirianthous.

    It will be discussed at a House Labour Committee meeting this morning and may appear before the Plenum later today.

    In a statement issued yesterday, the Union of Cyprus Retail Businesses (Enelek) said that not all shopkeepers agreed with Povek's opposition to the later closing time.

    The statement accused Povek of "deliberately trying to give the impression that all Cyprus shopkeepers are against the proposal," when "the truth is that the majority of the interested parties are in favour of the proposal."

    The announcement then listed the parties in favour of the proposal as the Commerce and Labour Ministries, workers union Sek, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Employers and Industrialists' Federation, the Cyprus Food Supermarkets' Association, various hotel organisations, the Association of Travel Agents, tourism associations in every town, municipalities and the Consumers Association.

    Enelek argued later closing times would be an advantage for the market, also noting that any new closing times would not be compulsory.

    Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Povek secretary-general Melios Georgiou said that while shopkeepers would have the choice to remain open or to close earlier, competition would force them to adopt later times.

    Owners of smaller shops, he said, may be forced to stay in person at their shops until 10pm if they couldn't afford to hire extra staff.

    Enelek's statement claimed that a later time would provide better service to the consumer, while Georgiou on Tuesday said that the current time-table served the majority of consumers. Georgiou also noted that most of the work- force, "civil-servants, semi-government organisation employees and construction workers," all finished work well before the current closing times.

    Georgiou added that the Cyprus Consumer Association had not received wide- spread complaints about current shop-hours and that "the exception cannot be seen as the rule."

    And while Enelek claimed yesterday that the later hours would create more jobs, Povek said on Tuesday that operational costs and unemployment would in fact rise with "the queue of unemployed people growing longer, fed by former self-employed businessmen and their employees." The Federation said that if any new jobs did open up, they would be in non-productive areas and of no real benefit to the country.

    Enelek rejected Povek's claims that later hours would spark illegitimate competition, and that home and social life would be upset, saying that many other professionals were forced to work long hours because of the nature of their work.

    Enelek's statement concluded that employers' right to operate at the times they chose with the agreements on paying overtime "is considered to be sacred and should be completely respected."

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [07] Eoka struggle should inspire today's youth

    By Athena Karsera

    POLITICAL leaders in Cyprus yesterday celebrated the protagonists the 1950s struggle against British colonial rule in their messages on the anniversary of the start of the Eoka campaign.

    In his address to teachers, students and school pupils, Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said "the dawn of April 1 1955 represented one of Hellenism's greatest moments."

    "The whole of Hellenism, with all its ideals, virtues and power combined in the life and death of the great generation of 1955 to 1959," he said.

    Ioannides said that the fighters, inspired by Archbishop Makarios and Eoka leader General Grivas, "wrote the brightest pages in the history of modern Cypriot Hellenism, and the fight for Cyprus' freedom is continuing in other forms."

    The minister encouraged the new generation to be worthy of the "responsibility and honour" that had fallen upon them to fight for Cyprus' total freedom.

    In its announcement, the Eurodemocratic Renewal party of Alexis Galanos said that the 1955 to 1959 struggle "must be a shining example during the difficult times our country is going through."

    The party said that the Eoka fighters had sacrificed themselves for their values and that this gave today's Cypriots "a moral obligation" to continue to fight for the freedom of Cyprus.

    The United Democrats said that the foundations for Cyprus' independence had been laid down on April 1 1955, "an independence which is today threatened by Turkey and unacceptable international behaviour."

    The UD continued that this year's anniversary, taking place against the backdrop of Nato attacks against Yugoslavia, "reminds us of the need to try to understand the bitter and disappointing international reality of interests."

    The United Democrats said that this would in turn lead Cyprus to "go after what belongs to it, stay united when the need arises and keep involved in national priorities."

    The announcement concluded that this "patriotic stand would be the biggest honour and the most suitable way to remember those who were sacrificed during the liberation struggle."

    New Horizons' announcement said that the Greek Cypriots began the struggle 44 years ago, "flooded by a passion for freedom."

    The party continued that "all those who lost their lives for freedom and independence have yet to be vindicated 25 years after the Turkish invasion."

    The announcement said that "accepting a bi-zonal federation or confederation would refute the hero strugglers' contributions."

    New Horizons then called the political leadership and people of Cyprus to face up to current "critical problems" in a spirit of "co-operation and compassion to fight for the common goal of freedom."

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [08] Christofias back in Cyprus after UK heart surgery

    AKEL SECRETARY general Demetris Christofias yesterday returned to Cyprus following a successful open heart operation in London.

    The communist party leader arrived at Larnaca airport at 3pm.

    Christofias underwent surgery two weeks ago at London's Saint Mary's hospital in preparation for a kidney transplant.

    He then spent a week in England to recover before returning to Cyprus.

    Christofias spent a month in hospital in Cyprus after being diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia following a visit to England at the end of last year.

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

    Christofias' personal doctor Michael Minas, who accompanied him to England, last week told reporters that Akel's secretary-general would be having the kidney transplant within the next three months.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [09] Bomb scare at Disy headquarters

    NICOSIA police called out the bomb squad yesterday after receiving a telephone call from a passer-by, who grew alarmed on finding a suspicious- looking briefcase abandoned near the new Disy Party headquarters.

    Police halted traffic at the intersection of Pindarou and Agathocleos streets at around 11am, while explosive experts guided a robot bomb- disposal machine to the entrance of the still-unfinished Disy building's underground car park.

    After cautiously approaching and opening the briefcase with the robot device, bomb squad personnel discovered it contained only tools, the Nicosia police duty officer said. No explosives were found in association with the briefcase, they said.

    The identity of the briefcase's owner was not immediately known.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [10] News agencies warned on security

    INTERNATIONAL news agencies on the island have been warned to be extra vigilant in the wake of the Nato bombings on Yugoslavia.

    One of the three major agencies based in Nicosia has already received abusive telephone calls. Its embassy has asked police for additional security.

    The bombings have sparked angry reactions in Orthodox Cyprus, with several demonstrations outside the US embassy in Nicosia over the past week.

    News agency staff based here have already been warned by their head offices to be vigilant when it comes to security procedures. Circular to this effect have been issued to staff.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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