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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-07-10

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 10, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Now the army is running out of bulletsBy Martin HellicarAS the government sought yesterday to put a lid on the T-80 tank fuel fiasco, it was forced to admit that the National Guard was running out of ammunition.The new scandal came on the same day as the army invited the media to watch the T-80s being put through their paces during an exercise at Kalo Chorio. The aim was to scotch suggestions that use of the wrong fuel for three years had done permanent damage to its million-pound battle tanks.But earlier in the day, Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis found himself with egg on his face once again, unable to deny reports that the army was running short of bullets and shells. The story had been leaked from Thursday's closed House Defence committee session.Chrysostomis yesterday sought to blame others for the shortages, just as he tried to pass the buck for the embarrassing fuel fiasco. If the army was to blame for using the wrong fuel, then deputies were at fault this time round, he claimed.He had done all in his power to procure ammunition in good time, but deputies' reluctance to pass the 1999 defence budget had put a spanner in the works, the minister insisted.He admitted there had been procurement problems. "I tried in every way possible to cover these needs. Certain procedures were adopted which satisfy the element of immediate need and then certain things came up which forced us to investigate fully, and so the procedure was slow to complete," Chrysostomis said.But he then turned on the House. "Even if the procedure had been completed earlier, we would not have been able to go ahead given that the budget had not been approved, " he said. The defence budget was approved late last month after long wrangling between parties.But the chairman of the House defence committee, Takis Hadjidemetriou, denied deputies had dragged their feet. "There was no delay on the part of the House, not even one day, not even one second," the Edek deputy said.The House may have taken six months to approve the overall budget, but Hadjidemetriou said the request for approval of spending on ammunition had only come before his committee on Wednesday -- and had then been considered the next day.When the House plenum finally approved the defence budget, it made certain provisions subject to House scrutiny. "No bureaucracy or time-consuming procedure will affect the capability of the National Guard," Hadjidemetriou vowed. "A way out will be found and parties will have their positions ready within the next few days," he added.Both Chrysostomis and Hadjidemetriou expressed their displeasure at the leaking of information from closed defence committee sessions. The minister denied reports that ammunition procurement procedures had been held up by efforts to "fix" them to suit a particular company or by supplier's attempts to overcharge.
  • [02] Talks depend on G8 muscle power, says CleridesBy Michele KambasPRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday said the success of a new bid by international mediators for a Cyprus settlement would depend on how determined they are to put pressure on Turkey.The United Nations, backed by the G8 -- the world's seven major industrialised nations plus Russia -- is due to invite Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to talks in October.Clerides declined to say whether he was optimistic or pessimistic of a breakthrough."It depends on what international pressure will be exercised in Ankara, not on Mr Denktash, and that is a big question," he told Reuters in an interview. "Nobody can at this time assess what is the intention of the G8, the permanent members of the Security Council, to really use their muscle to produce results."Clerides, who last met Denktash at UN-sponsored talks two years ago, said of the latest talks: "We have never set preconditions. It is Mr Denktash who sets preconditions. We are willing to attend negotiations... to find a solution, taking full consideration of the Security Council resolutions as stated by the G8."Any failure of the latest bid to re-unite Cyprus under a federal umbrella would not bode well for future mediation by the UN alone, Clerides said. "If there is a real interest exhibited by the European Union, by the United States, to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, and they fail, it would mean that the good offices of the (U.N.) secretary-general would hardly be expected to produce results by themselves," he said.
  • [03] Water-sports owners agree to wind down protests
  • [04] Serezis fends off resignation rumours
  • [05] One man killed as lorry careers down mountain road
  • [06] German delegation says Turkey cannot have veto on accession
  • [07] Cabinet to decide on potato compensation next week
  • [08] Government committed to Zakaki desalination plan
  • [09] Temperatures set to hit 40
  • [10] Court annuls contentious English School promotion
  • [11] Police name Belgian crash victim
  • [12] American to be extradited on child abuse charge

