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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>


  • [01] Clerides gets US assurances on talks
  • [02] Police stand by deportation policy
  • [03] Tsangarides denies all 12 'pink slip' charges
  • [04] Refugee committee wants missing files opened
  • [05] A Cyprus President in Turkey
  • [06] Market consolidates, but traders worried about over-valued stocks
  • [07] Pyrga comes under friendly fire again
  • [08] Students march past US embassy in 1973 commemoration
  • [09] Israel visit aims to improve sensitive ties

  • [01] Clerides gets US assurances on talks

    President Glafcos Clerides said yesterday in Istanbul that he had received assurances from the United States that there will be direct negotiations on the key aspects of the Cyprus question when talks get under way next month in New York. He also suggested that the talks would continue for months, rather than days or weeks.

    Clerides also said that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had assured him that President Bill Clinton would stay engaged and back UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan's efforts for a Cyprus solution.

    "The first thing they told me was that the talks will cover the basic aspects of the Cyprus question," Clerides said after arriving in Istanbul for the summit of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

    He said the talks, to start on December 3, will run through the December 10-12 EU summit in Helsinki and that progress on the Cyprus question by mid-December is one, but not the only, precondition for Greece to agree to Turkey's demand for EU-candidate status.

    Greece said this week it was looking for a "substantial" improvement on Cyprus before giving the green light for Turkey to receive EU candidate status at the EU summit next month.

    "There will be a break for Christmas and Easter, and talks will carry on after that," Clerides said. "Talks will begin on December 3, and naturally they will be in session during the Helsinki (EU) summit."

    Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have agreed to open proximity talks in New York in December to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations aimed at a comprehensive Cyprus settlement, following Annan's invitation to the two leaders at the weekend to hold talks.

    Clerides told reporters that Albright and US Presidential Emissary Alfred Moses had assured him that, if Denktash insists on his proposal for a confederation and threatens to leave the negotiating table, the United States and the United Nations will blame Denktash and call the Turkish side to pay the political cost.

    Turkey, however, yesterday appeared to dash Clerides' optimism and his hopes for Greek-Turkish talks on the OSCE's margins. And it emphatically echoed Denktash's insistence on 'state' recognition of his rump regime as a precondition for any talks.

    "The Cyprus dispute is not a matter between Turkey and Greece," Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Sermet Atacanli told reporters. "It should be resolved between the two sovereign states of the island."

    Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit is scheduled to meet Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis early today on the sidelines of the OSCE summit.

    Enigmatically, Atacanli acknowledged that a recent thaw in relations between Nato allies Greece and Turkey - especially in light of mutual aid given following earthquakes in both countries - could have a positive impact on the Cyprus dispute.

    "It is natural to expect that the recent Turkish-Greek detente will have a positive reflection on Cyprus," he said.

    The 25-year division of Cyprus and occupation by Turkish troops is seen by many countries as the main bone of Turkish-Greek contention. It was one of the reasons the EU Commission summit in December 1997 denied Turkey an invitation to begin EU accession talks.

    Ecevit said there was no question of Turkey bargaining with Greece over its EU candidacy, but vowed to try to improve ties with its ancient adversary.

    Besides Cyprus, the two countries have sparred over such serious issues as Aegean Sea territorial rights and sovereignty over Aegean islets. They nearly went to war several years ago over an Aegean islet.

    Clerides' arrival in Istanbul was the first time a president of Republic has set foot in Turkey since Turkish forces invaded and occupied the northern third of Cyprus in 1974.

    [02] Police stand by deportation policy

    By Martin Hellicar

    POLICE yesterday confirmed that foreigners implicated in a crime faced deportation even if there was insufficient evidence against them to press charges.

    But police spokesman Glafcos Xenos insisted such expulsions were only carried out for reasons of "public interest" and with the approval of Attorney-general Alecos Markides.

    Markides yesterday told the Cyprus Mail the state was at liberty to deport foreign nationals.

    The issue hit the headlines after the Ombudswoman charged police with the "racist" deportation of a Pontian father-of-two, arrested, but never charged, in connection with a petty theft in Paphos.

    Acting President Spyros Kyprianou yesterday intervened to recommend that the state foot the bill for the deported Pontian, Georgios Politides, to be reunited with his wife and children in Paphos.

    While condemning the Pontian's deportation, Markides said authorities did not need a conviction to expel someone. "Presumption of innocence has nothing to do with the right of somebody to be in Cyprus or not," the Attorney-general said.

