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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-08-30

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, August 30, 2000


  • [01] Farmers clash with police outside Palace
  • [02] Napa looks to heavens
  • [03] Arrested nudists face court
  • [04] Actions in Strovilia seen as blocking talks
  • [05] Ledra Palace set to host bi-communal festival
  • [06] Petrol workers march
  • [07] Forestry job cuts: ‘no one will be left on the streets’
  • [08] Gates open for a new start
  • [09] Athens ‘air rage’ businessman demands inquiry

  • [01] Farmers clash with police outside Palace

    By Martin Hellicar

    VINE growers demanding greater state compensation for their dumped surplus grapes yesterday laid siege to the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, clashing with police in a bid to see President Glafcos Clerides.

    The scuffles resulted in minor injuries to both protesters and police officers. Police arrested only one of the 200-or-so unruly demonstrators, who had come from the Paphos and Limassol districts. The arrested man was later charged with disturbing the peace and released.

    After attacking the Presidential Palace, the angry protestors moved on to blockade the motorway junction outside the capital. Police again moved in to clear the grape growers, with more clashes ensuing before the road could be re-opened.

    According to eyewitnesses, the demonstrating farmers attacked not only police but also innocent passers-by, both outside the Presidential Palace and at the motorway junction.

    The placard-carrying protestors began gathering outside the gates of the Presidential Palace at around 11 am, to be faced by a strong police force. The grape growers, backed by union representatives and a handful of opposition party deputies, demanded they be allowed to hand a petition to the President in person.

    The petition called for 100 per cent state compensation for the thousands of tonnes of unwanted white grapes currently being dumped in landfills. The government recently proposed to raise compensation from the current 90 per cent to 95 per cent, but growers are not satisfied with this improved offer. The petition also demanded further financial assistance to help vine growers overcome the effects of this summer’s heat waves.

    Demonstrators protested that the compensation barely covered the cost of harvesting their unsellable crop.

    "It pays only for the harvest day wages; who pays for the planting, the spraying, the pruning, the fertilisers? We will leave the villagers, we will abandon it all," a woman demonstrator said.

    "We cannot take it any more," another said.

    Tempers flared among the demonstrators when no reply to their request for an audience with the President was forthcoming.

    They pushed into the police cordon blocking the entrance to the palace. Protest placards were hurled at the men in blue, who used their truncheons to try to beat the angry crowd back.

    One of the demonstrators clambered over the perimeter fence and was wrestled to the ground by an officer. A group of demonstrators later tried to approach the palace via the public park to the north of the main entrance. The protestors turned back after coming face to face with riot squad (MMAD) officers in the woods around the palace.

    The road past the Presidential Palace had to be closed off by police during the demonstration. According to eyewitnesses, some of the demonstrators attacked passers-by who tried to walk along the road past the palace during the demonstration.

    Shortly after 1 pm, the demonstrators were informed that a team of representatives would be allowed in to see Clerides.

    The news calmed tempers for a while, but failure to agree on how many people would see Clerides led to the meeting being cancelled.

    The demonstrators insisted that around 20 people – representatives of village communities, deputies and union men – be allowed into the palace. The word from the President was that there were only 15 chairs in his audience room and that was the limit as far as visitors were concerned.

    Akel deputy Christos Mavrokordatos – who was among the demonstrators’ representatives – described the President’s stipulations as an "unacceptable affront" to what he described as the "peaceful" demonstrators and the deputies supporting them.

    "We departed in a show of protest," Mavrokordatos said.

    Soon afterwards, the demonstrators got back into their buses and drove to the junction on the Nicosia to Limassol highway just outside the capital. Once there they blockaded the roundabout and further clashes with police followed. The demonstrators finally gave up their protests at around 3 pm.

    Somewhere between two-and-a-half and six thousand tonnes of grapes will end up underground this year.

    Though heat waves have dented the grape harvest somewhat, growers are still getting a bumper crop while wineries are refusing to take in any more grapes.

    Wine prices in the EU are so low that wineries say they cannot sell their produce.

    Last year, over eleven thousand tonnes of grapes were thrown away.

