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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-13

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, March 13, 2002


  • [01] OBITUARY: Spyros Kyprianou, defiant to the last
  • [02] Massive security operation as 11,000 Israelis fly in for UEFA cup clash
  • [03] Banks employing police in bid to step up security
  • [04] Five appeals and six years later, Solomou gets top PIO post
  • [05] Officials seek to play down fears over 'floating bomb'
  • [06] Bulgarian bank gets licence to open Cyprus office
  • [07] Dust cloud to make way for colder weather

  • [01] OBITUARY: Spyros Kyprianou, defiant to the last

    By Jean Christou

    HE MAY have been small in stature, but former President of the Republic Spyros Kyprianou, who has died of cancer aged 69, will be remembered for leading the revival of Cyprus after the Turkish invasion. He was also a great political survivor in a career which spanned more than four decades.

    He had been involved in politics since his twenties, serving his country in a variety of top posts. He was the Republic's first-ever Foreign Minister, and also served two successive terms as President of the Republic, as well as two spells, separated by almost 20 years, as President of the House of Representatives. The founder and leader, until two years ago, of the centre- right DIKO party, Kyprianou has left his indelible mark on Cyprus politics.

    Born on October 28, 1932, in Limassol, he received a law degree in London. During his studies he founded the Cypriot Students' Union in the UK, acting also as Archbishop Makarios' special representative in Britain. He became the country's first Foreign Minister at the age of 28 when the island gained independence from Britain in 1960.

    During the 1955-1959 EOKA struggle, Kyprianou was expelled from Britain and moved to Athens to work with the Pan-Hellenic Committee for Self- determination in Cyprus and travelled to New York and Washington to put the Cyprus case before the United Nations and the US.

    He continued his campaigning for the Cyprus cause as Foreign Minister, and three years after his appointment he made a name for himself at the UN General Assembly with a passionate defence of the Greek Cypriot position during the 1963-64 intercommunal troubles that led to UN peacekeepers being deployed on the island.

    In the early seventies, while still Foreign Minister, he was said to have fallen out with the military junta that was running Greece. The colonels reportedly singled him out and in a provocative note to President Makarios demanded that ministers unsympathetic to the Greek government be dismissed. Makarios refused to sack him but Kyprianou resigned on principle and left politics. He was working as a lawyer during the events of July 1974.

    With the collapse of the Greek junta, Kyprianou returned to politics and led the Cypriot delegation to the United Nations in November 1974 for the General Assembly's debate on the Turkish invasion.

    In 1976 Kyprianou founded the centre-right party DIKO, which forged an alliance with the communist party AKEL and the socialist party EDEK to fight the parliamentary elections. The alliance won all the seats in 1976 parliamentary election, with the right wing DISY being left out of the legislature. Kyprianou was elected speaker, and on the death of Archbishop Makarios a year later he became Acting President of the Republic.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash immediately dismissed Kyprianou as "a pale imitation of Makarios", but the diminutive statesman was well-placed to succeed Makarios and seized this opportunity. He was elected president, unopposed, in 1978, the backing of the three parties making his entry into the presidential palace a mere formality. His main rival at the time, Glafcos Clerides, had withdrawn his candidacy after the kidnapping of Kyprianou's eldest son Achilleas, who was serving in the National Guard; Achilleas was released a few days later, but the kidnappers were never found.

    With the alliance still going strong, Kyprianou had no trouble winning a second term in 1983, defeating Clerides by a large margin. In his 10 years in office Cyprus enjoyed very high rates of economic growth, fuelled by a boom in construction and tourism. Hotels and holiday flats sprang up in the coastal resorts as demand for hotel beds increased dramatically, with hundreds of thousands of European tourists holidaying in Cyprus. During his term there were other development projects such as the building of dams all over the island, and the road network was improved.

    On the political front, Kyprianou was even more successful, as he presided over the smooth transition from the civil war conditions that preceded the invasion to a period of stability and growing affluence. The fanaticism and violence of the pre-invasion years were consigned to the scrap-heap of history as Cyprus entered a period of calm and greater democracy. He strengthened his hold on power and built up his party-base by appointing and promoting his own people to all key positions in the public and semi- state sectors, an issue that constantly plagued his presidency.