    "We are talking about people who are not citizens of the Republic, and the Republic is not bound to allow anybody to stay on its territory," Markides said.

    He said Immigration authorities had "very wide" powers to deport, and added that his office was drawing up legislative amendments that would limit these powers.

    Xenos indicated deportations in the absence of convictions were only carried out when police had no doubt the foreigners concerned were up to no good.

    "All I can say is the police force bases decisions for deportation of foreigners on criteria concerning either illegal residence or other reasons, which in its judgment are reasons of public interest, that are submitted to the Attorney-general's office," the police spokesman told the Cyprus Mail.

    "These reasons (of public interest) are not necessarily based on court decisions, but can be other evidence or information," Xenos said.

    Paphos police chief Spyros Koniotis and Interior Minister director general Andreas Panayiotou say the Attorney-general had rubber-stamped the deportation order for the Pontian. Markides said yesterday that his office at first approved the deportation, but later advised police not to go ahead.

    "Our advice was, unfortunately, ignored," Markides told the Mail.

    Both Koniotis and Panayiotou have defended the deportation, indicating it was accepted practice for foreigners suspected of crimes to be deported, even in the absence of convicting evidence.

    In an announcement yesterday, House speaker Kyprianou said that Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou had informed him that the decision to deport Politides has been reversed. Kyprianou backed Ombudswoman Eleana Nicolaou's recommendation that the state pay for the Pontian to return to Cyprus.

    The Acting President added that he had recommended to Christodoulou that "particular caution" be exercised when dealing with similar cases in the future.

    In a report published on Monday, Nicolaou slammed the "indifferent" role that the Immigration Department -- which comes under the Interior Ministry -- played in Politides' deportation.

    The Ombudswoman noted that the Pontian had been deported six days before his appeal against the deportation order was due to be heard by the Supreme Court.

    Some have branded the Pontian community in Paphos as a den of thieves and troublemakers, and Koniotis justified the deportation as a measure to deal with what he termed "the Pontian problem."

    The police chief has confirmed that Politides was held at Paphos police station for almost a month before his September 4 deportation. The Pontian had been re-arrested on August 12 after earlier being released from police custody when police failed to find evidence to convict him of stealing a bottle of wine and two small bottles of coke.

    The Attorney-general's office has described the Pontian's deportation as blatantly unjust.

    Police sources yesterday said Politides had been implicated in a number of other offences apart from the petty theft.

    [03] Tsangarides denies all 12 'pink slip' charges

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE FORMER organisational secretary of Disy, Andreas Tsangarides, yesterday pleaded not guilty to 27 charges relating to the illegal employment of foreigners.

    Tsangarides is one of a number of 'big names' brought to book after the launch last month of a police probe into claims of corruption at the Immigration Department.

    Nicosia District court heard yesterday that Tsangarides, who ran a labour agency, conspired with people outside Cyprus to bring foreigners into the island to work illegally.

    The charges read out to the businessman before the court yesterday related to illegal employment of foreigners and enticing a public official to abuse his position.

    Tsangarides arranged for foreigners to arrive as visitors to the island, and then, when their residence permits expired, arranged work and work permits for them, the court heard.

    Police had re-phrased 12 of the charges against Tsangarides, after his lawyers objected to the way they had initially been laid out last week.

    The court set the first hearing for Tsangarides' trial for January 10. The businessman was released on bail.

    Tsangarides made the headlines earlier this month when he claimed President Clerides was linked to the permits scam. The allegations were flatly denied by the government.

    Three senior officers have been tasked to look into information that police officers and others in positions of power were abating underworld prostitution rackets by providing 'pink slips' for foreign cabaret artistes, some of them forged.

    The probe has already led to the charging or arrest of a number of state officials and members of the police force.

    Not least among these is Immigration chief Christodoulos Nicolaides. Nicolaides faces 19 charges relating to the acceptance of bribes to 'fix' work and residence permits.

    He has pleaded not guilty.

    Immigration officer Nicos Vakanas -- suspended from office along with Nicolaides last month -- has been charged for alleged offences similar to those of his boss.

    Limassol police officers Efstathios Theodorou, Demetris Himonas and Pelopidas Evgeniades are being held for suspected involvement in the permits fraud.

