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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-16

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

May 16, 1999


  • [01] Kranidiotis calls on Turkish Cypriots to join EU team
  • [02] United fans put their money where their mouth is
  • [03] Timetable for sympathy strikes
  • [04] Marches to protest against Nato, Turks and British Bases
  • [05] Serb refugees seek shelter from the bombs
  • [06] Rolandis urges greater business ties with Greece
  • [07] Drag racers in Cyprus
  • [08] Breeding like a rabbit
  • [09] Vying for football's moral high ground

  • [01] Kranidiotis calls on Turkish Cypriots to join EU team

    GREEK Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday called on Turkish Cypriots to accept an invitation from the government to take part in EU accession talks.

    The Greek minister called on them "to reconsider" an invitation from President Glafcos Clerides to nominate representatives in the official negotiating team for accession.

    Clerides' proposal has been welcomed as "courageous and fair" by the EU, but was rejected by Denktash.

    "I call on Turkish Cypriots to take advantage of this opportunity," said Kranidiotis, speaking at business meeting in Nicosia.

    "This would create a new situation and a chance to embark on a new era."

    Noting that the Turkish leadership did not appear ready for such a sea change, he welcomed the fact that "an increasing number of Turkish Cypriots are realising that their future is in Europe."

    The Greek official stressed the need for the resumption of dialogue to settle the Cyprus problem and underlined that the US has an important role to play in a peace deal.

    "UN resolutions remain the only legal framework for a settlement to the Cyprus question.

    "In efforts for a just solution we recognise that the role of the US is especially important. We have assurances that they wish to help."

    A US initiative on Cyprus is expected to begin some time in September.

    Kranidiotis said the US must not only express vocal support but called on Washington to exert pressure on Ankara and help UN efforts.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has refused to participate in peace talks unless his regime is given full international recognition.

    Turning to Greece's stance in the Yugoslav crisis, Kranidiotis said its position had been "crystal clear" right from the start. "We said no to ethnic cleansing... and we said no to war as a way to settle differences."

    Kranidiotis also expressed his country's interest in "the day after" the crisis in Kosovo ends, and backed a proposal put forward by Athens for economic development, stability and co-operation as the only way forward.

    May 16, 1999

    [02] United fans put their money where their mouth is

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THOUSANDS of Cypriot Manchester United supporters will be on tenterhooks this afternoon as they wait expectantly, along with millions across the globe, for the Red Devils to be crowned champions of England.

    And they're not just content to wave flags and put up banners, United fanatics are also putting their money where their mouth is.

    According to local bookies, at least 150,000 in ante postbets have gone on Manchester United - the best supported non-Greek team in Cyprus - with not even half that figure placed on fellow title chasers Arsenal.

    The biggest single bet placed during the Premiership race was 3,000 on United to win it.

    Soccer mad Cypriots like nothing better than watching Premier League football and at least 50 per cent of all soccer bets made on the island go on England's top division.

    "Most people in Cyprus support Manchester United. I myself want Manchester United to win, even though it is going to cost me a lot of money," said general manager of Glory betting chain Nassos Ktorides.

    By his own estimation, the betting chain, which controls fifty per cent of the market, is set to pay out a staggering 160,000 if United beat Spurs today.

    With Cypriot punters being notorious last-minute gamblers the total pay out could reach nearer 500,000 as most of the smart money will go on United.

    "Like the end of any important championship, Cypriots will put a lot of money on United in the last few hours before the game," said Ktorides.

    "For the majority of punters, the English Premier League is number one," he added.

    Eighty per cent of bets are going on United, with only a hard core of Arsenal fans determined not to give up the chase.

    Despite being swamped by United fans, the island does boast a strong Arsenal contingent as the majority of the 300,000 Greek Cypriots who live in London hail from north of the capital.

    Dyed-in-the-wool Gunner Haris Christofi is not about to give up the title until the final whistle blows this afternoon.

