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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-15

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, May 15, 1999


  • [01] Why 103 Cyprus officers on S-300 duty were all `sent packing' from Crete
  • [02] Muratov seeks to play down embargo row
  • [03] Greece pledges full co-operation on EU process
  • [04] Pilots seeks to buy stake in Cyprus Airways
  • [05] Puff... Copperfield plans go up in smoke
  • [06] On-flight twins on their way home to Kenya
  • [07] Time for a rave
  • [08] Tourist beaten up after refusing to pay cabaret bill
  • [09] Retired policeman held for theft

  • [01] Why 103 Cyprus officers on S-300 duty were all `sent packing' from Crete

    Charlie Charalambous

    DEFENCE Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis yesterday tried to gloss over the reasons why more than 100 National Guard officers were sent packing from Crete after they demanded more pay and better conditions.

    One hundred and three officers, sent to Crete to help with the deployment of Cyprus' diverted Russian S-300 missiles, are said to have been unceremoniously dumped on a transport plane and sent packing by the Greeks, who could no longer stand their complaints.

    Following the embarrassing reports, which also suggested the militant officers had caused a rift between the two countries, Chrysostomis held an impromptu press conference yesterday to dispel rumours that his men were given the boot.

    Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis also "categorically denied" that defence ties between the two countries were strained. "It's a fairy tale," Kranidiotis told reporters in Nicosia.

    Chrysostomis tried to play down the whole affair: "The reason the officers returned is because they were given leave to come back to Cyprus and that's all... we have no problem with Greece," he said, giving the official explanation.

    He said the officers hadn't been given indefinite leave but would return to Crete in the next "few days", and went on to thank the Greek government for allowing the men to see their families again. Apparently, the same officers will return to the Greek island once the Russian S-300 technicians have arrived to help install the missile systems.

    However, after a few more questions from inquisitive reporters, Chrysostomis said the officers had not actually been given leave as such. They were, in fact, back at their units and not at home. The minister also agreed that the initial discontent revolved around pay and the state of the living quarters, which were supposedly reserved for Greek fighter pilots. "They wanted better pay, improved accommodation, and they wanted to see their families. Everything has been sorted out," Chrysostomis told the Cyprus Mail.

    Was it not unusual that 103 officers serving in Crete should all be given leave at the same time and sent home on a C-130 transport plane? "There is nothing unusual or suspicious, there are no other dimensions to this issue, " the defence minister told the news conference.

    But the minister then conceded he had personally had to intervene to resolve "a small problem" during his recent visit to Crete, and had promised the officers more money. "I went to assess the problem, and we came to an agreement in which I promised their demands for an extra allowance would be met," said Chrysostomis.

    Last week, Chrysostomis got himself into hot water with Greece for announcing to the world that the S-300 missiles were still in their boxes waiting to be assembled in Crete. It is also understood that the Greeks were not happy with the Cypriot minister getting involved in officer pay demands.

    Akel deputy Doros Christodoulides believes it is no coincidence that the entire National Guard unit in Crete was sent home on Thursday so soon after Chrysostomis' visit. "It appears the defence minister's visit has caused a rift in relations between Cyprus and Greece, and is linked to all the Cypriots handling the S-300s being sent packing on a plane without warning, " claimed Christodoulides.

    The deputy said it was a "fallacy" to suggest an entire unit had been sent home on leave when their mission was considered such an important one. Moreover, the extra cash promised to the officers by Chrysostomis has to be approved by the Finance Ministry first.

    "If the allowance isn't agreed, then we will see how to handle the situation," said Chrysostomis, who preferred not to divulge the sums involved.

    The Russian surface-to-air missiles ended up in Crete after President Clerides decided to divert their deployment on Cyprus last December following intense international pressure to scrap the deal.

    Saturday, May 15, 1999

    [02] Muratov seeks to play down embargo row

    By Jean Christou

    RUSSIA yesterday sought to defuse simmering tensions over Cyprus' alignment with EU sanctions on Yugoslavia.

