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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-24

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, April 24, 1999


  • [01] EU asks Cyprus to join oil embargo on Yugoslavia
  • [02] Czechs discuss Yugoslav mediation with Cyprus
  • [03] Britain: any talks must be without preconditions
  • [04] Court upholds gag on Michaelides
  • [05] Work accidents cost 30 million a year
  • [06] Greens slam golf course plans
  • [07] Police seek new remand for dam murder suspect
  • [08] Suspended sentence for drugs tourist
  • [09] Police track down escaped immigrant
  • [10] Man held for bank robbery
  • [11] Students finally accept state subsidy offer

  • [01] EU asks Cyprus to join oil embargo on Yugoslavia

    By Jean Christou

    GERMANY yesterday asked Cyprus to support an EU oil embargo on Yugoslavia.

    A spokesman at the German embassy told the Cyprus Mailthat ambassador Marie Gabriela von Malsen Tilborch had visited the Foreign Ministry and officially submitted the request.

    Germany currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency.

    "The answer was that 'we have to examine it'," the embassy spokesman said.

    This was confirmed by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, speaking at a news conference later yesterday.

    "We are considering the oil embargo and we will take into account the national interests and take into account what this means," he said. "Cyprus does not produce oil and if we align with the EU decision our participation will be minimal."

    The EU is rushing through the ban on the shipment of oil to Yugoslavia in an attempt to squeeze fuel supplies to the Serbian armed forces, with the measure expected to be in place next week.

    The measure will bar the sale and supply of oil and oil products from EU countries to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

    The EU is asking non-members Iceland, Liechtenstein and oil producer Norway to join the ban, as well as other applicant states in Central and Eastern Europe.

    The ban would extend to any aircraft or ship under the jurisdiction of a participating state as well as to its nationals, the document says.

    Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis, who is responsible for energy issues, said he had already spoken about the matter to Communications and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou.

    "First to find out if Cypriot vessels are included, and they must be," Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail. "And secondly to find out the number of vessels under the Cyprus flag that might be affected."

    Asked if Cyprus would support the ban, Rolandis said: "I presume that will be the case." He said, however, that any such decision would have to be taken by the Council of Ministers.

    "It is a big issue," he said.

    The Cyprus ship register is the world's fifth largest, with well over 2,000 ships on the books.

    According to Reuters, legal experts say a blockade to halt shipments by other countries would be illegal.

    In reaching the agreement, the EU overcame initial objections from Greece, which has a huge shipping industry, and Italy, which had expressed concern on legal and economic grounds.

    "In the absence of a Security Council resolution, it's very difficult to see what other basis there would be for interfering with vessels from third states," said Phillipe Sands, reader in international law at the University of London.

    The ban will exempt oil destined to help displaced people within Yugoslavia in projects monitored by the International Red Cross and the United Nations refugee agency, according to the draft regulation.

    Saturday, April 24, 1999

    [02] Czechs discuss Yugoslav mediation with Cyprus

    By Charlie Charalambous

    NEW Nato member the Czech Republic said yesterday it was looking at ways of mediating a solution to the Yugoslav conflict.

    Czech deputy Prime Minister Egon Lansky said yesterday he had discussed with Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides ways of contributing towards a peaceful solution of the crisis in Yugoslavia.

    "We are very happy to say that our views are very close, even though the Czech Republic is a fresh member of the North Atlantic Alliance, which Cyprus is not, and Cyprus has a much freer hand in mediation," Lansky told a news conference in Nicosia yesterday.

    Lansky, who is responsible for Czech foreign and security policies, referred to House president Spyros Kyprianou's failed efforts to free three US soldiers held by Belgrade as just the type of contribution that could be made on the ground.

    "It is very useful to hear the opinions of a country very close to the Balkans and with historical ties to the Balkans. We also have very close relations with the former Yugoslavia and we can be very helpful to one another," said Lansky.

