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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, April 17, 1999


  • [01] Squaddies drive armoured car into Paphos for an ice cream
  • [02] Cyprus protests 'very serious' buffer zone incident
  • [03] Dame Ann to Foreign Ministry for 'clarifications'
  • [04] Congressional committee urges US to pressure Turkey on Cyprus
  • [05] Matsakis hits out at 'stunt' missions to Yugoslavia
  • [06] An American and a Serb: tying the knot in Cyprus
  • [07] Bank manager jailed for gambling his clients' money
  • [08] Pefkos boat people plead to be sent home
  • [09] KEO posts higher turnover, profits

  • [01] Squaddies drive armoured car into Paphos for an ice cream

    By Jean Christou

    TWO BRITISH squaddies in an armoured personnel carrier caused a commotion in Kato Paphos on Thursday after driving the 30 minutes from Episkopi base for an ice cream.

    The British bases have apologised through diplomatic channels for the actions of the learner-drivers, a source there said yesterday.

    The source said the two soldiers from the King's Own Scottish

    Borderers, based at Episkopi, had only been on the island for three days and had apparently not realised their mistake.

    Bases personnel are only allowed to drive military vehicles from one base to another. The bases at Episkopi and Dhekelia are some 60 kilometres apart.

    To drive military vehicles to any other destination, British military need the prior permission of the Cyprus authorities.

    "But we don't need permission to transit between bases," the source said.

    "Either the two soldiers were poorly briefed or didn't listen to the briefing," the source said. "It was an error."

    He denied press reports that the soldiers had been armed, but confirmed that no senior officer was with them.

    The two squaddies had been on driver training detail early on Thursday morning and were required to confine themselves to the Episkopi base, the source said.

    Apparently the two young soldiers became bored with their confines and decided to head out on to the main road towards Paphos.

    "They left through the main gate but it appears nobody saw them," the source said.

    Stunned locals and tourists gaped in surprise at the military vehicle made its way into lower Paphos, a haven for souvenir shops and sea front restaurants.

    According to the bases source, the soldiers, still in uniform, pulled into a car park and bought Coke and ice cream; they were sitting on top of their vehicle when they were approached by the Cyprus police.

    "They were asked what they were doing," the source said.

    Police then established that the two squaddies did not have permission to be driving a military vehicle in the Paphos area and were ordered to return to Episkopi.

    "We have apologised to anyone we've inconvenienced," the bases source said.

    "According to our information, people were more curious than upset."

    Saturday, April 17, 1999

    [02] Cyprus protests 'very serious' buffer zone incident

    By Jean Christou

    DEFENCE Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis said yesterday that the government had protested to Unficyp over the alleged entry of a Turkish soldier into the buffer zone on Thursday night.

    "An armed Turkish soldier entered the buffer zone threateningly and headed towards our sentry post," Chrysostomis said. "He was warned to stop and he did not, so two warning shots were fired."

    Chrysostomis said the Turkish soldier had not been hit, but described the incident as "very serious".

    He said protests would be made to the UN.

    Unficyp said yesterday it was investigating the incident.

    A source there said that the Turkish Cypriot side had no information on the affair.

    An investigation at the site of the shooting revealed nothing, the UN source said. "National Guard officials showed us five spent cartridges and told us that two rounds had been fired in the air."

    Unficyp investigators examined the area in the Nicosia suburb of Kaimakli, both on Thursday night when the incident was reported and at first light yesterday.

    Ankara has dismissed the news report that appeared on Greek Cypriot television and radio as "false, premeditated and designed to create tension, " the Reuters news agency reported.

    Dozens of minor incidents take place between Greek Cypriot and Turkish soldiers along the 180km long buffer zone each year, ranging from shouting abuse to cocking weapons. The buffer zone at its widest is around seven kilometres and a mere 3.3 metres at its narrowest.

    The UN has been engaged in so far unproductive talks to establish a code of conduct for soldiers along the Green Line and the possibility of unmanning in certain areas.

    Saturday, April 17, 1999

    [03] Dame Ann to Foreign Ministry for 'clarifications'

    UNFICYP Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus visited the Foreign Ministry yesterday to discuss inaccuracies in statements she made at a bicommunal press conference on Wednesday.

    Identical statements from both Unficyp and the Foreign Ministry said Dame Ann met with Ministry permanent secretary Alecos Shambos to discuss issues arising from the press briefing.

