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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-07-03

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


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Saturday, July 3, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Door open for proximity talks?By Jean ChristouPROXIMITY talks for Greek and Turkish Cypriots could be a distinct possibility if direct negotiations fail to come about between the two sides, Germany's special envoy for Cyprus said yesterday.Detlev Graf zu Rantzau was commenting on his findings at the end of a five-day round of talks on both sides of the Green Line.UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan had called both sides back to face-to-face talks without pre-conditions following an initiative by the G8 countries. The talks would likely take place in New York in the autumn. The government has welcomed the invitation but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash says he will not negotiate unless his breakaway regime is recognised as a state.But after his contacts this week, Rantzau, speaking to journalists in Nicosia, hinted that Denktash might be persuaded to participate in proximity talks. "Mr Denktash has not said he is ready for proximity talks," Rantzau made clear.But he said the Turkish Cypriot leader has expressed his willingness to go to New York to meet Annan. "So maybe there is a possibility left open by Mr Denktash, because if the Secretary- general talks to Mr Denktash in one room there is no way to prevent him (Annan) from inviting President Clerides in another room," Rantzau said. "I did not say I'm in favour of proximity talks. I said perhaps Mr Denktash left a door open to such a format."The German envoy said Denktash stated he was ready to negotiate in direct talks on all outstandng issues "but only on the state to state level... so that he would be treated as an equal with the President of the Republic of Cyprus," Rantzau said. "Under these circumstances he would be ready to accept an invitation for a meeting."He added that President Clerides had told him he was ready to "consider positively" the invitation of the Secretary-general without pre- conditions."When it was mentioned to him that Mr Denktash would want the question of status first, Clerides was of the opinion he was ready to discuss all the problems in parallel and simultaneously," Rantzau said. He did not clarify whether this meant the president was willing to discuss recognition of the breakaway regime or whether this was one of the issues on the table."President Clerides said Ďall issues', without naming them, must be dealt with in parallel and simultaneously," Rantzau said. "The view is that all issues should be put on the table. Serious negotiations should not exclude any of the issues."When President Clerides said there are a number of issues central and he is ready to discuss all of them, my impression is that amongst those six or seven issues is also the question of status."The German special envoy also issued a wake-up call to the Greek Cypriot side to adapt to the changing times and different situation on the island to that of 20 years ago. "We have a situation where Greek Cypriots deny Turkish Cypriot rights to have their own state.... the Turkish Cypriots say the Greek Cypriots don't have the right to speak for us. That is basically it," he said."You have two firm positions. Yours (Greek Cypriots) is being upheld by the language of the Security Council. The Turkish Cypriots have no such thing. This has been the situation for a number of years."He said he believes what the G8 has tried to do is to point out that either the situation in Cyprus stands still and ends in permanent partition or a way is found through negotiations to satisfy the demands of all sides. The first alternative, he said, in the view of the G8, is likely to be "untenable and high risk" in the long term."You may be right, and you may be right in 60 years, but you will not have changed the situation," he warned. "Being right hasn't got you anywhere. You can't have it both ways".
  • [02] Minister admits to tank fuel fiasco
  • [03] Exhumations should be within a fortnight
  • [04] Suspect 'killed Petrakides in self-defence'
  • [05] Judge revokes court orders against Larnaca pickets
  • [06] CY staff lobby Clerides for full enquiry
  • [07] 'Death trap car ring broken up'
  • [08] Doctors warned against issuing fake sick-notes to civil servants
  • [09] New Horizons say Solomis should resign if nothing done on health scandals
  • [10] Ex-bishop formally charged

