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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-02-27

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

February 27, 2000


  • [01] Protest to US over human rights report
  • [02] Attempt to curb media spy frenzy
  • [03] De Soto begins familiarisation visit
  • [04] Cem blasts 'embargo' on the north
  • [05] Drugs suspect remanded
  • [06] 'Sex pill' woman remanded as illegal entry suspect
  • [07] Bank raid gang broken up, say police
  • [08] International business sector safe, despite efforts to end tax breaks
  • [09] Cypriots on Interpol &gt;most Wanted=website

  • [01] Protest to US over human rights report

    By George Psyllides

    THE government yesterday said it had protested to the United States about certain aspects of the latest State Department human rights report section on Cyprus.The protest was conveyed to US ambassador in Cyprus Donald Bandler by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides at a meeting yesterday.Cassoulides said the government had problems with the way the report had been drafted, and with the terminology used."I pointed to the ambassador some matters which we thought were unfortunate," he added.Asked by reporters to elaborate, Cassoulides said the government disliked the way the two sides were compared, but was especially irritated by the part which said the Turkish Cypriot economy is handicapped significantly by an economic embargo imposed by the Greek Cypriots.The report failed to mention the ruling by the European Court in Luxembourg which regulates the export of produce from the occupied areas."There is no embargo,@ Cassoulides said yesterday. AThis is a position supported by (Turkish Foreign Minister) Mr (Ismail) Cem and (Turkish Cypriot leader) Mr (Rauf) Denktash, and we do not accept it."

    "References like these give hope to Denktash that in the end his views concerning two states, invasion, and so on will eventually prevail," he added.

    Replying to a reporter's remark that Cyprus had protested about the report last year to no avail, Cassoulides said last year the complaint had not been at a foreign ministry level. He refrained from commenting on "issues of essence", saying the report had not yet been studied in depth.

    He said that at first glance it seemed to be Aimproved@ from last year.

    This year's report, among other things, contains a more in-depth study of the enclaved Greek Cypriots' living conditions, and also notes Ankara's failure to comply with a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights in a case brought against Turkey by Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou, whose property lies in the occupied north.

    The Loizidou case relates to her right of access and enjoyment of her property.

    The European Court Of Human Rights ruled that "the Turkish army exercised effective overall control in northern Cyprus", and ordered Turkey to pay $915,000 in damages and costs, the report said.

    It also alluded to the bad living conditions of around 600 Greek Cypriots and Maronites who remained in the occupied areas after the invasion in 1974.

    The enclaved visiting the south have to return to their homes within a designated time or they risk losing their right to return and keep their property.

    February 27, 2000

    [02] Attempt to curb media spy frenzy

    By George Psyllides

    IN AN attempt to play down media hysteria about alleged British spying against Cyprus, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday reminded reporters that "Cyprus is not the epicentre of this issue, nor is it the centre of the Earth".Over the past few days the government has been doing its best to keep things in perspective, but rampant media speculation about British espionage against the island has taken on a life of its own.The local reports were sparked by debate on the &gt;Echelon= monitoring network at the European parliament's civil liberties committee on Wednesday.

    A report tabled before the committee by British physicist and researcher Duncan Campbell suggested the British-American satellite monitoring system was used to intercept fax, telephone and radio exchanges across the globe.

    The report notes that one of Echelon's 10 ground monitoring stations is located within the Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) on Cyprus.

    This led local newspapers and radio quickly to conclude that the British were spying on Cyprus.

    Speaking at an impromptu news conference yesterday, Cassoulides said there was evidence in Campbell's report that the principle of privacy had in fact been violated.

    "Cyprus will do anything within its powers to protect the undeniable right of privacy, hence it will support any EU actions concerning the Echelon issue," he said.

    Cassoulides said the reference to Cyprus was made in two lines on page six of the hefty report, which said the SBA had the potential during the Cold War to collect intelligence on the former Soviet Union for Nato members such as Greece and Turkey through its installations at Ayios Nicolaos.

    He said he agreed with Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou's comments on Thursday which suggested it was self-evident that monitoring was part of the function of the British bases:

    "The British have military bases, as we all know, and these bases are not schools or colleges," Papapetrou said in his briefing. "Everyone knows the British have radars (on Cyprus); what they do, we cannot say."

    Cassoulides said the government was not planning to raise the issue with the British government.

    "We do not want to raise an issue, especially now, when efforts are being made to solve the Cyprus problem, and we seek the help of those who can influence (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash to change his stance," he said.

    "We do not think it would be wise for Cyprus to open other fronts. We do not need other enemies; one is enough."

    Cassoulides told reporters the British government had assured him that they have no reason to spy on Cyprus.

    "If we realise that this friendly country, whose support we seek and have in EU accession talks, uses these installations which cover the globe to monitor our communications then we will surely protest," he said.

    Pressed by reporters who insisted on the spying matter, an irritated Casoulides countered yesterday that Britain did not need to set up such powerful and complex equipment to spy on Cyprus.

