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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-14

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, April 14, 1999


  • [01] Belgrade feels Kyprianou mission a 'success'
  • [02] Government mum on report of attack helicopter deal
  • [03] British carrier leaves Akrotiri for the Adriatic
  • [04] Shuttle talks resume after Easter break
  • [05] Paphos fury at plans for town centre development
  • [06] US clamps tightens controls on Cyprus art imports
  • [07] Easter gluttons flood casualty
  • [08] Israel honours 'Papa'
  • [09] Three youths held in connection with robberies

  • [01] Belgrade feels Kyprianou mission a 'success'

    By Jean Christou

    BELGRADE considers last week's failed mission by House President Spyros Kyprianou to free three US soldiers a "success", the Yugoslav ambassador said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with Kyprianou, ambassador Ivan Mrkic spoke cryptically about how successful and positive the visit had been.

    Asked by journalists why Belgrade felt that way, Mrkic replied: "They have their own reasons".

    He refrained from assessing the outcome of the Belgrade visit. "I won't enter into any detail because actually I was not there," he said.

    "My government sees the visit of the President of the House as very successful. We think that this visit was successful and positive," Mrkic said.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said the visit - though it did not accomplish what had been hoped - would not have any negative repercussions for Cyprus. Cassoulides also met Kyprianou yesterday, as did Russian ambassador Georgi Muratov, the American chargé d'affaires, and the Australian High Commissioner.

    Commenting on American reaction, Cassoulides said the government had been in touch with the US embassy since Kyprianou's return, but said he could not speak on America's behalf, even though they had in the beginning given Kyprianou the green light to do what he could.

    "There was clear encouragement for this attempt," Cassoulides said. "The US made it clear they would welcome the three back but they were not prepared for any other transaction," he said.

    Kyprianou had asked the US and Nato for a 24-hour cease-fire to complete his mission. It did not materialise. In fact the bombing was intensified during his stay in Belgrade.

    Russian ambassador George Muratov yesterday strongly criticised the United States for their actions. "There were positive prospects which Nato did not exploit. Not only did they fail to assist this mission, but they intensified their bombing," Muratov said. He said this indicated they were not interested in their captives.

    "Had they been interested, they should have stopped bombing and created a positive climate to help yield positive results."

    Muratov said he had not been involved in any discussions before Kyprianou's mission, but said he had been informed about it.

    There was confusion last week over who knew and who didn't that the visit was about to take place.

    Kyprianou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday: "We had a lot of consultations with Yugoslavs close to the government, and the positive indications were not denied by the Yugoslav ambassador here. This was not something that came out of my imagination. The Cyprus government and the foreign ministry in Greece were well informed of everything in detail."

    Kyprianou returned to Cyprus empty-handed and disappointed over the failure of his mission. He said he could not understand why his request for a short cease-fire had been ignored and said he was sure this had contributed to Belgrade's eventual refusal to release the three.

    He said he had been very hopeful of success and that he understood that the families of the three US soldiers had even been flown to Germany in anticipation of their arrival there.

    Kyprianou also dismissed criticism that he had carried out the mission for domestic political benefit. He said he had no such aspirations.

    Wednesday, April 14, 1999

    [02] Government mum on report of attack helicopter deal

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday declined to comment on reports that it was planning to purchase South African-made attack helicopters.

    "I have absolutely nothing to announce on defence matters," Government spokesman Costas Serezis said when asked about a relevant report in Phileleftheros newspaper.

    Nicosia's last effort to buy major military hardware ended in embarrassing failure, with the government forced to bow to Turkish threats and international pressure and send controversial Russian-made S-300 missiles to Crete instead.

    The usually well-informed Phileleftheros stated yesterday that Cyprus was about to sign a defence co-operation agreement with South Africa. This agreement would pave the way for Nicosia to purchase an unspecified number of Rooivalk helicopters, the paper reported.

    Phileleftheros stated South Africa's Defence Minister, Joe Montise, was to visit Cyprus towards the end of the month to iron out final details with his local counterpart Yiannakis Chrysostomis before signing the deal.

    Rooivalk attack helicopters, made by Atlas Aircraft Corp., are armed with 20mm GA-1 guns and can carry anti-tank and air-to-air missiles. The Rooivalk can also be modified to carry Stinger or Mistral missiles.

    Wednesday, April 14, 1999

    [03] British carrier leaves Akrotiri for the Adriatic

    THE BRITISH aircraft carrier, HMS Invincible, has sailed from Cyprus for the Adriatic, where she will join other Nato ships in the alliance's air campaign against Yugoslavia.

    The 20,600-ton Invincible, accompanied by the destroyer HMS Newcastle, and the support ship HMS Fort Austin, took on water and other stores at RAF Akrotiri before heading out later that day, British Bases Spokesman Rob Need said yesterday.