  • [01] Door open for proximity talks?By Jean ChristouPROXIMITY talks for Greek and Turkish Cypriots could be a distinct possibility if direct negotiations fail to come about between the two sides, Germany's special envoy for Cyprus said yesterday.Detlev Graf zu Rantzau was commenting on his findings at the end of a five-day round of talks on both sides of the Green Line.UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan had called both sides back to face-to-face talks without pre-conditions following an initiative by the G8 countries. The talks would likely take place in New York in the autumn. The government has welcomed the invitation but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash says he will not negotiate unless his breakaway regime is recognised as a state.But after his contacts this week, Rantzau, speaking to journalists in Nicosia, hinted that Denktash might be persuaded to participate in proximity talks. "Mr Denktash has not said he is ready for proximity talks," Rantzau made clear.But he said the Turkish Cypriot leader has expressed his willingness to go to New York to meet Annan. "So maybe there is a possibility left open by Mr Denktash, because if the Secretary- general talks to Mr Denktash in one room there is no way to prevent him (Annan) from inviting President Clerides in another room," Rantzau said. "I did not say I'm in favour of proximity talks. I said perhaps Mr Denktash left a door open to such a format."The German envoy said Denktash stated he was ready to negotiate in direct talks on all outstandng issues "but only on the state to state level... so that he would be treated as an equal with the President of the Republic of Cyprus," Rantzau said. "Under these circumstances he would be ready to accept an invitation for a meeting."He added that President Clerides had told him he was ready to "consider positively" the invitation of the Secretary-general without pre- conditions."When it was mentioned to him that Mr Denktash would want the question of status first, Clerides was of the opinion he was ready to discuss all the problems in parallel and simultaneously," Rantzau said. He did not clarify whether this meant the president was willing to discuss recognition of the breakaway regime or whether this was one of the issues on the table."President Clerides said Ďall issues', without naming them, must be dealt with in parallel and simultaneously," Rantzau said. "The view is that all issues should be put on the table. Serious negotiations should not exclude any of the issues."When President Clerides said there are a number of issues central and he is ready to discuss all of them, my impression is that amongst those six or seven issues is also the question of status."The German special envoy also issued a wake-up call to the Greek Cypriot side to adapt to the changing times and different situation on the island to that of 20 years ago. "We have a situation where Greek Cypriots deny Turkish Cypriot rights to have their own state.... the Turkish Cypriots say the Greek Cypriots don't have the right to speak for us. That is basically it," he said."You have two firm positions. Yours (Greek Cypriots) is being upheld by the language of the Security Council. The Turkish Cypriots have no such thing. This has been the situation for a number of years."He said he believes what the G8 has tried to do is to point out that either the situation in Cyprus stands still and ends in permanent partition or a way is found through negotiations to satisfy the demands of all sides. The first alternative, he said, in the view of the G8, is likely to be "untenable and high risk" in the long term."You may be right, and you may be right in 60 years, but you will not have changed the situation," he warned. "Being right hasn't got you anywhere. You can't have it both ways".

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    Saturday, July 3, 1999

    [02] Minister admits to tank fuel fiasco

    By Charlie Charalambous

    RUSSIAN-MADE T-80 battle tanks were disabled because the National Guard ordered the wrong fuel, Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis conceded yesterday.

    But in attempting to clear his name, the minister pointed the finger of blame at the army's top brass.

    "Yes, the fuel was not the right type, but the ministry had nothing to do with it because it was following National Guard instructions," Chrysostomis told reporters.

    "The wrong use of fuel was not down to the Russians as reported but to the National Guard chief and the commander responsible for tanks."

    Not for the first time in his relatively short tenure as minister, Chrysostomis called an impromptu news conference at his Nicosia office to deny embarrassing press reports.

    Front page stories in the local press claimed that the National Guard's T- 80 main battle tanks and BMP-3 armoured vehicles (also Russian) had suffered serious mechanical damage because the wrong fuel was used.

    Furthermore, the government was allegedly being fleeced by the Russian company which supplied spare parts for the tanks, because "extra noughts" were added to the price list following a "typing error".

    "The manufacturing company did make a mistake on its invoices when charging for spare parts," Chrysostomis said on state radio yesterday morning.