    "I don't expect Spurs to do us any favours at Old Trafford but the thought of losing the championship to Man U doesn't bear thinking about," said Christofi, who will be down a Larnaca pub cheering on bitter rivals Spurs for the first time in his life despite other engagements.

    "I've got a wedding on Sunday but the Arsenal are more important," said English teacher Christofi.

    But, for some, the celebrations have started somewhat prematurely, with the Corner Pub in Nicosia already promoting a Manchester United victory barbecue this coming Wednesday.

    Another banner outside the pub - run by a United addict - claims the Championship "was won on Merseyside", a reference to the recent 2-2 draw, but a definite dig at arch rivals Liverpool.

    But for now, there are still some believers in miracles - Arsenal fans planning to spoil that Nicosia B-B-Q.

    May 16, 1999

    [03] Timetable for sympathy strikes

    SUPPORT is gathering for the striking workers at two Lordos Hotels in Larnaca, with major unions pledging solidarity strikes this month throughout the hotel sector and at both of Cyprus' commercial airports.

    The hotel workers divisions of Sek and Peo trade unions have set May 27 for a six-hour strike in all the island's hotels as a prelude to what Sek threatens to expand to an island-wide solidarity strike throughout the tourism industry.

    The two unions have also said the service workers at Larnaca and Paphos airports will walk off the job for two hours, between noon and 2pm, on May 31, also in solidarity with workers on strike at the Lordos Beach and Golden Bay hotels in Larnaca.

    The unions also threatened that the airport strike could be expanded indefinitely.

    The Lordos Hotels' workers walked out in January to dramatise their demands for the reinstatement of 53 co-workers, who were sacked when the hotels hired outside contractors to do their jobs.

    Police have been called to help control violence on the picket lines, which at times has affected tourists at the two hotels.

    May 16, 1999

    [04] Marches to protest against Nato, Turks and British Bases

    THE CYPRUS Peace Council is holding what it hopes will be a mammoth march today to mark opposition on the island to Nato's bombing in Yugoslavia, Turkey's occupation of northern Cyprus and the continued presence of the British Sovereign Bases.

    Marchers in the "6th March For Peace" will gather around 9.30am at the Xylotymbou primary school stadium for speeches by Archbishop Chrysostomos, Yugoslav Ambassador Ivan Mrkic, Akel's foreign affairs spokesman and Romes Siandra, president of the World Peace Council.

    The march will then pass through the Sovereign Bases Area at Dhekelia on its way to its ultimate destination at the CTO Beach.

    Organisers say they are hoping for huge crowds, and expect a heavy police presence along the route to keep order.

    Among the entertainers providing music and dancing will be Greek popular musician Mikis Theodorakis.

    Police say some roads will be closed during the march, including the Larnaca-Dhekelia road from Pyla.

    May 16, 1999

    [05] Serb refugees seek shelter from the bombs

    By Charlie Charalambous

    ON THE whole, the stream of human misery pouring out of Kosovo has been ignored in Cyprus, supplanted by the chest-thumping anti-Nato rhetoric pouring out in countless demonstrations outside the American embassy.

    But though the term 'ethnic Albanian' has been conspicuous by its absence from news coverage, and although political discourse would rather ignore the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo, there is nevertheless another issue that has been entirely neglected - one you would have expected to be lapped up in Orthodox Cyprus.

    Their story may not be on a par with Albanian tales of rape, expulsions and massacres coming out of Kosovo, but they are also traumatised and frightened Yugoslavs - Serb women and children, who have fled to Cyprus to escape the incessant Nato bombings.

    Cyprus is not in a position - even if it wanted to - to receive thousands of Albanian refugees, as other European countries are doing, but it is trying to cope with its own influx of refugees - Serb refugees - whose numbers some put at over a thousand since the Nato bombs began to fall over Yugoslavia in March.

