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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-03-15

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, March 15, 2000


  • [01] Now's the time, says Hannay
  • [02] Ex-Cypriot policeman arrested in France as suspect immigrant smuggler
  • [03] The seeds of a settlement must move mountains of mistrust
  • [04] No quick face-to-face Cyprus talks-UN's de Soto
  • [05] Why Britain imposed visas on Turkish Cypriots
  • [06] Akel claims desalination won't solve water problem
  • [07] Cyprus' own 'Elgin Marbles' to go on display
  • [08] Kyprianou home this week
  • [09] Market opens weak and closes even weaker
  • [10] Cyprus to finance West Bank health centres
  • [11] Minister slams Deputies over Larnaca port fiasco
  • [12] Man killed in workshop

  • [01] Now's the time, says Hannay

    By Jean Christou

    THERE has never been, nor will there be, a better time to solve the Cyprus problem, Britain's special envoy Sir David Hannay said yesterday.

    Speaking at a press conference in Nicosia at the end of a two-day visit to the island, Sir David said this is a crucial time for Cyprus.

    "In my opinion, and this is only my opinion, there is a better chance for a solution now than there has been for many, many years and I also think there is a better chance of a solution now than there will be for many years ahead," he said.

    "I hope this will prove an incentive to all concerned to make the sort of effort that will be needed if we are to get a solution."

    Sir David was one of several international envoys to visit the island in the past week to set the wheels in motion for the resumption of UN-led proximity talks on Cyprus in New York on May 23. UN special envoy Alvaro de Soto and US presidential emissary Alfred Moses both visited Cyprus last week and will, like Sir David, return before May 23.

    Two rounds of proximity talks have already taken place attended by President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the first round in new York last December and the second in Geneva last month.

    Sir David, like De Soto and Moses, warned that face-to-face negotiations were not on the cards, although the British diplomat said the international community has concluded there is a need for a "gear change" during the next round.

    "I don't think that direct, person-to-person talks are really the heart of the matter," he said. "I don't get the impression that this is the most important matter... and I don't think that's what I mean when I say there needs to be a change of gear."

    Sir David was critical of the tit-for-tat mentality which has characterised the nature of politics on the Cyprus problem over the past 25 years and called on the two sides to move forward despite the huge differences in their positions.

    The Greek Cypriot side supports a federation as envisaged by the international community while the Turkish Cypriot side is insisting on a confederation of two separate 'states'.

    Sir David said the object of the negotiations is to find solutions which are to the advantage of both sides. "They aren't any use otherwise because there will not be an overall solution unless it respects the vital interests of both parties," he said. "I would like to see therefore, as time goes on, getting away from... what is very endemic in all discussions on the Cyprus problem, the manoeuvring to try and ensure if there's any blame around it goes to the other side and not to you. That in itself is a pretty self-defeating exercise."

    The British envoy said favourable signs for Cyprus at the moment included improved Greco-Turkish relations, serious involvement of the international community and EU accession for all concerned parties.

    "But I repeat that outsiders can't bring about a solution in Cyprus and are not in the business of imposing a solution, but they are an important part of the effort of the Secretary-general," Sir David said.

    "In the end it all boils down to the two parties on the island; it's not going to be decided elsewhere. It's going to be decided by them".

    He added that he has no reason to believe the leaders of the two communities are not seriously engaged in the process they have entered into. "The proof of the pudding will be in the eating when we meet on 23 May," Sir David said.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2000

    [02] Ex-Cypriot policeman arrested in France as suspect immigrant smuggler

    A FORMER Greek Cypriot policeman has been arrested in France suspected of involvement in trading in illegal immigrants in Europe.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis confirmed that the Cypriot authorities had been informed by Interpol that the 60-year-old former police officer had been arrested.

    He was allegedly caught red-handed on a French highway with a container packed with 200 illegal immigrants bound for European countries.

    "We have information from Interpol in France that they arrested a Cypriot and that he was caught," Koshis said yesterday.

    He refused to name the officer but the name was revealed by police spokesman Glafcos Xenos on a private TV station last night.

    Koshis also said there was a strong allegation that the former policeman was directing many of the immigrants to Cyprus.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2000

    [03] The seeds of a settlement must move mountains of mistrust

    By Anthony O. Miller

    WHATEVER peace buds US Presidential Emissary Alfred Moses hopes for in Cyprus settlement talks in May, they will have to move mountains of mistrust before bearing fruit, if Turkish Daily Newsinterviews with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and President Glafcos Clerides are any guide.According to Denktash, Clerides must at some point "stop telling lies to his own people" about being "one of the people who prepared the Akritas plan," which Denktash believes was a Greek Cypriot plan to exterminate all Turkish Cypriots."He is one of the inventors of the Akritas plan," Denktash told the newspaper's Managing Editor Yusuf Kanli. "Now I expect Clerides, an old man who has passed 80 years of age, to accept his responsibility for this."

