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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-30

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

May 30, 1999


  • [01] Expert warns exhumations will take a long time
  • [02] 'Such a pointless death'
  • [03] Jeweller remanded over Stylianides burglary
  • [04] Fourth man held over Larnaca bombs
  • [05] Moon walker in Cyprus next week
  • [06] Unions call for accession process to move ahead
  • [07] Airports in two-hour sympathy strike tomorrow
  • [08] The Catch-22 of the Cyprus problem

  • [01] Expert warns exhumations will take a long time

    By Martin Hellicar

    IT COULD be a long time before exhumations of Nicosia graves thought to hold the remains of missing persons bring any results, the American professor heading the ground-breaking operation warned yesterday.

    Professor William Haglund and his two-member team from non-governmental organisation 'Physicians for Human Rights' began preparatory exhumations on Friday. It is hoped digging at two Nicosia cemeteries will unearth remains of Greek Cypriots listed missing since the 1974 invasion. These remains will then be identified by DNA fingerprinting.

    The operation to open up 65 graves of unknown soldiers at the Lakatamia and the Constantinou and Elenis cemeteries is the result of a deal for exchange on information on the missing agreed between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in July 1997.

    The exhumation expert said yesterday that while he was fully aware of the sensitivity of the missing issue the job could not be rushed.

    "I know that for 25 years the people of Cyprus have been very patient and I am sure they are happy we are here and that we are making some progress," Haglund told reporters outside the Lakatamia military cemetery yesterday morning.

    "But... we have to ask you for a little bit more patience because the work we do is very slow and we are going to take our time and do things right," he said.

    Haglund would not be drawn on how long it would be before the first tangible results were available. "If I was a prophet I would be able to stay at home and tell you that on the telephone," he replied to a relevant question.

    The Greek Cypriot side lists 1,619 people missing as missing since 1974 while the Turkish Cypriot side lists 803 as missing since the outbreak of intercommunal hostilities in 1964.

    A year ago, two women whose husbands are on the missing list began digging graves at the Lakatamia cemetery with their bare hands, convinced their menfolk were buried there.

    Haglund said there were no clear records of what was buried in the cemetery, making the task more difficult.

    "The history of the cemetery is very complex, there have been previous exhumations over different periods of time... we are going on the basis that we have to exhume everything," the professor said.

    Results of DNA tests on unearthed remains are not expected for at least three months. The DNA analysis will be carried out by the Institute of Neurology, which has established a databank with samples from relatives of the missing.

    The three-member Physicians for Human Rights team is being assisted by National Guardsmen acting as labourers.

    A number of government officials were also on site yesterday as a digger began what Haglund described as a "test trench" in the cemetery.

    The trench is not on a grave site and is not expected to expose any remains, but will rather give investigators an idea of the sort of soil conditions to be found in the cemetery.

    Diko deputy and former state pathologist Marios Matsakis and Nicos Theodosiou, president of the Committee for Missing Persons, were also on site taking a keen interest in proceedings.

    The government says it has ordered the exhumations for humanitarian reasons despite the fact that the Turkish side has pulled out of the July 1997 missing deal. Shortly before the Turkish side jumped ship, in January 1998, files relating to the whereabouts of the graves of some 400 Greek Cypriots and 200 Turkish Cypriots were exchanged under UN auspices.

    Clerides has recently pleaded with Denktash for the two sides to work together to end the suffering of relatives of the missing.

    The government has promised that relatives of the missing will be informed of the exhumation findings and will be given the remains of their loved ones for proper burial.

    May 30, 1999

    [02] 'Such a pointless death'

    By Martin Hellicar

    NIKI Downing, whose life was tragically and brutally cut short when she was murdered in her Larnaca flat a week ago, was known to her many friends in Cyprus as a mildly eccentric, quiet and self-effacing spinster.

    But behind that reserved exterior was a woman of many parts.

    Niki, 71 at the time of her death, was a journalist and author, a truck- driver and light aircraft pilot, a volunteer geriatric nurse and an active member of St.Paul's Anglican cathedral in Nicosia.