    These were damaging allegations, which the former judge failed to tackle head-on, deciding instead to point the finger somewhere else.

    He also revealed that the National Guard had been using the unsuitable fuel for three years and that the tanks had performed below par.

    Apparently, the rogue fuel had clogged up the tank engines, which needed to be cleaned and repaired.

    "There will be an investigation to see who is responsible for ordering the wrong specification fuel," the minister said.

    Earlier, the minister appeared to suggest that, even though the wrong fuel had been used, this may not have been the real reason why the T-80s were under performing.

    "At some stage maybe the use of fuel, other than that which should have been used, caused a blockage in the fuel injection system... it could have been wear and tear," Chrysostomis told state radio.

    The minister did concede there had been a "problem", but insisted there had been no lasting damage to the tanks, which were back to 90 per cent performance levels.

    "It did create a problem with the tanks but now they are working wonderfully well."

    The Defence Ministry is now in the process of seeking parliamentary approval to spend £2.5 million for acquiring spare Russian tank parts.

    Chrysostomis argued this has nothing to do with the fuel fiasco, but the House Defence Committee is said to be having a hard time believing him.

    "The millions needed are for maintenance parts and for future needs," said Chrysostomis.

    Russian T-80s are the army's top battle tanks and make up nearly half of its arsenal of 200 main fighting tanks, the rest of which are French-made AMX-30B2s.

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    Saturday, July 3, 1999

    [03] Exhumations should be within a fortnight

    By Anthony O. Miller

    FORENSIC experts are expected to complete the exhumations of war dead at Lakatamia and Saint Constantinos and Eleni cemeteries in Nicosia by mid- July, in a search for persons missing from the 1974 invasion.

    Remains from Lakatamia cemetery are already being examined by the 27 scientists from 10 countries involved in the project, and work began on Thursday at Saint Constantinos and Eleni graveyard.

    The experts, who include anthropologists, X-ray experts and pathologists, are seeking bone samples from which to draw DNA, the building blocks of human life, to match with DNA samples taken from families of the missing and stored in a DNA "bank" at the Institute of Genetics and Neurology.

    After the exhumations are completed, work will begin in the DNA bank to try to match the remains to relatives.

    Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Takis Christopoulos said yesterday that to his knowledge no positive identifications had been made so far.

    "We're at the stage of getting the skeletons together, trying to identify them by what information they have from the mortal remains they have, which is not very much," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    "The DNA bank is not being used yet, but it will be used very soon. Then we probably will have something. At the moment, I do not have anything at all to tell you," he said.

    Christopoulos said he did not know how many sets of remains had been exhumed so far, or how many still awaited exhumation.

    He said any remains identified "will be given to relatives for burial. The others, we will have to decide whether to bury in a memorial or something like that."

    Nicos Theodosiou, chairman of the Committee of Relatives of the Missing, also said the exhumations had so far been inconclusive, but he expected positive identifications once the DNA matching was completed:

    "We're satisfied with the pace of the project once it started, and we want to be certain that there is great respect shown there by the scientists working there. It's very important to the relatives.

    "We hope that the rest of the project will be conducted at the same pace as this part," he said.

    Theodosiou also said he did not know how many sets of remains had been examined or still awaited examination. "We don't use any numbers to avoid any mistakes," he said.

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    Saturday, July 3, 1999

    [04] Suspect 'killed Petrakides in self-defence'

    By Martin Hellicar

    MURDER victim Fotis Petrakides pressured his self-confessed killer George Zavrantonas into taking part in gun-running from Bulgaria, the criminal court in Larnaca heard yesterday.

    State prosecutor George Papaioannou summed up the case against 22-year-old Zavrantonas yesterday. Zavrantonas, who has admitted killing former special policeman Fotis Petrakides on April 2 this year, eventually agreed to get involved in gun-running because he wanted to own a pistol, Papaioannou said.

    The prosecutor was reading from a statement Zavrantonas gave to police after his arrest, in which he claimed he shot father-of-three Petrakides in self defence.

