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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-07-06

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

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Tuesday, July 6, 1999


  • [01] Scuffles as jet-ski owners camp outside the Presidential Palace
  • [02] Minister now blames Russians for tank fuel fiasco
  • [03] Maronite spy jailed for four years
  • [04] Labour Ministry mediation over airline dispute
  • [05] National Council meets to co-ordinate policy in light of new developments
  • [06] 'Deteriorating situation prompted G8 initiative'
  • [07] Neighbours held after Limassol shooting
  • [08] Parents protest video game gore
  • [09] Motorcyclist killed

  • [01] Scuffles as jet-ski owners camp outside the Presidential Palace

    By Anthony O. Miller

    RIOT police yesterday towed away jet-skis, boats and vehicles belonging to water-sports operators who blockaded the main road outside the Presidential Palace in anger at new rules they claim are driving them out of business.

    Meanwhile, most jet-ski and other water-sports rentals in Cyprus ceased work indefinitely yesterday, as members of the Cyprus Water Sports Association went on strike to protest the new rules,

    Association President George Demetriou said.

    Besides moving the water-sports rental sites away from their accustomed hotel swimming areas, and out to the margins of the swimming beaches, the new rules also reduce water-sports' hours of operation to 10am-1pm and 4pm- 7pm.

    The rule changes are the government's reaction to at least three ski-jet accidents last year that killed one British tourist and seriously injured three others.

    At yesterday's Nicosia demonstration, officers from the Rapid Reaction Squad (MMAD) were involved in scuffles with some of the nearly 200 water- sports owners who blocked Demosthenis Severis Street outside the Palace with some 50 cars and four-wheel-drive jeeps towing boats and jet-skis. At least three protesters were arrested and more than a dozen of their vehicles were towed away.

    The protesters claimed the police broke faith with them after promising they could leave their vehicles blocking two lanes of traffic, if they cleared the remaining two lanes outside the Palace.

    They said the police also promised the protesters could talk with President Glafcos Clerides if they moved their boats, jet-skis and vehicles from the third of the street's four lanes.

    When they did move, the protesters said, MMAD police officers came from behind the Palace wall and waded into them, roughing some up, arresting three, and ordering vehicles remaining in the fourth lane towed away.

    Shouting, "this is not democracy; this is dictatorship," the angry protesters then drove the vehicles they had moved earlier as the police had asked back into all four lanes of the street, totally halting all traffic outside the Presidential Palace.

    Meanwhile, the towing continued apace. Finally, after a dozen or so vehicles, boats and jet-skis had been hauled away, the protesters cleared all four lanes of traffic outside the Palace.

    At 1.45pm, some three hours after it had begun, the demonstration dissolved into a pavement meeting by the protesters to decide on arrangements for camping outside the Palace.

    They will remain there until the government rescinds the new rules, Melios Georgiou, General Secretary of Povek (the Union of Small Businessmen and Retailers), said.

    "We are here overnight to see the president (and will stay) until we see the president and he solves the problem," Georgiou said. The solution means the water-sports rental sites "will stay as they were, forever," Georgiou said. "We want them to cancel the regulations and remove the (marginal sea- access) corridors."

    "The (Marine) Police came (at the weekend) and asked us to move and told us they were going to take us to court," Demetriou said. "Every person who does not move, they are going to come and tow his boats... and put them into the marina."

    "We are coming here for a final answer," Demetriou said: "Either they are going to tell us that this law is going to stop... or we are staying here all day and all night until God knows when."

    Demetriou said that unless the government meets their demands, "nowhere on the island" will jet skis or other water craft be available for rent, except from non-association members.

    While neither Povek nor the Association likes the new, shorter hours of water-sports operation, this issue is "a matter for the courts," and not among the gripes the protesters want President Glafcos Clerides to settle, Georgiou said.

