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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-15

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, April 15, 1999


  • [01] Dame Ann falls foul of local media
  • [02] Parties rally behind Kyprianou mission
  • [03] Clerides denies Politis missile claim
  • [04] Two remanded again over Game chief murder
  • [05] Government to investigate water overcharging claims
  • [06] Drawing up a new forest plan
  • [07] Denktash to stand for re-election next year
  • [08] Settlement efforts all based on UN resolutions: Muratov
  • [09] Pigs roasted in massive farm blaze

  • [01] Dame Ann falls foul of local media

    By Jean Christou

    UNFICYP Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus yesterday fell foul of local media by giving a rare news briefing, but insisting on the continued blackout about the shuttle talks

    Some 50 Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists left the bicommunal press conference at the Ledra Palace Hotel empty-handed and disappointed at what seemed to be a complete waste of time.

    Greek Cypriot journalist Victoros Papadopoulos from Simerini newspaper and Sigma television left the room in protest after he felt Dame Ann had insulted one of his colleagues, Alithia journalist Kyriacos Jacovides.

    Despite Hercus' apology and a hug to the 'insulted' Jacovides after the briefing, Papadopoulos could not be appeased.

    He said it looked as if Unficyp was 'celebrating' 35 years of troubles in Cyprus by hailing its presence as a good thing.

    "Tomorrow I am going to write 'Queen Ann Hercus' in my newspaper," he told Unficyp spokeswoman Sarah Russell after Dame Ann had left.

    The trouble began when Jacovides began his question by mentioning the shuttle talks, although he did say he would not be asking about the talks themselves.

    "Don't embarrass yourself by asking," Dame Ann told him.

    "Don't start a question that way because I will get anxious that you are going to ask a question about the shuttle talks and I would hate to embarrass you, my friend, in front of your colleagues."

    She also warned him that if he pursued the issue there was a "good chance" it would be the last question he would be allowed to ask at the briefing.

    When Papadopoulos objected to her manner, Dame Ann insisted it had been a joke and apologised, but he still left the room.

    A British journalist at the briefing, one of several foreign reporters there, put it to Dame Ann that the briefing was a pointless exercise since she was not going to comment on what she was here to do - striving to bring the two sides back together.

    Since her appointment nine months ago, Dame Ann has rubbed local media up the wrong way by imposing a news blackout on the shuttle talks she has been having with the leaders of the two communities.

    Since then, Unficyp has been shrouded in an impenetrable cloak of secrecy, except for items emanating from Unficyp spin doctors, which most local media find un-newsworthy.

    Yesterday's briefing was a perfect example.

    The press conference was pegged on the 35th anniversary of Unficyp on March 27, but the invitation to reporters said only that Unficyp "invites you to a press briefing".

    Journalists from both sides of the Green Line, including television crews, turned up at the Ledra Palace hopeful of a news story.

    What they were treated to, in the words of one foreign journalist, was an unnecessary history lesson delivered in a two-page statement read out by Dame Ann.

    Also lined up to speak were Unficyp's Military Commander, its Chief of Civilian Police and Civil Affairs Officer.

    Hopes were raised when the civilian police chief announced that he would try and answer three questions.

    But they were soon dashed when it became apparent that he would be the one asking the questions as well as answering them. "First. Who am I?" he asked.

    Thursday, April 15, 1999

    [02] Parties rally behind Kyprianou mission

    By Jean Christou

    POLITICAL parties on the island yesterday rallied around House President Spyros Kyprianou, hailing as positive his abortive trip to Belgrade to secure the release of three captured US soldiers.

    Kyprianou yesterday separately briefed president Clerides and party leaders to discuss his trip, which ended with him returning home empty-handed on Saturday after a meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

    Speaking after his meeting with Clerides, Kyprianou said that though he may not have released the soldiers, his mission had put Cyprus back on the map.

    Kyprianou said Clerides had confirmed that some quarters were not pleased by anti-Nato statements he made while he was in Belgrade.

    "I am assuming it's the US," he said.