    Following a meeting with House President Spyros Kyprianou, Russian ambassador Georgi Muratov said his country understood Cyprus' position.

    But he did say that Russian businessmen on the island had expressed their concern over Cyprus' compliance with the sanctions.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides made it clear on Thursday that Cyprus has chosen the path towards accession for better or for worse, and that Russia had been informed of this.

    Muratov said Russia had officially condemned the EU sanctions against Yugoslavia because it felt them to be in violation of the UN charter.

    But he added the Nato bombing and the EU sanctions were separate issues for Russia.

    And Muratov added that the concerns voiced this week were not the official position of the Russian government.

    Reports of Muratov's comments on Thursday caused a flurry of reaction from the government, which was quick to dispel the possibility that Cyprus- Russia relations were are risk.

    "I have conveyed to political leaders the concerns of some businessmen whose interests are affected by the introduction of sanctions against Yugoslavia in the banking and shipping sectors," Muratov said.

    "We simply have to take into account the prospects of further developing our relations and their significance for both countries."

    Thousands of Russian businesses operate out of Cyprus, and many of who would have dealings with Yugoslavia.

    Kyprianou, who opposes measures against the Serbs, said it appeared the embargo would have serious consequences for them.

    Cyprus has already agreed to implement the EU oil embargo against Yugoslavia, despite the opposition of the House.

    The new measures include restrictions on the movement of certain Yugoslav nationals, the freezing of Yugoslav assets abroad and other sanctions.

    Some can be put in place directly by the Council of Ministers, while others, such as the freezing of assets, may need legislative changes which could get held up at the House.

    Politicians were also worried that a tax treaty signed with Russia last December but not yet ratified by the Russian Duma was in danger of being shelved.

    Asked about the treaty yesterday, Muratov said the fact the Duma has not yet ratified had nothing to do with the sanctions.

    Muratov said the information on the delay at the Duma had not come from the embassy, but had filtered down to Cypriot politicians through their own sources.

    He admitted, however, that the tax treaty had been put on the back burner for the moment.

    "In the current situation no one can expect the Duma to make it (the tax treaty) a priority, because it is discussing other very important issues," Muratov said. "I don't see anything happening with that in the near future".

    The Duma is currently discussing the impeachment of Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

    Saturday, May 15, 1999

    [03] Greece pledges full co-operation on EU process

    By Athena Karsera

    GREECE and Cyprus yesterday signed a memorandum for co-operation on EU related issues on all levels.

    The document was signed by Greece's alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and Cyprus Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides.

    Speaking to reporters, the two Ministers said their meeting yesterday had been especially useful. Cassoulides said that they had discussed the Joint Defence Pact between the two countries, Cyprus' EU accession and the Cyprus problem.

    He said that the new protocol's purpose was to demonstrate the good relations that existed between Cyprus and Greece.

    He added a follow-up meeting would take place in Greece in the near future.

    Kranidiotis said the Cyprus problem remained a top priority for Greece: "We want a united Cyprus where Greek and Turkish Cypriots live together peacefully under the UN umbrella."

    He said his country's strategy on the issue was based on four axes: closer co-operation between Cyprus and Greece, promotion of Cyprus' European accession course, pressing on with a resumption of dialogue on the Cyprus problem and strengthening the Republic's military deterrent within the framework of the Joint Defence Pact.

    The Greek minister said was constantly making efforts to prompt the international community to take more action on the Cyprus problem, "with the same sensitivity for Cyprus as in Kosovo."

    "Any efforts made," he continued, "Would require the co-operation of the UN and the five permanent members of the Security Council, as well as the USA and other powers."

    Kranidiotis added: "What we always say is that Europe and other countries, instead of just saying Cyprus has to solve the Cyprus Problem, it would be better for them to try to solve it."

    He said many European countries had started coming round to the idea of Cyprus entering the EU, even if a solution had not been found to the Cyprus problem by that time.