    "Now, it's July 5th. Instead of being down on the beaches serving customers, we are here in Nicosia demonstrating against our own pockets," Demetriou said. "Imaging how we feel. We work 80 to 85 days a year. Already it's July 5, and we are out here."

    "Instead of having no place to work," under the new regulations, "we might as well be outside the Presidential Palace," he said.

    Police Commander Demitrakis Iasonos said the protesters would be allowed to remain outside the Palace indefinitely, under a round-the-police watch so long as they are there.

    The new rules have provoked a variety of reactions in the island's powerful tourism industry.

    Some hotels have complained that moving the jet-ski rental areas from their seafront has compromised their brochures claim that they offer convenient water-sports. Still others oppose changing the hours of operation.

    Others, however, fully endorse both the site and the operation-hour changes as in the best interest of tourist safety.

    The changes in the rental sites were made by order of Communications and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou, whereas the hours of operation were changed by a law recently passed by the House of Representatives.

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    Tuesday, July 6, 1999

    [02] Minister now blames Russians for tank fuel fiasco

    By Charlie Charalambous

    DEFENCE Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis yesterday fanned the flames of the T-80 tank fuel furore, this time putting the Russian suppliers firmly in the dock.

    Chrysostomis proved yesterday that a weekend was long a time in politics, having on Friday pointed the finger of blame for the fiasco at the National Guard's top brass.

    His announcement last week that the island's Russian-made T-80 battle tanks had suffered serious damage because the National Guard used the wrong fuel for three years caused a political bombshell.

    Yesterday, the minister tried to cover his tracks:

    "Because there was a problem with fuel, we shouldn't say this was the exclusive fault of the National Guard."

    Chrysostomis then suggested the Russian state-run Rosvooruzheniye arms company -- which supplied the T-80s -- was partly responsible for issuing vague fuel specifications.

    "We have to investigate other aspects and see if the company had a duty to inform us from the start that the fuel composition changes quality under certain conditions," Chrysostomis said on CyBC radio yesterday.

    Last Friday, the same minister told reporters summoned to an impromptu press conference:

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

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

    Asked about yesterday's apparent U-turn, the Russian embassy in Nicosia laughed off any suggestion that its state-run conglomerate was culpable in any way.

    "The Russian side gave all the necessary specifications to the Greek Cypriot side. We didn't make any mistakes," an embassy spokesman told the Cyprus Mail.

    But he wouldn't comment on reports that Rosvooruzheniye had unwittingly overcharged for tank spare parts because of an additional nought that found its way onto the price list by accident.

    He advised that any further enquiries be addressed to Defence Minister Chrysostomis.

    Chrysostomis has gone out of his way to claim that no permanent damage was done to the army's fleet of Russian T-80s -- which cost over $1 million each -- but the opposition isn't convinced.

    Members of the House Defence Committee -- which must endorse the $3 million budget provision for spare parts -- want to know the real story.

    "There obviously is a problem. Tanks are at 90 per cent performance levels, two of them are still immobilised and the government is asking $3 million for spare parts," said Akel's Doros Christodoulides.

    He argued the spare parts had a direct link to the problems developed by the T-80 engines as a result of the rogue fuel.

    And the Akel man put the blame squarely on those "highly-paid to do their job".

    "Someone should have the courage to tell the public what is really going on, " said the opposition deputy.

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

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

    Russian T-80s are the army's top battle tanks and account for almost half of the National Guard's 200 main fighting tanks, the majority of which are French-made AMX-30B2s.

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    Tuesday, July 6, 1999

    [03] Maronite spy jailed for four years

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A MARONITE man found guilty of spying for Turkish intelligence was yesterday sentenced to four years in prison by the Criminal court sitting in Nicosia.

    The President of the three-judge bench, George Aresti, said in passing sentence that the accused "collected information between 1996 and 1999, which could have been useful, directly or indirectly, to other countries."

    Avgoustinos Skoullou, 53, from occupied Kormakitis faced a 10-year jail term for smuggling military secrets to the Turks.