    Kyprianou has said the failure of the US to provide him with a 24-hour cease-fire to complete his mission had contributed to his failure to return with the soldiers.

    He believes the intensified Nato bombing during his stay in Belgrade had soured the climate of good will needed to persuade Milosevic to release the three US soldiers, who were seized on the Yugoslav-Macedonian border on April 1.

    "When I met the (US) chargé d'affaires yesterday (Tuesday), I explained everything and there was no problem. I must tell you that I have been receiving thanks and praise for my mission from America continuously," Kyprianou said.

    Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides agreed it would have been difficult for Milosevic to hand over the soldiers when there was no gesture of good will from the Nato side.

    New Horizons leader Nicos Koutsou and senior Disy official Panayiotis Demetriou also described the trip as positive.

    After his meeting with Kyprianou, Akel leader Demetris Christofias put the failure of the House President's mission down to the Nato bombing.

    "I don't think there have been any negative consequences for Cyprus," he said.

    An Akel delegation left yesterday for Belgrade in a show of solidarity with the Serbian people.

    Nicos Katsourides and Doros Christodoulides travelled to Yugoslavia via Hungary to hold talks with Yugoslav leaders. They may also meet the Yugoslav Foreign Minister. "The two deputies will convey Akel's support and solidarity with the Yugoslav people and express the party's condemnation of the Nato bombings," an Akel spokesman said.

    Thursday, April 15, 1999

    [03] Clerides denies Politis missile claim

    By Martin Hellicar

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday issued a statement denying a recent report in Politis newspaper, which claimed he had tried secretly bring to the S-300 missiles to Cyprus in May last year.

    On December 29 last year, Clerides had to swallow his pride and announce that the £200 million Russian-made ground-to-air missiles ordered for the National Guard were not coming to Cyprus after all, but were being redirected to Crete instead. The embarrassing climbdown was forced by persistent Turkish threats to destroy the missiles if they were deployed on the island and after months of pressure not to deploy from the UN, US and EU - who feared bringing the S-300s might spark a Greco-Turkish conflict.

    In his statement yesterday, Clerides took particular exception to Politis suggesting he planned to spirit the missiles into Cyprus without Athens knowing.

    In its story on April 10, the recently launched daily claimed that Clerides had ordered "a small team of Cypriot and Russian officers, under conditions of complete secrecy, to start drawing up a plan for the transfer of the S- 300s to Cyprus under the very noses of the West and of Athens."

    "I want categorically to deny this report, which aims to give the newspaper's readers the false impression that the President of the Republic thinks and acts in a manner which can create serious problems for or even destroy relations between Nicosia and Athens and embroil Cyprus and Greece in military adventures," was Clerides's terse response yesterday.

    Pressure from Athens not to deploy the missiles in Cyprus was widely seen as the crucial factor which finally pushed Clerides to take the politically costly decision to redirect the S-300s. The government has been at pains to stress its good relations with Athens ever since.

    "My policy has always been and remains continuously to develop and deepen harmonious and productive relations between Cyprus and Greece, based on honesty, mutual respect and understanding," Clerides stated yesterday.

    The President added that he considered "insulting" the report's implication that he "naively" believed it would be possible to bring the missiles to the island undetected.

    "I consider the report frivolous and irresponsible," the President concluded.

    Thursday, April 15, 1999

    [04] Two remanded again over Game chief murder

    By Martin Hellicar

    TWO LIMASSOL men suspected of involvement in the murder last month of Game Service chief Savvas Savva were yesterday re-remanded in custody.

    Builder Andreas Andreou, 30, and private company employee Christoforos Georgiou, alias Stikkis, 28, were arrested a fortnight after the shocking daylight bomb attack on a busy Limassol street.

    Police believe Andreou and Stikkis conspired with Charalambos Spyrou, 26, to murder 52-year-old Savva in a bid to avenge the death of Spyrou's cousin.

    Spyrou's cousin, Marinos Stavrou, was shot dead in November while out hunting near Kantou. Two special game wardens are currently on trial for the killing.