    The British carrier also rotated "about 40" of her 1,200 officers and crew while at the British air base on Cyprus, but did not take on any new munitions, Need added.

    "She is going to go under Nato command. It's another golf club in the golf bag" being wielded against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's war machine, Need said.

    Invincible, which carries seven Sea Harrier jet fighter-bombers and 10 Sea King helicopters, is expected to reach the Adriatic tomorrow.

    The carrier is being redeployed to the Adriatic from the Gulf, where the ship was part of a US-British flotilla enforcing the UN-backed no-fly zone over southern Iraq.

    Wednesday, April 14, 1999

    [04] Shuttle talks resume after Easter break

    SHUTTLE talks on the Cyprus problem resumed yesterday with a meeting between President Clerides and Unficyp Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus.

    Clerides and Dame Ann met for an hour at the Presidential Palace and she is due to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash later in the week.

    "I have met this morning with Mr Clerides and there has been a small gap in the shuttle talks while I have taken some leave off-island, and we are now back to regular meetings," Dame Ann, who has imposed a news blackout on the talks, told journalists.

    The Unficyp chief began the shuttle talks seven months ago on the initiative of UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, who wants to see the two leaders back at the negotiating table.

    The last time Clerides and Denktash met face to face was in Glion in Switzerland in 1997. Four months later, the Turkish Cypriot side declared the intercommunal talks dead after the decision by the EU to go ahead with Cyprus' accession talks.

    Since then, visits by various international mediators have failed. This year, both US State Department Co-ordinator Thomas Miller and EU envoy Detlev Graf zu Rantzau left the island deeply pessimistic of any chance of progress.

    A new US settlement effort was expected after the elections in Turkey this month, though there are concerns that Nato's war in the Balkans may put the initiative off track.

    Government spokesman Costas Serezis yesterday defended the apparently unproductive shuttle talks, saying they were still necessary.

    Wednesday, April 14, 1999

    [05] Paphos fury at plans for town centre development

    By Martin Hellicar

    GOVERNMENT planners and Paphos residents are on a collision course over proposed new government buildings in the very heart of the town.

    Opponents of the planned development - which would house all Paphos government services - claim it would create traffic chaos and complain that no proper impact studies have been carried out.

    Local planning officials insist they have kept to all necessary procedures for public consultation and impact assessment.

    Protests against housing local state services on the former site of the Paphos hospital began soon after the plans were announced in 1997 - and have been gaining momentum ever since.

    The local residents' action group has warned of more protests in the near future.

    The action group believe the area is already over-developed and is crying out for some green - a park and perhaps an open-air theatre. The area already plays host to four secondary and three primary schools, the Paphos District law courts and the local offices of the Telecommunications and Electricity authorities.

    "There has been no proper study of the impact this development would have," a spokesman for the action group told the Cyprus Mail. "There was a one- page study on traffic effects but it was a joke," he said. "In the rush- hour, the traffic would be impossible."

    Paphos district land officer Andreas Constantinou disagreed: "A study of the impact on traffic flows in the area was carried out, I don't know how big it was, but it was done."

    He insisted local residents had no grounds for complaint: "Meetings were called, everyone involved was invited and the whole issue was debated fully, " the official said.

    The residents are particularly incensed by what they claim is a government proposal for relieving potential traffic problems in the area: that one of the primary schools be moved out of town.

    "The Water Development department offices are out of town and this causes no problems; the new hospital is out of town and this causes no problems for people; why do the new government offices have to be in the town centre?" the action group spokesman said.

    "The area could be put to better use, it could be turned into an open-air theatre and park."

    Constantinou said he could not put a figure on how much the new government buildings would cost and could not say when construction would begin.

    The new buildings would provide offices for 500 to 600 civil servants.

    Wednesday, April 14, 1999

    [06] US clamps tightens controls on Cyprus art imports

    THE United States yesterday imposed an emergency restriction on Byzantine ecclesiastical objects and ritual ethnological material from Cyprus, the American embassy announced.

    According to a press release, the restriction will be imposed on any items that are not accompanied by an export permit issued by the Cyprus government.

    Penn Kemble, Acting Director of the US information agency, took the decision following a recommendation from the US Cultural Property Advisory Committee.

    The emergency import restriction is in response to a request from the government of Cyprus seeking protection of its cultural heritage under Article 9 of the 1979 Unesco Convention, the US embassy statement said.

    "Both the United States and Cyprus are parties to this convention, an international framework of co-operation among nations to reduce the illicit movement of cultural property across international borders," the statement said. "Cyprus is the first country in the Mediterranean region to seek the help of the United States in protecting its cultural property."

    It said that the high degree of artistic achievement in Cyprus included some of the finest pieces of Byzantine art every produced.