    She was born in the Belgian town of Antwerp to an American father and Scottish mother and grew up in New York. The name on her birth certificate is Ethel Althea but she changed that to the Greek Niki (meaning victory) after she secured citizenship in her adopted home of Cyprus. She arrived on the island more than 30 years ago and lived first in Nicosia and then, in 1993, after a few years absence from Cyprus, moved to Larnaca.

    While in Nicosia, Niki established an importing firm with a Cypriot partner and insisted on driving the company lorry. She was the first woman truck- driver on the island.

    She even acted as reserve truck-driver for the National Guard, taking part in many army exercises.

    Her great passion was light aircraft flying and she was the only female to have ever served in the aerial detachment of President Makarios' body guard.

    As a journalist, she became an accredited correspondent with the Israeli defence forces during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Her published novels include The Wings of the Morning, No more Pricking Brierand The Dew of Thy Youth.

    Set in Cyprus and the Middle East, her stories were full of political intrigue and action - a sharp contrast to her quiet public persona.

    Most knew her only as a somewhat oddly dressed old lady who gave little away about herself.

    "She was very quiet and self-effacing and kept to herself," one friend remembered.

    She was, during her years in Nicosia, a regular at St.Paul's church and a keen member of the Nicosia singers group. In her spare time she spent much time in volunteer work as a geriatric nurse for refugees from the 1974 invasion.

    News of her murder was greeted with shock.

    "It's tragic, it seems so pointless," a friend said.

    Police believe the motive behind Niki's murder may have been robbery.

    Her battered body was discovered in the bathroom of her Larnaca flat by her Cypriot landlord on Tuesday morning. Police believe she was beaten and then stabbed to death by intruders sometime between May 22 and 24.

    Two Russian Greeks have been remanded in custody in connection with the killing and police are seeking a third man.

    May 30, 1999

    [03] Jeweller remanded over Stylianides burglary

    JEWELLER Nicos Ioannou was remanded for four days by Nicosia district Court yesterday on suspicion of receiving stolen goods, in the form of jewellery burgled from former government spokesman Christos Stylianides' home.

    Ioannou, 65, from Dhali, was arrested on Friday afternoon, the third arrest in connection with the case. He was implicated by a married couple, Koulla Michael, 31, and George Petrou, 39, who were arrested on Thursday. Both have been remanded for eight days.

    The jewellery was stolen from Stylianides' wife Thoulla at their family home on January 6. Thoulla later recognised one of her stolen brooches while at a jewellery exhibition laid on by Ioannou's company.

    The incident was reported to police, who searched Ioannou's jewellery shop on Onasagorou Street in Nicosia. There they found &40,000 worth of jewels that Thoulla Stylianides identified as her own.

    Ioannou told police he bought the jewels for £15,800 from Michael.

    Further investigations revealed jewels hidden in Michael's home. She has claimed that her husband gave her the jewellery to sell to Ioannou, but that he had been given it by another person.

    May 30, 1999

    [04] Fourth man held over Larnaca bombs

    A FOURTH suspect was remanded in custody yesterday in connection with two recent bomb attacks in Larnaca.

    Larnaca District Court heard that Larnaca man Andreas Antoniou Kitsios, 26, had conspired with Demetris Demetriou, known as Jimis, to plan the bomb attacks on an Electricity Authority (EAC) sub-station and the District court itself. No one was hurt in either of the attacks and structural damage was minimal.

    Police say 36-year-old Jimis, from Larnaca, has been named as the "mastermind" behind the two blasts by the two other men being held for the attacks. Demetris Demetriou, 22, and Iakovos Hadjantonis, 19, both from Larnaca, were arrested in the early hours last Sunday shortly after a bomb went off by the back door of the court house. Demetriou was injured in a motorbike accident just 300 yards from the court and only minutes after the blast. Police say he crashed in his rush to abandon the scene of the crime.

    The bomb at the EAC sub-station had gone off two days earlier, on May 21 - not far from the town's oil refinery. Police say identical home-made devices were used in both attacks.