    "I really want them to be honest about those past plans," Denktash insisted. "Otherwise it will be impossible to solve the problem they have created."

    Perhaps foremost, Denktash said, "Clerides should tell his people what he told me in Glion, Switzerland, in 1997: that the Greek Cypriots do not have the right to be the government of Turks, and therefore they cannot have the title of government of the entirety of Cyprus."

    "Clerides should understand that we are a state and he has to make an agreement with me, not the UN Security Council," Denktash said.

    "He should... stop considering himself as the government of Cyprus," because, despite UN Security Council insistence that the Republic is the only legitimate Cyprus government, "he could not become our government."

    "Therefore he must come down from that false position and be able to say: 'I am the president of the Greek Cypriots.' If he says that, we can settle the Cyprus problemm," Denktash said, repeating his insistence that his breakaway entity is a "sovereign state" and deserves international recognition as such.

    But for Clerides, the past -- however cruel to both sides at the hands of the other -- is not as important as looking towards a united Cyprus' future in the European Union, where questions of the sort of sovereignty Denktash seeks will not matter much.

    Where Clerides sees Turkish Cypriot rights protected even better in a united Cyprus in the EU than they are now by Turkish occupation forces, Denktash does not. Their positions could not be more diametrically opposed in this regard.

    First of all, Denktash objected to any EU seat for the Republic before Turkey is admitted to the now-15-member body.

    "If we are to make a deal, Turkish-Greek equality and Turkey's right to protect us should be taken for granted," even after Turkey and Cyprus might have become EU members, he said.

    "We have Greek Cypriots who are inclined to see Cyprus as a Greek land, and we need protection and special rights to secure our survival (as Turkish Cypriots)."

    Clerides' views of these Turkish Cypriot fears and Denktash's mania for 'state' sovereignty are very different.

    "If we are in the EU as a country, would the EU stand by and allow us to overthrow the Constitution, to overthrow everything and reduce the Turkish Cypriots to a negligible minority or whatever?" Clerides told Kanli.

    He noted the Greek Cypriots also have their own fears: that "Turkey, using the Turkish Cypriot community, will one day expand and occupy the whole of Cyprus@. "Again," he said, "if we are in the EU, it will not be possible for Turkey to expand and push us out of Cyprus."

    At present, the intercommunal Cyprus strife has been exported to the two communities' "mother countries" of Greece and Turkey, fomenting strife between them, Clerides said. "If we get into the EU, the problem could be solved much more easily because it won't be a confrontation between Greece and Turkey; it will be solved within the nations of the EU," he said.

    Besides, he added: "You do not sit and look at your navel and look at that all day. You look out. You look at what the future is. You are in a bigger family of nations (in the EU) and you are going with them. You forget these are Greeks and Turks."

    As for Denktash's almost pathological insistence on sovereignty for his breakaway regime, Clerides noted that with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey all in the EU, "no country will have this sovereignty it had in the past. Sovereignty is limited" in the EU, he said.

    A major stumbling block is the Denktash position that the Turkish Cypriots were driven out of government in 1964 during intercommunal, against Clerides' view that the Turkish Cypriots withdrew from that government on their own.

    Clerides' version of this history "is completely a lie. He is an impostor, a deceiver. He is misguiding the Greek Cypriot youth and making them enemies of Turks", Denktash said.

    "That is one version," Clerides said. "The other version is that the Turkish Cypriots left the government; they were not expelled."

    But, he said, "if we are going to go (back) to that and discuss one side saying: 'You left,' and the other side saying: 'You expelled us,' we get nowhere (in any Cyprus settlement talks) because we are not going to agree on that."

    "The question is how do we get together? Not how we split. We split. On that, each one has its own views," Clerides said.

    Ultimately, Clerides told the Ankara-based newspaper, "we have to sit face- to-face and we have to negotiate. At the moment, we are not negotiating (in the proximity talks).

    "We must sit face-to-face... and say: 'Rauf, on this issue you say this, on this issue I say that. Is it possible to go and find a solution in between and close this gap?' Then, that is the test for me and for Mr. Denktash."