    Petrakides, 55, was shot several times at a remote spot near the buffer- zone village of Koshi, in the Larnaca District. His body was then dumped in Aradippou dam, outside Larnaca, and was not found till three days later, on April 5.

    In his statement to police, Zavrantonas, from Aradippou, said he had gone to Koshi to meet with Petrakides to discuss £7,000 which he had given the victim to buy guns from Bulgaria.

    Zavrantonas had changed his mind about the deal and wanted his money back from Petrakides, the court heard. According to Zavrantonas's statement, Petrakides pulled a gun on him and he then shot him in self-defence with a pistol he was carrying.

    A friend of Zavrantonas' who had been hiding in a nearby shed, 30-year-old Christos Tziakouris, then handed him a kalashnikov, telling him to "shoot him and be done with it," the court heard. Petrakides, who lived in the Engomi suburb of Nicosia, was shot five times with the kalashnikov.

    Tziakouris, from Yeri village outside Nicosia, is currently on trial for involvement in the killing.

    Papaioannou said a statement given to police by Tziakouris backed up Zavrantonas's version of events.

    Zavrantonas, who has pleaded guilty to six charges in connection with the killing and gun-running, is to be sentenced on July 8.

    Tziakouris and two more men are also suspected of being involved in the gun- running. The two other suspects, both in custody, are Greek taxi driver Yiannis Tournas, 50, and Georgios Pais, 30, both from Larnaca.

    Police have recovered two stashes of weapons believed to have been smuggled in by the suspects hidden in a car. Zavrantonas led police to the weapons down a well at Aradippou and at Limassol port.

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    Saturday, July 3, 1999

    [05] Judge revokes court orders against Larnaca pickets

    By Athena Karsera

    STRIKING hotel workers yesterday scored a triumph against their employer, when a Larnaca judge revoked a court order taken out against them.

    The company, however, said the decision was legally flawed and it appeal.

    Lordos Holdings took out temporary court orders in February prohibiting pickets from blocking the entrances to the two hotels at the centre of the dispute.

    The orders were taken out against 42 striking workers and 12 union representatives.

    Staff at the company's Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels have been protesting since the end of January over the dismissal of 53 of their colleagues when sections of the hotels were handed over to private contractors.

    Management resorted to court action after incidents on the picket line.

    Lordos Holdings conceded yesterday that the court order concerning the Lordos Beach hotel had been revoked, but pointed out the one at the Golden Bay still stood.

    The company announcement said that, after consulting its legal advisors, Lordos Holdings felt the court's decision was legally flawed, and that the company had decided to appeal.

    A Lordos Holdings spokesman told the Cyprus Mailthat the court's decision had "changed nothing," and was in no way connected with the company's decision to replace staff with outside contractors.

    The spokesman -- who preferred to remain anonymous -- also noted that the financial results at the two hotels had so far this year been better that those of the same period last year and that this was a direct result of the redundancies.

    But the unions' lawyer Tassos Papadopoulos yesterday told reporters "the court order was revoked because it was based on the concealing of facts -- which amounts to misleading the court."

    Surrounded by jubilant strikers, he said the court's decision confirmed the workers' right to strike and the legality of their actions. "The court's decision was based on the correct interpretation of the law on labour relations."

    Papadopoulos added: "I hope that the employer will realise that these labour differences cannot be solved and that the strikers also have legal rights."

    Judge Elena Efraim yesterday also ordered Lordos Holdings to pay legal costs.

    On the core of the dispute, the Lordos spokesman yesterday said the company agreed with the unions that progress by the special government-appointed committee investigating the strike was slow.

    But he said the investigation it was a time-consuming and costly process and that, "unlike the unions, we never did expect a result so soon."

    He said the company anticipated an outcome in two to three months from now. "Minutes of each meeting have to be taken, these have to be typed and the typists work government hours."