  • [01] Now the army is running out of bulletsBy Martin HellicarAS the government sought yesterday to put a lid on the T-80 tank fuel fiasco, it was forced to admit that the National Guard was running out of ammunition.The new scandal came on the same day as the army invited the media to watch the T-80s being put through their paces during an exercise at Kalo Chorio. The aim was to scotch suggestions that use of the wrong fuel for three years had done permanent damage to its million-pound battle tanks.But earlier in the day, Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis found himself with egg on his face once again, unable to deny reports that the army was running short of bullets and shells. The story had been leaked from Thursday's closed House Defence committee session.Chrysostomis yesterday sought to blame others for the shortages, just as he tried to pass the buck for the embarrassing fuel fiasco. If the army was to blame for using the wrong fuel, then deputies were at fault this time round, he claimed.He had done all in his power to procure ammunition in good time, but deputies' reluctance to pass the 1999 defence budget had put a spanner in the works, the minister insisted.He admitted there had been procurement problems. "I tried in every way possible to cover these needs. Certain procedures were adopted which satisfy the element of immediate need and then certain things came up which forced us to investigate fully, and so the procedure was slow to complete," Chrysostomis said.But he then turned on the House. "Even if the procedure had been completed earlier, we would not have been able to go ahead given that the budget had not been approved, " he said. The defence budget was approved late last month after long wrangling between parties.But the chairman of the House defence committee, Takis Hadjidemetriou, denied deputies had dragged their feet. "There was no delay on the part of the House, not even one day, not even one second," the Edek deputy said.The House may have taken six months to approve the overall budget, but Hadjidemetriou said the request for approval of spending on ammunition had only come before his committee on Wednesday -- and had then been considered the next day.When the House plenum finally approved the defence budget, it made certain provisions subject to House scrutiny. "No bureaucracy or time-consuming procedure will affect the capability of the National Guard," Hadjidemetriou vowed. "A way out will be found and parties will have their positions ready within the next few days," he added.Both Chrysostomis and Hadjidemetriou expressed their displeasure at the leaking of information from closed defence committee sessions. The minister denied reports that ammunition procurement procedures had been held up by efforts to "fix" them to suit a particular company or by supplier's attempts to overcharge.

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    Saturday, July 10, 1999

    [02] Talks depend on G8 muscle power, says CleridesBy Michele KambasPRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday said the success of a new bid by international mediators for a Cyprus settlement would depend on how determined they are to put pressure on Turkey.The United Nations, backed by the G8 -- the world's seven major industrialised nations plus Russia -- is due to invite Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to talks in October.Clerides declined to say whether he was optimistic or pessimistic of a breakthrough."It depends on what international pressure will be exercised in Ankara, not on Mr Denktash, and that is a big question," he told Reuters in an interview. "Nobody can at this time assess what is the intention of the G8, the permanent members of the Security Council, to really use their muscle to produce results."Clerides, who last met Denktash at UN-sponsored talks two years ago, said of the latest talks: "We have never set preconditions. It is Mr Denktash who sets preconditions. We are willing to attend negotiations... to find a solution, taking full consideration of the Security Council resolutions as stated by the G8."Any failure of the latest bid to re-unite Cyprus under a federal umbrella would not bode well for future mediation by the UN alone, Clerides said. "If there is a real interest exhibited by the European Union, by the United States, to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, and they fail, it would mean that the good offices of the (U.N.) secretary-general would hardly be expected to produce results by themselves," he said.

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    Saturday, July 10, 1999

    [03] Water-sports owners agree to wind down protests

    By Anthony O. Miller

    WATER-SPORTS operators have decided to return to work and keep a low profile for the time being, following yesterday's meeting with Commerce and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis about new government work rules they say are driving them out of business.

    "Yes, they are back to work," and the threat of an all-out water-sports strike is over for now, Demetris Hadjidemetriou, new president of the Cyprus Water Sports Association, told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    "In some places, the police told them they were not going to allow any rentals in the areas where they were before." It was now up to the police whether they kept a kind of 'cease-fire' until the end of negotiations with two ministers, he added.

    Asked if his association would keep demonstrating to air its grievances, Hadjidemetriou replied: "I don't know exactly how they are going to behave. We asked them not to do anything illegal for the moment, and to keep their voices down until the whole thing gets finished."

    A massive traffic jam caused by a protest outside the Presidential Palace on Monday forced riot police to tow away a dozen of their trucks, trailers, boats and jet-skis and arrest several of the demonstrators.

    They also threatened to camp outside the Palace until their grievances were resolved, prior to being granted meetings with Rolandis and Communications and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou this week.

    After what they said was a disappointing meeting with Ierodiaconou on Wednesday, the vendors on Thursday raced 13 boats and a jet-ski across the Maritime Security Line (MSL) into Turkish-occupied waters when Maritime Police tried to enforce Ierodiaconou's new rules.

    Those new rules move water-sports rental sites and their sea-access corridors away from the main beach areas, and out to their fringes.