    Although not elaborating on what initiatives the Czech Republic might have up its sleeve, Lansky did say: "The Czech Republic itself has a few ideas to contribute to a solution."

    The deputy prime minister hinted that he had discussed with Cassoulides such solutions and a way in which avenues of mediation could be opened up with the Yugoslav government.

    "I do believe both Cyprus and the Czech Republic have the competence, because we have knowledge of the terrain and the history of ethnic groups in South East Europe to be able to contribute to solving the conflict and to mediation," said Lansky.

    The Czech Republic had only just joined Nato when the Alliance went to war for the first time on March 24.

    "We are not a military power but maybe our most important contribution is this expertise I've mentioned," said Lansky.

    Cyprus has come under fire from some EU countries over a House resolution condemning the Nato bombings, but the government says this reflects public opinion not government policy.

    The government supports a return to the negotiating table and restoration of human rights for all those in Yugoslavia.

    Cassoulides yesterday said local media coverage was partly to blame for outside perceptions of Cyprus' stance.

    "I think, to a certain extent, there is a trend to ignore aspects of the conflict when it concerns the ethnic Albanians," the foreign minister said yesterday.

    "The eye-witness accounts by Albanian refugees in the foreign media should have been reported on (in Cyprus)," he added.

    Cypriots must make a distinction between their sympathy with the Serb people and the alleged crimes of the Milosevic regime, Cassoulides said.

    And replying to comments by US ambassador Kenneth Brill that the situations in Cyprus and Kosov were different, The Foreign Minister said: "If I accept that the situation in Cyprus was different 25 years ago, at this moment Turkey is doing exactly the same things against its minorities which the Milosevic regime is being accused of in Kosovo."

    Saturday, April 24, 1999

    [03] Britain: any talks must be without preconditions

    By Jean Christou

    RENEWED head-to-head talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders will not go ahead if either side sets preconditions for the talks, Britain warned yesterday.

    Joyce Quin, Britain's Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said yesterday she was optimistic the expected "big push" on the Cyprus problem would go ahead this year.

    Britain was determined to see a major sustained effort this year, Quin told Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace.

    But she warned that there were no guarantees.

    "Getting talks under way is not going to be easy, but I think it's worth making every effort to try," Quin said.

    "And it seems to me that this year would be a very good time to move momentum in that direction."

    But the British minister was adamant no talks would come about if preconditions were set.

    "We have said that we don't think it's a good idea for preconditions - which would simply hamper the start of the negotiations - to be laid down in advance," Quin said.

    "If either side insists on preconditions which are

    unacceptable to the other side then negotiations won't begin. Therefore the phrase 'without preconditions' is a very important one."

    She said what was important in getting a discussion going was for it not to be too dominated by a sense of all kinds of difference and grievances.

    "One should never be overwhelmed by pessimism. We know there has been a great history of distrust and differences of various kinds. The weight of the past is a very heavy weight."

    Quin fended off questions relating to her talks with the two leaders during her 24-hour visit, saying the last thing she wanted to do was indulge in megaphone diplomacy.

    "All I've done is try to find out what people's feelings are.

    "I wouldn't want to go down a path of gloom. I want to look at opportunities and identify opportunities and help get a process under way," Quin said.

    She admitted that she could not guarantee that such a push would come about, but said there was a good deal of interest from other countries concerned about Cyprus.

    "The best way to get a process forward is simply to agree to meet and explore the issues," she said.

    "If an agreement can be reached at the end of such a process, well and good. If it can't then it's still important to try and explore what common ground can exist. I think there is common ground in terms of Cypriots from whichever part of the island... wanting to feel they can live in a secure environment."

    Saturday, April 24, 1999

    [04] Court upholds gag on Michaelides

    FORMER Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides yesterday lost his appeal against an injunction barring him from repeating allegations against the man who forced his resignation - deputy Christos Pourgourides.

    House watchdog committee chairman Pourgourides took out the injunction following statements the ex-minister made during a radio interview on March 20. Michaelides had tried to turn the tables on the Disy deputy, claiming he was guilty of the same kind of corrupt practices Pourgourides had accused him of.

