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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-14

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, February 14, 2001


  • [01] Clerides: two-state debate is 'pointless speculation'
  • [02] Man jailed for stealing thousands of pounds of computer gear
  • [03] Bases play down suicide risk claim
  • [04] Finance heaviest loser in day's trading
  • [05] Soldier accused of trafficking ecstasy
  • [06] Pupils call off protest after Ministry backs down
  • [07] UK tells foreign students they can work while they study
  • [08] Refugees set to lose wall because of planning bungle
  • [09] Police defuse bomb at Trachoni

  • [01] Clerides: two-state debate is 'pointless speculation'

    By Martin Hellicar PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday dismissed a rumbling debate over unidentified individuals' support for a two-state settlement, saying it was all "pointless" speculation based on "misinformation".

    "We are pointlessly discussing something which should not be taken seriously," Clerides said on return from Athens yesterday afternoon.

    The government has been at pains to dampen the rampant reports of Greek Cypriot businessmen going to foreign embassies to speak out in favour of the permanent division of the island.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday attributed unwelcome support for a two-state settlement to certain people's "disappointment" with the lack of Cyprus problem progress.

    It was DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos who sparked the political storm over the reported two-state backers. On Friday, Papadopoulos said that a glum Clerides had confided in him that Greek Cypriot businessmen were expressing support for a two-state settlement during private visits to the US embassy. The bad news was apparently conveyed to Clerides by US ambassador Donald Bandler.

    The President went to great lengths to put Papadopoulos' statements in context.

    "Mr Bandler brought it up when, sadly, an opinion poll was published suggesting that the majority of Greek Cypriots did not want a bi-zonal, federal settlement," Clerides said.

    "He asked me about this and I explained to him that things were not like this, that it depended on how the question was put, because if he asked me if I wanted a bi-zonal federation, I would say 'no I do not want it', but I also say it is the only feasible solution."

    He said the US ambassador was not trying to sound him out on the issue but was rather asking a "reasonable" question in light of the poll results.

    "And then he said to me that some people also came to them saying the same, that they do not want a bi-zonal settlement," Clerides concluded.

    The political storm over the two-state backers has been making all the headlines this week, with politicians and businessmen's organisations falling over each other to condemn any support for a permanent division of the island. House President Spyros Kyprianou says people supporting a two- state solution are "slimy traitors".

    Cassoulides returned to the 'hot' issue yesterday, repeating that these dissident views belonged to isolated individuals and not organised groups. But the Minister also tried to explain the unwelcome moves: "I think all this reflects the disappointment of many Cypriots over the stance of deep intransigence of the Turkish side, which leaves no room for progress or hope for a settlement. It is a form of reaction, and what I want to say is that any form of reaction can exist -- what is not good is for this to be passed on to foreign embassies, with the result that they get the wrong impression."

    The government is wary of foreign powers swinging towards favouring Turkish demands for recognition of the breakaway occupation regime, though Cassoulides, like Clerides, insisted no foreign diplomats were canvassing for such recognition.

    While other politicians have angrily condemned any support for divisive settlements, Cassoulides has noted that people are entitled to their own opinions, however "undesirable". Yesterday, he said such opinions were not confined, as reports have suggested, to certain businessmen. "It is wrong to be referring to businessmen, as far as I know such opinions are heard from various people from various sectors and let us not forget that even in recent opinion polls the choice of two states is, unfortunately, approved by a small proportion of fellow-Cypriots," he said.

    The reports come at a time when UN efforts to achieve a federal Cyprus settlement are deadlocked by the Turkish Cypriot side's insistence on recognition.

    Cassoulides yesterday said only a combined UN, US and EU effort could get Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash back to the negotiating table.

    "For Denktash to come to talk seriously, we need the Security Council, the US and the EU to make a co-ordinated effort to turn to Ankara with one voice and point out that continuing this tactic will not be without consequences," he said. Ankara should be told that failure to shift over Cyprus would lead to the government-controlled half of the island joining the EU on its own, leaving Turkish Cypriots high and dry.

    The official EU line is that a settlement would be desirable, but not a prerequisite, for the much sought after EU accession.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Man jailed for stealing thousands of pounds of computer gear

    By George Psyllides A MAN was yesterday sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail after he was found guilty of stealing computer equipment worth thousands of pounds.

    The court heard that Zacharias Pavlou from the village of Xylotymbou in the Famagusta district, was caught red-handed stealing computers and peripherals from a storage warehouse in Nicosia in March last year.