    Case investigator Iakovos Ioannou told the court yesterday that Kitsios was a "bosom buddy" of Jimis's and had been seen with him in Larnaca nightclub on the night of the courthouse bomb attack.

    Ioannou asked the court to approve an eight day remand for Kitsios to allow time for around 30 witness statements to be taken. He said the 26-year-old was suspected of conspiring to commit a crime, illegal possession of explosives and destruction of property with explosive devices.

    The court questioned the strength of the evidence against Kitsios that Ioannou had presented. After a three-hour deliberation, it decided to remand the fourth suspect for only four days.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis has suggested the bomb attacks are part of an effort by the Larnaca "underworld" to "stamp its authority" on the town.

    May 30, 1999

    [05] Moon walker in Cyprus next week

    US ASTRONAUT Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the moon, will arrive in Cyprus on June 7 to give a lecture the next day on the historic voyage of his spacecraft, Apollo-11, and set the stage for the 100th anniversary of Popular Bank.

    On July 20, 1969, Armstrong, now 68, stepped from the lunar lander, Eagle, onto the lunar surface and into history with his famous "... small step... giant step..." flag planting.

    His visit is being underwritten by the Popular Bank, at whose behest he will deliver a lecture at the International Conference Centre, entitled: "Light years: The legacy of Apollo 11and what it means beyond the millennium."

    May 30, 1999

    [06] Unions call for accession process to move ahead

    MARKING the end of the third All-Cyprus Trade Union Forum yesterday, Greek and Turkish Cypriot unions signed a joint declaration calling for Cyprus' EU accession process to be pushed ahead.

    Expressing the belief that the accession of Cyprus to the EU would be of huge benefit in a world with increasing globalisation of economies, the unions said they had agreed to organise seminars with EU trade unions in order better to pave the way for their accession into the EU.

    The declaration also reiterated the need to safeguard a single system of employment and labour relations, unified wages and salaries, the right of freedom of movement and freedom to choose an employer across the island and the prohibition of discrimination in the workplace.

    These are all necessary prerequisites for a truly European country, the unions noted.

    The declaration also called for a speedy settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    May 30, 1999

    [07] Airports in two-hour sympathy strike tomorrow

    THE CIVIL Aviation Authority and the island's ports are bracing themselves for a two-hour strike tomorrow, as workers stage a sympathy protest for striking hotel-industry workers at the Lordos Beach and Golden Bay hotels.

    Last Thursday saw a nationwide six-hour sympathy strike at the island's hotels. The strike has been condemned by Lordos Holdings, owner of the Lordos Beach and Golden Bay, and by hoteliers' associations and the chamber of trade and industry.

    Today's airport and port strike will take place between midday and 2pm.

    It is thought relatively few flights will be affected by the airport strike, which has been timed for a relatively quiet slot. Cyprus Airways spokesman Tassos Angeli told The Sunday Mailyesterday that the national carrier did not expect any disruption to its normal Monday schedule.

    The strikes at the Lordos hotels began on January 31, after 53 employees were dismissed when sectors of the hotels were turned over to private contractors.

    May 30, 1999

    [08] The Catch-22 of the Cyprus problem

    By Jean Christou

    IT HAS BEEN SAID more than once that when it comes to the Cyprus conflict, Greek Cypriots have rather short memories and Turkish Cypriots rather long ones. Seven months away from the new millennium and the two sides are still counting backwards - although one side continues to count further back than the other.

    For the Turkish Cypriots the Cyprus problem began not with the 1974 invasion but ten years earlier with the outbreak of the intercommunal troubles, and they don’t intend to let anyone forget it.

    Interviews with any veteran Turkish Cypriot politician invariably turn into an examination of the past as practically every question is answered by a reference to the events of long ago. Dr Dervis Eroglu is no exception.

    Eroglu, 61, ‘Prime Minister’ of the breakaway ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ returned to power last December when his party won 40.33 per cent of the vote.

    Formerly in coalition with Serdar Denktash, son of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Eroglu’s National Unity Party this time around has hooked up with the less hard-line Communal Liberation Party of Mustafa Akinci.