    "In the light of explanations given and clarifications made on both sides, they concluded that there is no basis for any misunderstanding or wrong impressions nor that any useful purpose is served by pursuing further this issue," both statements said.

    Dame Ann received a verbal slap on the wrist from the government on Thursday over inaccurate statements she made at the press briefing for Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists at the Ledra Palace Hotel.

    The government said that although Dame Ann's statements were not meant to be deliberately misleading, the Foreign Ministry would be pointing them out to her.

    At the press conference Dame Ann said the peacekeeping force had been invited to Cyprus after the outbreak of intercommunal strife in 1964 at the request of the two communities, when in fact it was at the request of the Cyprus government.

    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.

    Saturday, April 17, 1999

    [04] Congressional committee urges US to pressure Turkey on Cyprus

    A KEY U.S. congressional committee has urged the Clinton Administration to "do all that is possible" to press Turkey to act towards a Cyprus solution in reciprocation for the Republic's decision to ship its S-300 missiles to Crete instead of Cyprus.

    In an amendment to the State Department Authorization Bill for fiscal 2000 and 2001, the House International Relations Committee praised the "extraordinarily conciliatory and courageous" decision by Cyprus not to deploy the missiles on the island.

    "The time has come for the US to expect from Turkey actions on the Cyprus issue in the interest of peace, including steps in conformity with US proposals concerning Cyprus, and in compliance with provisions contained in UN Security Council Resolutions 1217 and 1218," the amendment declared.

    President Glafcos Clerides's decision last December to deploy the Russian- made anti-aircraft missiles in Crete was made under relentless international pressure amid threats by Turkey to bomb the missiles if they came to Cyprus.

    Clerides' decision sparked waves of domestic political and popular criticism, the resignation of Edek and its two ministers from the government coalition, and calls to repeal all defence taxes.

    The amendment by the US House of Representatives Committee noted that in cancelling delivery of the missiles in Cyprus, the Republic had "refrained from exercising (its) sovereign right to self-defence - a right fully recognised by the US government" and by Article 51 of the UN Charter.

    By this sacrifice, Cyprus "displayed its full compliance" with Resolutions 1217 and 1218 on the Cyprus problem, and its support for President Bill Clinton's efforts to achieve a Cyprus solution, the amendment observed.

    Moreover, the House noted, Cyprus acted, despite the fact it "has no navy, air force or army, and faces one of the world's largest and most sophisticated military forces, just minutes away in Turkey, as well as in an area described by the UN Secretary-General as 'one of the most densely militarised areas in the world' in the Turkish-occupied area of northern Cyprus."

    US moves to press Turkey to reciprocate in the interests of a Cyprus solution "would also be in the best interests of the people of Turkey, as well as in the interests of others involved," the House amendment declared.

    Saturday, April 17, 1999

    [05] Matsakis hits out at 'stunt' missions to Yugoslavia

    By Jean Christou

    DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis said yesterday too many delegations from Cyprus were heading for Yugoslavia.

    He was commenting on the increasing number of Cypriot organisations heading for the Yugoslav capital.

    When the conflict began over three weeks ago, Matsakis said he had been the first to put his name down with the Yugoslav embassy.

    But yesterday he said would not got to Yugoslavia until the time was right for him, and until he could be of real use.

    "The visits from Cyprus are making things worse not better. They are not helping," he said.

    So far, House President Spyros Kyprianou has visited Belgrade in a failed attempt to secure the release of three US soldiers.

    Matsakis believes the mission harmed the standing of Cyprus abroad, but Kyprianou said Matsakis was bitter because he had wanted to go along.

    Kyprianou's visit coincided with that of a Greek Cypriot medical team bringing pharmaceuticals, who returned to the island yesterday.

    The communist party Akel also sent a delegation to Belgrade this week and the Anorthosis football club is signing people up for a volunteer fighting force to help the Serbian side.

    Matsakis said the Serbian people were in a state of war and probably had better things to do than to host delegations of Cypriots.

    "They are being forced to hold receptions and put them up in hotels and use up petrol to take them here and there and guard them," Matsakis said. "They are in a military situation and in my view these kind of things do not help."

    He said the latest medical mission by Dr Eleni Theocharous was a publicity stunt.

    Theocharous said yesterday her mission had delivered medical supplies to Kraljevo, south of Belgrade. A further two truckloads were sent on Thursday via Bulgaria, she said.

    She said the Cypriot delegation were working with Yugoslav doctors to treat emergency cases in underground facilities.