    The government wants the vendors to move in the interests of tourist safety. The new rules were its reaction to at least three ski-jet accidents last year, which killed one British tourist and seriously injured three others.

    The vendors say moving their rental sites bunches them together away from the tourist hotels, concentrating competition and forcing tourists to walk great distances to rent jet-skis, motor-boats and other sea-sports equipment.

    Hadjidemetriou said his meeting with Rolandis left him hopeful a resolution could be found to everyone's satisfaction.

    "He is willing to see the problem with an open mind and see what he can do... We showed how tourism was involved in this matter, and Mr Rolandis showed interest."

    Rolandis told the Cyprus Mailyesterday he had "no position as yet" on the vendors' complaints. "The reason I saw them," he said, "is because of the tourist aspect of what they are doing." "I cannot say that I have reached any conclusions. And, after all, the decision is not mine; the decision is that of Mr Ierodiaconou," Rolandis said.

    He said he would study their grievances and "have words" with Ierodiaconou. "Certainly, we would not like to have anything happen which might cause problems with tourists," he said.

    Rolandis noted the operators claimed the new rules moved them "more than a kilometre away" from tourist hotels. "They say the hoteliers had arrangements they were publicising to tour operators that they can have water sports, and they cannot do it any more."

    "This is something serious, if this is the case," Rolandis said.

    "We would not like to see a situation where hoteliers will be unable to offer these sports, because it's one of the tourist attractions of a country," he added.

    Rolandis warned the jet-ski operators they would be "very badly advised" to continue publicly defying the government and breaking any laws with public protests. "It's not a way to resolve problems. Actually, it's a way not to resolve problems when they act that way."

    "We shall face the problems with reason. If we feel that they are acting in the right direction, we shall tell them. If not, we shall not do anything to change the position. But decisions are not taken because of pressure; decisions are taken if there is a correct claim," Rolandis said.

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    Saturday, July 10, 1999

    [04] Serezis fends off resignation rumours

    By Charlie Charalambous

    GOVERNMENT spokesman Costas Serezis yesterday bit the bullet and fended off hurtful questions about the possibility of losing his job.

    "The president is not concerned about a reshuffle at this time, and no suggestion of a reshuffle has reached his office from Disy," said Serezis, putting the gloss on calls for him to go.

    Described by some as the least effective government spokesman in recent times, Serezis has come under fresh attack from ruling party Disy, this time through senior deputy Sophocles Hadjiyiannis.

    Hadjiyannis has proposed to the party's powerful political office the need for a minor government reshuffle -- with Serezis the only candidate for the chop.

    "As this is a personal issue I'm obliged not to go any further... I don't want to get into a personal confrontation with him (Hadjiyiannis)," was Serezis' restrained response at his briefing yesterday.

    The deputy has been less than kind about Serezis' ability to keep the government "on message", and believes the new spokesman is a media disaster.

    As Disy was the party which endorsed Serezis as the man for the hot seat, Hadjiyiannis would appear to be voicing in public what the leadership are thinking in private.

    Serezis has had a gaffe-strewn four-month tenure, ever since his predecessor Christos Stylianides had a crisis of conscience in having to steer the Clerides administration through a sea of sleaze allegations.

    "What is important is how the president informs me and how he wants me to execute my duty," said Serezis.

    But experienced hacks who work the government circuit have often found the spokesman wanting on both these counts, and are at the forefront of the whispering campaign to have him removed.

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    Saturday, July 10, 1999

    [05] One man killed as lorry careers down mountain road

    ONE MAN was killed and another critically injured as a loaded cement truck careered out of control on the main Polis to Paphos road yesterday morning.

    The massive articulated truck left a trail of destruction on a downhill stretch of road passing through Yiollou village.

    The lorry hit first one and then another car on the road ahead of it before swerving onto the wrong side of the road and colliding head-on with a car driven by Andreas Philaktou, with Savvas Sofocleous in the passenger seat.

    Philaktou's car was completely crushed. Sofocleous, a 39-year-old mechanic from nearby Theletra village, was killed instantly. His friend Sofocleous, a 27-year-old lorry driver from Yiollou, was pulled out of the wreckage of his car and rushed to Paphos hospital. He was in a critical condition last night.

    The cement truck, driven by Panayiotis Koutis, 28, did not come to a stop after flattening Sofocleous' car but went on to knock over two electricity poles before ending up on its side in the garden of a village house. The lorry's load was spilt on the road.

    The accident occurred at about 7.30am.