    Pourgourides' persistent accusations had pushed Michaelides to resign just days earlier, despite his being cleared by official investigations.

    Limassol District court ruled yesterday that Michaelides' March 20 statements had been made "not in good faith and with ill intent."

    Following the court ruling, Michaelides is now permanently barred from repeating his allegations against Pourgourides.

    The House plenum has just begun debating a report on the ex-minister's alleged misdemeanours prepared by Pourgourides's committee after months of discussing Michaelides's case.

    Saturday, April 24, 1999

    [05] Work accidents cost 30 million a year

    THE LABOUR Ministry yesterday announced that industrial accidents and illness were costing the country 30 million per year.

    Speaking to reporters on labour-related ailments yesterday, Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas said the figure fell in line with that of most European countries at approximately one to three per cent of the Gross National Product.

    Moushiouttas desvribed labour accidents as "the damage caused to health as a result of low safety standards in the work environment," saying they were "sources of great human pain and inconvenience for the victims and their families while also having repercussions on the smooth running of a business and as a result on the country's general economy."

    A study carried out by the Cyprus University Finance Department in October 1998 showed that most labour-related accidents in 1997 occurred in the area of manufacturing.

    The study showed that approximately 1,000 work-related accidents happened every, year and that there had been a noticeable rise in the number of accidents connected to the hospitality industry in comparison to 1996.

    The report also analysed the division of costs between the victim, company, government and other organisations. The victim and his family pay 40 per cent of the total cost of the accident, the government 29.5 per cent, the company 24 per cent and other organisations just under seven per cent, Moushiouttas said.

    Saturday, April 24, 1999

    [06] Greens slam golf course plans

    THE GREEN party has accused the government of promoting golf course developments without thinking through the environmental consequences.

    In an announcement released for what greens have dubbed "World anti-golf course action day" yesterday, the environmentalists stated that keeping the grass green on an 18-hole golf course required the same volume of water as a town of 9,000 residents.

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis is promoting the creation of up to seven golf courses as part of a package aimed at revitalising the island's tourism sector. Rolandis has said he considers the use of water for golf courses acceptable, despite the island's chronic drought problems.

    The greens slammed Rolandis's endorsement of golf courses as "provocative and possibly catastrophic." They said huge water consumption was not the only thing wrong with golf courses: there was also groundwater pollution from the fertilisers and pesticides used on greens and the natural habitats lost under courses to consider.

    "The only feasibility study for golf courses was carried out seven years ago by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) and has, with good reason, been kept under wraps," the Greens ironically stated. The CTO study showed eight 18-hole golf courses would add no more than 4,000 tourists to the over 2 million that visit Cyprus every year, the environmentalists claimed.

    Saturday, April 24, 1999

    [07] Police seek new remand for dam murder suspect

    THE MAN suspected of killing father-of-three Fotis Petrakides - whose bullet-riddled body was pulled out of Aradippou dam on April 5 - was yesterday re-remanded in custody.

    Larnaca District court heard that police were still awaiting the results of DNA fingerprinting tests on human blood found on the car of 22-year-old charcoal maker George Christodoulou. Case investigator Andreas Krokos also told the court police wanted to take a further 45 statements relating to the case to add to the 132 they had already taken.

    The court remanded Christodoulou, from Aradippou outside Larnaca, for another eight days.

    Nicosia resident Petrakides, who worked in a Lymbia factory, was last seen alive on Friday April 2, when he left home telling his wife he was off to Lymbia to pick up his boss to take him to Larnaca airport. The 55-year- old's car was found near the Larnaca district buffer-zone village of Koshi two days later. His body was pulled out of Aradippou dam the next day. He had been shot five times at point-blank range, an autopsy showed.

    During an earlier remand hearing, the court heard that Christodoulou, arrested on April 7, had vowed to "sort out" his alleged victim just days before the body was found.