    The island is no stranger to fellow Orthodox Serb refugees, as it was a popular destination for those fleeing the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia seven years ago.

    As Yugoslav men of fighting age are - unlike before - prevented from leaving the country, it is mainly women and children that are seeking temporary sanctuary in Cyprus, mainly relying on limited financial resources and the charity of friends and relatives.

    The UNHCR says at least 120 Serbian families have applied for asylum in Cyprus since late March, citing the Nato bombing campaign as the reason why they fled.

    "In their applications, many said they would like to remain here because of the continuing conflict in their country," said UNHCR Cyprus representative Sharon Bernard.

    On behalf of those Serb families seeking asylum, the UNHCR has requested from the government that they be granted prolonged stay, so that their refugee status can be assessed.

    All the indications from the government suggest this request will be granted, because it is inconceivable for Cyprus to be seen sending Yugoslavs back to a war zone.

    Nevertheless, as visitors, Yugoslavs can only stay up to an average of three weeks before they need to renew their permits.

    "It's a humanitarian problem and we are looking at the situation favourably. If there is a war still going on in that country, then we will extend their stay," said acting Interior Ministry permanent secretary Andreas Panayiotou.

    But Serbs hoping to secure official refugee status - which would grant them work permits and state welfare support if needed - could find the task frustrating and time-consuming. "We are trying to facilitate a number of Yugoslavs wanting to stay here, but with a backlog of other cases those who have made recent applications cannot be seen for at least another three months," said Bernard.

    The local Red Cross reports that many Yugoslavs are visiting their branches across the island and asking for food, clothing and blankets.

    "Yugoslav people are going to all our branches and are being assisted with food and clothing for children and babies and other essential items such as sheets and blankets," said the President of the Cyprus Red Cross, Stella Soulioti.

    A heavily pregnant Milka Konev, 34, is one of the many Yugoslav mothers with young children who have chosen this small Mediterranean island as their temporary home.

    Despite being more than seven months pregnant, Milka made the arduous journey from Belgrade to Larnaca with her three-year-old daughter Anja, mother-in-law and sister-in-law Sandra.

    Last week, Sandra gave birth to possibly the island's first Balkan war baby at Nicosia's Makarios hospital.

    "I left Belgrade because of the war, it was very hard to live there and it was very scary for my daughter," said Milka, who is due to give birth to a baby girl on May 27.

    "I was worried about the hospital in Belgrade not having electricity when it came to having my baby and it's very hard to find things for children like toiletries and pampers," she added.

    Milka left her home and husband in Belgrade to stay in a modest three- bedroom Nicosia flat, shared by 12 of her relatives.

    "We want to go back as soon as the bombardment stops because we have no money and none of us has a job. Belgrade is our home and where our husbands are," said Milka.

    It has been arranged for Milka and her sister-in-law Sandra not to be charged medical fees by the hospital for their maternity care.

    The Yugoslav embassy in Nicosia is reluctant to talk about the number of Yugoslavs coming to Cyprus to escape the war, but it is quick to blame Nato and crippling UN sanctions, which were enforced during the Bosnian conflict.

    "Everybody is scared of the bombing; they are not just coming here but going all over Europe," said embassy spokeswoman Melina Krtinic.

    Due to the close ties between Cyprus and Yugoslavia, Serbs seeking refuge on the island do not need visas to enter the country.

    But Krtinic said it wasn't the visa situation that caused problems for Serbs seeking safety in Europe, but the lack of money available because of sanctions against Yugoslavia.

    "It is difficult to go anywhere because of the embargo, which makes it hard for people to find money and go to the west," said Krtinic.

    She says that the embassy has no figures for the number of Yugoslavs who have come to Cyprus in the last few months. "And even those who have arrived are not in the habit of asking the embassy to find them accommodation," Krtinic added.

    The Cyprus-Yugoslav Humanitarian Fund, a support group based in Limassol which helps those fleeing the war and collects donations to send medical supplies back home, says up to a thousand women and children have come to Cyprus via Sofia and Budapest since late March.