    The twin brother of Disy chief Nicos Anastassiades, Bambos Anastassiades, is being held on suspicion of providing fake pink slips for 170 a shot.

    [04] Refugee committee wants missing files opened

    By Jean Christou

    THE HOUSE Refugee Committee has demanded that the Service for Missing Persons systematically inform the relatives on the contents of all files.

    The demand was made at a closed session of the committee yesterday, where progress on the missing issue was discussed.

    It has been established that, in 126 cases, evidence exists that those concerned are dead. The process of informing their relatives is under way.

    It is expected that when the DNA investigations resulting from recent exhumations is completed, around another 20 people from those 126 will be proved to have been buried in the government-controlled areas.

    But some quarters are calling for a clean sweep and want the Service for Missing Persons to initiate a move to inform the remaining 1,491 on the full contents of their relatives' files, sources close to the committee told the Cyprus Mail, even though investigations to date have not have been able to establish their fate.

    People are also demanding that the government's official list of missing persons be made public. A list already exists, compiled by the committee for the relatives, which can be seen on the Internet, but it's not the same as the government's official file, the sources said.

    Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos played down the issue yesterday, saying no decision had been taken to make the contents of the files known to the relatives.

    "I was at the meeting and I didn't hear anything like that," he said.

    He said it had always been policy to allow the relatives to view the files at his office whenever they wanted to. However, very few of the relatives have ever done so at their own behest. "We always show the files if they want to see them. This is not a new policy," Christopoulos said.

    The sources said this was true, but added that the relatives had not exactly been encouraged to examine their files.

    The Committee for the Relatives met late yesterday afternoon to discuss the house committee meeting earlier in the day. Representatives declined to comment.

    The missing issue was brought back into the spotlight after the identification of the remains of 16-year-old Zinon Zinonos, who was on the official list but had been buried in a Nicosia cemetery for the past 25 years.

    It later emerged that someone had seen Zinonos get shot and had taken him to the hospital where he died. The witness said he had never approached by the government for information.

    [05] A Cyprus President in Turkey

    By Jean Christou

    GLAFCOS Clerides is the first President of Cyprus to visit Turkey since Turkish forces invaded the island in 1974.

    Archbishop Makarios did visit Turkey when he was President, but at a time when the island was united and recognised by Turkey. Ankara no longer recognises the Republic as the legitimate government of Cyprus.

    Clerides arrived in Istanbul from Zurich yesterday to attend the summit of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Cyprus is a member.

    A Foreign Ministry source said the President, like all Greek Cypriot visitors to Turkey, was travelling on his own passport.

    Separate visa documentation is prepared for the Cypriot party on arrival in Istanbul.

    The source said they did not expect any problems since the meeting was organised by the OSCE, and not by Turkey, though he could not rule out that the Turks might deliberately cause some

    The Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported from Istanbul that the summit organisers had not included Clerides' title next to his name on the list of participants, though this was corrected after representations.

    The Foreign Ministry source said he had no such information about any such incident. He said he had spoken to a foreign ministry colleague accompanying the President, and there appeared to be no problems apart from the fact that Clerides' arrival in Istanbul was expected to be delayed by three hours.

    The remainder of his schedule for the day was uncertain, the source said, referring to a meeting with the Patriarch of Constantinople and a possible press conference.

    Clerides will be the 46th head of state out of 54, to address the two-day summit. The Foreign Ministry source said he did not foresee any problems with flying the Cyprus flag at the summit venue.

    While in Istanbul, Clerides will stay at the Ceylan Intercontinental Hotel and is expected to attend a dinner for participating heads of state hosted by Turkish president Suleyman Demirel.

    On Friday, Clerides will go on a sightseeing tour taking in the Museum of Mosaics, the Church of St Sophia and the Church of St Irene. He will also visit the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace.

    He will leave Turkey on Saturday to fly to Athens for a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    [06] Market consolidates, but traders worried about over-valued stocks

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARE prices barely changed yesterday, as the market appeared to consolidate after a bout of frenzied profit-taking on Tuesday. The all-share index closed 1.80 points, or 0.23 per cent, lower at 798.19 on a volume of 39.28 million.

    Yesterday's consolidation discredited forecasts that the market was destined for a sustained skid after the huge gains it had made since it reopened on October 4 after a month-long closure.

    The market's gains on the year now stand at a formidable 780.71 per cent.

    "This just reaffirms that the interest of investors is still very robust," said one broker of yesterday's trade.