    The court took into account, as mitigating factors, the fact he was a family man with two young daughters, but said a "deterrent sentence" needed to be imposed.

    On June 25, the accused was found guilty on two counts of spying against the Republic, after the court rejected claims by the Maronite that he fed Turkish intelligence false information about National Guard weapons and installations.

    Skoullou had been under surveillance for some months before he was arrested at the Ledra Palace checkpoint on January 14. A four-page document detailing National Guard weapons systems and the island's political situation were found in his car.

    Police said the document contained information about the National Guard's radar system in Troodos and the Paphos air base.

    Cyprus Intelligence Service (KYP) officers had kept tabs on Skoullou since September last year, when he was spotted acting suspiciously outside army camps at 2.30am.

    Skoullou carried a hunting rifle with him to ward off suspicions, but intelligence agents noticed he never fired a shot.

    The accused is the second Maronite to be jailed this year for smuggling state secrets to the Turks.

    Former public-sector employee George Josephides, 44, was handed down a six- year prison term by the Criminal court in May.

    Josephides was found guilty on four counts of spying against the Republic and two counts of passing on information to Turkish army officers.

    Under the Vienna Treaty, Maronites enjoy free movement between their villages in the Turkish occupied north and government-controlled areas.

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    Tuesday, July 6, 1999

    [04] Labour Ministry mediation over airline dispute

    By Jean Christou

    THE LABOUR Ministry was a hotbed of activity yesterday in an attempt to solve the crisis in Cyprus Airways (CY) over pilot promotions.

    Three unions representing pilots from CY and its charter firm Eurocypria met separately with Labour Ministry mediators and officials from the company.

    Each union put forward its views and heard the views of the company and a new meeting is expected at the Ministry tomorrow, CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said yesterday.

    The dispute centres on a captain promotion in Eurocypria which has been vacant for more than a year despite a collective agreement with the charter firm's pilots saying the job should be filled from their ranks.

    Eurocypria pilots (the company has some 34) want the promotion filled immediately in order to carry out summer flight commitments, but the company has been stalling due to a row over the vacancy with CY's own pilots union Pasipy.

    Pasipy wants the job to go to its members under a "common seniority", which they are pushing for between the two companies.

    They say a later agreement they have with the company to discuss common seniority supersedes the collective agreement and that the promotions should not be carried out until the dialogue is finished.

    CY says the dialogue collapsed last month and advertised the Eurocypria vacancy, sparking two crippling strikes in one week by the 100-strong Pasipy.

    The strike was called off after government intervention and a new agreement to try and resolve the issue.

    The third union involved in the dispute is CY's biggest, Cynika, which represents some 1,500 employees, including 25 pilots who defected from Pasipy.

    Cynika believes that, since 10 of the 18 captains in Eurocypria originally came from CY, the status quo should not be disturbed and Eurocypria should have a standard 10 captains from CY.

    Angelis made it clear yesterday that CY would honour its commitment under the collective agreement with Eurocypria to fill the vacancy from their ranks.

    The government has set up a ministerial committee to look into allegations of mismanagement, incompetence and nepotism, which were leveled by the pilots against the company during the strike.

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    Tuesday, July 6, 1999

    [05] National Council meets to co-ordinate policy in light of new developments

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday briefed the National Council on his latest contacts on the Cyprus issue and the G8 initiative which led to an invitation to talks from the UN Secretary-general.

    Party leaders, participating in today's three-hour long meeting, said they were satisfied with their discussions and gave the seal of approval to a letter President Glafcos Clerides has sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan outlining clearly the government's position.

    "We had an in-depth discussion in a very positive atmosphere," said government spokesman Costas Serezis. "The party leaders outlined their views on how to handle future developments and presented their opinions on the latest developments in the light of UN resolutions."

    The National Council will meet again on July 16 for further discussions, Serezis said.

    UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan has called both sides back to face-to-face talks without preconditions, following an initiative by the G8 countries.