    Despite Moses' optimism about buds and "a very sweet smell" -- if not the fruition of a settlement -- to emerge from the May talks, they have already been billed as yet one more set of mere proximity talks, with no face-to- face negotiations expected.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2000

    [04] No quick face-to-face Cyprus talks-UN's de Soto

    UNITED Nations Deputy Secretary-general Alvaro de Soto said in Athens yesterday he did not expect face-to-face talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to take place in the near future.

    The UN special envoy for Cyprus was in Greece for talks with Foreign Minister George Papandreou after recently visiting Ankara and Nicosia.

    His visit came ahead of the third round of UN-sponsored proximity talks in New York on May 23. Previous rounds of proximity talks were held in New York in December and Geneva in February.

    "I don't foresee face-to-face talks occurring in the near future. What the agreement (constituting the basis for these talks) provides for is that they will have proximity talks to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement," de Soto said.

    "Meaningful negotiations can be conducted face-to-face, but they can also take place in the present format without the two leaders meeting face-to- face. The fact that they are not meeting directly does not mean that negotiations cannot be carried out," he said.

    De Soto said that a number of elements "give ground for hope" that a solution to the island's division could be found.

    "I think the moment is a propitious one for making progress in the months ahead," he said, noting the recent rapprochement between Greece and Turkey.

    "However, the solution, in order to be reached, will require spirit of compromise, give-and-take on both sides and that is what needs to happen in the period ahead," he said.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2000

    [05] Why Britain imposed visas on Turkish Cypriots

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Cypriot asylum seekers were costing Britain more than ,30 million per annum before the government slapped visa restrictions on travellers from the north, Sir David Hannay said yesterday.

    He was speaking at a press conference on the Cyprus issue when he was confronted by a question by a Turkish Cypriot journalist on why visas are imposed on Turkish Cypriots visiting the UK.

    "More Turkish Cypriots per head of the Turkish Cypriot population were requesting asylum in Britain than any other country in the world," Sir David said.

    "This was imposing a very heavy burden on the British social security system."

    He added that the system of appeals can be a very long process, during which time asylum-seekers are supported by the state.

    Sir David said that although before the introduction of the visa it was costing Britain ,30 million a year, not a single Turkish Cypriot was ever granted asylum in the UK.

    "It is quite a lot for a very small part of the globe," he added. "The north of Cyprus is not a place from which you have to flee for your life. It would be an error to say that."

    The issue came to a head two years ago when Britain introduced the visa restrictions to curb the number of Turkish Cypriot asylum seekers.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash retaliated at the time by imposing a 'visa' charge on British tourists crossing to the north on day trips. This has since been lifted.

    "Visa restrictions on the Turkish Cypriots was practical and functional, and not political," Sir David stressed.

    "The result has been a huge drop in the bogus asylum applications."

    The British envoy said his government regretted having to impose the visa system, but that they had warned Denktash on a number of occasions that "the trends were leading in this direction".

    "The decision does not have political implications," he added.

    Meanwhile the flow of Turkish Cypriots into the Republic is continuing, with several more arriving over the holiday weekend.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday a ministerial committee has been set up to examine the issue. Its first meeting will be today.

    Christodoulou said the investigation procedure will be thorough and that in the meantime these people "will not be receiving the kind of treatment enjoyed by luxury tourists".

    He said that since 1974 between 220-230 Turkish Cypriots had come south and of the 50-60 who crossed in the past month the majority were gypsies.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2000

    [06] Akel claims desalination won't solve water problem

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE government and main opposition party Akel yesterday crossed swords over the water shortage.

    The chairman of the House Agriculture committee, Christos Mavrokordatos, an Akel deputy, said the water crisis would not be solved by building more desalination plants.

    But Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous stuck to his guns, insisting desalination offered the only permanent solution to the island's worsening water shortage.

    After five years of drought, which have left more than 100 reservoirs increasingly empty, the government is turning to desalination as a way out. The government is building a second desalination plant at Larnaca and has plans for a third at Paralimni.

    Mavrokordatos repeated the Akel position that desalination, because of its high cost, should only be seen as a "last resort" solution.

    He said the state should concentrate instead on reducing leakages from water pipes and damming more rivers.

    Mavrokordatos also accused the government of selling precious water cheap for golf courses.

    Themistocleous suggested Mavrokordatos had got it all wrong.

    The Minister said desalination technology had advanced so much, and competition in the field was such that the cost was now quite low.

    In fact, the minister said, the cost of desalination was now reasonable enough to allow the state to consider it as a source of irrigation water.

    He also said leakage from water pipes in Cyprus was running at about ten per cent, a level he said was considered acceptable by European standards.

    Themistocleous insisted the state did not sell water to private individuals for the irrigation of golf course greens.