    Koutis, from Oroklini outside Larnaca, was slightly injured. Also hurt was 34-year-old Paphos resident Soulla Demetriou, who was driving the first car hit by the lorry.

    Police said Koutis was subjected to a breath test which proved negative. The lorry driver was later arrested on suspicion of reckless driving.

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    Saturday, July 10, 1999

    [06] German delegation says Turkey cannot have veto on accession

    CYPRUS should not be further punished for the Turkish invasion by having its EU application delayed, the chairman of the German parliament's European affairs committee said yesterday.

    Friedbert Pflueger was speaking at a news conference following the end of his meetings with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides over a five-day visit to the island.

    Pflueger said he hoped Cyprus' EU accession talks would serve as a leverage for talks to solve the Cyprus problem and that "in the end we could meet both aims."

    He noted that not much progress had been seen on settlement talks lately: "That is why we put high emphasis on the G8 summit in Cologne in June this year and the appeal of the G8 summit to both parties to meet in the autumn of this year in New York, under the auspices of the UN Secretary-general, and to discuss without preconditions the future of Cyprus."

    He said compromises would have to be made by each side, but that "we cannot punish Cyprus for the Turkish invasion."

    "We hope and we believe that this process of constructive negotiation will continue and we look forward to Cyprus becoming a member of the European Union."

    He continued that connecting EU accession with a solution of the Cyprus problem would "give Ankara a veto power and that cannot and will not be accepted".

    "We do not buy certain arguments that are floating around the EU that there should be a solution of the Cyprus problem as a precondition for entrance into the EU."

    Pflueger said it was wrong to believe that Cyprus' accession would mean importing a new problem to the EU, as "the Kosovo conflict taught us very clearly that whether a country is member of the EU or not, from the moment there is a conflict, it is a conflict in Europe that no one can escape."

    The German deputy said his delegation's visit to the Green Line in Nicosia had "reminded us very much of the situation when Germany was divided," and that the visit had awakened old sentiments.

    He said the problem in Cyprus was more complicated than the situation in Germany before reunification because Germans spoke one language, had the same culture and religion and were one ethnic community, something which was not the case in Cyprus.

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    Saturday, July 10, 1999

    [07] Cabinet to decide on potato compensation next week

    A SOLUTION to the problem caused by low potato sales will be ready by next week's Cabinet meeting, the government promised yesterday.

    Government spokesman Costas Serezis said Finance and Commerce Ministers Takis Klerides and Nicos Rolandis had met in the morning and had decided to appoint a committee to investigate the potato issue.

    Speaking during his daily briefing Serezis said the ministers had "decided to set up a committee made up of officials from both ministries and from the Agriculture Ministry and Planning Office. This committee will meet on Monday to examine all aspects of the potato producers' problem. The committee has been asked to have a report ready early on Tuesday so that the issue can be examined at the Cabinet this Wednesday."

    Potato farmers on Thursday held a peaceful demonstration outside the House and Presidential Palace, despite Wednesday promises of state support.

    The Cabinet on Wednesday announced it would set up a ministerial committee to determine the level of compensation the farmers receive.

    The potato growers have been hit hard by competition for UK and European markets from cheaper Italian and Spanish exports and want 150 million in state aid.

    The request came after a disastrous 1997 crop meant that local growers lost their foothold in the overseas market.

    Even though more recent crops have been better, the local growers cannot produce as cheaply as their Italian and Spanish counterparts and therefore have difficulty in winning back market domination.

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    Saturday, July 10, 1999

    [08] Government committed to Zakaki desalination plan

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE GOVERNMENT would appear committed to permanently erecting one of two planned, erstwhile 'mobile' desalination plants outside the Limassol suburb of Zakaki, according to Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous.

    As things now stand, Themistocleous told deputies yesterday, the plan is for the desalting unit to go on-line in the first half of 2000 in the Zakaki suburb of Limassol Port.

    However, he added, the Council of Ministers "will take its final decisions on the basis of the environmental impact study (EIS) and on the basis of contacts being carried out before the summer holidays," he said.

    "Procedures for building the unit must... begin," he said, "because Limassol has a huge need for water -- a huge need of 20,000 cubic metres per day. So the aim is that, within the first six months of the coming year, the unit will begin operation."

    The EIS showed Zakaki was environmentally preferable to Episkopi for the proposed facility, Themistocleous said, adding that hard-wired electricity would power the unit instead of a diesel generator, as originally proposed.

    The threat of diesel generator noise pollution spurred Zakaki residents, and those of Ayios Theodoros, the second proposed site, to protest against locating the plants near their villages.