    "It's mostly women and children coming here, because a lot of the men are sending their families away. The men don't want to leave - they are waiting for the ground war," said a Fund worker, who wanted to be known as Midja.

    He said those young men who had come to Cyprus to dodge the draft during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia were now leaving the island to go back and fight.

    "A lot of the men have sent their families away; but they don't want to leave, and those who are here are going back," said Midja.

    Mostly, those who do come to Cyprus have relatives or friends here and know that the authorities - not usually known for their lenient immigration policy - will look on their circumstances in a more favourable light and allow them to overstay their welcome. Until the war's over anyway.

    May 16, 1999

    [06] Rolandis urges greater business ties with Greece

    THE TIME is ripe to expand and enhance business opportunities between Cyprus and Greece, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis told an industry conference yesterday.

    "Never before have Cyprus and Greece had such good prospects and it would be a grave mistake not to take advantage of them," Rolandis told the business meeting organised by the chamber of commerce in Nicosia.

    Rolandis urged businessmen from the two countries to develop their joint activities in the region and take advantage of close ties with Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East.

    The meeting, attended by Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, aimed at forging closer ties between the two neighbouring business communities.

    Co-operation was absolutely necessary to help Greece and Cyprus upgrade their international role, said Rolandis.

    "What is important is greater and more substantive co-operation to achieve our goals as well as well as initiatives in the business communities," said the minister.

    He said the prime areas for an expansion of joint ventures were telecommunications, tourism and technology.

    May 16, 1999

    [07] Drag racers in Cyprus

    By Rosie Ogden

    TODAY sees the first ever drag racing meeting to be held in Cyprus, organised by the newly-formed Cyprus Drag Racing Association.

    We've had sprints in the past, but in recent years the emphasis in motor sport here has focused on rallying and autocross events, along with 4x4 trials and karting.

    The Drag Racing Association took about six months to set up, and was officially formed a month ago. "We wanted to form a separate drag racing association" says vice-president Chris Christoforou, "and all our events will be run under international rules and regulations".

    If you go along to watch the action today, don't expect to see the weird- looking contraptions usually associated with the sport. The 62 cars entered for this weekend's event are, for the most part, ordinary cars which have been 'souped up'. There will, however, be some noticeable differences from the straight-line sprints we've had here before: drivers will 'burn out' before staging by revving the driving wheels in water troughs to warm up their slick racing rubber, and the categories include one for nitrous oxide - vehicles which boost their power by using a bottle of the gas connected to the engine. Such a device can add a couple of hundred horsepower to the car's output.

    All contestants will get one practice and two timed runs over the 403 metre tarmac course, located behind the new GSP stadium just off the Nicosia- Limassol highway. The venue will be signposted from the main road, and the organisers are hoping for large crowds for this inaugural event.

    Competitors will register at 8am, the technical inspection will take place at around nine and the first practice run is scheduled to start at 10am.

    Judging by the large entry list, there's a lot of interest in this type of racing in Cyprus, and the Association is keen to encourage everyone who likes to drive fast, regardless of the power of their car. As well as the various categories (turbocharged, two-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive, diesel, nitrous oxide and so on) competitors will also be divided into classes according to the power of their car, so even small vehicles can take part. "We want to stop people racing on the streets," says Christoforou. "They can come and do it safely, and legally, at our meetings".

    May 16, 1999

    [08] Breeding like a rabbit

    STUNNED villagers from Vrysoulles flocked to a Famagusta district farm yesterday to herald what is being described as a world first, the birth of 24 rabbits from a single mother.

    The term "breeding like rabbits" took on a whole new meaning yesterday when a rabbit owned by Demetris Andreou gave birth to the record litter.

    According to Andreou, the average breeding rate of rabbits is around nine, but his super bunny has given birth to 14 and 18 rabbits before the magic 24 this time round.