    "The coalition is going well and we envisage the strengthening of the TRNC so it can take its place among the international community," Eroglu told The Sunday Mailin an exclusive interview.

    But the only future he is willing to discuss is the one in which the breakaway regime is declared a state, the long-sought ‘Holy Grail’ for Turkish Cypriot leader and ‘TRNC President’ Rauf Denktash.

    Recent talk of a ‘big push’ by the international community to get the two sides back to the negotiating table later this year failed to impress Eroglu: "There are such reports but we know of no such thing. It has been said that the G8 group will be taking the initiative and we are against it of course. It’s not something we look on positively that the international community takes the initiative on the Cyprus problem," he said from his office in the Turkish-controlled part of Nicosia.

    "As in the past we are surprised where the optimism is coming from. We are the people living on the island and we are the ones who understand the problem as parties to the dispute. We feel that only the people living here can solve the dispute."

    But is that not what diplomats have been trying to get across for years? Yes, but there’s a catch. "This can only be done with the acceptance of a two-state basis on the island if each side will accept and digest the acceptance of the other. This is the process that should continue and we should not expect anything from transatlantic initiatives to come and solve

    it for us. We will solve it. Ever since Russia tried to internationalise the Cyprus problem, pull it into the direction of the international community, we are against it."

    Eroglu said the Turkish side has already made its position clear - that negotiations can only begin between two states on the island and be followed up under United Nations auspices. Even though the Turkish Cypriots would then have achieved their ultimate goal - recognition - there would still be many things to talk about, Eroglu believes.

    "Issues between the two states and how they could be improved. Relations between the two states how they could be improved," he cited as examples. Perhaps even a possible confederation, an idea totally opposed by the Greek Cypriots, could be on the agenda, he added.

    "First of all the two sides have to live in good neighbourly relations and this is the basis," he said. "We have established our state and it's a reality even if it is only recognised by Turkey. Cyprus is a small island but certainly it can keep two states. After seeing the tragedies in Bosnia and Kosovo it should be clear to all that the two states on the island should live in peace and good neighbourly relations."

    Eroglu does not believe Greeks and Turks can live in good neighbourly relations in a bi-

    communal bizonal federation, even though that it is the sought-after solution by the international community, and is grudgingly accepted by the Greek Cypriots in a better-than-nothing kind of way.

    Eroglu predicts that a federation, if it were imposed now by the international community, would take Cyprus back 30 years and no amount of persuading that the cosmopolitan Cyprus of 1999 is not the Enosis-mad (union with Greece) island it was in 1974, can change his mind.

    "If such a thing (federation) were imposed the situation would revert to the pre-1974 period, and in fact it could just be like Kosovo and Bosnia," Eroglu said. " When blood is being shed in other parts of the world why is it that they are always trying to push the situation in Cyprus to breaking point?"

    To prove his assertion that the last thing the Greek Cypriots want is to live with their Turkish counterparts, Eroglu cited a 1967 resolution by the House of Representatives on Enosis.

    "It is still there. They haven’t revoked it," he said. "And the fact that it is still there as a resolution means it carries weight. It is important in the sense that it shows the will and the wish of the Greek Cypriot side, not that it could be practically applied. It is still there and we take it seriously."

    Going even further back in time, Eroglu cites a United Nations decision of March 4, 1964 - recognising Greek Cypriots as the government of Cyprus - as being a major part of the problem.

    "Greek Cypriots have tried to take away everything from us... and have taken continuously from us so at present we don't owe them anything. On the contrary what we have done is to protect our rights which were taken from us," he said.

    "That is precisely the problem. The recognition of the Greek Cypriot side by the rest of the world as the government of the whole of Cyprus. It is usurper of the false title of the government of the republic of Cyprus."

    The fact that Greek Cypriots hold the title of internationally recognised government of Cyprus means, for Eroglu and the Turkish Cypriots, that the Greek side really has no incentive to negotiate for a federal solution.

    "Greek Cypriots don't want a federal solution. This is the main problem in Cyprus. Unless we are recognised as a state as equals to the Greek Cypriots we will not sit and negotiate, " he said.