    Spyrou, a former army frogman from Kantou village in the Limassol district, was arrested on the day of the bomb attack and has been in custody ever since. He is suspected of planting a home-made device under the driver's seat of Savva's Pajero jeep and then detonating it by remote control from a scooter tailing the vehicle.

    Savva was killed on March 23 when a bomb went off under his car seat as he drove through morning rush-hour traffic on Makarios III avenue in central Limassol. The Limassol man had dropped his two children off at school just minutes earlier.

    Police say they have since found bomb-making equipment at Spyrou's Limassol home. They also say they have a witness statement placing Spyrou at the scene of the crime.

    Case investigators say Andreou often visited Spyrou's home in the weeks before the attack and also spoke to him by mobile phone. Yet in a statement he made to police when called in for questioning shortly after the murder, Andreou apparently said he had not seen or spoken to Spyrou since February.

    Police also say that sometime before the attack the three suspects had visited a Nicosia shop together and asked for a remote-controlled detonator.

    The Limassol District court re-remanded Andreou and Stikkis for eight days.

    The bomb attack prompted Limassol residents to take to the streets in a spontaneous protest against the rising levels of violent crime in their town.

    President Clerides immediately promised "all necessary measures" would be taken to combat Limassol crime.

    Police have introduced increased security measures for game wardens in the wake of Savva's death. Before his murder, the Game Service chief had repeatedly warned that he and his colleagues were living under the constant threat of violent attack from organised and ruthless gangs of poachers.

    Thursday, April 15, 1999

    [05] Government to investigate water overcharging claims

    By Anthony O. Miller

    AGRICULTURE Minister Costas Themistocleous will appoint a committee to see if the government is being overcharged £2,500 per day for water from the Dhekelia desalination plant, a top Water Development Department official said yesterday.

    Themistocleous' intent will be to see if the government can negotiate a new price below what Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd, the Dhekelia facility's owner, is charging for water, WDD Senior Water Engineer Nicos Tsiourtis said.

    The claim that Caramondani is overcharging the state some £2,500 per day for water was made in an Auditor-general's report, according to yesterday's Phileleftheros.

    "It's one view" of the situation, Tsiourtis confirmed. "We don't know if it's true," he added, saying Themistocleous's committee would have to sort the matter out.

    The Auditor-general's claim was based on comparisons between the Caramondani tender for the Dhekelia plant and the tender for the new desalination plant to be built at Larnaca by an Israeli joint venture, Tsiourtis said.

    The claim is also based on the alleged differential between what it originally cost the Dhekelia plant to produce 20,000 cubic metres of water per day, against what critics claim was a lower unit cost to double its output to the current maximum capacity of 40,000 cubic metres per day, Tsiourtis said.

    According to Tsiourtis, the Auditor-general's report recommended that the government try to negotiate a better price with Caramondani.

    "I don't think there is a correlation" between either the two separate plant's tenders, or what it cost Caramondani to produce the first 20,000 cubic metres per day versus the full 40,000 cubic metres daily, Tsiourtis said.

    The proposed Larnaca desalination plant's tender came in at 42.2 cents per cubic metre of water over 10 years, compared with the 54 cents per cubic metre Caramondani will get for Dhekelia plant water over its 10-year contract - unless the government buys the plant from Caramondani before the contract's term is up.

    Critics, bolstered by the Auditor-general's report, claim that Caramondani's costs to double output did not warrant charging the same 54 cents per cubic metre of water it charged to desalt the initial output, based on economies of scale.

    Part of the problem lay in the urgency with which the WDD directed the Dhekelia plant to go to maximum production, as the drought was biting into the island's reservoir reserves at the time, Tsiourtis said.

    Whether Caramondani lowers its unit rate is "a matter of negotiation," Tsiourtis said. "(But) there is not any ground for legal action" to force Caramondani to lower the rate, he added.

    "He's got a contract. He knows he's got the right with him. Nobody can say: 'Look, lower the price because we are the government'. A contract is a contract. We have to honour the contract," Tsiourtis said.

    "I cannot comment on Caramondani's stand," Tsiourtis said, "but I don't see how you are going to get out of it."

