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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-02-05

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, February 5, 2002


  • [01] Village fury over plans for gypsy tent camp
  • [02] Father's lawyer pleads for sympathy in custody battle
  • [03] Father confined to hospital after attack on daughter
  • [04] Clerides and Denktash prepare to talk territory
  • [05] US urged to avert 'predictable crisis'
  • [06] Deputies agree to speed cameras
  • [07] Minister steps in to halt deportation

  • [01] Village fury over plans for gypsy tent camp

    By Jennie Matthew

    INTERIOR Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou may have earmarked Kofinou as a gypsy reception centre, but villagers remain furious and the relocation site is far from ideal.

    Last week, the Minister declared that Turkish Cypriot gypsies in Limassol lived in deplorable accommodation.

    As a result, all homes will be rebuilt in a 5,000, state-funded clean up, while temporary, prefabricated homes are constructed near Kofinou.

    But residents in the Larnaca district village are less than impressed.

    Yesterday, they submitted a written protest to the District Officer. If that fails, they've threatened to demonstrate outside the Interior Ministry.

    Several waves of gypsies crossed from the occupied areas last year, complaining about living conditions in the north.

    Village council chairman Yiannis Loutsios said yesterday he refused to go back to the days last year when the government settled gypsies nearby and women and children were wandering round the village begging for food and money.

    Others point out that Kofinou is perhaps not the best spot to settle Turkish Cypriot gypsies.

    The village was the scene of bitter fighting between the two communities in the 1960s. On November 15, 1967 Greek Cypriots killed 27 Turkish Cypriots not far from the predominantly Turkish village.

    And as one angry woman told the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Kofinou is now a refugee village, home to Greek Cypriots who lost their homes to the Turkish Army in 1974.

    "The gypsies started killing our animals for food last time they came. If Christodoulou wants them, he can send them to his own village," she said.

    Neither do promises to locate them several kilometres away - on a plot of land sandwiched between the village and the abattoir to the east - appease the residents.

    Off a beaten track to the left as the road snakes from the slaughterhouse to the village, about 100 metres down, are nine tents billowing in the wind, erected on a gravel plateau.

    As you near the abattoir the stench from butchered carcasses is almost unbearable.

    The gatekeeper laughed when we asked for directions to the gypsy camp.

    "They're bringing them near here so we can slaughter them," he joked.

    The site couldn't be further from harm's way, but local hunters have already shown what they think. A trail of discarded cartridges and bullet holes in the corrugated iron door of a makeshift toilet suggest the camp has been earmarked as target practice before its occupants have even arrived.

    Yesterday, the camp was empty. There wasn't a soul to be seen or heard. The only other sign of civilisation is a whitewashed house perched on a hill, miles in the distance.

    If its natural beauty they're after, then the gypsies will be well satisfied. While they might be sleeping on gravel, if they peer through the tent flaps there's lush green grass, buttercups and nettles.

    But when it comes to facilities, the Turkish Cypriots might be better off in their dilapidated Limassol houses than at the campsite.

    There are two toilets for nine tents, presumably nine families - two pits surrounded by a pillar box of corrugated iron, with a section of plywood minus a small rectangular hole to squat over.

    The door of one of the cubicles sports three bullet holes and a fourth is on the side.

    The one shower is scarcely better. It's open-air, with nothing to stand on except stones and cigarette buts.

    There's no curtain to save your modesty, and the shower head is strung up on an iron frame under a cistern.

    The taps are encrusted with dirt and offer a dribble rather than a spray of water.

    Children may have been camping there for fun recently. Some of the groundsheets have been pulled out and plastic forks have been littered in another tent. There's evidence of a fire and discarded plastic bags rustle in the wind.

    The Interior Ministry said yesterday that no final decision had been taken on the use of any particular location near Kofinou.

    A meeting between Christodoulou and community representatives will be held 'soon', but officials knew nothing else.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Father's lawyer pleads for sympathy in custody battle

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE LAWYER of the father who abducted his two children despite a court order that they be returned to their mother yesterday defended his client's behaviour as natural and understandable.

    Limassol District Court ruled last week that Alexandros Savvas, aged four, and his two-year-old brother Leonidas could immediately return to the family's permanent home in Cork in the Republic of Ireland with their mother Christine.

    The judge decided that their father Ioannis had kidnapped the boys in July 2001, when he brought them to Cyprus on holiday then called his wife to tell her they weren't coming back.

    Christine, 33, immediately filed a complaint under The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, to which both Ireland and Cyprus are signatories.

    The case was heard in Cyprus. When the judge ruled that abduction had taken place and that the children should return home, Christine thought her five- month misery was over.

    But on the evening before the decision, her husband failed to return the boys as due, violating the temporary custody order.

