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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-10

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

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


Saturday, April 10, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] No deal to free soldiers after Kyprianou talks
  • [02] Pilots offer to buy stake in Cyprus Airways
  • [03] Pardon for disgraced water chief
  • [04] Suspect remanded again in murder case
  • [05] Half the Episkopi hunger strikers end their fast
  • [06] Mystery Easter egg incident at strike hotel
  • [07] Turkey keeps on paying its Cyta bills
  • [08] Avdeyev briefs Clerides on Kosovo
  • [09] Cheaper phone calls ove Easter

  • [01] No deal to free soldiers after Kyprianou talks

    By Jean Christou

    House President Spyros Kyprianou has failed to persuade Yugoslav President Slobadan Milosevic to release three US servicemen captured by Serb forces near Kosovo.

    Speaking to journalists in Belgrade after his two and a half hour meeting with Milosevic last night, Kyprianou expressed deep regret that he didn't manage to achieve his goal to have the soldiers released.

    He said there would be no further peace gestures on the part of the Serbs at the present time. "The message received by the Yugoslav leadership and people is that the relentless bombardments will continue," Kyprianou said. "There is a feeling that every step taken towards peace provokes instead of creating better conditions".

    He also said that it was obvious that the US and Nato allies had not taken his initiative seriously and that as far as he could see the Nato bombing had intensified since his humanitarian mission began on Wednesday.

    Kyprianou had asked the Americans for a 24-hour Nato ceasefire to safely complete his mission to the Yugoslav capital, but the answer was negative although his flight was given safe passage.

    "I expected better from the allies," he said. "I saw things here which would caused despair."

    The House President said, however, he could not preclude that if conditions improved "there might be a new effort". Kyprianou is expected to return to Cyprus some time today.

    According to Associated Press (AP), after yesterday's meeting Milosevic's office issued a brief announcement saying Kyprianou had condemned the Nato air attacks on Yugoslavia.

    US President Bill Clinton, commenting on Kyprianou's mission

    yesterday said he would welcome any "honourable" way in which the three soldiers could be released. "We would like to see the servicemen released. They never should have been detained in the first place," he said.

    "They were in Macedonia. They had nothing to do with the operations against Serbia and I would be for anything honourable that would secure their release".

    The three soldiers, Staff Sgt Andrew Ramirez, 24, Staff Sgt Christopher Stone, 25, and Specialist Steven Gonzales, 24, were captured near the border of Kosovo last week and paraded, with one showing bruises, on Serbian TV. Belgrade said they were seized on Yugoslavian soil.

    Kyprianou left Cyprus on Wednesday afternoon to travel to Belgrade via Athens on board a Greek C-130 `Hercules' to negotiate for the release of the soldiers. Initially it was hoped he would be picking up the three Americans and returning immediately to Cyprus but the Greek plane which brought Kyprianou returned immediately to Athens leaving him to book into a Belgrade hotel.

    The House President was confident before he left the island that his mission would be successful and stated that Milosevic had indicated he was willing to hand over the Americans without preconditions.

    However, it is believed complications arose after heavy Nato air raids on Tuesday night soured the atmosphere for any possible goodwill on the part of Milosevic. A source close to the Serb leader told Reuters on Thursday that there would be no release of the soldiers.

    But Kyprianou initially said he was willing to stay in Belgrade until his efforts for the release of the soldiers was exhausted. On Thursday night he attended a dinner in his honour hosted by the Yugoslav Senate and Parliament which was also attended by the Yugoslav Foreign Minister.

    Earlier yesterday Kyprianou was taken on an unexpected tour of Nato bomb damage in the town of Aleksinac, some two hours' drive from Belgrade. The House President was accompanied by Serbian officials to the small mining town in central Serbia, south of Belgrade.

    There Kyprianou viewed damages caused to civilian housing by Nato bombs and spoke to some of the 500 villagers. Nato says it is aiming only at military or military-related targets but, according to Reuters, has admitted its missile might have missed in Aleksinac.

    Asked by journalists what he felt he could do, Kyprianou said:

    "If I can help for peace I will do it, but this is not my mission".

    Saturday, April 10, 1999

    [02] Pilots offer to buy stake in Cyprus Airways

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways pilots have offered to buy the 12 per cent stake in the airline which the government must sell by September under stock exchange regulations.

    The government, which must reduce its stake from 82 to 70 per cent, has so far been unable to offload the extra shares, but the pilots have now come forward with a feasibility study outlining their own deal.

    Pilots' union president Chris Christodoulou said yesterday the deal would involve around 100 Cyprus Airways pilots purchasing the 12 per cent stake - more than five million shares - at a cost of around 2.5 million.

    The airline's 2,000 staff have already been offered a 22 per cent share deal by the company in return for cost-cutting concessions which would save CY 5 million a year.

    The cost-cutting proposals are directly aimed at reducing the annual 40 million wage bill which constitutes 35 per cent of CY's running costs.