    The grape dumping is seen as a necessary evil in government circles but has been heavily criticised opposition parties.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Wednesday, August 30, 2000

    [02] Napa looks to heavens

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GREEK Orthodox Church in Ayia Napa is seeking divine intervention to bring an end to what it sees as the sordid goings-on in the bustling resort.

    The head priest in Ayia Napa, Father Papageorgiou, has called on church- going Christians in the area to spend the whole of this week in prayer and fasting. The aim is to elicit "God’s mercy for the social and moral degradation prevalent in our area," the priest stated in an announcement distributed in Ayia Napa churches last Sunday.

    Ayia Napa has been making newspaper headlines for all the wrong reasons this Summer, with pictures of drunken foreign tourists taking part in live "sex shows" making the front pages and cases of drug abuse, violent and indecent behaviour flooding the District Court.

    Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis has been at pains to insist that such behaviour – almost invariable involving tourists – is the exception in the popular sun, sea and nightclub resort.

    The Minister has nonetheless promised to look at measures – such as increased policing – to curb the excesses of some tourists’ behaviour.

    Father Papageorgiou obviously does not feel such good Ministerial intentions are enough. He feels turning to God is the only way to rid the resort of promiscuous and violent behaviour.

    A number of vigils and special services are being conducted during the week of fasting and prayer to encourage the faithful.

    Father Papageorgiou has even written a special prayer for the week.

    "We implore you, Lord, to enlighten our youth and to lead them away from harmful actions," the prayer reads. "Protect their inexperienced and vulnerable souls from the traps of the evil one," it adds.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, August 30, 2000

    [03] Arrested nudists face court

    By Jean Christou

    Ten nude sunbathers, including two men allegedly having gay sex, caught on a public beach in British bases territory at the weekend will face charges on September 25<sup>th</sup>.

    The six men and four women were caught frolicking nude near Avdhimou within the western Sovereign Base Area (SBA) of Episkopi around 5pm on Friday.

    All were arrested by SBA police who had been observing their behaviour after a tip-off by a member of the public.

    Eight of the group, four Cypriot men, three English women married to Cypriots, and a Bulgarian woman could be fined, cautioned or have the case dismissed when they appear at the SBA police station, bases spokesman Rob Need said yesterday.

    The fine for indecent exposure is £80, under bases laws which mirror those of the Republic. Need said he could not predict what the other two men, both Cypriots, would be charged with. "It depends on the circumstances and if there is sufficient evidence," he said. "It is a serious offence." Conviction for gay sex in public carries a sentence of five years imprisonment.

    Eight of the ten were released on bail shortly after their arrest, but the other two men were detained for further questioning before being released later on Friday. They were later released on bail, Need said.

    Until two years ago Cypriot legislation outlawed any type of homosexual activity. After a five-year battle with the European Court of Human Rights, Cyprus was forced to change the law and decriminalise gay sex in private between consenting adults but retained legislation on all other aspects of homosexual activity.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, August 30, 2000

    [04] Actions in Strovilia seen as blocking talks

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Cypriot actions at Strovilia are undermining the ongoing UN-led Cyprus talks, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides warned yesterday.

    Cassoulides was speaking at Larnaca airport before leaving for Athens for talks with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou on the Cyprus issue.

    In the latest controversy surrounding Strovilia, the government is preparing a written protest to the UN Secretary-general and the Security Council over a visit on Saturday to the disputed village by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Denktash went to the village complete with media entourage on Saturday evening and was briefed by Turkish soldiers at the controversial checkpoint.

    "We have done what we need to do," Cassoulides said.

    And in a pointed reference to the government’s opinion that the UN and the international community are not doing enough to return the status quo in the Strovilia area, Cassoulides said: "Those who want to see progress in the Cyprus problem must understand that the continuation of the violation of the status quo at Strovilia is undermining this effort."

    On July 1, only week before the third round of proximity talks in Geneva, Turkish troops moved their positions forward 300-400 metres towards the boundaries of the north of the island has with the British bases of Dhekelia on the island’s south east to block UN access to the north.

    The move was in retaliation over the alternation by the Security Council to the Unficyp renewal mandate which removed any say in Unficyp’s presence by the breakaway regime in the north.

    In addition to paralysing certain Unficyp movements, the change in the status quo put the village of Strovilia, home to three Greek Cypriot families, inside the Turkish-controlled areas.