    Only two of the market's seven sectors -- insurance and 'other companies' -- finished up yesterday. The rest ended lower with industrials the hardest hit -- 5.73 per cent down on a volume of 2.63 million.

    Tourism companies attracted the largest single share of volume yesterday at 11 million but their sub-index was down by 1.54 per cent.

    The meteoric rise of most tourism titles in recent months continues to baffle traders and analysts. Companies listed in the sector have been steadily gaining in recent months, with weekly appreciation of as much as 15 per cent in some cases.

    In tourism and other sectors too, the traders say, share prices have become so grossly exaggerated that the directors of some listed companies appear unable to resist the lure of current prices and are increasingly cashing in huge numbers of their own shares.

    "They are in some cases coming within a whisker of losing control of their own companies," said one trader. "Everything is overvalued except perhaps the banks, which are not that overvalued.

    "It'll have to end sometime for it simply cannot go on like this. My money is on February-March next year," said the trader, who did not want to be named.

    Another trader, highlighting the downside of a market that has appreciated by nearly 800 per cent on the year, said that mentioning this to potential institutional investors abroad scared them away rather than served as sales pitch. "Our market is now something of a curiosity," he said.

    Tuesday's profit-taking erased 3.37 per cent from the index following a rise of 6.50 per cent on Monday on the back of small caps.

    The exchange, meanwhile, announced yesterday that three listed companies -- Vassiliko Cement, Minerva Insurance and Astarti Development -- have decided voluntarily to suspend trade in their titles in order to have the time to update their share registers.

    The Bank of Cyprus, Popular Bank, Hellenic Bank, Orphanides Supermarkets, Cy-Venture, Frindlays Properties &amp; Investments, and Cassoulides &amp; Sons have been out of the market since last Monday for the same reason.

    Vassiliko and Minerva will be suspended from tomorrow until November 26, while Astarti will be out from November 22 until December 1, according to an exchange statement.

    Combined, the seven titles account for more than 7 billion of the market's capitalisation. Their suspension is linked to the exchange's plans to introduce on November 29 a new settlement system, which, in theory at least, will end the backlog of share deeds and unprocessed transactions.

    No date had been set for the return of the batch of seven titles already suspended, but they are widely expected to be available again by November 29, although some traders are sceptical.

    "Popular Bank in particular may not come back on November 29," said one trader, explaining that the bank's decision to go ahead with its two-for-one split last summer without leaving the market had created a formidable backlog.

    [07] Pyrga comes under friendly fire again

    By George Psyllides

    THE VILLAGE of Pyrga in the Larnaca district came under 'friendly fire' on Tuesday night after shells from a nearby National Guard exercise went astray.

    Residents of the village were up in arms yesterday, demanding that the authorities do something to stop stray shells constantly landing near their homes.

    Takis Constantinou, a member of the Pyrga Community Council, said yesterday the village authorities had repeatedly complained to the Defence Ministry, the Army High Command, and other officials about the situation.

    "The problem began when the authorities decided to use the Kalo Chorio area, 15 km from Pyrga, as a firing range. The army is always telling us that they are only firing flares, which are harmless, but the way things are going, if a shell falls on a house then we could have casualties.

    "On Tuesday night, the shells fell 10 metres from a house, while two years ago a shell fell next to the elementary school, and a police expert had to defuse it. They had told us that the targets at the firing range had been moved and there was no problem, but it is obvious that there is a problem," Constantinou said.

    The Defence Ministry said yesterday that two flare shells had fallen in Pyrga, and that army experts had been dispatched to defuse them. Moreover, said the ministry, the two shells fell outside the village and posed no danger to residents.

    Pyrga villagers, however, maintain that six shells fell in the village on Tuesday night, not two as the Defence Ministry claimed.

    Sotos Ladas, a resident of Pyrga, said he was in his house when he heard a loud explosion, and rocks hit the doors. When he went out, Ladas said, he saw the shell lying in the yard.

    "It's a good thing it didn't explode," he said.

    "The National Guard told us it's a flare, but this doesn't appease us at all, because it landed five metres from our yard. This is a common phenomenon. Every two months we have the same problems," said Ladas.

    Another resident said that she also heard an explosion and then saw earth covering her car and veranda.

    Diko deputy and Pyrga resident Marios Matsakis was fuming yesterday, saying he had already submitted a proposal to the House for immediate discussion on the issue.