    But the most criticism he came under was for his handling of the Cyprus peace talks. He had two major opportunities to solve the Cyprus problem, in 1978 and 1985, and failed to seize either of them. In 1978 he rejected a plan formulated by the western powers, because his political allies, the communist party AKEL, which was under the control of Moscow, were opposed to it - there was no way the Soviet-controlled party would accept a western plan during the Cold War. In 1985, a peace agreement prepared by the UN was also on the cards and Kyprianou went to in New York to sign it. But he got cold feet at the last minute and another opportunity for a settlement vanished.

    As President, Kyprianou seemed happier securing resolutions from the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement that condemned the Turkish invasion and occupation, rather than working imaginatively for a settlement. A prisoner of his own defiant rhetoric, Kyprianou preferred to play the rejectionist card, rather than ever be accused of concessionism towards the Turkish side.

    "Ours is not a struggle for formalities but for substance. Our refusal to give in is not a whim," he said in 1985 when the two biggest parties, DISY and his former allies AKEL, attacked his hard-line policy on the Cyprus peace talks and forced him to hold early parliamentary elections. His party DIKO emerged from the elections stronger than before, increasing its share of the vote from 20 to 28 per cent.

    As he reminded his detractors at the time: "There is another achievement, which some people may describe as a failure. We have avoided a bad solution to the Cyprus problem. What this country needs is not a change but strengthening of our current course."

    But after 10 years of Kyprianou people voted for change in the presidential elections of 1988. Kyprianou had decided to abandon his alliance with the communist party during his second term, and he paid a high price for it. He was succeeded as President by the AKEL-backed candidate George Vassiliou, and was forced to spend another five years in the political wilderness during which he saw himself being marginalised and his party's strength drastically diminished.

    Others may have thrown in the towel and passed on the party leader's baton to someone else, but not a survivor like Kyprianou who persevered and returned to the limelight five years later, in 1993. In the electoral showdown of 1993 between Clerides and Vassiliou, Kyprianou offered his party's support to his old rival Clerides and was generously rewarded in exchange. Kyprianou not only secured five ministries for his party, but he was also given a say in all government appointments to key public posts. He made full use of this privilege, causing serious problems for the Clerides government when he disagreed with a decision.

    In 1996 he was elected President of the House of Representatives for the second time, a post he held until last year, when parliament was dissolved. A year earlier he had also stepped down as leader of DIKO, to be replaced by another old rival Tassos Papadopoulos, a man he fell out with 22 years earlier when he named him as the 'brain' behind an alleged conspiracy to topple his government.

    The 'big conspiracy' of 1978 was one of the less flattering episodes that marked his political career. A few months into his presidency, Kyprianou announced to an incredulous public that he had quashed a plot to topple him. An Ayia Napa hotelier was arrested and later released. A West German diplomat was declared persona non grata, as was an Israeli football coach, while a little-known Cypriot was imprisoned for his alleged involvement. The episode caused a strain in relations with Bonn and raised serious questions about Kyprianou's ability to govern. Yet it was a testament to the man's staying power that he survived this embarrassment - there was no conspiracy - to remain in power for another decade.

    In the eighties, he made another big revelation - that a criminal group was planning to release toxic gas in Nicosia - that ended in embarrassment.

    He made one last effort to return to the presidential palace but it never got off the ground. When he agreed to back Clerides in 1993, he had been promised that Clerides' party would support his candidacy in 1998, and he was given assurances, until a few months before the elections, that the agreement would be honoured. It was not. Clerides stood again and DIKO was forced to enter an alliance with AKEL once again, backing George Iacovou, who had served as Foreign Minister in Kyprianou's government. The electoral defeat caused major rifts within his party and there were calls for his resignation. But he weathered the storm and announced his decision to step down as leader when he chose to do so, and not before.

    During his twilight years in the political arena, Kyprianou took on the mantle of speaking out on other conflicts around the world, most notably the NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia over the Kosovo crisis in 1999 when he strongly criticised NATO, saying it was acting in violation of international law. The Kosovo conflict really threw Kyprianou into the international spotlight when he jumped on a plane in an attempt to secure the release of three US soldiers being held by Belgrade. The mission proved to be a failure, and Kyprianou laid the blame for this squarely on the shoulder of the US and its allies.

    "I am disappointed," he said on his return to the island. "Both the Americans and their allies did not take seriously this initiative, which was of a humanitarian nature. I expected NATO to stop the bombing of Yugoslavia during the mission, but on the contrary it intensified," he said after talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade.Kyprianou began to wind down his role in politics following a heart operation in early 2000, which was followed by further surgery a little later when complications arose. But before his departure for treatment in London he told journalists he had urged Clerides to call an early election in view of what he saw as the President's "soft" policies on the Cyprus issue.