    During the trial, it emerged that Pavlou had stolen equipment, of unknown but high value, from the same warehouse on another eight occasions between January and March 2000.

    Pavlou's defence had argued in mitigation that on the day he was caught he had not stolen anything, and stressed that he had returned goods worth 48, 000 to the plaintiff company, while the value of the goods missing did not exceed 32,000.

    But passing sentence yesterday, the Assize court rejected the defence's argument, saying the value of the stolen goods had never been exactly determined, so it would be wrong to claim it was only around 32,000.

    The court added that the fact that Pavlou did not steal anything from the warehouse on the day he was caught could only be put down to the fact that he had been arrested before he had the chance.

    In sentencing Pavlou, the court took into serious consideration his overall criminal behaviour. In two-and-a-half months, he had stolen equipment from the warehouse on eight separate occasions, Judge George Aresti said.

    He sold on the equipment as part of his business in computer products.

    The court stressed that just three days after his previous robbery, Pavlou had broken into the storage to steal again.

    "We consider the suspect as a ruthless individual who would do anything to achieve his goal," the court said.

    "It cannot be ignored that to evade the consequences of his actions he machinated and fabricated a story of sexual relations with the director of the plaintiff company, effectively adding insult and humiliation to the damage already inflicted."

    In sentencing, the court also considered the suspect's clean record and the fact that he was married with one child.

    The court dismissed a defence request to suspend imprisonment, arguing the circumstances stipulated by the law concerning suspension of term were absent in this case.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Bases play down suicide risk claim

    By Jenny Curtis. THE BRITISH Bases have disputed claims that British soldiers are far more likely to commit suicide while serving in Cyprus than at any other foreign posting. They say the statistics reveal, if anything, that the number of self-inflicted injuries amongst personnel on the island are lower than average.

    Last weekend, the Sunday Times quoted British Ministry of Defence statistics claiming that the 138 cases of self-inflicted injury had all been in either Britain or Cyprus, with Northern Ireland, Germany and other foreign postings unaffected.

    But the British Bases yesterday denied the claims:

    "The figures do not bear out the wild claim that military staff are more likely to commit

    self-inflicted injury while working in Cyprus. Since 1996, three people have died this way, while during the same period within the army as a whole, 31 died elsewhere," Bases Spokesman Rob Need told the Cyprus Mail.

    The statistics show that throughout the British Forces, 135 men and three women took their own lives between the start of 1996 and the end of last year. In 1998, there were 15 suicides in the army, and 16 in 1999, yet none in Cyprus. However, there was one on the bases in 1997 and two among British soldiers working for the United Nations last year - one due to a gunshot wound and the other through hanging.

    Rob Need added: "Sometimes it's understandable that single soldiers may get homesick and depressed as a result of distance from the support of their family, but the military is aware of these difficulties and the British Army has a strong regimental support system as well as a number of counselling services."

    He said there was a hotline run by the SSAFA (Soldier, Sailor, Air Force Association), which offered a similar service to that provided by the Samaritans. In addition, he said the WRVS (Women's Royal Voluntary Services) provided a valuable service.

    "While soldiers can get support directly through the chain of command they may not want to chose this approach, opting instead for a more independent and confidential service."

    Charles Gaulkin, the UN spokesman for Cyprus, pointed out: "In all the time UNFCYP have been here since 1964, more than 150,000 troops have spent tours here and of those there have been some 26 suicides, which I don't think is an abnormally high number."

    He added that a small minority did become depressed because of the monotonous nature of some of the jobs, which can involve long periods on watch, but that every effort was made to counteract this.

    "There are so many recreational opportunities on the island to keep the soldiers occupied and I am sure this helps ease the boredom."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Finance heaviest loser in day's trading

    By Eric Watkins THE CSE General Index continued its downward trend yesterday, shedding a further 2.34 per cent to close just above the 194 point. The FTSE/CySE followed suit, dropping 2.34 per cent and ending the day's trade at 800.96.

    Unifast Finance and Investments (UFI) was the day's percentage winner with a gain of 12.57 per cent, while Severis and Athienitis Financial Services (SAFS) was the main loser, dropping 7.81 per cent.

    Bank of Cyprus was the most active share, but volume was no measure of improvement. BOC dropped to 2.61, losing around two per cent of its value.

    Cyprus Popular Bank (CPB), the second most active share, fared no better ending at 2.13 after losing 2.73 per cent.