    In an apparent olive branch, Themistocleous said the government was now ready to consider their demands for development of their Limassol suburb. He did not elaborate.

    He said House deputies from Limassol agreed the city urgently needed the extra water, and pledged to study the matter and submit their conclusions to him within 10 days.

    He said he would soon visit Zakaki to explain all details of the Cabinet's final decision to them.

    The Zakaki unit is one of two the government originally proposed as 'mobile' desalination plants to supplement the 40,000 cubic metres of water the island's only de-salting plant, at Dhekelia, produces daily.

    Each mobile unit would have a daily output of half the Dhekelia plant's. Acting Water Development Department Director Christos Marcoullis has said the second mobile unit was still likely to be built near Ayios Theodoros as planned.

    While both desalting units were originally billed as mobile, government officials knew from the start that no truly mobile unit could produce 20, 000 cubic metres of water per day, and that both plants would be purpose- built as permanent units.

    Besides the Dhekelia plant's water, and that of the island's perilously under-filled reservoirs, Cyprus draws nearly 80 per cent of its water from bore-holes, which are daily draining groundwater aquifers that are already dangerously over-pumped.

    The two mobile units originally were to have been stop-gap measures to get the island through another summer of drought, until a second permanent desalination plant -- equal in size to the Dhekelia facility -- can be completed outside Larnaca sometime in early 2001.

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    Saturday, July 10, 1999

    [09] Temperatures set to hit 40

    GET OUT of the sun, turn on the fan and crack open that bottle of cold mineral water, for the heat-wave cometh.

    The Meteorological Service warned yesterday that temperatures -- already at least two degrees celsius above normal for the time of year -- were set to climb over the 40 degree mark tomorrow and on Monday.

    The baking temperatures, coupled with high humidity and the absence of wind, raise fears of a possible repeat of last Summer's heat wave, which was linked to the deaths of over 70, mostly elderly, people.

    The Health Ministry has already issued instructions for avoiding heat stress. These boil down to drinking plenty of liquids (not alcohol), staying out of the sun, avoiding heavy work, wearing light clothing and taking in ample salt.

    The director of the Meteorological department, Cleanthis Philaniotis, said yesterday high temperatures and heat-waves were a normal phenomenon for the island in July and August.

    "Temperatures are about two degrees celsius above normal at the moment, the average maximum temperature for the period being 36.5 degrees. This happens every Summer," he said.

    "The unfortunate thing is that on Sunday and Monday we can expect higher temperatures, maybe around 40 degrees" Philaniotis said.

    [10] Court annuls contentious English School promotion

    THE ENGLISH School scandal breathed its last this week, as the promotion which sparked off a battle between former Headmaster Thomas Thomas and staff was overturned in court.

    The court ruled that the promotion of Antigone Kiliari to Senior Teacher in Charge of Administration could not remain, leaving the way open for the post to be advertised and Kiliari to be replaced.

    Last year, the school was racked by controversy as staff came out in bitter opposition to headmaster Thomas, who they claimed bypassed proper procedure to promote Kiliari over other more deserving candidates.

    Thomas was eventually dismissed, and has been replaced as headmaster by Robert Swan, who will take up his position at the start of this academic year. The school's board of governors was also replaced by the government.

    A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    Saturday, July 10, 1999

    [11] Police name Belgian crash victim

    POLICE yesterday named the victim of Thursday night's traffic accident as Belgian tourist Aline Martine Fenande Delevouze.

    The 51-year-old woman was knocked over and killed by a motorbike ridden by two Kuwaiti youths, police said. The incident occurred on Amathoundas avenue in Limassol at about 10.40pm on Thursday.

    The driver of the motorbike was yesterday arrested in connection with the death.

    A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    Saturday, July 10, 1999

    [12] American to be extradited on child abuse charge

    AN AMERICAN wanted in California on suspicion of sexual assault and child- abuse yesterday appeared before Larnaca district court. The court decided he would be held in custody pending his extradition.

    Larnaca police said they had arrested Dolatshahe Piroozhossein, 27, on Thursday night after a tip-off from Interpol.

    He will be sent to the United States to stand trial on 13 charges of harassing a 13-year-old girl and child-abuse seven years ago.

    Police said he would remain in police custody until official papers arrived from the US to start the extradition process.

    Police said Piroozhossein, who is of Iranian descent, had come to Larnaca on holiday with his family.

    He will be appearing in court again on Monday.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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