    Now eight days later, she still hasn't seen them and has no idea where they are.

    Despite two arrest warrants, her husband continues to walk free and police have failed to track him or the children down.

    Savvas' effort to apply for a stay of execution and keep the children in Cyprus until the appeal is heard tomorrow was rejected.

    But his lawyer urges he be left alone regardless of his wife's pain, at least until tomorrow - when the appeal is heard in the Supreme Court.

    "If the appeal is rejected, I will try to persuade my client to give up the children," said Panayiotis Cleovoulou.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail he said that he couldn't understand Christine's concern for her children's safety.

    "He's still in shock from the first judgement. We had a good case, with good legal points that the court did not examine. The judgement isn't final yet so Mr. Savvas isn't so obligated. I suppose she knows my client very well. She knows he's a good father and that the children are safe. I can't understand why she's afraid," he said.

    But Cleovoulou has no idea where his client is. His only contact is through relatives who Christine claims are hiding her husband and sons.

    The lawyer spoke of the father's despair at the prospect of losing the boys forever if they fly to Ireland.

    "If the mother takes the children out of jurisdiction, then it's very difficult for my client to have contact. He has no money nor the means to start a trial in Ireland, in a foreign country, and he can't live there, he's tried."

    Christine and Ioannis married in 1995. They moved to Ireland in 1999 after the birth of their second son, hoping to start a new life.

    But despite hopes that he would find a good job, Cleovoulou said Ioannis didn't find steady work or friends.

    After 11 months, he'd had enough and decided life in Cyprus was better for the children.

    "Life is very expensive there. He couldn't afford it. They agreed before they left that if he couldn't live in Ireland, then they'd return to Cyprus, but when he asked, she refused," said Cleovoulou.

    "When they lived here, she had a good job here with an offshore company. But my client can't live in Ireland.

    Cleovoulou thinks a reconciliation between the couple, married for seven years, is unlikely given the emotions of the last few months.

    For her part, Christine was yesterday trying to whip up press attention of her plight back home in Ireland, as she awaited the outcome of tomorrow's Supreme Court appeal.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Father confined to hospital after attack on daughter

    THE man who apparently stabbed his three-year-old daughter in the neck after losing his job has been confined to the Athalassa Hospital on a court order until the middle of February.

    Police say Panayiotis Nicolaou, 30, confessed he took a kitchen knife to his daughter's throat as she lay in her bed at around 3pm on Saturday.

    He stabbed her twice, once from the left and once from the right, before rushing her to Larnaca General Hospital for medical treatment, police said.

    His wife allegedly slept through the entire incident in a separate room in the family's home in the coastal town.

    Styliani, aged just three and a half, was referred to the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia, where doctors yesterday said her condition was stable and she was out of danger, despite severe haemorrhage.

    Police say that Nicolaou, who apparently suffers from a personality disorder and has sought psychiatric help in the past, stabbed his daughter after being sacked from his job as a painter.

    Police told the Cyprus Mail that a court order for his admission to the Athalassa Hospital had been issued in place of an arrest and remand.

    He will stay in the clinic until mid-February at the earliest.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Clerides and Denktash prepare to talk territory

    By Melina Demetriou

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash held their ninth meeting yesterday since the resumption of talks on January 16, aiming to wrap up the issue of security and move on to the critical aspect of territory at their next meeting tomorrow.

    The meeting, which took place in a building near the UN-controlled Nicosia

    Airport in the presence of UN Secretary-general's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, lasted for about 75 minutes

    At their previous meetings, Clerides and Denktash concluded talks on the powers of the central government to emerge from a solution. They intend to wrap up the four core issues defined by the UN - constitution, security, territory, property - and list their separate views on them before the temporary interruption of the talks, from February 20 to the beginning of March.

    During the break, De Soto will fly to New York to brief UN Secretary- general Kofi Annan and the Security Council on the progress of the talks.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday told CyBC the two sides were currently outlining their positions and preparing for substantial negotiations, which were due to start early next month. Cassoulides confirmed reports that suggested the two sides had major differences over security, with Denktash insisting on the implementation of provisions of the 1960 Constitution that grant the three guarantor powers, Greece, Britain and Turkey, the right intervene in a crisis.

    Cassoulides said Denktash wanted Turkish forces to remain on the island.

    In his daily briefing yesterday, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou drew a line between the territory and the property issue.

    "Annan has separated the one from the other and therefore they will be examined as two different aspects," he said.

    In New York, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou - speaking after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum - called on the Turkish side to show the necessary political will to achieve substantive movement towards a solution within the framework of UN decisions.

    "Whether the negotiations will achieve the desired result is something we shall see, but to reach that stage it is absolutely necessary to have the will not only to negotiate but also to make headway within the parameters of UN decisions," Papandreou said yesterday.