    The unions have so far been unenthusiastic and have not yet given an answer to management.

    From the pilots' point of view this is not enough, Christodoulou said, because it would only give the pilots a one per cent stake. "We want to have a good controlling share in the company," he said. "In order to survive the company has to have the participation of the employees."

    He said the feasibility study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, completed just days ago, has concluded the proposal would be a very positive move for CY.

    But before the results are released the union will have a meeting with Finance Minister Takis Clerides, Christodoulou said.

    "The government wants to sell - they have to sell," he said.

    An attempt by the government in January to offload the shares failed miserably to attract investors.

    Stockbrokers blamed the lack of interest on the fact that staff were in the middle of a strike at the time. This scared off potential, investors although several said the airline had so many internal problems that they would not have been interested anyway.

    Christodoulou said that ideally the pilots would like to buy a 25 per cent share in the airline. The 5 million needed would not be a problem because the 100 or so union members have some 10 million in their pension fund.

    "Pilots could also agree to each give 30,000 of their own money," Christodoulou said. "We believe in the company. We believe it has a future and we believe we can turn it into a profitable airline. The way forward is for the employees to participate."

    The Cyprus Airways Group announced a profit of 5 million for 1998 after two years of losses. But profits were only made possible by its subsidiaries, the charter firm Eurocypria and Duty Free Shops Ltd.

    The group also expects to make a profit this year, but unless the airline manages to cut costs and unprofitable routes, it is unlikely to remain competitive in the face of European air liberalisation.

    Saturday, April 10, 1999

    [03] Pardon for disgraced water chief

    By Martin Hellicar

    DISGRACED former Water Development Department (WDD) director Lakis Christodoulou was enjoying Good Friday with his family yesterday after securing an early release from jail.

    Christodoulou, who had been serving a six-month sentence after being convicted on eleven charges of abuse of authority, was one of 40 prisoners granted Easter pardons by President Glafcos Clerides earlier this week.

    The top civil servant, who was sentenced on December 29, walked free almost two months early. He had been due for release on May 20.

    Prison authorities said relieving prison congestion was one of the main reasons for the decision to release convicts early. Nicosia Central Prison has a capacity of 220, and even after the 40 early releases, it currently has 270 inmates.

    All 40 pardoned prisoners had been due for release by June, and none was a long-term convict. The president traditionally grants a number of Easter and New Year pardons.

    Christodoulou's high-profile trial began after police caught WDD employees and machinery being used on the building site of the water chief's luxury out-of-town mansion on May 20 last year.

    After a lengthy police investigation, Christodoulou was tried before the Nicosia District Court on a total of 29 charges of abuse of authority, deceit and attempting to interfere with a police investigation.

    After initially denying all charges, he eventually pleaded guilty to the 11 charges of abuse of authority. The other 17 charges were dropped.

    During the trial, senior WDD technician Sophoclis Nicolaou told the court his boss considered getting his subordinates to moonlight for him to be "one of the perks of his job". Nicolaou said Christodoulou had repeatedly asked him to provide departmental employees to work on his home near the new GSP stadium outside Nicosia.

    Christodoulou was suspended after the police enquiry was launched, and he lost his job when he was convicted.

    Saturday, April 10, 1999

    [04] Suspect remanded again in murder case

    FORMER army frogman Charalambos Spyrou was remanded in custody for another eight days yesterday in connection with the murder of Chief Game Warden Savvas Savva in Limassol last month.

    Savva, 52, was killed on March 23 when a bomb went off under his car seat in morning rush-hour traffic. He had dropped off his two children at school just minutes earlier.

    Spyrou, 26, from the Limassol district village of Kantou, was arrested later that same day. Police believe he killed Savva in revenge for the death of his cousin Marinos Stavrou, who was shot dead in November while hunting near Kantou, allegedly by special game wardens.

    At Limassol District Court yesterday morning Spyrou was remanded for a further eight days to allow police time to continue their investigation.

    Police say they have a witness statement placing Spyrou at the scene of the bomb attack and that they found bomb-making materials at his home. Forensic experts believe Savva was killed by a bomb that was detonated by remote- control.

    Two other men are also being held in connection with Savva's murder. They are builder Andreas Andreou, 30, and private company employee Christoforos Georgiou, alias Stikkis, 28, both from Limassol.

    Police believe the three men planned the murder together.

    Two special game wardens are currently on trial charged with the Stavrou murder.

    Saturday, April 10, 1999

    [05] Half the Episkopi hunger strikers end their fast

    THE NUMBER of boat people on hunger strike in protest at their detention in the British Sovereign Bases (SBA) has dropped by half since the fast began on Wednesday, SBA spokesman Capt Jon Brown said yesterday.

    Only 21 of the 40 boat people - out of 68 illegal immigrants being held - at the Episkopi base were still fasting yesterday, he said. These included 16 men and five women, and no children.

