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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-16

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, April 16, 1999


  • [01] Kyprianou lashes out at 'bitter' Matsakis
  • [02] Government corrects Hercus mistake
  • [03] Why is my fist love bombing me?
  • [04] HSBC organises money laundering seminar
  • [05] Strikers 'pelt hotel swimming pool'
  • [06] Ports shut down in strike action
  • [07] Protests force government to rethink desalination plan
  • [08] UD and New Horizons expelled from merger talks
  • [09] Suspect jumps out of window, breaks spine
  • [10] Preparing for Eurovision
  • [11] Warning shots fired into buffer zone

  • [01] Kyprianou lashes out at 'bitter' Matsakis

    By Jean Christou

    HOUSE President Spyros Kyprianou yesterday hit back at critics of his mission to save three US soldiers being held captive in Yugoslavia.

    Addressing a news conference in Nicosia, Kyprianou singled out Diko colleague and deputy Marios Matsakis, who has publicly denounced the mission.

    "I feel I don't owe anyone an apology," Kyprianou told journalists. He repeated he had not gone on the mission for political gain and that it had been a purely humanitarian gesture.

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

    He said he had been very hopeful of success when he left Cyprus.

    Kyprianou had asked 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.

    At home, Matsakis has been one of Kyprianou's strongest critics, although party leaders have stood behind the House President.

    Kyprianou said yesterday Matsakis was bitter because he had not allowed him to join him on the trip to Belgrade.

    "He was displeased because I did not let him accompany me," said Kyprianou. "If in his opinion the mission was so frivolous why did he pressure me so much to come with me."

    Matsakis could not be reached for comment yesterday, but he told CyBC radio that the mission had been a "momentous failure" that had damaged both Kyprianou and Cyprus.

    "This is what the whole world is saying," Matsakis said. "What party leaders and others are saying is another matter."

    Matsakis said it was more important what the international community and media thought of the mission.

    The maverick Diko deputy said that if the sole result of the mission had been to put Cyprus back on the international map, then it has been a failure, since the aim had been to secure the release of the solders seized by Yugoslav forces near the border with Macedonia.

    Matsakis said the international community was laughing at Cyprus and accusing Kyprianou and Cyprus of seeking publicity.

    "If we had wanted Cyprus put back on the map we could have done that by blowing up Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite's Rock)," he told CyBC yesterday.

    Friday, April 16, 1999

    [02] Government corrects Hercus mistake

    Jean Christou

    UNFICYP Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus was given a slap on the wrist by the government yesterday for inaccurate statements she made at a press briefing for Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists in Nicosia on Wednesday.

    Government spokesman Costas Serezis said that, although Dame Ann's statements had not meant to be deliberately misleading, the Foreign Ministry would be pointing them out to her.

    He said Ministry Permanent Secretary Alecos Shambos would be setting the record straight for Dame Ann, who was appointed Unficyp Chief of Mission nine months ago.

    Dame Ann had told Wednesday's news conference at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace Hotel that the peacekeeping force had come to Cyprus in 1964 at the request of the two communities after the outbreak of intercommunal strife.

    When she was corrected by a Greek Cypriot journalist, who pointed out that the invitation had come from the government of Cyprus, Dame Ann repeated that it had been at the request of the leaders of the two communities.

    "Mrs Hercus certainly stated some inaccuracies, particularly concerning the conditions under which the UN came to Cyprus in 1964," spokesman Serezis said.

    "We all know that the decision was made by the UN Security Council after an application by the Cyprus government.

    He said although it had clearly not been a deliberate mistake, there was no excuse for it.

    Dame Ann came under heavy fire from local media over Wednesday's rare news briefing, at which she ticked off a Greek Cypriot journalist for bringing up the issue of the ongoing shuttle talks she is holding with the leaders of the two communities.