    "I think it is early days to assess the process at this stage, the UN Secretary-general has set out a time limit for June," he added.

    Cem was due to meet Annan last night, with talks expected to focus on the Cyprus problem.

    The Turkish Cypriot side has set up an economic committee with the aim of advising Rauf Denktash during the negotiations, Turkish press reports said yesterday.

    The committee is made up of technocrats, academics, businessmen and members of non-governmental organisations.

    The body's chairman, Hasan Gungor, was yesterday quoted as saying the committee would make economic comparisons between the government controlled areas and the occupied north.

    He said the aim of the committee was to strengthen the economy of the north and examine the possibility of a unified economy in Cyprus after a solution.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] US urged to avert 'predictable crisis'

    UNRESOLVED, the Cyprus problem is a time bomb waiting to go off, according to US magazine The National Interest. According to the publication's winter edition, failure to reach a deal on the political problem before the island's accession to the EU is almost sure to spark a crisis between Turkey and the West. The article -- "Cyprus: The Predictable Crisis" -- authored by Henri J. Barkey and Philip H. Gordon, predicts that the entry of a divided Cyprus into the EU will reverse Greco-Turkish rapprochement, increase tensions on the island, further alienate Turkey from Europe and generally worsen Turkish domestic political conditions.

    The resulting crisis, the authors go on, could lead to Turkish annexation of Northern Cyprus, the permanent division of the island, a deep rupture between an aggrieved Turkey and Europe, and a possible military confrontation between two NATO members.

    The National Interest, a quarterly journal dealing with international affairs, suggests a crisis on Cyprus would "deeply damage American national interests," and advises the US leadership to push "hard" for a political settlement on the island before accession, describing this as the "optimal, if improbable, scenario."

    Saying a settlement is highly unlikely without outside pressure, the article notes that both sides on the island stand to lose from failure to reach a deal prior to accession. A frustrated Turkey could make good on its threats to annex the northern part of the island, thereby worsening its relations with the EU. Meanwhile the Republic of Cyprus, heavily dependent on tourism, could find itself facing an economic crisis as tensions with Turkey mount and arms spending in the region escalates.

    Although the island's actual accession to the EU will take place in 2004, giving ample time for a settlement, the authors say the crisis is set to escalate later this year, when the EU formally issues invitations to candidate countries.

    The authors rule out the option of the US persuading the EU to hold back Cyprus' accession to the bloc, and conclude the best strategy for the US government is to make both sides on the island realise the costs of a non- solution. It also suggests the United States should work with the EU, Greece and the Greek Cypriots to develop an accession strategy that holds the door open to Turkish Cypriots.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Deputies agree to speed cameras

    By Elias Hazou

    TRAFFIC surveillance cameras are to be installed alongside selected roads by year's end, following a decision by the House Communications Committee.

    The move is part of a stepped-up police campaign to cut down on road deaths on the island, seen as excessively high. Already a penalty points system is in place, while the House is considering approving a police recommendation that speeding fines be doubled.

    As Traffic Department spokesman Andreas Papas said, the cameras would act as a deterrent, and it is hoped drivers will commit less offences while on the wheel. He added speeding was considered the primary cause of fatal accidents.

    But the traffic cameras issue has raised some controversy over privacy rights, and the House has long been debating how to implement the measure. After much deliberation, it was decided that strict confidentiality regulations would be maintained, and that the offender's photograph would only be shown in court if the defendant denied the charges.

    In a twist to the story, some deputies joked that the measure would wreak havoc, especially on public figures caught driving around with their extramarital consorts.

    To which Transport Minister Averoff Neophytou replied: "There is no need for Cypriots to commit two offences simultaneously: speeding and having a girlfriend. They'll have to choose one or the other."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Minister steps in to halt deportation

    A PUBLIC appeal on television seems to have staved off the deportation of a Yugoslav woman and her 11-year-old daughter, as a moved Interior Minister pledged to keep the family on the island. The mother and daughter recently received notice from the Immigration Department to leave the country as their residence visa had expired. The father was deported last year and has reportedly been placed on the stop list. The family say they are refugees from the wars in Yugoslavia and came to Cyprus after losing everything in the conflict.

    The young girl, who was born in Cyprus, appeared on ANT1 television on Sunday night, pleading with the Interior Minister to halt the deportation process. She said she wanted to finish school here on the island, and that she felt Cypriot. Her father should also rejoin her and her mother, she asked.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou immediately called ANT1 and promised to halt the deportation process, "so that the child can finish her education."

    Christodoulou said he was touched by the girl's appeal and pledged to "examine all the aspects of this issue so that we work out what to do in the future."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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