    The talks are expected to be called 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.

    After yesterday's meeting, Disy leader Nicos Anastasiades -- referring to Denktash's insistence on confederation -- said there was a need to for the political leadership act in unison to avoid any "unpleasant developments that others may be pushing for" on the Cyprus issue.

    He said all must share the responsibility for the effort to secure a solution and ensure Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

    Communist Akel General Secretary Demetris Christofias and Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou said the Cyprus problem was going through a critical phase and that there were difficult times ahead.

    Kyprianou said "certain developments" indicated that a confederal solution was being touted.

    Yiannakis Omirou, first vice president of the socialist Edek party, warned of the risk of the Cyprus question being discussed on a different basis than that specified under UN resolutions.

    He stressed that the government and political leadership must work together to make sure there was no diversion from the resolutions.

    George Christofides, first vice president of the United Democrats said the limits of flexibility of the Greek Cypriot side stop at a bizonal, bicommunal federation while Nicos Koutsou, leader of New Horizons party, said it must be made clear that the government would not discuss any ideas for confederation and said developments leading to such a solution could and must be reversed.

    Antonis Paschalides, vice president of the Eurodemocratic Renewal party said all parties would help in their own way at home and abroad to achieve the goals the National Council has set out.

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    Tuesday, July 6, 1999

    [06] 'Deteriorating situation prompted G8 initiative'

    By Jean Christou

    THE G8 took its initiative on Cyprus because it feared the situation on the island was deteriorating, according to Germany's envoy for Cyprus Detlev Graf zu Rantzau.

    "The G8 and Germany are guided by the recognition that the situation on the island is getting worse and worse, less and less conducive to a harmonious solution," Rantzau said in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) before he left the island at the weekend.

    "This attempt aims at bringing a new movement for fear of seeing the situation getting worse. Another initiative of this kind would not be very promising."

    Rantzau caused a stir on Friday when he told journalists in Nicosia that President Clerides was willing to discuss all the issues on the table and said he had the impression that this might include the status of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime.

    A swift response on Saturday from Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said the opposite was true and that Rantzau had created the wrong impression.

    Asked in the interview if negotiations would include all issues, Rantzau said: "Anything and everything has to be on the table; the issue of status (of the Turkish Cypriot leader) is extremely phoney, there are other issues that are important."

    He said that although though both sides proclaimed their "maximum positions", the purpose of the negotiations was to "find out levels of agreement between the two."

    Rantzau told CNA security was the core issue and that constitutional guarantees -- as they appeared in a 1992 UN document of ideas on an overall settlement -- were not sufficient as far as the Turkish Cypriots were concerned.

    "The key notion is that by which both sides find their respective security firmly guaranteed and that which would allow normal relations to be established," Rantzau said.

    He backed President Glafcos Clerides' proposal for the demilitarisation of Cyprus and described it as "part and parcel of an overall settlement."

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is insisting that negotiations be carried out on a state-to-state basis.

    The UN framework provides for talks between the island's two communities.

    "A solution must and can be found, if both sides are willing to give and take and if the main objective is to live in good neighbourliness," the German envoy said.

    Asked if he thought the two sides were ready to do that, he said both were "too preoccupied with their own vision, and the G8 declaration is trying to give new impetus to the negotiating effort."

    An initiative by the G8 recently led to the issuing of an invitation by the UN to both sides to attend direct talks in New York in October.

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    Tuesday, July 6, 1999

    [07] Neighbours held after Limassol shooting

    TWO men were remanded in custody for four days yesterday on suspicion of shooting at a neighbour's Limassol house on Sunday.

    Christodoulos Ioacovou, 32, and Vassilis Vassiliou, 27, both from Limassol were arrested on Sunday after being linked to hunting rifle shots fired at the apartment of 52-year-old Takis Evstathiou.

    Evstathiou was as his home at the time of the 3.25am shooting, but was not injured.