    And noting that Turkey had just come out of a long electoral process, he said: "We hope that Turkey will have a strong enough government to continue negotiations (on Cyprus)."

    Asked about Cyprus taking part in the controversial EU embargo against Yugoslavia, Kranidiotis repeated that the government had had little choice but to comply: "Cyprus has to adjust to decisions taken by the EU," he said.

    Kranidiotis noted that as a member of Nato and a key Balkan state Greece had to "try to find a balance between the two sides." He said that while Greece was taking part in the EU embargo, it was not contributing to the bombings.

    "If Greece was isolated, this would have affected our relations with Turkey and it would have an impact on Cyprus too," he said.

    Speaking after an earlier meeting with Clerides, Kranidiotis focused on the smooth progression of Cyprus' EU accession talks saying the issue of the Cyprus problem being solved was distinct from accession.

    "There were some problems (with European countries wanting the problem solved before Cyprus' accession), but these have been overcome," he said.

    Saturday, May 15, 1999

    [04] Pilots seeks to buy stake in Cyprus Airways

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT has asked Cyprus Airways (CY) pilots to submit a written proposal for their offer to buy a substantial stake in the airline.

    Members of pilots union Pasipy met yesterday with Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis to brief him on the idea.

    The pilots last month mooted the possibility of buying the 12 per cent stake in the airline that the government has to sell by September under stock exchange regulations.

    The government, which must reduce its stake form 82 per cent to 70 per cent, has so far been unsuccessful in its attempts to offload the extra shares, but pilots have now come forward with a feasibility study outlining their own deal.

    According to Cyprus Mailsources, the government is thought likely to react positively to the proposal, and believes it is a "good idea".

    Rolandis said yesterday he would not like to comment on the offer until he had seen it in writing.

    Speaking after yesterday's meeting with Pasipy, he said: "They have some productive ideas to help the company and its future."

    "They will send the proposal in writing and it will be evaluated by the government," the Minister added.

    According to the pilots, the deal would involve around 100 CY pilots purchasing the 12 per cent stake - over five million shares - at a cost of around 2.5 million.

    The airline's 2,000 staff have already been offered a 22 per cent share deal by the company in return for cost-cutting concessions that would save CY 5 million a year.

    Unions have so far been unenthusiastic and have not yet given an answer to management. Pilots say the management proposal would only give them a one per cent stake in the airline, where they want a controlling interest.

    They believe that, in order to survive CY, has to have the active participation of the employees.

    A feasibility study carried out on behalf of the pilots, which was completed several weeks ago, has concluded the proposal would be a very positive move for CY, the pilots say.

    Pasipy is currently in a dispute with management over promotions within CY and its charter firm Eurocypria.

    Rolandis said he had also been briefed on the dispute yesterday in his capacity as Minister for Tourism, but did not wish to become involved.

    Saturday, May 15, 1999

    [05] Puff... Copperfield plans go up in smoke

    By Andrew Adamides

    PLANS for Cyprus to celebrate the millennium by having master magician David Copperfield make Aphrodite's rock vanish have been put on ice, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Nicos Rolandis told The Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    He explained that while the Miss Universe contest looked set to be Cyprus' big millennium event, the climate hadn't seemed favourable for the magic act.

    Environmentalists and others had threatened to protest over the stunt, and Rolandis said Copperfield's agent had said that if the star was met at the airport by protests and placards calling for him to go home, he probably would.

    And as he would be paid his fee (thought to be around 500,000) up front, this would leave the nation with a gaping hole in its pocket and much egg on its face.

    But Rolandis added there still was time for arrangements to be made, unlike in the case of the beauty contest, which had to have a venue arranged by the end of the month.

    He also said that the Council of Ministers had not approved the Copperfield visit, although he believed that once the value of the stunt was explained to them in tourist terms, they would have given it the go-ahead.