    Earlier in the protest, 12 children had joined the adults in refusing food to dramatise the demand of the boat people, mostly Arabs and Iraqi Kurds, for a quick resolution of their status.

    The boat people, who came ashore on SBA territory last October from a leaky fishing vessel, have applied for political asylum. They want to be moved from SBA guarded housing to a civilian area of Cyprus, pending resolution of their status.

    Brown said all their applications for asylum are now under review at the Home Office in London, and their final status will be worked out by Britain, Cyprus and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    He declined to speculate on what the ultimate resolution might be or what country might be asked to accept the boat people as refugees.

    Three meals a day continue to be prepared for all 68 of the boat people, Brown said, adding: "They'll eat when they're hungry."

    Saturday, April 10, 1999

    [06] Mystery Easter egg incident at strike hotel

    By Athena Karsera

    LARNACA police have confirmed that a working hotel employee has officially reported one of her picketing colleagues for allegedly throwing an egg at her car on Thursday.

    The unions yesterday either denied knowledge of the incident or said the accusation was false.

    Employees at the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels have been on strike for more than two months in protest at the dismissal of 73 of their colleagues when a number of jobs at the hotels were contracted out.

    Peo's Andreas Trahanas told the Cyprus Mail that the woman implicated in the charge "was not even striking" at the time of the reported incident. He said that the woman had already told police she was at home at the time.

    The strikers and unions "did not want to have anything to do with such accusations," Trahanas said.

    He denied management reports that pickets had baskets of eggs ready to pelt strike-breakers with.

    Sek's general-secretary on hotels Nicos Epestithiou said that he had not heard about the specific incident. "False accusations are often made," he said.

    Pickets at the Golden Bay hotel last week threw a tomato at an unsuspecting American tourist.

    Trahanas also said yesterday that the strikers and unions had decided to celebrate Easter outside the two Larnaca hotels.

    Constantinos Lordos, the Director of Lordos Holdings, which controls the two hotels, has said that the company "is not willing to negotiate our rights", and that a business is entitled to arrange employment in order not to lose money. The dismissals had been necessary to combat chronic losses at the hotels, he said.

    Saturday, April 10, 1999

    [07] Turkey keeps on paying its Cyta bills

    THE CYPRUS Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) still lists the phone number and address of the Embassy of Turkey in its Yellow Pages, despite no diplomatic relations between the two countries since Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974.

    "For 25 years, they have been paying their bills," Cyta Public Relations Officer Alexia Yiallouridou said, explaining why the phone number and address of the Turkish embassy is still published.

    The phone and address are listed under "Embassies and Legations" on page 235 of the 1998 Yellow Pages, and according to Cyta Spokeswoman Rita Karatzia, both numbers normally work.

    The embassy is at 39 Selim II Street in Turkish-occupied old Nicosia. The one phone number published is 465242. An alternate, available from Directory Enquiries, is 475622.

    Both are six-digit numbers, as opposed to the seven-digit numbers the occupation regime's phone system uses. But this is not why neither answers, whether dialled direct or through the new automated United Nations switchboard.

    "In 1974, the lines were cut," Karatzia said. "It was easier to restrict service in the occupied area" after the invasion than to cut water and power connections between the Republic and the occupied north. Despite this, the occupation regime kept local number.

    Cyta repair personnel have told Karatzia the number in the Yellow Pages - 465242 - has been disconnected, and they suspect another disconnect is why the second number also does not answer.

    But any disconnect is "in the Turkish occupied areas, not from our side," Karatzia said. "There might be a fault. It might be anything. The phones normally work."

    Since the Republic insists - and the international community, except for Turkey and Pakistan, agrees - that there is only one legitimate government of Cyprus, "we have never stopped wanting to provide service to the entire island," Karatzia said.

    Saturday, April 10, 1999

    [08] Avdeyev briefs Clerides on Kosovo

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides was yesterday briefed on the Russian position on the situation in Yugoslavia.

    At an early morning meeting with Russia's first Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Avdeyev, Cyprus-Russia relations, the Cyprus problem and other European issues were also discussed.

    "I had the opportunity to give President Clerides an in-depth explanation of Russia's position on the Yugoslavia situation and our president's (Boris Yeltsin) evaluation of the tragedy in Kosovo," Avdeyev said.

    He also met Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides before returning to Russia yesterday afternoon.

    Saturday, April 10, 1999

    [09] Cheaper phone calls ove Easter

    C.Y.T.A. has announced cut-price overseas phone calls over Easter. Beginning yesterday, long-distance calls made at any time will cost on average 25 per cent less. Regular tariffs will be restored on Wednesday.

    Cyta said the discount applied to calls made to all countries with automatic telephone services. Reduced price calls can be made from both regular and mobile phones.

    Overseas tariffs are normally 25 per cent cheaper after 10pm and on Sundays.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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