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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-02-12

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, February 12, 2002


  • [01] Patriarch blesses efforts for peaceful coexistence in Cyprus
  • [02] Children placed on stop list in abduction battle
  • [03] 18-year-old accused of sex with underage Turkish Cypriot
  • [04] Road safety seminar for worst points offenders
  • [05] Falun Gong activists back to whip up support
  • [06] Deluge keeps rain figures well up
  • [07] Cyprus to take over rescue operations from the British

  • [01] Patriarch blesses efforts for peaceful coexistence in Cyprus

    ORTHODOX Patriarch Bartholomew yesterday underlined his particular interest in the Cyprus peace process, saying he encouraged every effort aiming at peaceful coexistence of men and peoples who have different civilisations and religions, and expressing the hope that the current talks would lead to a just and viable settlement.

    He was speaking after meeting Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, in Istanbul for a joint EU-OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) meeting.

    The Patriarch of Constantinople - a first among equals in the Orthodox world - said tolerance and respect of civilizations could help establish peace in Cyprus, noting that if the Turkish Cypriot side responded to the open mind and constructive disposition of the Greek Cypriots, then a solution could be reached.

    "We follow the peace talks and wish that the new phase of the dialogue will lead to a final, just and viable solution and we pray that the talks will yield fruit and bring peace to Cyprus," the Patriarch said, adding that the dwindling Greek community in Istanbul had suffered as the people of Cyprus had.

    "The Patriarchate blesses and encourages morally every effort which aims at finding a peaceful coexistence of men and peoples with different civilization and religion," Bartholomew added.

    "Tomorrow's conference is an attempt to communicate and to have a dialogue among civilizations and religions."

    Referring to the peace talks, Cassoulides said it was too early to say if he was pessimistic or optimistic, but

    added "if there is a corresponding response from the other side we can turn this dialogue into a really just dialogue for various sides."

    "We must wait until the next phase of the talks to see how they develop," he said.

    Cassoulides arrived in Istanbul yesterday after travelling via Athens.

    Some 17 foreign ministers from countries of the OIC and another 17 ministers from EU and candidate countries will participate in the forum. Present at the meeting will be the General Secretaries of the Council of Europe, the Arab League and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

    Cassoulides will address the forum this morning, after the opening ceremony at which Spain's Foreign Minister and current EU President Josep Pique I Camps and the OIC President, Foreign Minister of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabour Al Thani will give their welcoming addresses.

    The forum ends tomorrow with a morning discussion on "Who is the 'other', does it really exist?" A press statement will be issued when the meeting concludes, about noon.

    Cassoulides will return to the island later tomorrow.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Children placed on stop list in abduction battle

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE two toddlers at the centre of a kidnapping case are now living with their mother pending a decision from the Supreme Court to determine whether they should stay in Cyprus until an appeal into the case is heard.

    Ioannis Savvas took his sons Alexandros, aged four, and Leonidas, two, on holiday to Cyprus from the family's home in Ireland last July 2001. They never returned.

    His wife Christine immediately filed a complaint under The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.

    The case was heard in Cyprus, and a Limassol Court ruled last month that the children had been abducted and should be allowed to return with their Irish mother to their home in Cork in the Republic of Ireland.

    But on the eve of the decision, the father failed to return the children home by 9pm as laid out in the conditions of his visiting rights.

    For eight days, he kept the children at an undisclosed location, despite two warrants for his arrest and desperate appeals from his estranged wife to know their whereabouts.

    Eventually, he returned the children to their mother, but only after ensuring his sons' names had been put on the stop list.

    That effectively ensures that they cannot leave Cyprus until the father's appeal is heard for a stay of execution to force the boys to stay in the country until the Supreme Court has a chance to review the Limassol ruling.

    If court rules against his application, Christine will be free to take her children home.

    The judge's decision into this preliminary appeal is expected this week, the father's lawyer Panayiotis Cleovoulou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    He added that his client was adhering to the daily 6-9pm visitation rights.

    Christine, traumatised by recent events and the recent death of her mother, faces mounting financial difficulties the longer she stays in Cyprus, but her husband fears that once his sons leave the country he'll never see them again.