    The young rabbits are said to be in good health, with a number of surrogate mothers being drafted in at feeding time.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

    May 16, 1999

    [09] Vying for football's moral high ground

    WHEN it comes to mean-spiritedness and lack of sportsmanship, the board of Cyprus champions Anorthosis are top of the league again.

    How else could the club's four-page announcement blaming the referee and the linesmen for the 2-0 cup final defeat by Apoel eight days ago be explained? The club accused the trio of match officials of "executing a pre- meditated crime" against Anorthosis, "with the cover and tolerance of certain third parties".

    The announcement also warned: "Let no-one speak of human errors and omissions because the devious decisions of the referee have gone beyond the narrow confines of a football ground and blacken our society." It also accused the officials of "arbitrary, unacceptable and dishonest behaviour which determined the result of the game".

    If Anorthosis were a small provincial club that had been deprived of their first ever trophy by bad refereeing, the protest would have been understandable. But the Famagusta club has won the league title for the third successive season while last season it took the double.

    And they have the cheek to go on ranting and raving about the ref because they conceded a goal from an offside position and were deprived of a second successive double. Spoilt kids are more gracious losers.

    This was the only decisive mistake the referee made in 90 minutes, which can hardly be described as bias. Anorthosis midfielder Tomic deserved to be sent off and the penalty decision that led to second goal was correct. But if it will console Anorthosis in any way we should declare them the moral victors of the cup final and moral double winners.

    APOEL, the cup winners, had a nerve to take the moral high ground over the Anorthosis announcement. The club said they were worthy cup winners - we can't argue with that - and accused Anorthosis of trying to belittle the victory by casting aspersion on the referees.

    Just a few months ago, Apoel's president Chris Triantafyllides had raised hell because he felt the referee in a league match against Omonia was biased! The proof of the bias was that he had shown yellow card to an Apoel defender early on, but failed to do the same to a deserving Omonia players.

    The most damning evidence of bias, according to Triantafyllides, who went on every TV station to pillory the allegedly Omonia-loving referee, was that the ref's son played football for an Omonia youth team. A claim denied by the boy's mother.

    ON MONDAY night, the ubiquitous Triantafyllides appeared on a Sigma TV sports show and got involved in a verbal tussle with an Anorthosis official. He said Anorthosis should not make accusations about biased refereeing because those who lived in glass houses....

    This provoked the intervention of the rough Anorthosis president Kikis Constantinou who called the show and went on air to threaten to divulge the reason why Apoel also lived in glass houses if Triantafyllides did not stop. The example he would give was very recent one indeed he said.

    This open threat was quite effective as it abruptly cut short Triantafyllides' tedious moralising.

    FORMER Omonia coach Andreas Michaelides this week signed a contract with his ex-club's most hated rivals. This would not get as high a reading on the outrage Richter scale as George Graham's move to Spurs, but it does come quite close.

    Being a traditional right-winger, Michaelides, who was a former coach of the national side, will feel more comfortable at Apoel than he ever was at communist-controlled Omonia. In fact rumours have been circulating that Michaelides left the club because senior members of the communist party Akel, which has control of Omonia, never approved of Michaelides' appointment.

    It was like an admission that only right-wingers made good coaches, so the Akel hardliners began a whispering campaign against the coach from Limassol. This may have convinced Michaelides to hand in his resignation. Omonia will be coached by a Slovak, Dusan Galis. We do not know if he was a member of the Czechoslovakian Communist party, but at least he is from a former socialist country which must count for something.

    SLOBODAN Vutsecovic, who failed to agree a new contract to coach Apoel, has taken over at Salamina. Vutsecovic, who worked at Apoel from last October until the end of the season, is reportedly still owed 30,000 by the club; his contract was worth 42,000.

    At least Michaelides is independently wealthy and does not need his coach's wage to be paid on time in order to survive.

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