    "We wanted to send a message to all humanitarian organisations from European countries and the US that they cannot offer one-sided humanitarian help to the Kosovo refugees but to all people who need it," she said.

    Meanwhile, Anorthosis said yesterday they had 100 signatures for the volunteer force and were awaiting the go-ahead from the Yugoslav embassy.

    Anorthosis president Kikis Constantinou told To Periodiko magazine yesterday that he was prepared to lead the team to fight and take up arms in Yugoslavia.

    "With this action, we are carrying out a duty and obligation towards a friendly country and its people," he said.

    He said the club was in constant contact with the embassy of Yugoslavia, which welcomed their efforts.

    The magazine also said the father of murdered Greek Cypriot demonstrator Solomos Solomou had signed up for the force. Solomou was shot dead by Turks while trying to remove a Turkish flag from the Dherynia buffer zone during anti-occupation protests in August 1996.

    Saturday, April 17, 1999

    [06] An American and a Serb: tying the knot in Cyprus

    Anthony O. Miller

    A ROMAN Catholic American bridegroom and his Orthodox Serbian bride are getting married in Cyprus tomorrow because Nato's war in Yugoslavia blocked their getting visas to be married in either his country or hers.

    The couple fears they may be the only two people at their wedding in Chlorakas, outside Paphos - besides the Bishop of Paphos, the best man, and the bridesmaid - because they don't know anyone in Cyprus, they told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    And even these three are coming courtesy of their hotel, the Azia Beach in Paphos. Its namesake, Azia Economides, said she had arranged for the Bishop to officiate, and she will be the bridesmaid, and a male hotel staffer will stand in as best man.

    The couple came to Cyprus from Budapest, where they were enjoying one of their six trysts per year, Steve said. Three days into their visit, Nato began bombing Yugoslavia, "and I couldn't go to Belgrade," he recalled.

    "Tanja was finishing her degree in law in Belgrade. She has one more exam to take," Steve said. "We had intended for her to return to Belgrade to complete her exams before we got married," but the war erupted, "so they're not having any exams," he said.

    Barred from Belgrade, the couple applied to the US Embassy in Budapest for a visa to be married in the United States, but were similarly turned down, Steve said.

    "Tanja has been over to the United States six times before and had no problems getting a visa," Steve said. "Basically the US Embassy in Budapest doesn't really believe any Yugoslav would return from the United States" to Belgrade in the middle of a war, "so it's hard for her to get a visa right now," he said.

    The couple decided they were "better off not fighting the Department of State any more so we could be together, so we came to Cyprus to get married... mainly because it was a country that neither one of us requires a visa for; generally, Yugoslavs require visas for almost every country right now," Steve noted.

    "We've been forced into this situation. We wanted to have a proper wedding in August," Steve said. "Right now...." and Tanja finished his sentence, "there's just going to be two of us" at the wedding tomorrow.

    Even at this late date, Economidou said, the exact church for has not been picked. Chlorakas has two churches, one very small and ancient, another very large and newer. With so few people expected, Economidou suggested, the choice may be obvious.

    The couple expect to be married sometime before their 5pm wedding reception tomorrow at the Azia Beach Hotel in Paphos. But even then, their problems may not be over.

    "It may be necessary to do a civil wedding here in Cyprus as well, because we're not sure if the US Embassy will recognise the religious wedding," Steve said. "Essentially we need a government certificate," proving they're married.

    Steve said the couple was hoping they could wait out in Cyprus the five weeks the US Embassy in Nicosia said it could take for Tanja to get a visa to accompany him back to his US home, outside Baltimore, Maryland, where he is an ambulance paramedic.

    "The American Embassy here normally wouldn't accept a visa application from someone who isn't a permanent resident of Cyprus," Steve said, "but they said they would accept the application from me (for Tanja's visa), so I don't expect any trouble."

    Saturday, April 17, 1999

    [07] Bank manager jailed for gambling his clients' money

    THE FORMER manager of a busy Popular bank branch in Nicosia was sentenced to five years imprisonment yesterday after pleading guilty to embezzling , 1.3 million of his customers' money.

    The Nicosia Assizes court heard that father-of-two Charalambos Kokkinos, 35, was an obsessive and compulsive gambler who had squandered the money on football and horse-racing bets.