    He was arrested after handing the children back to their mother, and the state is investigating criminal charges against him.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] 18-year-old accused of sex with underage Turkish Cypriot

    By Jennie Matthew

    LARNACA court has remanded an 18-year-old man in custody for four days on suspicion of having sex with a 13-year-old Turkish Cypriot girl he wants to marry.

    The man - a Greek Cypriot - was arrested on Saturday night after the girl's mother made a formal complaint about her daughter's alleged relationship with the youth.

    He allegedly confessed to having sex with the schoolgirl.

    He appeared in court on Sunday morning and was remanded for four days on charges of having sex with a minor.

    State pathologist Eleni Antoniou examined the girl and confirmed that she was no longer a virgin.

    The Welfare Department is now handling the case and is in communication with both parties.

    "Welfare has already intervened. The protection of the child is always our first priority," said the head of the family services unit, Anita Konni.

    Despite the man's wish to make his girlfriend his wife, the law prohibits marriage under the age of 16.

    Those between 16 and 18 who wish to marry need parental consent to do so.

    Konni said the tradition of teenage brides had been deemed unacceptable since Independence and the introduction of compulsory education.

    Police say the man would be charged and released, pending a future court case.

    The sentence for anyone convicted of sex with a minor is a minimum of three years in jail, but could rise to life if the victim is under the age of 13. It is not known how old the girl was when the alleged offence took place.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Road safety seminar for worst points offenders

    AROUND 170 drivers who have accumulated a high number of penalty points and are in danger of losing their licences could expect an invitation to a police-hosted traffic safety seminar, Traffic Police Chief Andreas Papas said yesterday.

    Papas told the Cyprus Mail he had taken the initiative after complaints from people being booked for violating the traffic code.

    "We do not want to book people; we would like to go out on patrol and return with zero bookings," Papas said.

    So after noticing that around 170 drivers had accumulated so many points that they were close to losing their license, police decided to invite them to a traffic safety seminar, hoping to make them more aware of what they do wrong on the road.

    The seminar is not compulsory or binding by law, but police hope it might be appealing to the drivers who might respond positively.

    Papas said the drivers would watch films, see accident photographs, and be educated on the causes of accidents and on defensive driving techniques.

    Most penalty points are picked up for speeding and most repeat offenders are drivers who spend many hours behind the wheel.

    Reports say 85 drivers have accumulated nine points since the system was introduced a year ago, 62 have 10 points and 22, 11 points.

    One driver has 13 points and it is understood this case is pending in court.

    Drivers automatically lose their licence when they reach 12 points within a three-year period. How long they lose it for depends on how dangerous the court deems a driver to be.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Falun Gong activists back to whip up support

    By Jean Christou

    PRACTITIONERS of the Falun Gong exercise and meditation technique have retuned to Cyprus, a week after being blasted by the Chinese embassy as an evil cult.

    Vassilios Zoupounidis from the Greek Falun Gong Association and Dr Li Shao, a Director of Falun Gong Association (UK), are visiting the island as part of a European campaign to highlight the plight of practitioners in China and to drum up support against their treatment by the Chinese government.

    Yesterday, a Canadian and an American were arrested in Beijing after unfurling a yellow banner in Tiananmen Square accusing the Chinese authorities of staging self-immolations by followers of the group a year ago. Falun Gong says the immolations were set up to discredit the group.

    Falun Gong is an ancient oriental exercise and meditation system based on insights into the human mind, body and spirit. Its practitioners insist it is peaceful and promotes the traditional values of Zhen-Shan-Ren (Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance).

    However, the group has for years been suppressed by the communist authorities in China. In 1999, when the number of practitioners reached 70- 100 million, Falun Gong was banned.

    Practitioners say they were then subjected to intimidation, torture and imprisonment and it is estimated that some 343 have died from torture and ill treatment in police custody. They say around 20,000 Falun Gong practitioners are in labour camps without trial while 1,000 have been forced into mental asylums and given mind-altering drugs.