    "If they wanted to spy on us they could have done it from somewhere else," he said. "The report says the network can cover the whole world; if it does, then it probably covers us."

    "Do we like it? No. That is why we support any actions taken by the EU to protect privacy," he said.

    February 27, 2000

    [03] De Soto begins familiarisation visit

    THE United Nations chief envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, will pay his first visit to the island this week.After he arrives on Tuesday, De Soto will visit both the Republic and the occupied areas before departing around March 7.The visit, which is taking place to enable De Soto to familiarise himself with the area, will also take him along the UN-controlled buffer zone to meet with UN peacekeepers serving on the island.He is also expected to visit the Greek and Turkish Cypriot mixed village of Pyla where the UN's Irish contingent of civilian police is stationed.De Soto will meet President Glafcos Clerides on March 6 and with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash later that same day.He also plans to visit the occupied Karpass peninsula to see the Apostolos Andreas monastery, one of the sites to be repaired following an agreement reached by the UN with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides.The other site mentioned in the agreement is the Hala Sultan Tekke, an important Muslim place of worship, on the shore of Larnaca salt lake.The two sites have been visited by many people from both sides in recent UN- organised pilgrimages.De Soto is also scheduled to hold a news conference on Tuesday, March 7.Commenting on the large number of visits to Cyprus by foreign dignitaries, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said this week their purpose was to maintain a dialogue and avoid action that might jeopardise the upcoming third round of proximity talks.The UN-organised talks are due to begin on May 23 in New York.

    February 27, 2000

    [04] Cem blasts 'embargo' on the north

    THE TURKISH foreign minister yesterday said that every effort would be made to Alift the embargo@ against the north of Cyprus.

    Speaking at a press conference in Nicosia after a six-hour visit to the occupied areas, Ismail Cem said the embargo was a "big injustice" and that Turkey raised the matter with "all the countries interested in the Cyprus problem".

    He said that "insistence on maintaining the inhuman embargo" did not comply with equality, and that "more attention should be given to equality".

    Cem was referring to a European Court ruling regulates the export of produce from the occupied areas of Cyprus.

    He also accused the Greek Cypriot side of trying to "avoid proximity talks" and, said "the world has begun to listen to the government" in the occupied area.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash told the same news conference said that a confederal solution to the Cyprus problem would strengthen relations between Greece and Turkey.

    Both the Cyprus government and the United Nations, however, have consistently rejected confederation as a solution. Such a settlement would be contrary to UN resolutions stipulating a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

    February 27, 2000

    [05] Drugs suspect remanded

    LARNACA District Court yesterday remanded a man for eight days after police said they found 13 grams of cocaine and two grams of cannabis at his home.Requesting the remand of 31-year-old Pavlos Pavlou, investigating officer Daniel Miller told the court that Famagusta Drug Squad found the drugs during a search of the suspect's home in Ayia Napa on Friday.Miller said that following his arrest, Pavlou confessed to owning the drugs.Police said yesterday two people found in the apartment during the raid were released after no incriminating evidence was found against them.

    February 27, 2000

    [06] 'Sex pill' woman remanded as illegal entry suspect

    A RUSSIAN woman bearing supposed disease-preventing pills has been remanded after illegally returning to the island through the occupied areas.

    Investigating officer Sotiris Aristidou told Larnaca district court yesterday that 48-year-old Nina Lilubina had been sentenced to two months- imprisonment for illegal entry in 1997, and was subsequently deported and put on the stop list.

    He said that preliminary investigations showed she had arrived at Tymbou airport in the occupied areas and had been staying at a pension in Kyrenia.

    Aristidou told the court that it was believed Lilubina regularly came to the island to sell &gt;microbe-killing= tablets to cabaret artistes. She told police the tablets protected the artistes from sexually transmitted diseases.

    Aristidou said that she was arrested on Friday after being spotted in Frenaros in the Famagusta district carrying 17 boxes of the pills.

    Police say the tablets originated in Russia.

    February 27, 2000

    [07] Bank raid gang broken up, say police

    By Athena Karsera

    POLICE yesterday said they had uncovered a Kiti-based syndicate believed to be responsible for at least three bank robberies.The revelation followed a confession by one of the gang's alleged members, currently being held in Nicosia Central Prisons, and the subsequent five-day remand of one of the implicated parties' mothers, whom police also believe to be involved.Requesting the remand of 47-year-old Pontian Greek Lamara Yiannides yesterday, investigating officer Mamas Parpas told Larnaca District Court that Demetris Tantis, 22, had named her and two of his fellow prisoners as being involved in the robberies.Parpas said that according to Tantis, the group was responsible for two Limassol bank robberies and one in Larnaca in late 1998, 1999 and early 2000.Yiannides' son George is being held on suspicion of committing the most recent robbery.He was arrested along with Tantis on January 6, the day after the robbery, and the pair are also suspected of being responsible for another raid at the same Limassol Popular Bank branch on October 13, 1999.The investigating officer told the court that in a statement Tantis said that he, George Yiannides, 28, and another man being held on separate charges and who was not named, had carried out a raid on a Larnaca branch of the Bank of Cyprus on November 27, 1998.Tantis said that he had driven the getaway car used in the armed robbery. The raiders had at first made their escape on a motorbike which was later fond locked in the basement of a Larnaca apartment building.Tantis said that he had been waiting for them outside the apartment building and then went to his house to hide the ,14,255 taken from bank.