    Thursday, April 15, 1999

    [06] Drawing up a new forest plan

    THE FORESTRY department is busy drawing up a revised management plan for the island's forests with the aim of promoting sustainable exploitation and multiple use.

    According to a government announcement yesterday, the plan, which should be ready for implementation by the end of the year, is being put together in conjunction with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

    The FAO is providing $213,000 worth of technical assistance for the project under an agreement signed in May 1997.

    The official announcement stated that all interested parties had been consulted and a one-day seminar on the new plan had been held in Nicosia last month.

    The main conclusions of the seminar were:

    - Forest management should be based on the principle of multiple use. For example, forest can be used for both recreation and timber production and there should be a move away from over-emphasis on the latter.

    - The amount of timber that can be harvested from local forests should be reassessed to ensure sustainability.

    - A new fire protection plan is called for for both private and state woodlands.

    - Local authorities, NGOs and timber industries should have a say in forest management decisions.

    - Teaching programmes at the Cyprus Forestry college should be restructured to take account of the new forestry policy.

    The Agriculture Ministry sees increasing forest cover on the island as one of its principal aims.

    Thursday, April 15, 1999

    [07] Denktash to stand for re-election next year

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has announced his candidacy well ahead of the upcoming 'presidential' elections in the north because of rumours that he might not be standing.

    According to Turkish Cypriot press reports, Denktash said he had felt compelled to announce his candidacy over a year in advance to quash rumours that he wouldn't be running because Turkey no longer wanted him in the position.

    "I had to announce my candidacy because my closest friends and those organisations interested in my continuing in office started to question whether these rumours were true," he said.

    In this way, Denktash added, everybody knew he would be running and could "either rest assured or start worrying".

    Thursday, April 15, 1999

    [08] Settlement efforts all based on UN resolutions: Muratov

    ALL PARTIES involved in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem have accepted UN Security Council decisions and are working on the basis of these, Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Georgi Muratov said yesterday.

    Speaking in Nicosia, he said that he had not heard of any countries rejecting the UN ideas as a framework, and that the many different international initiatives pointed to the need for a cohesive effort on Cyprus, and discussion by the G8 group of most industrialised nations.

    Cyprus' chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou meanwhile said yesterday that the lack of progress on the Cyprus issue

    must not affect the island's EU accession course in any way.

    Speaking after a meeting with Finnish representative on Cyprus Jaako Blomberg, he said the two discussed the lack of progress in settlement efforts and Cyprus' EU accession.

    The meeting was, Vassiliou added, extremely important as Finland is poised to take over the EU's rotating presidency from Germany in the second half of 1999.

    With this in mind, Vassiliou said, Finland "wants to give special weight to the accession course."

    Blomberg, accompanied by Finnish Ambassador to Cyprus Pasi Patokallio, will be received today by President Glafcos Clerides.

    An EU Commission seminar on Cyprus is to kick off on Saturday in Brussels, attended by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, with the aim of exchanging views between Cyprus' ambassadors on issues concerning Cyprus and its accession course. Cyprus' ambassadors to Europe will all attend.

    Cassoulides left the island yesterday, to take part in the Euro- Mediterranean Ministerial conference in Stuttgart, during which he will make suggestions about illegal immigration and economic co-operation between Europe and the Mediterranean.

    Thursday, April 15, 1999

    [09] Pigs roasted in massive farm blaze

    OVER 700 pigs were roasted alive yesterday when fire ripped through an Aradippou farm, causing massive damage in the early hours of the morning.

    At around 2am, a gas leak from a heater in the pig farming section of Christakis Simeou's farm set light to a plastic floor covering.

    The heater was in one of the large pig pens to keep the animals warm at night, and 720 of Simeou's pigs were burnt to death in the conflagration.

    At the time of the fire, the farmer and his hired hands were at a late wedding reception and only found the inferno when they returned home. The damage has been assessed at between £45,000 and £50,000. Police are investigating, although it is not thought likely that foul play was involved.

    Simeou's property was not insured.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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