    He also said the process was made longer by lawyers asking questions during the meetings, "and so far it seems that the union lawyer is asking all the questions."

    The Cabinet early last month appointed a three-member committee to investigate the strike. Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas said the Committee would be presenting its findings on all aspects of the differences as soon as possible. The unions have frozen any additional industrial action pending the outcome of the investigation.

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    Saturday, July 3, 1999

    [06] CY staff lobby Clerides for full enquiry

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) pilots and representatives of another three of the airline's union yesterday staged a picket outside the Presidential Palace demanding a public enquiry into the company.

    Some 60 to 70 CY employees, representing pilots, cabin crew, engineers and other staff, picketed the Palace for over three hours between 7am and 10am handing a letter to presidential undersecretary Pantelis Kouros.

    The letter calls on Clerides and the government to keep their word on looking into the affairs of CY.

    The government has set up a ministerial committee to look into allegations levelled by pilots against the company during last week's strike over promotions in CY's charter firm Eurocypria. The strike by CY pilots union Pasipy was called off after the government agreed to talk about the issues.

    "We gave the letter saying that now we have shown good will we want the problems of the company looked into," said Pasipy spokesman George Charalambous. "It's no longer just about promotions. It's about issues which affect all of the employees."

    Charalambous said the pilots were accusing the company of mismanagement, incompetency and nepotism.

    "This has to be looked into," he said. "We are not sure if they (the government) are going to do it. If they want to take a serious look at things they will."

    Charalambous said otherwise all the pilots could do was "try and get want we want".

    But he added that they had no plans for further strike action for the moment -- as long as CY didn't fill the disputed captain vacancy in Eurocypria.

    "The company has not gone ahead to fill the vacancy so as far as we are concerned we are happy as long as the situation does not continue forever," he said. "We hope the dialogue will be given a chance."

    The pilots have a meeting at the Labour Ministry on Monday, he said.

    Charalambous also said it appeared the pilots' proposal to buy 12 per cent of the shares in CY was now being given a warmer welcome.

    The government has to offload a 12 per cent stake by September under stock exchange regulations stipulating it cannot hold more than 70 per cent of the shares.

    Pilots had felt their detailed proposal was being dismissed, but Charalambous said it now appeared as if there might be developments in this direction.

    "It seems they are now looking favourably on it," he said. He did not elaborate.

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    Saturday, July 3, 1999

    [07] 'Death trap car ring broken up'

    POLICE believe they have busted a back-street operation assembling "death- trap" luxury cars out of the chopped-up sections of stolen vehicles.

    Following raids on garages in Limassol's Turkish quarter late on Thursday, police made two arrests in the early hours yesterday.

    Police carried out more raids yesterday morning, at Ypsonas outside Limassol, and the two suspects were brought up before Limassol District Court.

    Christakis Christodoulou, alias Chris, 49, from the Mesa Yeitonia suburb of Limassol, and Adamos Zakheou, 41, from Limassol, were both remanded for eight days.

    They are suspected of illegally importing stolen luxury BMW and Mercedes cars and then cutting them up to reassemble and sell them on the local market.

    The court heard that at least three such vehicles had been found on the roads, and that they represented a serious safety risk.

    The raids turned up a total of 21 BMW and Mercedes shells and 38 car engines. The registration numbers had been removed from the car parts, the court heard.

    Local police are working with Interpol to try and trace the origins of the stolen vehicles.

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    Saturday, July 3, 1999

    [08] Doctors warned against issuing fake sick-notes to civil servants

    THE PANCYPRIAN Medical Association yesterday warned physicians against issuing fraudulent sick-leave notes for use by employees, especially civil servants, to justify time off the job, warning them the practice was a criminal offence.

    The Association also called on recipients of any such "suspicious" sick- leave notes to report them to the association, which pledged to investigate and take all "necessary measures" to halt the practice.

    The Association said it had received complaints from sources it did not identify that public servants were abusing the sick-leave process by obtaining fraudulent doctors' certificates to buttress their false claims to having been at home sick.