    According to Parpas, Tantis told police that Lamara Yiannides then came to his house and asked her son:"Has the job been done?@ She then took the money to her house, a &gt;granny-flat= in the grounds of Tantis' house at Kiti, Larnaca.

    Tantis told police that he later saw the woman counting the money and that part of it was used to buy furniture for the Yiannides home in Greece and a car for the son.

    Police had considered the two most recent cases to be closed in mid-January after Tantis' father was found to have deposited ,22,000 in a bank account shortly afterwards.

    A total of approximately ,82,000 was taken in both robberies, with Tantis' father Minas, 48, and mother Chrysanthi, 46, also held in connection with the crimes.

    February 27, 2000

    [08] International business sector safe, despite efforts to end tax breaks

    EXPERTS are confident that Cyprus' strong services infrastructure will prevent the international business sector being scared off by an inevitable end to special tax breaks.While international or offshore enterprises now pay a tax rate of 4.25 per cent compared to the 20 and 25 per cent tax paid by domestic companies, pressure is being put on Cyprus to equalise tax for all companies.Even though this would make it less attractive in terms of tax incentives, experts maintain that Cyprus' significant business-related services sector will keep it high on the list for offshore company locations.Cyprus Chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou told The Sunday Mailthat the tax change would not depend on Cyprus joining the European Union (EU)."Until now, people were under the impression that it is the EU that makes the difference," he said. It is in fact the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which has been putting pressure on Cyprus to tax all corporations, whether local or international, equally.Any countries which refuse to co-operate to meet OECD banking and other criteria, Vassiliou said, "will be denounced... and boycotted by the OECD" in the same way it already blacklists countries judged to be tax havens.Bank of Cyprus International Business Unit Manager Dinos Constantinou said that Cyprus took the right road when it became an offshore centre more than 20 years ago.He said that at the time Cyprus had to choose between becoming a tax haven or a tax incentive country, and opted for the latter.This decision resulted in a boom in international, or offshore, companies currently registered in Cyprus.There are now 41,751 international businesses registered in Cyprus, according to Spiros Stavrinakis, a Central Bank assistant manager specialising in international businesses: 1,082 of these are fully fledged businesses.Vassiliou said he did not believe these figures would be much disturbed by a higher tax rate.He said that while he could not forecast what rate would be used to harmonise international and domestic corporate taxes, "What I do know is (whatever rates are adopted), I should not be worried that the international business sector will disappear."He said that the adopted rates should "maintain the (island's) considerable attractiveness for international companies... and at the same time... not reduce significantly the inland revenue".He said that "probably up to 90 per cent" of the companies would remain on the island after foreign corporate tax rose, "because the days when companies were only interested in tax advantages are numbered, if not over".

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    February 27, 2000

    [09] Cypriots on Interpol &gt;most Wanted=website

    By George Psyllides

    MUGSHOTS of two wanted Cypriot men were yesterday on display on Interpol's Internet website, along with that of Saudi alleged terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

    United Kingdom and Cyprus national Fillipos Economides, 31, from Famagusta, is wanted by police in Cyprus for alleged property crimes and fraud, while 34-year-old Iosif Antoniou from Nicosia is wanted by police in Greece and Cyprus in connection with drug offences.

    The local division of Interpol yesterday told The Sunday Mail the two suspects were being sought but they did not have any information on their current whereabouts.

    Reuters news agency reported that the photographs of the world's most wanted criminals were posted on the Internet on Friday.

    Interpol said the photos were just a fraction of the &gt;wanted= cases currently under investigation by the agency.

    "This is an exciting initiative to track down serious international criminals," an Interpol statement said.

    "Anyone recognising a wanted person should contact their local police," it said. "They should not in any circumstances put themselves at risk by approaching the suspect."

    The undisputed &gt;Public Enemy No. 1= on the list is Osama Bin Laden, wanted by the United States for allegedly carrying out bomb attacks at two US embassies in east Africa, killing more than 200 people.

    Alongside Bin Laden are pictures of suspects from other countries including Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Russia, and Ukraine.

    Interpol said it annually publishes about 800 such &gt;red notices= on suspects sought for extradition.

    More than 60 red notices have been issued by the agency at the request of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia.

    Also on the website are several Turks wanted by Cyprus police in connection with the killings of Tassos Isaac and Solomis Solomou at Dherynia on the Green Line in August, 1996.

    The mug shots can be viewed by clicking on the &gt;Wanted= button on Interpol's home page at

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