    The suspect is apparently refusing to make any statement to police.

    Unconfirmed reports suggest Petrakides, a former special policeman, had, at the time of his murder, been working as an undercover police informant trying to bust a ring smuggling drugs and guns from the north.

    Saturday, April 24, 1999

    [08] Suspended sentence for drugs tourist

    A 39-YEAR-OLD British tourist yesterday received a two month jail term suspended for three years after pleading guilty to drug possession.

    Father of three Karl Joseph Westwood, a truck driver from Bolton, Lancashire, was sentenced by a Larnaca district court after pleading guilty to possessing 25 grammes of hashish.

    He was also fined 350.

    The court heard that Westwood smoked cannabis because he had "serious personal problems".

    When passing sentence, judge George Stylianides took into account Westwood's personal circumstances, the fact that he named his supplier to police, that the drugs were for his own use and that he had a clean criminal record.

    Westwood was arrested by drug squad officers at an Ayia Napa pub last Sunday night following a tip-off.

    Police said that when they entered the Square pub the accused was seen trying to swallow a piece of hashish after taking it out of his pocket.

    When officers intervened, Westwood allegedly assaulted them, and a tussle ensued as the policemen and the suspect grappled on the floor.

    Westwood received head injuries during the struggle, police said.

    When read his rights, Westwood told police, "the hash is for me".

    On Monday morning, a search of the suspect's holiday flat at the Ela Maris hotel in Protaras uncovered 17.5g of hash, bringing the total find to 25g.

    Saturday, April 24, 1999

    [09] Police track down escaped immigrant

    POLICE yesterday tracked down and arrested a deaf-and-dumb suspected illegal immigrant who had escaped from detention at the old Famagusta police station in Larnaca on Thursday evening.

    Egyptian Mohammed Abad Imbrahim, 27, was found "wandering" along Larnaca's Mesolongi street at about 10.30am yesterday and apprehended, police said.

    He was then taken to holding cells at the Larnaca police station.

    An investigation has been launched into the circumstances of Imbrahim's escape. He reportedly managed to climb over a barbed-wire fence at about 7pm on Thursday, after he was allowed out into the yard of the old Famagusta police station to get some exercise.

    Imbrahim is one of a number of immigrants held in Larnaca and Limassol since being rescued off a fishing boat found drifting off Cyprus in late June.

    [10] Man held for bank robbery

    POLICE yesterday arrested a man in connection with Thursday's armed bank robbery in Chlorakas, Paphos.

    Gregoris Gregoriou, 31, unemployed from Limassol, was arrested in connection with the Bank of Cyprus heist at around 1.30pm, police said yesterday.

    They said the suspect had given a detailed statement but denied any involvement in the heist.

    Gregoriou, who now lives in Paphos, told police that he was asleep at home at the time of robbery on Thursday morning.

    An armed gunman held up the village branch on Thursday, getting away with 11,400 in local cash and foreign currency.

    The masked robber, brandishing a pistol, held the staff at gunpoint whilst ordering them to hand over the money. He ran off with the cash in a plastic bag.

    The robbery took place at 9.40am. There were three staff inside at the time and two customers waiting to be served.

    Saturday, April 24, 1999

    [11] Students finally accept state subsidy offer

    UNIVERSITY of Cyprus Students yesterday announced that they had accepted an Education Ministry proposal for extra funding.

    Students' union Phepan, which has been in dispute with the government over the issue for months, said in a statement that it had accepted the ministry's offer of 500 per student per year, plus rent annual allowance of 300 per student for non-refugees from outside Nicosia, 400 a year for poor students, and 700 per year for refugee students.

    The students had complained that they were getting a raw deal as students studying abroad are subsidised to the tune of 1,000 a year, even though they have to pay huge overseas fees.

    Phepan also called for the ministry to push the deal through in time for students to be subsidised for the current educational year.

    In the same statement, the union also called on the Education Ministry to put a proposal for special student ID cards on the fast track for approval.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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