    "We have already sent circulars to all doctors one month ago to remind them that giving out excuses when a person is not sick is a criminal offence," the association said.

    The Association said a "big problem" had been created by what it called "the public servants' mentality -- that they have a 'right' to use up all their sick leave."

    "As a result," the Association said, civil servants were putting undue pressure on doctors to write them sick-leave notes, even when they were not sick, so they could eat up all available sick leave at taxpayers expense.

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    Saturday, July 3, 1999

    [09] New Horizons say Solomis should resign if nothing done on health scandals

    By Athena Karsera

    THE SCANDAL on the shortage of kidney medicine in hospitals took on new dimensions yesterday when the New Horizons party said the Health Minister should resign if he did not take action on a series of health scandals.

    Speaking to CyBC, New Horizons vice-president Stratos Panayides said that Health Minister Christos Solomis should take strategic action on a long list of issues. He said the party was prepared to give him more time to do this, but "if we don't have evidence of an effort then he should issue his resignation."

    "We believe there is a blizzard of scandals going on, along with the erythropoetine (kidney medicine) running out. We believe that, even after the Ombudsman's criticism of the Health Ministry, there is still a Ministry effort to misinform and cover-up the issue."

    Panayides was referring to a Wednesday report by ombudsman Eleana Nicolaou strongly suggesting that an investigation be carried out into the issue.

    "We made the issue public on June 11 calling (Solomis) to investigate and for a whole 20 days he did not act," Panayides said.

    He said more questions needed answering such as the tender process involved in ordering the medication. "We had information that a company had been decided on and then changed even though we don't know why this was."

    "The question is what has the Ministry done to solve these (problems)."

    He said that Auditor-general Chrystalla Yiorkatzi had issued a report in July 1998 on the extensive delay in the medication ordering process in general, "but nothing has been done."

    Panayides went on to say that the issue of high medicine prices should also be addressed. "There is a monopoly which takes advantage of the consumer in Cyprus."

    He said all this simply showed "a lack of effectiveness in the way health issues are handled."

    Meanwhile, Solomis yesterday said his Ministry was working with police to investigate rumours that erythropoetine supplies had run out because the drug was being diverted to the racecourse to dope horses.

    Justice and Public Order Minister Nicos Koshis yesterday told CyBC that the police had received a written tip-off on the issue on May 3 but that initial inquiries indicated it was not a serious problem, although full investigations had not yet been completed.

    Race-course Authority president Akis Petris said that urine tests on race- horses had not uncovered the use of erythropoetine so far. "To act we need specific evidence and we are waiting for the police report," he said.

    He said the Authority's rules were clear that no medicines that could help or hamper the horses performance were allowed.

    Petris said all winning horses were tested while others were examined "if it was felt necessary".

    [10] Ex-bishop formally charged

    FORMER Limassol Bishop Chrysostomos has been officially charged with attempting to defraud a UK-based investor of $3.7 million, police said yesterday.

    The ex-bishop was charged at his church-owned residence at 7am on Wednesday.

    According to yesterday's police statement, Chrysostomos has been charged on three counts: conspiracy to defraud, attempting to obtain money under false pretences and attempted fraud.

    Each charge carries a maximum jail term of three years.

    Officers of the financial crime squad read out the charges to the ex-bishop in the presence of his lawyer.

    "The former Limassol Metropolitan in reply denied the charges," said the police statement.

    Since Wednesday, the case file has been sent back to the Attorney-general's office for further study.

    Chrysanthos is also under investigation for allegedly defrauding two Portuguese investors of $1.5 million.

    Last November, Chrysanthos resigned from his post in the wake of an eight- point Holy Synod indictment which charged him with currency speculation, profiteering and violating Church law.

    The Holy Synod also suspended him of any duties for two-years, though this has not stopped Chrysanthos rubbing shoulders with the president at ecclesiastical functions.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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