    The Turkish flag and that of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime were also hoisted over the new checkpoint and later the barriers were cemented to the ground indicating that Turkish troops intended the situation to become permanent.

    Now with only weeks to go until the fourth round of talks begin in New York on September 12, the Turkish Cypriot leader’s visit is being viewed by the government as a provocation to the talks.

    Cassoulides also repeated the government’s view that the credibility of the UN in Cyprus was at stake as a result of the continuing violation of the status quo at Strovilia. He said Denktash’s visit had worsened the situation.

    Unficyp has made several protests to the Turkish Cypriot side but has not received any response.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, August 30, 2000

    [05] Ledra Palace set to host bi-communal festival

    By Melina Demetriou

    Greek and Turkish Cypriot parties have agreed to organise a festival of mutual understanding between the two communities on September 10.

    Political party leaders and representatives met yesterday at Ledra Palace to examine all preparatory meetings and decided the festival on Sunday, September 10, from 5:00 to 8:50 pm at the Ledra Palace.

    Organisers are determined to keep politics out of the festival said Social- Democrats (Kisos) member, Koullis Mavronicolas, who attended the meeting yesterday.

    "There will be music and dance from both communities and maybe a short speech by the Slovak Ambassador at the beginning. The festival will not be of a political nature," he said.

    Diko’s participation in the Festival is still pending, said Mavronicolas.

    "We think that it is crucial for all (Greek Cypriot) parties to make joint decisions on rapprochement so our side does not give the impression of uncertainty and controversy," he pointed out.

    Kisos also say that bi-communal events are essential in promoting the idea of a federal solution for Cyprus.

    The meeting of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties, organised by the Slovak Embassy, was held in a positive and cooperative atmosphere," said a joint statement of the parties, which was read out by Slovak Ambassador to Cyprus, Dusan Rosbora.

    According to the statement, the next meeting between parties will take place on October 16.

    Leaders and representatives of four Greek Cypriot parties attended yesterday’s meeting. The Democratic Rally, Akel, Kisos and the United Democrats, met with four Turkish Cypriot parties; the Democratic Party, The Republican Turkish Party, the Communal Liberation Party and the Patriotic Unity Movement.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, August 30, 2000

    [06] Petrol workers march

    By Athena Karsera

    Concerned petrol refinery workers yesterday marched outside the Commerce, Industry and Tourism Ministry asking for a guarantee of their livelihood from the government.

    The workers presented a petition to Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis asking for a final answer on whether the Cyprus Oil Refinery will be upgraded or moved elsewhere.

    Rolandis said the issue would be discussed at the Council of Ministers meeting today while the two choices were first announced in June this year.

    In the long term, the government plans to demolish the Larnaca refinery and, instead of replacing it with a new one, build tank farms capable of holding at least 90-days supply worth of refined petroleum products, in accordance to EU rules. However, the planned $40-million upgrade would involve its retention for a possible 15 years.

    The demonstration yesterday followed a protest last week by the Larnaca Progressive Movement, which on Saturday marched from Acropolis Square in the town’s center, to the Municipal Square.

    The Movement, made up of Larnaca residents, said that they did not want the refinery to be upgraded or for any storage tanks to be added, they just wanted the refinery completely removed.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, August 30, 2000

    [07] Forestry job cuts: ‘no one will be left on the streets’

    By Anthony O. Miller

    The General Manager, Petros Vrahimis, of the Cyprus Forest Industries yesterday guaranteed the financial security of any workers made redundant by a plan to close two of its mills.

    "Nobody will be left in the street," he said.

    To cushion the layoffs, the CFI, in which the government is the majority shareholder, plans to pay each of the possible 50 workers large sums from its provident fund. While Vrahimis declined to state exact amounts, his figures show each will average well over £50,000 from the provident fund from profits made on the stock exchange last year.

    The CFI also plans to pay each laid-off worker an extra sum, based on years of service and salaries, he said. And the Ministry of Labour’s redundancy fund will give most of them a one-off payment of "between £15,000 and £19, 000," he added.

    Each laid-off worker could average a final pay packet ranging from well over £65,000 to as much as £100,000, according to Vrahimis’ estimates.

    "I was very worried what would happen to these people. They have spent most of their lives here. The majority who are going to lose their jobs have 15 to 25 years here," he said.