    With dams currently holding back only about 25 million cubic metres of water (less than half the volume of this time last year) and the first of the new desalination plants not expected to come on-line before December at the earliest, the state is planning to dig deeper into already depleted ground-water reserves to get us through the summer.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2000

    [07] Cyprus' own 'Elgin Marbles' to go on display

    By Anthony O. Miller

    EXHIBITS open simultaneously early next month in Nicosia and New York of Cypriot antiquities, some stolen from the island by a former US consul, others retrieved by archaeologists and conserved here by the Cyprus Museum.

    'A big gallery will open very soon in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where they will put all the material of Cyprus together', instead of leaving it scattered in various galleries, Cyprus Museum Curator Pavlos Flourentzos said yesterday.

    Also on display will be many pieces that were not on show before.

    The new gallery, created with the support of the Leventis Foundation, is missing some pieces from certain periods in Cyprus. 'So we had an exchange of pieces,' Flourentzos said.. 'We will give them four pieces on loan, and they will lend us four pieces in return.'

    Cyprus is sending the Metropolitan Museum two bowls, one jug and one terra cotta figurine from the Early Bronze Age, around 2000 BC, Flourentzos said.

    In return, 'we get four pieces of sculpture, limestone, mostly the 7th century BC... from the famous Cesnola Collection. They were taken from Cyprus at the end of the 19th century by former US Consul Luigi Palma Cesnola,' he said.

    The Metropolitan collection contains thousands of priceless pieces of the puzzle of ancient Cypriot history. For much of the past century, most of the collection has remained stored in its original shipping crates in basements and unused museum galleries, ignored.

    Flourentzos likened the Cesnola Collection to the Elgin Marbles, statues taken from the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens by the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1799 and 1803 and retained -- some say irreparably defaced in attempt to conserve them -- in the British Museum in London.

    Greece has sought their return for decades.

    'It's the same as the Elgin Marbles,' Flourentzos said. 'Of course we demand (the Collection's return). We've tried many times to get those pieces.'

    'For years, now, we've tried. But it's not so easy,' he said, but added that, like Greece's quest for the Elgin Marbles, 'it's not over yet.'

    Meanwhile, with the temporary return of the four statues on loan to the Cyprus Museum, he said, 'we found this as a way to have, at least, a small part of something that we miss'.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2000

    [08] Kyprianou home this week

    HOUSE President Spyros Kyprianou, who last month underwent emergency surgery in London to rewire his sternum, is expected to fly back to Cyprus on Friday.Dr Rex Stanbridge, who carried out the operation at St Mary's hospital, has pronounced the 68-year-old Diko leader well enough to travel.Kyprianou was released from St Mary's earlier this month but was instructed to stay in a nearby hotel where doctors could keep an eye on his progress.The former President of the Republic was rushed to London early last month after sutures put in his sternum following open- heart surgery in Ohio in January came loose during a coughing fit.The open- heart surgery was recommended by Nicosia doctors after tests showed weaknesses in one of the veteran politician's heart valves. The tell-tale tests were carried out after Kyprianou was hospitalised after a serious asthma attack late last year.According to Diko, Kyprianou is expected to resume his official duties "little by little" after his return from London.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2000

    [09] Market opens weak and closes even weaker

    By Jean Christou

    THE MARKET kicked off the week yesterday on another down note as investors crowded to the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) building to protest.The all-share index closed at 537.9, down 10.07 points or 1.75 per cent on a trading volume of , 18 million.

    After a weak opening, down four per cent, the market rebounded in mid trade but could not manage to pull itself into the black.

    Again all sectors showed a drop ranging from 4.23 per cent in non- classified companies to 0.89 per cent for the banking sector.

    Bank of Cyprus shares, which at one point reached a low of ,8.44, closed at ,8.69, fifteen cents down on Friday's close.

    The Popular Bank managed to keep its head above water, closing at ,13.47, up eight cents after falling as low as ,13.20.

    The Hellenic Bank, which is due to report its earnings next week, lost seven cents to close at ,3.21.

    Experts say the low volume of trading shows that investors are not willing to continue to dump their shares at low prices despite the continuous pressure and a volatile market.

    The latest drop in the index saw a storm of protest at the CSE building in Nicosia yesterday morning.

    "I think this latest drop was the last straw," said one investor who wished to remains anonymous.

    A large group of investors who had gathered at the CSE building went upstairs to carry out what they called a Apeaceful protest@.

    Broker Nicos Efrem said the investors had a point in some respects but he was optimistic of an upswing next month when several eagerly-awaited companies are due to be listed.

    "We need patience and calm and things will improve," he said.