    The European Parliament adopted a resolution last February calling on the Chinese government to respect the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners. They also have the full support of Amnesty International and are now seeking the same in Cyprus.

    Commenting on the latest arrests, Li told the Cyprus Mail that, "it happens all the time".

    "My wife's sister was taken to labour camp for two years," he said. "It doesn't surprise me any more."

    Zoupounidis said a Greek practitioner was arrested in November and badly beaten after being detained.

    He said many other groups were also being persecuted now in China following the ban on Falun Gong. "The practices they ban are the ones they see have a lot of people practising it," he said. "Anything that is independent of the government."

    Li said other practices such as Tai Chi had not been banned because they were under the control of the government.

    "Just like Christian churches," he said. You can go if you don't mind the party control. They call this religious freedom, but they're not free."

    The visiting activists will be meeting with a host of people, ranging from government ministers to deputies and non-governmental organisations, in an attempt to garner the support they need in Europe.

    "We are here to inform people about Falun Gong, but the main objective is to get support from Europe to reverse the persecution," Li said. "The only way is to put pressure on China. If more people in influential countries like Cyprus do this, someone will listen."

    In a letter to the Sunday Mail on February 3, the Chinese embassy branded Falun Gong an evil cult.

    "It deceives people in the name of "truthfulness, compassion and tolerance", exerting "spiritual control" over its followers by preaching fabricated heresies and poisoning their minds," the letter said. "The Chinese government attaches great importance to safeguarding human rights. Falun Gong has greatly hurt the physical and mental health of its followers, undermined the interests of the people, and greatly disturbed China's economic construction, social order and political stability. China's policy on handling the Falun Gong issue is to unite, educate and redeem those who have been deceived into practising Falun Gong and to punish a handful of law-breaking elements in accordance with the law."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Deluge keeps rain figures well up

    RAINFALL continues to beat last year's statistics thanks to the deluge that drenched Cyprus over the last 24 hours, the Meteorological Department said yesterday.

    Rainfall for the first 10 days of the month was 21 per cent higher than the monthly average for February, based on statistics collated between 1960 and 1990.

    Peristerona wins this month's wettest spot award, taking 49 per cent of the average monthly rainfall in just one day.

    A close second were Polis and Lythrodontas, battered by 38 per cent of the average monthly rainfall.

    Rainfall as a whole since October 1, 2001 is up 115 per cent compared to the same period the previous year, with Athienou and Lythrodontas the wettest villages of this winter.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Cyprus to take over rescue operations from the British

    By George Psyllides

    FORTY-TWO years after its independence, Cyprus will in March officially take over search and rescue (SAR) operations from the British bases, Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos announced yesterday.

    Since the establishment of the Republic in 1960, and in accordance with provisions in the Treaty of Establishment, the official Rescue Co- ordination Centre (RCC) listed in relevant authorities, such as then International Maritime Organisation, was the one at the Sovereign Base Area (SBA) of Akrotiri.

    According to Annex B, Part V, Section 9 (2) of the Treaty: "In so far as the services established for their own use make this possible, the United Kingdom authorities shall make available search and rescue facilities for all civil aircraft within the FIR administered from Nicosia and fire and crash services for all aircraft using Nicosia airport."

    The main reason for the clause was the inability of the Republic to provide SAR services in 1960.

    Despite this provision, Cyprus, in accordance with the 1979 Hamburg Convention on Maritime SAR, created its own RCC six years ago, which effectively handled most SAR missions within the Nicosia FIR.

    Officials have said there was never any rivalry between the two RCCs, which worked in close co-operation.

    Yesterday, speaking after observing a SAR exercise in Larnaca, Hasikos said that the Republic was ready to provide help anywhere and under any circumstances.

    "What is certain is that the Turkish occupation forces would not rise to the occasion in such case," Hasikos added.

    Which is where the SBAs still come in.

    Despite refusing to allow any of the Republic's rescue forces to enter the occupied areas, the Turks have never refused access to the British.

    When massive fires devastated the Pentadactylos range in 1995, the Turkish side refused any help from the Republic while allowing SBA forces - albeit it made up of Greek and Turkish Cypriot personnel - to assist.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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