    Copperfield, longtime boyfriend of supermodel Claudia Schiffer, has in the past dazzled the world with a series of illusions, including making a Gulf Stream jet and the Statue of Liberty disappear, passing himself through the Great Wall of China and escaping from Alcatraz.

    Saturday, May 15, 1999

    [06] On-flight twins on their way home to Kenya

    GRACE Ndanyu, the headline-making mother of twins born prematurely on board a Gulf Air flight above Cyprus on February 28, was set to leave the island yesterday, taking little Joseph and Lucia with her.

    Grace, 30, had been on her way home to Nairobi from an extended stay in London when she went into labour on the Gulf Air Jet. Completely unaware she was expecting twins, Grace had her babies delivered by five doctors who happened to be aboard on their way to a medical conference, and the flight was diverted to Cyprus.

    The twins, who were born three months early, have since been in incubators at Makarios Hospital. Unemployed Grace, who had been staying as a guest of Gulf Air at Nicosia's Excelsior Hotel, had been due to return to Kenya with her children last week, but the babies had not yet gained enough weight and were kept in for another week.

    When she finally returns to Nairobi, it will be the first time Grace's boyfriend Joseph, a school caretaker, has seen his children, as he could not afford the trip to Cyprus.

    Saturday, May 15, 1999

    [07] Time for a rave

    By Andrew Adamides

    CYPRUS joins the rave generation tonight, with the island's first officially-organised rave kicking off at Nicosia's trendy Warehouse club.

    While trendy young things in Britain and Europe have been turning on to techno at specially-organised gatherings since the late 'eighties, with the bashes taking place anywhere from deserted warehouses to specialised clubs and even empty grass fields, Cypriots have pretty much stuck to good old fashioned discos.

    Organised by All Records, the rave will feature a guest appearance by top DJ Steve Mason, one of a number of superstar DJs who owe their fame to rave culture. Mason will be in Cyprus for one night only, and will already be well known to Cyprus music lovers through his show 'The Steve Mason Experience' on BFBS radio.

    The rave, sponsored by Pepsi and The Bank of Cyprus' Cybank Club, will feature all the trimmings, including a light show, live video mixing, computer animations, digital video and video projections. The official launch of All Records' new website will also take place there.

    An All Records representative said yesterday that although they didn't yet know how many people would be attending the rave, there had been a lot of interest and, if it was a hit, more similar events were planned for the future.

    Tickets for the event, which starts at 11pm, cost 6 each. Anyone wanting last minute information can get it on 02-669040. In the best tradition of Cypriot nightclubs changing their names at the drop of a hat, The Warehouse club, located on the outskirts of trendy Engomi, was until recently the Kinematografos Club.

    Saturday, May 15, 1999

    [08] Tourist beaten up after refusing to pay cabaret bill

    A DRUNK Polish tourist who ran up a 200 bill at a Limassol strip club was allegedly beaten up and had his wallet stolen when he refused to pay.

    Limassol CID are investigating a complaint made by Polish tourist Henrik Misienjk, 58, who claims he was beaten up by four night club employees who stole $300 from his trouser pocket.

    Misienjk claims he was beaten black and blue when he refused to pay the bill for his quality time, ending up in hospital.

    Doctors at Limassol general hospital confirmed that the Pole had suffered bruises to various parts of his body.

    But police said the investigation was being hampered because the victim was too drunk to remember which cabaret he had stumbled into on Thursday evening.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

    Saturday, May 15, 1999

    [09] Retired policeman held for theft

    A RETIRED police sergeant was yesterday remanded in custody for allegedly stealing jewellery from his employers.

    Nicos Nicolaou was brought before a Larnaca court and remanded for five days after his employer reported him for theft.

    Police told the court that a stash of jewellery was found at the suspect's home, hidden in his socks. The value of the jewellery has yet to be assessed.

    Nicolaou, who worked at the jewellery shop for two years, was put under close-circuit TV surveillance by his employers after items started to go missing, police said.

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