    A second Greek Cypriot journalist walked out in protest when Dame Ann told his colleague: "I would hate to embarrass you my friend in front of your colleagues," and went on to warn him she would not allow him to ask any more questions if he continued to mention the shuttle talks.

    She later apologised to the journalist, saying her comments had been a joke.

    The Unficyp Chief of Mission has imposed a news blackout on the talks - aimed at bringing the two sides back to the negotiating table - since they began last October.

    Dame Ann, a New Zealander, has angered local media since her appointment by shrouding Unficyp in a cloud of secrecy.

    Friday, April 16, 1999

    [03] Why is my fist love bombing me?

    US SECRETARY of State Madeleine Albright took refuge in a Serbian village as a child during World War II, a Serb villager who told his story to a visiting Cypriot journalist has claimed.

    The middle-aged man claims he was Albright's "first love" and wonders why the Americans are now bombing his village.

    Ljutko Popic handed a Cypriot photo-reporter who joined a recent mission taking relief to Serbs from Cyprus a faded black-and-white photograph showing a small boy and podgy little girl in an embrace. Popic said the boy in the picture was he and the girl a four-year-old Albright.

    He told the reporter that Albright's Jewish-Czech family took refuge in his village, Vrinjetska Banja, in 1939, to escape the threat of persecution from the Nazis in Prague.

    Popic said Albright's family stayed with his family and he could not understand how she could now back Nato's bombardment of Yugoslavia. He said he had sent Albright a letter asking her to halt the air strikes, but had received no reply.

    The Cypriot journalist reports that Vrinjetska Banja, some 80 km outside the town of Kraljevo, was bombed on the night she stayed there - April 12.

    The next day villagers apparently scrawled a message on an unexploded Nato bomb: "Thank you, Mrs Albright, for the presents you send us in return for our hospitality."

    Friday, April 16, 1999

    [04] HSBC organises money laundering seminar

    By Hamza Hendawi

    HSBC Investment Bank Cyprus will organise a seminar on money laundering in Nicosia on April 29. The one-day symposium comes at a time when Cyprus faces renewed allegations of being a money laundering centre, this time for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

    The seminar will be addressed by George Vassiliou, the island's chief negotiator for European Union accession talks, and Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou.

    From HSBC, Regional Money Laundering Officer Robert Cooper will address the seminar. "The importance and necessity of keeping abreast of the constantly evolving and sophisticated forms of international money laundering cannot be emphasised enough," Cooper said in remarks published in an HSBC press release.

    Cyprus has been the target of persistent snipes in Western press reports that it serves as a venue for money laundering. The government has countered such accusations with denials and a host of measures designed to prevent money laundering from taking place on the island, an offshore hub that is now at pains to project itself as an international business centre rather than a tax haven.

    However, there have been recent mentions in the local and foreign media that Milosevic has deposited in banks in Cyprus millions of dollars siphoned off from state coffers. The United States, which is leading a three-week Nato aerial campaign against Yugoslavia to force Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo, has asked Nicosia to freeze Yugoslav assets on the island, according to press reports.

    Officials reportedly turned down the request, but said they would only be too happy to comply if the UN Security Council was to make a similar demand.

    An editorial in the latest edition of the Financial Mirror, the island's English-language business weekly, tackled the latest money laundering allegations and accused officials of not doing enough to clear the island's name.

    "Whether or not Slobodan Milosevic is a money launderer... is of no real concern to us. What does concern us, though, is the fact that the Yugoslav leader's financial dealings, legal or shady, are once again being linked to the financial scene in Cyprus, that remains a secretive operation controlled by the Central Bank," said the newspaper.

    "This shroud of secrecy has afforded Cyprus the unfortunate label of money laundering centre of the world, with no serious counter-offensive ever launched by our officials to denounce such allegations and clear our name."

    Cyprus, which is bound by strong political and religious ties to Yugoslavia, had in the past also been accused of breaking UN sanctions imposed on the Belgrade government at the time of the war in Bosnia.