    The market has been see-sawing for weeks causing concern among investors and companies.

    Popular Bank chairman Kikis Lazarides last week alleged dirty dealings behind the scenes. His allegations are being investigated by the market authorities.

    [10] Cyprus to finance West Bank health centres

    CYPRUS and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) have signed an agreement to build two health centres in the West Bank.

    Under the agreement, which is the first of its kind, Cyprus will finance the construction and possibly help equip the centres, giving a total of one million Cyprus pounds to the PNA.

    A memorandum of understanding was signed yesterday by the Permanent Secretary of the Cyprus Foreign Ministry Andreas Pirishis and the Representative of the Palestinian National Authority in Nicosia, Samir Abu Ghazali.

    Pirishis emphasised that this is the first time that Cyprus has provided the Palestinian Authority with this type of economic assistance, and said he hopes it will not be the last.

    Ghazali said he was confident co-operation with Cyprus will continue and that more such agreements will follow.

    Palestinians are preparing to give President Glafcos Clerides a warm welcome when he visits at the end of this month "as they recognized and appreciate the friendship of the people of Cyprus", Ghazali said.

    Saeed Hanoun, who represented the Palestine National Authority's Ministry of Health at the ceremony, called it an "historic day" and referred to the importance of economic aid for the development of the Palestinian Autonomous Areas.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2000

    [11] Minister slams Deputies over Larnaca port fiasco

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday accused the House of Representatives of adopting a "populist" stance over the future of Larnaca's ailing cargo port.In reply, main opposition party Akel charged the government with deliberately dragging the island's ports down so it could sell them off.The sparring was kindled by the transport of a crane from Larnaca to Limassol port in the early hours of Monday morning. The largely idle Larnaca port cranes have become pawns in the tug-of-war between the government and the town's municipality over the harbour's future.The municipality has threatened not to allow the cranes to be moved to the busier Limassol port until it sees evidence that state plans to revive the port are being implemented.Taking its cue from Larnaca, the House has refused to approve expenditure for transport of the cranes.The crane that was moved on Monday was not one of the two main cranes at Larnaca. Nonetheless, its transfer sparked a fresh storm of protest from the municipality and unions.Larnaca Mayor George Lycourgos said the town disagreed with state plans to convert their harbour from a cargo to a passenger terminal. He said the port therefore needed to keep its cranes.The Deok union said Communications Minister Averof Neophytou had "once again demonstrated the zeal with which the government is promoting the dismantling and closure of Larnaca port".Evidently irked by these attacks, Neophytou went on the offensive. He said Larnaca cargo port was going downhill fast, not because of state mishandling but because its charges were much higher than at other regional ports and workers had refused to introduce a shift system that would allow 24-hour service.The minister said he was open to suggestions on how to revive the port from any party, but he would not be a "punch-bag" for anyone."I have sent a letter to the House Finance committee saying we are ready to discuss ways out, but I also stated the government will not propose plans just to go to the House to be slapped in the face," Neophytou said.He said the government had asked for strategic investors to come forward and show an interest in taking over the port and 28 companies had already done so. The closing date for such offers was April 21, he added.Neophytou hit out at the House, suggesting it was being blindly populist in its approach to Larnaca port. "If some choose to listen to Larnaca only then there is nothing the government can do about it," he said.Deputies' refusal to approve the crane transport expenditure meant equipment worth ,15 million was "rusting away" at Larnaca.

    "But the House has said 'no, they must not be moved' and we will respect this as it the decision of the peoples' representatives," Neophytou said.

    Akel parliamentary spokesman Andreas Christou begged to differ.

    He called the plan to move the cranes a "conscious" government effort "to undermine the Ports Authority so that it can sell off its services".

    There was nothing populist about the House stance, Christou said, and the problem with the island's ports was that the government had refused to allow the Ports Authority to increase its levies.

    It was not high costs that were scaring customers away from our ports, Christou insisted, suggesting more custom could be attracted if the state tried.

    "There is no issue of costs at our ports at the moment. We do ask for something a little more than other ports in the region, but we have the big advantage of a level of service which no other port in the east Mediterranean can compare to," the Akel spokesman said.

    Christou's position echoes that of Lycourgos, who wants the government to find more custom for his town's harbour.

    Larnaca port has suffered because of competition from cheaper, more efficient ports in the region.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2000

    [12] Man killed in workshop

    A 53-year-old father of two was killed in Limassol yesterday in his own workshop. Loizos Alexandrou from Zakaki, a manufacturer of machine tools, was fatally injured when his clothes became entangled in one of his machines. He was rushed to Limassol hospital but died shortly afterwards.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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