    "This has happened many times in recent years," Matsakis said.

    "I have lost trust in Defence Ministry, and Army Command officials. I am not satisfied by their explanations because I do not see an end to this problem," he added.

    Matsakis said residents were fed up, and the only solution was to take stronger protest measures.

    "Whenever there will be exercises involving weapons with an arched trajectory, we will enter the range and stop them," he said.

    Matsakis added that all aspects of the issue would be examined. He said the biggest question was why National Guard artillery kept missing their targets, hitting farms and schools instead.

    [08] Students march past US embassy in 1973 commemoration

    HUNDREDS of students yesterday marched on the US embassy in Nicosia to mark the 16th anniversary of the crushing of the Athens Polytechnic uprising against the US-backed Greek junta.

    On November 17, 1973, the Greek colonels ordered tanks to quash the Polytechnic revolt killing a number of students.

    Carrying banners and chanting slogans, some 800 students approached the heavily guarded embassy to stage their protest.

    Thousands of others, however, merely crowded the streets of the capital, happy to have a second day off school in one week. They marched on the Ledra Palace checkpoint on Monday to protest the anniversary of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime in the north.

    At the US embassy yesterday, students who had marched from Eleftheria Square, said the events of November 17 were tragic.

    "It was a sacrifice of students which in the end was worth it," one student said. "It's a shame no information was given about how they died". Others shouted "American murderers".

    Minor scuffles broke out between Nicosia students and some who had come from out of town, but overall the demonstration was peaceful.

    [09] Israel visit aims to improve sensitive ties

    By Anthony O. Miller

    HOUSE President Spyros Kyprianou's official visit to Israel next week can advance the Republic's "sensitive relations with Israel," Foreign Ministry Director-general Cornelius Corneliou said yesterday.

    "It will give us an opportunity to raise our positions with the Israeli side and achieve certain goals with them," he said, including discussing Israel's military, political and commercial relationships with Turkey, which Cyprus views ominously.

    Kyprianou, who is leading a strong delegation of parliamentary and party leaders next week in his first-ever visit to Israel, echoed Corneliou.

    "The main item which I will bring up is the Cyprus problem, in connection to the relations between Israel and Cyprus, and Israel and Turkey," Kyprianou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    "And naturally, I will try to find ways and means to develop to the maximum possible degree cooperation between the two countries. I will try to create an atmosphere which will allow the development of relations in all fields," he said.

    Those fields include medicine, business, defence, high technology and economics. Kyprianou's agenda includes a visit to one of Israel's advanced medical centres. Cyprus and Israel have long enjoyed mutual exchanges of medical personnel and knowledge.

    Kyprianou will head "a delegation of the front benches of the House of Representatives" in a "more than official" visit, House Secretary-general Costakis Christoforou said yesterday.

    It includes Deputy Disy leader deputy Panayiotis Demetriou; Akel deputy Christodoulos Benjamin; Diko deputy and House Finance Committee Chairman Marcos Kyprianou, son of the House president; Edek deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou, who is House Defence Affairs Committee chairman; United Democrats MP George Christofides; and Christoforou himself.

    "It's an open secret that the Middle East problem" currently embroiling Israel, the Arab states and the Palestinians, "is connected with the Cyprus problem and a solution to it," Christoforou said.

    "We have common interests, and the target is to improve them. We have excellent bilateral relations with Israel," he said, "and we want to strengthen them further."

    Despite his sanguine view, Christoforou conceded Turkey's relationship with Israel, while "not an obstacle... is something we are worrying about."

    Nonetheless, he said, "We are going to establish a friendship group between the two parliaments. It helps a lot" in eliminating misunderstandings and cementing ties, he said.

    Kyprianou's visit, at the invitation of Abraham Burg, the Speaker of Israel's Knesset (Parliament), begins next Monday and winds up on November 25.

    A meeting between Kyprianou, himself a former two-term Cyprus president, and President of Israel Ezer Weizman is possible, even though Weizman is recovering from surgery, Israeli sources said.

    Foreign Minister David Levy will also meet with Kyprianou in his capacity as acting-prime minister, as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak will be abroad next week.

    Kyprianou will also meet with former Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres, currently Minister for Regional Development in the Barak government.

    He is also expected to meet with Ruby Rivlin, deputy to Ariel Sharon, who is the leader of Israel's opposition Likud Party.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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