    The board plans to meet on September 12 to rule on the layoffs and "as a gesture of good will" is inviting employee unions Sek and Peo to discuss them before it meets.

    "There is no ill will from the company, no intent to cheat anybody. We want to make the break the most amicable way." But the two mills, which employ 50 workers, are simply losing several hundred thousand pounds a year.

    "The problem is a lack of timber from Cyprus forests. There are plenty of trees … but they are not for cutting to supply lumber mills under Forestry Department conservation policies," he said.

    Those policies cut the CFI’s annual state timber quota from 34,000 tonnes in the 1980s to 12,000 tonnes last year and 8,000 tonnes this year – too little to keep the chipboard plant and sawmill running full tilt, he said.

    Additionally, both plants are already money losers because they are 25 years old, outdated, and their capacity is very low. This makes it unwise to modernise them, he said.

    Total turnover in 1999 was roughly £10 million, with £500,000 profit. That would have been higher, except that they have been "totalling losses" on the plants facing closure, he said.

    "The cost of producing (chipboard) has been much higher than the cost of imported chipboard. So if we close the two plants and import 100 per cent of the chipboard, we’re going to realise a greater net profit," Vrahimis said.

    Vrahimis said he tried unsuccessfully to get around the Forestry Department’s dwindling annual quotas by buying Russian timber.

    "We also tried to raise a type of bamboo (for chipboard) … but there was a problem with water. This type of cane needs a lot of water" and Cyprus is in its fifth year of drought.

    "I thought sewage water would have been available, but it was not … and we needed about 3 million tons (3 billion litres) of water per year" to raise the bamboo, he said. "So we were not able to solve the raw material problem, " he said.

    "But you have to be a realist," he said. "We invested quite a lot of money" to modernise the CFI’s profitable plants. "As a result, we created additional jobs … (and) were able to reduce the layoffs" to 50 from 70 proposed last year.

    After the layoffs, "the company will be left lean to compete in the market, " he said, since except for the two loss-making plants, "financially we are very sound very strong."

    "But if we don’t take this step now," he said, "the future of the other 150 employees will be at stake. So in this way you are protecting the rest of the employees and the company."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, August 30, 2000

    [08] Gates open for a new start

    By Melina Demetriou

    Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash promised a group of Greek and Turkish businessmen on Monday that the Turkish Cypriot regime would not impose any restrictions on bi-communal contacts anymore.

    The Brussels Group, a bi-communal group of businessmen, met on Monday with Denktash in the occupied areas to discuss ways of rapprochement between the two sides.

    Denktash also put forward the idea of cooperation between the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority and the corresponding Turkish Cypriot services.

    The leader of the Greek Cypriot delegation, Dinos Lordos said yesterday that Denktash stressed his proposals and promises were not aimed at promoting acknowledgment of his regime.

    According to Turkish Cypriot press Denktash said the Turkish and Greek Cypriot people should understand each other, adding, "I am pleased by your visit. This is a positive start because this is the first time you are here to visit me."

    "His intentions are yet to be proved honest," said Lordos who was optimistic that something good would come out of the meeting and that progress might be made in strengthening bi-communal relations.

    Denktash supported that it would be possible for the two sides to cooperate in telecommunications since they have done so already in water distribution.

    President Glafcos Clerides is meeting the group of businessmen, ten Greek and nine Turkish Cypriot, to discuss Denktash’s proposals on Thursday.

    The Brussels Group first met in 1997 in the Belgian capital and held four meetings since, trying to promote the idea of bi-communal cooperation in many areas such as to solve the water shortage and to promote cultural relations.

    But until recently, the Turkish Cypriot regime’s restrictions imposed on bi- communal activities held the Group back from putting their ideas in effect.

    The regime started becoming more flexible in the last year.

    "The meeting has been conducted in a very cordial and friendly atmosphere and was very productive," said Lordos.

    The government welcomed the Brussels Group’s initiative, which aimed at overcoming the problems in bi-communal contacts but was skeptical of Denktash’s sincerity.

    " We back every rapprochement move as long as it does not imply or promote in any way the acknowledgment of the Turkish Cypriot illegal state," said the government’s spokesman, Michalis Papapetrou.