    Friday, April 16, 1999

    [05] Strikers 'pelt hotel swimming pool'

    STRIKERS at a Larnaca hotel threw stones, "caustic materials" and eggs into a hotel swimming pool while a small child swam in it, hotel management claimed yesterday.

    Some 160 employees at the Lordos Beach and Golden Bay hotels have been on strike in protest over the sacking of 73 of their number since late January. Strikers have picketed entrances to the hotels and hotel bosses, who refuse to discuss the redundancies, have repeatedly accused them of unruly behaviour.

    Yesterday's swimming pool "incident" allegedly took place at the Lordos Beach hotel.

    Last month, an American tourist staying at one of the two hotels - both owned by Lordos Hotels - spoke out about his dismay at being pelted with tomatoes by angry strikers.

    In a statement issued yesterday, hotel management repeated claims that police were not doing enough to restrain the strikers.

    "The state and responsible authorities have an obligation to protect our constitutional rights but also to maintain law and order at our hotels and must at long last realise that there is no excuse for even the slightest delay or indifference," management stated.

    Friday, April 16, 1999

    [06] Ports shut down in strike action

    By Jean Christou

    WORKERS at the island's two ports yesterday staged a 24-hour warning strike over the renewal of collective agreements.

    Some 250 workers from five unions representing Limassol and Larnaca ports downed tools over the refusal of the Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) to sign the initial draft of the collective agreement.

    The unions are protesting because they say the CPA is linking the collective agreement to a deal for the 24-hour operation of the ports.

    They say that if differences cannot be resolved in the next few days they will begin indefinite strike action on Monday.

    Union representative Andreas Patalos said that the next time strike action would take place without warning.

    "No one on the official side has shown any interest in why ships are leaving Cypriot ports," he said.

    Cyprus' ports have come under increasing pressure from other Mediterranean competitors, who are cheaper, better equipped and willing to operate around the clock. As a result Limassol and Larnaca ports have lost many of their major shipping clients.

    Yesterday's strike did not affect operations at Limassol port as no ships were due to dock.

    At Larnaca, only 11 of the 70 workers went on strike and two ships loading cargoes of potatoes apparently reported no problems.

    An official statement by the CPA said the strike was illegal since a deadlock in negotiations had not been declared by the Labour Ministry mediator.

    This view was supported by a statement from the right-wing Sek trade union, which said negotiations had still be going on when the strike was called.

    The CPA said the workers had taken the decision to strike without

    taking into account the consequences for the transport sector.

    "The strike is unacceptable and inexcusable," the CPA announcement said.

    Friday, April 16, 1999

    [07] Protests force government to rethink desalination plan

    By Anthony O. Miller

    PUBLIC protest has prompted the government to rethink its plans to locate two 'mobile' desalination plants outside the coastal villages of Zakaki and Ayios Theodoros, two top Water Development Department (WDD) officials said yesterday.

    The government has also decided to hard-wire the two seawater desalting plants with EAC power lines, making them 'permanent' facilities, instead of using diesel generators for powering the two erstwhile 'mobile' units, the officials added.

    The change in plans will probably force the government to seek new tenders for the two units, WDD Acting Director Christos Marcoullis and Senior Water Engineer Nicos Tsiourtis said.

    "It was mainly the objections of those concerned" in Zakaki and Ayios Theodoros that prompted the WDD to reconsider the location, power source and 'permanent' character of the two desalting plants, Marcoullis conceded.

    "About Zakaki, the site remains in the same area, but not at the point that we had indicated before," he said. "As far as Ayios Theodoros goes, most likely we are going to site (the desalination unit) in the same area of the new (Vassiliko) power plant," he added.

    "The two units we called 'mobiles', now we're calling them permanent," Tsiourtis said. "It doesn't make any difference. Permanent is just a word."

    "We are trying to get a power supply from the Cyprus Electricity Authority (EAC), not from generators. That's the only difference," Tsiourtis said.