    In pleading for mitigation during an earlier hearing, Kokkinos' lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou said that despite embezzling the ,1.3 million, his client still ran up a ,27,000 debt with local bookies. Efstathiou said his client began by betting about ,5 a week and ended up spending up to ,50,000 a week at betting shops. Kokkinos, from the Anthoupolis suburb of Nicosia, was arrested in February after an employee at the Popular bank's Stavros Street branch in Strovolos accused his boss of transferring money from clients' accounts to a third account and then pocketing it.

    High achiever Kokkinos confessed all soon after his arrest, police said.

    The Popular Bank, the island's second largest bank after the Bank of Cyprus, promised all customers who lost money because of the scam would be reimbursed.

    Saturday, April 17, 1999

    [08] Pefkos boat people plead to be sent home

    By Anthony O. Miller

    NINE boat people from Africa yesterday staged a sit-down demonstration in the parking lot of the Pefkos Hotel in Limassol, where they have been held in virtual house-arrest since last June, to dramatise their demand to be returned home.

    "They just brought their things down (from their rooms) and they're just sitting there," on chairs and on the ground, Pefkos owner/manager Neophytous Efstathiou told the Cyprus Mail.

    "They're not shouting, they're not doing anything, they're just sitting there," he said. "They want to go home."

    "We have sent two letters so far to the authorities to do something," for the 24 boat people still living in the Pefkos since their leaky, overcrowded fishing boat, carrying 113 illegal immigrants, was rescued last June in Cyprus coastal waters.

    The 24 include two men from Nigeria and seven from Ghana, along with 15 Iraqi Kurds and Lebanese, including two women and five children, Efstathiou said. Most of the original 113 boat people have been deported. A few, from Africa, remain locked in the Old Famagusta jail outside Larnaca, awaiting deportation.

    Emad Oti, of Nigeria, said that, after 10 months in the Pefkos, and with their asylum applications rejected by both the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Cypriot authorities, the nine men "want to go back to our countries in Africa."

    "On the day we landed here on the island, it's very unfortunate we did not tell (Cyprus authorities) our right identity. We just told them a false identity to see if we could get permission to stay in Cyprus," Oti admitted - as Cyprus authorities have claimed since the 113 illegal immigrants landed.

    After continued Cyprus government pressure and UNHCR asylum rejections, Oti said, "we told them our correct identity, and we want to go."

    That was some 10 days ago, Oti said. "Up to now, they have done nothing." So he said the nine men plan to sit - even sleep overnight - in the Pefkos's parking lot until Cyprus authorities give them some concrete commitment to send them home.

    "Of course I saw them about 10 days ago. I have their confessions that some came from Nigeria, some from Ghana," Costas Papamichael, a top Migration Department official, told the Cyprus Mail.

    After learning the nine men wished to go home, he said, "I sent this information to their embassies - of Ghana in Cairo, and Nigeria in Rome, and I am expecting a reply."

    The Ghanian Embassy - to whose envoys the Pefkos residents lied about their nationality - has sent him some papers for the seven Ghanaians to fill out and return to Cairo, Papamichael said.

    "They will fill in these papers, and I will send them by DHL to Cairo, and I will expect their travel documents to be sent to me from Cairo. As soon as I have their travel documents, I will arrange for transportation," he said.

    "I have not yet received a reply from the Embassy of Nigeria (in Rome)," to the request for travel document forms, he added.

    "Because of the long time that we have been together, we became friends, very close friends, so we can speak to each other honestly and understand each other," Papamichael said, adding: "I think I will be able to persuade them" to end their protest.

    Saturday, April 17, 1999

    [09] KEO posts higher turnover, profits

    KEO, the Limassol-based beverages conglomerate, yesterday announced that its 1998 operating profits reached ,5.29 million compared to ,4.3 million in the previous year and that it planned to pay shareholders eight per cent in dividends.

    Turnover, it said, increased by ,1 million to ,31.1 million in 1998. Pre- tax profit, it added, rose to ,1.67 million last year, nearly double the 1997 figure of ,858,000 before tax and before the cost of reorganisation.

    "This very good result reflects the effectiveness of the measures undertaken by the company within the scope of its Strategic Development Plan to improve productivity and reduce operating costs," KEO said in a statement.

    Despite forecasts that reduced exports of bulk wine products will continue in 1999, the company said results for this year were expected to match a similar level of improvement as that of 1998.

    KEO has in the past few years invested heavily in upgrading its wine-making facilities by introducing new technology and brands. It has also undertaken a structural overhaul that led to a one-off wave of redundancies for scores of workers.

    KEO shares closed yesterday at ,1.26 apiece, down 2.5 cents with 11,480 stocks changing hands.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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