    According to the police, the shots, which roused the entire neighbourhood, smashed the apartment's kitchen window and slightly damaged the apartment's aluminium door.

    The incident occurred at the 'Four Lanterns' refugee complex.

    Evstathiou told police he had earlier that night had an argument with Ioacovou's wife over the building's car-park.

    Evstathiou also claimed that Ioacovou had attacked him, but that he had not retaliated because he used crutches after sustaining a serious injury in a traffic accident.

    He told police Vassiliou had also become involved in the argument.

    Limassol police are continuing investigations. They believe the shots were fired from a balcony in the same building or from the building's car-park.

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    Tuesday, July 6, 1999

    [08] Parents protest video game gore

    By Athena Karsera

    ORTHODOX parents at the weekend expressed their growing concern at their children's exposure to "satanic toys" and video games.

    The Cyprus Union of Parents for the Protection of Greek Orthodox Civilisation, the Family and the Individual, on Saturday held a seminar entitled 'Satanic Toys -- a Current Plague On Our Society'.

    In the course of the Limassol conference, some 200 parents, teachers and clergymen heard local and Greek experts examine the issue and discussed what measures should be taken.

    According to a Union announcement released yesterday, "parents strongly protest against the presence and circulation of satanic games."

    Listing six video and board games the Union considered to be "satanic", the union and parents called on the government to intervene to ban the import and sale of the offending material.

    The announcement said the Attorney-general had already issued an opinion on the matter saying, "the sale or rental or use of electronic games which transmit satanic ideas and images is a criminal offence in violation of the 1963 law on the Publication of Degenerate Images."

    The announcement went on to quote from games and advertisements containing what they considered to be unacceptable statements. These included phrases such as: "Stab them in the back, destroy them"; "Knock down old ladies and elephants with your car for money and points"; "A life of crime without the threat of prison. Sounds good to me"; "Kill them with a lethal shot to the head with a Magnum, watching their blown-up and just decapitated body fall to the ground".

    The statement added that legal action was not sufficient to solve the problem, but that young people had to be helped to be stronger mentally and physically to "resist evil and sin".

    Karl Tate, the head of Micromania, the main computer games retailer in Cyprus, yesterday said he understood parent's concerns, adding that he was in favour of protecting young people from inappropriate material.

    But he told the Cyprus Mailthat gory and horror games were not particularly popular and did not sell well in Cyprus.

    "People in Cyprus tend to scrutinise everything, things are more relaxed overseas."

    Tate said his company had years ago realised that most people on the island were just not interested in games that even remotely glorified gore or satanism. "We don't even bother with vampire-like games," he said.

    Tate said the whole 'macabre' style in games had not caught on in Cyprus to the degree it had become popular in other countries. He added parents had a right to be concerned, but pointed out that all games had a detailed synopsis of their content on the packaging and a guide of the age-group they should be used by.

    "Anything that is the focus of a child's attention for two hours at a time should be monitored, but television and computers aren't always bad things, " Tate said, adding that both mediums were also widely used for educational purposes.

    He said the most popular video games usually had a much more innocent character, but that in any case, children should be properly educated on what was right or wrong by their parents and society. "We are all responsible."

    Tate said the his company would co-operate with any ban and that the issue was definitely one that should be discussed.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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    Tuesday, July 6, 1999

    [09] Motorcyclist killed

    A 24-YEAR-OLD Limassol man died on Sunday night of injuries sustained in a motorbike accident earlier in the day.

    At around 6.35 pm, Nicos Christophoros Michael from Potamos Yermasoyia, was riding his motorbike on Akadimias Street in Yermasoyia when it collided with that of Savvas Georgiou.

    Both motorbikes flipped over, and a car ploughed into them. Michael, who was not wearing a crash helmet, sustained serious head injuries. He was taken to Limassol General Hospital where he died of his injuries at around 10.15pm. Georgiou, who had been wearing a helmet, was uninjured.

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