    "But no citizen outside government appointed officials is authorised to negotiate with Denktash on state authorities’ relations with Turkish Cypriot so-called authorities," he said.

    President Glafcos Clerides would meet on Thursday with the Brussels Group to discuss the proposed rapprochement measures, the spokesman said, emphasising that the government would look into the matter of a bi-communal cooperation "as long as it does not promote acknowledgment of the Turkish Cypriot regime."

    "We shall wait and see whether Denktash is honest about relaxing restrictions on bi-communal meetings because he and Ankara have always believed that close ties between the two communities would prove their philosophy that the two peoples could never live together wrong," Papapetrou said.

    The Brussels meetings are organised with the help of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway, with sponsorship from the American and Norwegian governments.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, August 30, 2000

    [09] Athens ‘air rage’ businessman demands inquiry

    By Jean Christou

    A Paphos businessman allegedly at the centre of the Cyprus Airways (CY) ‘hijacking’ at Athens airport on Saturday has asked the Minister of Communications and Works for an investigation, he said yesterday.

    Kyriacos Droushiotos, vice president of the Paphos Chamber of Commerce told the Cyprus Mail how passengers were allegedly left for hours in a small room with no water or food while the Airbus A310 was being repaired after being hit by a high loader on the tarmac before the midnight flight was due to depart.

    Following clearance from Greek engineers, the captain decided to take the Paphos-bound flight directly to Larnaca, its final destination, angering passengers who, in the ensuing row, clashed with police in an attempt to stop the plane leaving Athens.

    CY says the move was in the interests of safety but a group of passengers insulted the Greek engineer and called him a fool

    The plane eventually left at 5am when around 70 passengers opted to spend the night in Athens, paid for by CY.

    "I know they consider me to be the person making the problems but they left us in a room for three hours without water or food," Droushiotos said. He said two people were taken to hospital for treatment because of the way passengers were treated. "All we wanted was a safe flight. Our concern was safety," he said.

    He also alleges CY informed anyone staying behind that they would have to find their own way back to Cyprus. "We didn’t know what to do," he said.

    Droushiotis also hinted that the CY captain may have had ulterior motives and not wanted to fly the extra time it would have taken to go to Paphos.

    During work-to-rule disputes with the airline CY pilots have often stranded passengers by ending a shift they would normally extend as allowed under international rules.

    "I believe there were many reasons for the change of plans, artificial ones, " Droushiotis said. "They wanted to avoid the flight (to Paphos). They didn’t consider us."

    Questioned earlier on this aspect CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said yesterday the suggestion was "nonsense" and that airline remains adamant that whatever the reason the flight was diverted it was not the business of the passengers to take matter into the own hands. "Even if that was the case it was not up any passengers to overrule the captain," Angelis said. "That would be an internal matter for the company."

    He added that as far as the safety of the flight was concerned, CY had done everything by the book. ‘There are regulations and international laws and we abide by them," he said.

    Rules include even calling the plane’s makers Airbus for clearance when necessary and following their advice, Angelis said. He said in the event of a problem airlines can be told to complete one leg to home base depending on what repairs are carried out and if they are deemed safe to fly.

    CY is currently awaiting reports on the technical side of the dispute as part of its investigation into the incident.

    "Private individual are free to decide the route of their own cars so they should leave it to us to decide the routes of our flights," Angelis said.

    CY intends to come down hard on passengers who are unruly and jeopardise the safety of any flights.

    Angelis the airline has not experienced many such incidents but that they are on the increase. For the most part, he said cabin crew encounter a few rude passengers or those who refuse to comply with smoking bans but they usually back off after being approached by the captain.

    He said that unruly behaviour is not considered air rage unless the safety of a flight is compromised.

    CY, in its most serious air rage incident to date, has blacklisted a passenger who groped a stewardess last May and has pressed charges with police.

    Angelis said the alleged offender recently tried to book a ticket with the airline but staff notified headquarters and he was not allowed to fly.

    Other measures CY is looking are the possibility of agreeing with other airlines on a blanket blacklist of offenders.

    "We are studying what other airlines do," he said. "The point is there is no legal framework and the law needs to be changed but we are working with the Justice Ministry to see what we can do to have stricter regulations."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

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