    "As to the Zakaki location, we have some indications that power can be given to us within the time limits we have" for putting the two units on- line - sometime in 2000, Tsiourtis said, adding "there isn't much difference whether it's the first or the last of January 2000."

    The two units were originally expected to de-salt seawater this summer, as stop-gap measures to get the island through a fourth straight year of drought until a new, permanent desalination plant is completed outside Larnaca.

    But residents' objections and greater rainfall runoff into the island's reservoirs this winter have given the WDD some breathing space in which to reassess its desalination plans.

    "At the moment, we haven't decided yet" whether to seek new bids to build the two units, "but because of the changes, we may have to go to new bids," Marcoullis said.

    "It's difficult to say," he added, whether hard-wiring the two units with EAC power will raise their costs over what generators would have cost, "because there are pluses and minuses in both cases" Marcoullis said.

    In any event, environmental assessments for both desalination units are under way and are expected to be completed soon, he added.

    Wherever the two units are built, each will de-salt 18,000 to 20,000 cubic metres of water per day, Marcoullis and Tsiourtis said. The Dhekelia desalting plant - the island's only such facility - pumps out 40,000 cubic metres a day.

    As to the island's second permanent desalination plant, proposed for south of Larnaca Airport, "for the moment, they're working on the environmental study." Marcoullis said. "They will have to give us the results and we shall decide" where to site it, he said.

    "Apparently, it's going to be very difficult to change the site," from south of Larnaca Airport, he said, despite concerns of environmentalists and Larnaca residents about effects on the ecology of that site.

    Marcoullis said he hoped the Larnaca plant's environmental assessment would be completed "this month or by the beginning of next." Pending its review, and input from Larnaca residents, Marcoullis said it was hoped the Israeli joint-venture that won the contract to build it could begin construction this summer.

    Friday, April 16, 1999

    [08] UD and New Horizons expelled from merger talks

    By Martin Hellicar

    EFFORTS to form a new broad-based Socio-democratic party appeared dead in the water yesterday after Edek showed the door to the United Democrats (UD) and New Horizons.

    Socialist Edek, the senior partners in the merger effort, said George Vassiliou's UD and Nicos Koutsou's New Horizons were guilty of derailing merger talks by constantly, and publicly, bickering between themselves.

    Vassos Lyssarides's Edek announced they would be continuing merger talks with the Movement for Political Renewal and the Realignment Movement, but both these groups are political small fry. The only hope for the credibility of merger efforts would now appear to be a return to the fold by Spyros Kyprianou's centre-right Diko party.

    Diko abandoned merger talks early on, but following the exclusion of the UD and New Horizons yesterday, Kyprianou indicated a return might be on the cards: "We will examine the whole issue in the light of these developments, " he said.

    "We have not abandoned (merger) efforts, not at all. Problems continue to exist... but our intentions are good," the Diko leader said.

    His party would be meeting to discuss the issue today, Kyprianou said.

    The writing has been on the wall for the UD and New Horizons for a few weeks now, with the two parties finding it impossible to reconcile their diametrically opposed foreign policy lines. The UD favour attempts at reconciliation with the Turkish side whereas Koutsou's party are hard-line nationalists.

    Lyssarides has always insisted that agreeing a common approach on the Cyprus problem was the key to any merger.

    In an announcement yesterday, the Edek central committee stated that the UD and New Horizons had failed to display the "necessary political will" during negotiations.

    "The leaderships of the UD and New Horizons, despite our repeated pleas, and despite promises on their part, continue to engage in unnecessary public confrontations which undermine the credibility and prospects of the new party," the Edek central committee stated. "The UD and New Horizons have for the past few months been engaged in an effort to exclude each other from the new party," the central committee added.

    According to the statement, the aim was to call the inaugural conference for the new party - without UD and New Horizons - before the end of the year.