    The percentage losses by sector were finance -5.35; insurance -4.40; tourism, -3.46; banking -2.74; fisheries -2.45; manufacturing -2.43; other - 2.36; CSE -2.34; trading -2.16; investments -1.56; construction -1.35; hotels -1.14; technology , -0.53; and international, 0.00

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Soldier accused of trafficking ecstasy

    By a Staff Reporter AN 18-YEAR-old soldier from Nicosia was remanded in custody for six days yesterday accused of trafficking ecstasy tablets.

    The soldier was arrested on Monday, after a suspect currently held for alleged possession of eight ecstasy tablets named him as his supplier.

    The court heard that police were looking for a third person in connection with the case.

    Police said that they had searched the suspect's home and found a hookah and a wooden pipe thought to have been used for smoking pot.

    Along with the pipes, police found an empty G3 assault rifle magazine.

    Police told the court they believed the suspect was a member of a drug trafficking gang, which had a large quantity of drugs in its possession.

    The investigator added that the gang was suspected of keeping a plantation of marijuana in the Nicosia area, which police were currently trying to locate.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Pupils call off protest after Ministry backs down

    By a Staff Reporter PUPILS have called off a two-hour boycott of classes planned for today in protest at a government plan to introduce foreign language exams in the first grade of High School.

    Under pressure from pupils, Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides announced on Monday that he would not go ahead with the ministry's initial plan.

    The disputed exams would have given those pupils who passed a language certificate either in English or French.

    Pancyprian Students Committee secretary Thomas Thoma said yesterday: "We have asked from the minister to promise that if he decides to bring up the issue again he will discuss it with us. The minister has made this commitment so we shall not boycott our classes tomorrow."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] UK tells foreign students they can work while they study

    By a Staff Reporter CHANGES in UK tertiary education regulations allowing foreign students to work while they study are being promoted in Nicosia next week.

    The new policy sets out additional rights and opportunities for foreign students, including "the right of overseas students and their dependants to work".

    In addition, the number of scholarships on offer is being increased, giving students a higher income, and easing the strain on family budgets.

    The Lord Mayor of London is joining the British Council and the British High Commission to raise awareness about the changes at the Forum Hotel

    next Wednesday. The event, entitled "British Education - the best you can be",

    is open to prospective students, their families, teachers and employers. The well-known musician and radio presenter Mike Hadjimike will act as Master of Ceremonies for the evening, which will include a variety show and the screening of a specially commissioned video about British education. In addition guests will have an opportunity to ask questions about the implications of the new rules and regulations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Refugees set to lose wall because of planning bungle

    By Martin Hellicar REFUGEES living on a Latsia estate are set to lose half their back yards because of a Town Planning department bungle. But their protests appear to be falling on deaf government ears.

    When the Apostolos Andreas refugee housing estate was built in the Nicosia suburb 18 years ago, government planners drew their lines wrong and 12 homes went up on Tris Ierarches Street with their back yards extending into an adjacent plot of private land. The private landowner recently decided he wanted to clear building plots on his land, so the Town Planning department said the garden walls of the 12 homes had to be torn down to make way.

    The residents, who were told the bad news in June, are protesting that they stand to lose gardens, trees, built-on rooms and even the cesspits in their back yards.

    When a contractor's bulldozers turned up to enforce the unpopular Town Planning decision on Monday, they found a band of angry residents blocking their way. Police rushed to the scene to calm things down and the earth removers turned back.

    But the refugees' protest appears to have won them only a temporary reprieve. "The bulldozers will not be back today, but the wall will come down unless we find another solution, because it is an illegal intervention into a private plot," a senior Town Planning department officer told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. "The decision on the wall cannot change unless there is another way, another solution, but I cannot think of any such," he said.

    The official admitted that the problem had been created by his department's mistake 18 years ago, but also suggested residents' complaints were exaggerated. "I wouldn't exactly say they are getting a raw deal. We will replant any trees they lose and we will build a common cesspit for all the houses," he said.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou has promised all "reasonable" residents' demands will be satisfied, but this is not expected to involve any form of financial compensation for lost yard space.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Police defuse bomb at Trachoni

    By a Staff Reporter THREE police officers defused a home-made bomb at Trachoni in the Limassol district yesterday afternoon. They found the device in a search of fields and a residential area using sniffer dogs, after receiving a tip-off.

    The bomb was discovered at 3.30pm in an abandoned lorry parked on a stretch of land across the road from some houses. Witnesses were reported as saying the bomb was found close to a secondary school. Police last night were still searching for suspects.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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