    "The second biggest problem is the European Union. Instead of encouraging a solution on the island it accepted the Greek Cypriot side as the government of the whole of Cyprus and in the name of that the whole of Cyprus could join the European Union. These are the major problems preventing a solution on the island."

    The Turkish Cypriot side has continually refused to join the Cyprus Republic EU negotiating team, although it has been officially invited. The Turkish side has, in the past, gone as far as to suggest that Cyprus joining the EU, of which Greece is also a member, is in fact the fulfilment of Enosis.

    Logically, then, this would also mean the Enosisof Cyprus with 14 other EU member states and of those countries with each other. Turkey, with its own dearly held wish to join the bloc, would also be a party to Enosisif it were to gain EU membership.

    But Eroglu rejects the notion of using the EU accession process as a platform to secure Turkish Cypriot rights in a federal Cyprus, preferring, it would appear, to stay out in the cold hoping for the day recognition will magically appear. It all comes back again to the status of the ‘TRNC’ like a ‘Catch-22' conundrum. No negotiations, no recognition: no recognition, no negotiations.

    "What will be our status when we join the negotiations?" asked Eroglu, referring to the reason why the Turkish Cypriots do not wish to participate in a club which can only bring them prosperity, status and security.

    "The moment we join the Greek Cypriot team we would be accepting the Greek Cypriots as the government of the whole of Cyprus, and the problem in a sense would end with us being a minority on the island," he said.

    The EU’s decision in December 1997 to go ahead with Cyprus’ accession while giving the cold shoulder to Turkey prompted a strong reaction from the Turkish Cypriot side. This included slapping a ban on bicommunal contacts, which is still in place 18 months later.

    The international community wants both sides to come to the negotiating table without preconditions and has hinted to the Turkish side that recognition is something which should come at the end of negotiations, not at the beginning.

    Indeed under UN negotiations both leaders are merely representatives of their respective communities. But this is not enough for the Turkish side either.

    "When you have on one side a state and on the other you have a community, when these two sides come to sit at the negotiating table nothing will come of it...just minority rights," Eroglu said.

    "The idea of two equal sides sitting at the table of the United Nations is nothing but cosmetic. When (President Glafcos) Clerides is out of the room he can go as a president of a state to different countries and meet people as president and our side cannot not do that."

    Clerides’ last-minute cancellation, under international pressure, of the controversial Russian S-300 missiles - which Turkey threatened to attack if they were deployed - is not seen by the Turkish Cypriots as a sign of willingness on the part of the Greek Cypriot side to negotiate.

    "We don’t see it as a sign of goodwill because it was the Greek Cypriots who signed the deal to bring them. Clerides, even before he was elected, brought up this missile issue," Eroglu said. "And then of course he followed it up later. Then he faced increasing pressure and when the time came he tried to find a reason to cancel it. The impression that you got was that Clerides was trying to strengthen his hand at the negotiating table."

    It appears that unless the US, Britain, the EU and the G8 know something the Turkish Cypriot ‘Prime Minister’ does not about a possible return to negotiations later this year, hopes for face-to-face talks have two chances of coming about - slim and nil - especially if Rauf Denktash’s feelings mirror those of Eroglu.

    Eroglu thinks the idea of a federation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots is something which should be left to the next generation, and if that means being left out in the cold for the moment then so be it.

    "What we are doing is trying to strengthen our republic and achieve further recognition and at the moment this is what we intend to do. We have no other alternative," he said.

    "We are not just waiting for them (Greek Cypriots) to come to the negotiating table. We are strengthening our economy and will move forward into international relations and then of course take our place among the international community."

    If the longed-for recognition does not come and the Cyprus Republic joins the EU without a solution, will the ‘TRNC’ become a Turkish colony?

    "A settlement of the Cyprus problem will be on the agenda in the next five to ten years but the reality of two states will continue as well," Eroglu said. And if recognition does come would the Turkish side ‘run’ with it, as feared by the Greek Cypriots?

    "Even if we grab it where will we go?" Eroglu said. "We have no intention of doing that - of taking it and then moving closer to Turkey. We wish to live on the island as an independent state."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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