    Cyprus has long been concerned about the disappearance of its cultural heritage from the occupied north of the island. Some pieces have been recovered, but there is concern that thousands of pieces are still abroad in the hands of smugglers or illegal collectors.

    Wednesday, April 14, 1999

    [07] Easter gluttons flood casualty

    FOOD, glorious food - Cypriots seem to have been over-indulging in it over the holiday weekend, according to Costas Antoniades, Director General of the Nicosia General First Aid Department.

    Over the Easter period, he said a new record had been set for the number of people arriving at the First Aid Department. Of these, a large proportion were there because they'd over-eaten "of the sort of foods we traditionally eat over Easter".

    Antoniades said that 1,600 people had turned up at his First Aid department and between 30 and 40 per cent either didn't need treatment or could have treated themselves at home.

    The majority of non food-related ailments were coughs and colds or viral infections, and Antoniades said hardly any of these were serious.

    On the plus side, the recent police crackdown on dangerous driving appears to have paid off, with not a single road death recorded over the Easter weekend.

    Only one car crash was considered serious enough to make the headlines, a three-car pile-up outside Larnaca in which four people were injured, two seriously.

    Wednesday, April 14, 1999

    [08] Israel honours 'Papa'

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE TELEVISION pictures of Kosovo's shell-shocked refugees fleeing the Serbian province have alarmed Prodromos Papavasiliou, soon to become Honorary Consul of Israel. The pictures of the trains were especially painful, he said.

    "I'm 80 years old," the Cypriot the Jews affectionately call 'Papa' told the Cyprus Mail. "I thought that, after the terrible disaster of the concentration camps of the Germans, we were finished with such things."

    "It's a great pity that, in 1999, we see such pictures on television. We had Jewish refugees in Cyprus then (1946-1949), and now we have these huge amounts of refugees from Kosovo," he said.

    Papa remembers the British camps on Cyprus and their 53,000 Holocaust survivors as "skeletons of people," with empty, hollow eyes. Denied entry to Britain's Palestine Mandate, before Israel won statehood, they were behind yet more barbed wire in Xylotymbou, and Karaolos in the now occupied north.

    "When they reached Israel, saw the place of refuge, and somebody came and said, 'No', and pulled them back and told them: 'We're taking you to camps in Europe' - for them, it was the end of the world," Israeli Ambassador to Cyprus Shemi Tzur said.

    "When they came to Cyprus, the Cypriot people, Papavasiliou and others, showed them there is life, there is hope by comforting them... speaking to them as human beings," Tzur said.

    "They are small things, but for us they are big things, because they gave life to these people," Tzur said. "They could see there are different people in this world. It was not the end. That is the uniqueness of what they did."

    "They did much more," he continued. "They supplied food, they smuggled some of the Jews to Israel - there were a few tunnels (one a mile long under one camp's barbed wire). They provided doctors. And now, 50 years later, our government is showing its appreciation," he said.

    "We do not give honours in our country... except for those who helped Jews during the Holocaust, (but) we are honouring Papa to show our appreciation for him and for his community, for his people," Tzur said.

    Next Tuesday, Papa officially becomes Israel's sixth-ever honorary consul in 51 years of statehood.

    "This I accepted in the name of all those friends who stood by the Jewish refugees during those times," Papa said. "It's a great, great honour indeed for me and all those Cypriots," he said.

    "We do remember, we do appreciate," Tzur said. "We take it seriously that we have to take lessons from history... to prevent repeating the evil of the past. This was the darkest chapter in our history, in human history," he said.

    "Now we see terrible pictures of refugees flooding by the thousands, women and children, all over Kosovo's borders. We see Belgrade on fire. We want help to stop this on a humanitarian basis," Tzur said.

    "Suffering of this kind - it can be Africans, Arabs, Christians, or Jews, whoever - it's human beings suffering," he said, adding that Holocaust survivors in Israel were experiencing "flashbacks" from TV pictures of Kosovo, especially the trains.

    "What we may pray for," Papa said, "is... for the Nato countries to see that these people do safely return to their homes and land... I hope, really, that this is the last time that we see such pictures."

    Wednesday, April 14, 1999

    [09] Three youths held in connection with robberies

    THREE youths, one a National Guardsman, were yesterday remanded in custody in connection with a spate of break-ins in the Paphos district.

    Soldier Charalambos Andreou, 19, labourer Krinos Panayiotou, 18, and Savvas Charalambous, 15, have all allegedly admitted to involvement in the break- ins and to stealing video recorders, television sets and mobile phones. The value of the goods stolen has not yet been estimated.

    Police released another teenager, aged under 16, after questioning, but are seeking another National Guardsman to help with their enquiries. Paphos District Court remanded Andreou and Panayiotou in custody for eight days each, and Charalambous for five.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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