    Friday, April 16, 1999

    [09] Suspect jumps out of window, breaks spine

    A DRUGS suspect taken in for questioning leapt out of the window of a Nicosia police station and fell over 30 feet to the ground below, fracturing his spine, pelvis, leg and hand, police reported yesterday.

    The man, from Latsia outside Nicosia, was last night being treated in Nicosia general hospital under police guard.

    According to a police statement, Drug squad officers went to the man's home yesterday morning with a search warrant to check out their suspicions that he was hiding drugs there. A search of the man's home turned up a few cannabis seeds, a set of scales, a needle and some gold jewellery believed to be stolen, police said.

    During the search, the man apparently told officers he had swallowed a quantity of opium just before the raid. He was, with his consent, taken to the general hospital to have his stomach pumped, police said.

    He was then taken to Paphos Gate police station for questioning. During the interrogation, the man got up and ran towards a plant pot, pretending he was going to be sick, police said. But he instead jumped out of the window of the top storey room.

    Friday, April 16, 1999

    [10] Preparing for Eurovision

    By Andrew Adamides

    CYPRUS' media elite gathered yesterday at the trendy Zoo nightclub for the official launch of the island's 1999 Eurovision entry Thane Erotas ('In the Name of Love').

    In the stainless steel and marble environs of the club, located on the top floor of a building on Nicosia's Stassinou Street, showbiz writers gathered to meet singer Marlain and her entourage, while the song's video played in the background.

    The contest, traditionally held in the home country of the previous year's winner, is set to take place on May 29 in Jerusalem, Israel. Cyprus will perform 14th out of the 23 countries taking part; but due to its poor performance last year, Greece will not be taking part, meaning that this year there will be no traditional exchange of 12 points between Athens and Nicosia.

    Blonde Marlain, 23, will be backed by singers Nicole Jones and Lina Kawar. Her song was composed by George Kallis, with lyrics by Andreas Karanicolas, and was chosen out of nine songs by a panel of top media personalities at a gala evening held at Limassol's glitzy Monte Caputo Nightspot. There would have been ten in the running, but one pulled out at the last minute. Marlain tried unsuccessfully to represent Cyprus last year as part of a duet. The island's 1998 entry, Genesis, was sung by local singer Michaelis Hadjiyiannis. He came 11th out of 25. The contest was won by Israeli transsexual Dana International with Diva. Dana recently visited Cyprus and performed at Zoo.

    Thane Erotas has been positively received by internet surfers, who listened to it on the official Eurovision website and have voted it likely, if not to win, then at least to finish in the top ten. This year's Eurovision will be markedly different from past years, as countries now no longer have to enter a song in their native language, but can sing in English if they so wish. Many, including Iceland, have taken the option. The rule about singing in the native language was brought in after ABBA won for Sweden in 1974 singing Waterloo in English. They went on to international stardom.

    Thane Erotas will be available on the Malvina Music label. Cyprus has never won the Eurovision Song Contest.

    Friday, April 16, 1999

    [11] Warning shots fired into buffer zone

    WARNING shots were fired to scare off a Turkish soldier who entered the buffer zone in the Kaimakli area of Nicosia yesterday evening, the National Guard reported.

    "It was near the Regis ice-cream factory: an armed Turkish soldier went into the neutral zone and two warning shots were fired (by our side). The Turkish soldier then ran away," Defence Ministry spokesman Andreas Harides said.

    Harides said no-one was hurt in the early evening incident, which he said was being investigated.

    Unficyp spokesman Sarah Russell said the National Guard had reported firing warning shots towards a Turkish soldier who had entered the buffer-zone. She said the UN were also investigating.

    In his latest report on Cyprus, UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan again notes that incidents between opposing forces along the buffer zone - ranging from shouted abuse to the firing of shots in the air - are commonplace.

    The last serious buffer zone shooting incidents were in 1996, when four Greek Cypriots were killed by Turks and a Turkish sentry was reported shot dead.

    In parts of Nicosia the buffer zone is as narrow as just over 10 feet.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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