    Soon after he stepped down as House of Representatives President, drawing the curtain on a 40-year political career, Kyprianou was diagnosed with lung and pelvic cancer.

    In an emotionally charged atmosphere in the House, Kyprianou officially ended his career with an address to the media, with whom he always co- operated closely.

    "I left politics of my own accord. But I know that you don't have to be a politician to serve your country. Cyprus will go through testing times. The next few years will be hugely critical with the EU accession process coming to an end. We must all be on guard at all times," he warned.

    "I thank the people for the love they have shown me and the honour they did me in handing me the most important political posts during my career. I lay no claims to infallibility, but whatever I did, I did with pure motives and intentions in order to serve our national issue and the interests of the people.

    "I will never give up the struggle for the solution of the Cyprus Problem, not for as long as I live."

    Kyprianou made mistakes in his long and varied career and we will never know if the opportunities for a settlement that he scorned were real opportunities. Yet he was never given the credit he deserved for presiding over the economic miracle that followed the Turkish invasion and put the economy on strong foundations. And he achieved this by bringing domestic stability and allowing democracy to flourish. Most importantly, it was his government that took the first step towards the European Union by signing the Customs Union agreement.

    Spyros Kyprianou may have had many detractors in his long and varied career, but he was a tough politician who always knew how to get what he wanted. He may have suffered major reverses and embarrassments, but he could never be written off. He always bounced back, defiant to the last, just like his rhetoric on the Cyprus problem.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Massive security operation as 11,000 Israelis fly in for UEFA cup clash

    By Alexia Saoulli

    DRACONIAN security measures are being laid on as Cyprus prepares to host the UEFA cup quarter-final between Hapoel Tel Aviv and AC Milan tomorrow night, after the European federation suspended all European competition matches in Israel until further notice, due to the escalating violence in the Middle East.

    Because of the political unrest, police are drastically stepping up security measures to ensure the safety of both players and fans.

    Police Spokesman Stelios Neophytou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the police force was ready and well equipped to handle all the necessary security measures.

    "I do not want to go into specific details of how many officers will actually be at the event or how we plan to implement certain security strategies because that would be counter-productive," he said.

    "It's not exactly wise to warn people how many police officers will be there because that means the security measures cease to exist."

    However, Neophytou said the public could be rest assured that the police force had carefully examined every detail and were confident they could keep "order, calm, peace and security" during the game, avoiding any "unpleasant incidents".

    But another police source said an estimated 1,000 police officers were expected to be at the match, including members of the anti-terrorist squad, the rapid reaction unit, plain-clothes policemen and other officers.

    "Israeli, Italian and Cypriot officers have all been in contact to ensure that the match runs smoothly and that no one is hurt," he said.

    "Naturally precautions are always taken at football matches, but in this case we have to be particularly careful because of the situation in the Middle East and the fact that an Israeli team is playing."

    A spokesperson at the GSP stadium, where the game is being held, said there was absolute chaos at the ground, with police swarming all over the stadium and the phone ringing off the hook.

    "Safety measures are extremely tight," she said "and we are in constant consultation with the police and security officials".

    The head of the GSP, Fivos Constantinides, told the paper that so far 16, 000 tickets had been issued.

    "Eleven thousand tickets were delivered to Israel by hand on Sunday," he said, "and a further 5,000 tickets have been issued for Cypriots and the handful of Italian fans that are expected".

    The Israeli team will be footing the bill for all the expenses involved in the match, from airfares and police escorts to all the security measures. The GSP will make a 10 per cent profit on each 15 ticket sold, he said - 24,000 from the 16,000 tickets on sale.

    The Israeli fans will be collected from the airport and ports, Constantinides said, and brought to the stadium with a police escort to avoid any risk of terrorist attack. He said they would then be taken to a special area cordoned off specifically for them in the parking lot, and that the stadium itself would be blocked off with a wire fence.

    "I'm hoping that nothing will happen," he said, "but global events in the past six months suggest anything is possible. Therefore, we are working very closely with the Israeli authorities to ensure that it doesn't".

    Constantinides said anyone entering the stadium would have their ticket checked and would have to pass through an x-ray machine. Stadium employees, police, security officials, media and even VIPs would also all have to carry passes on them.

    "Even I will have to pass through the x-ray machine," he said.

    The move to change venue for the quarter-final match came a day after two Israeli internationals, Yossi Abuksis and Assi Domb of Hapoel, were forced to dive for their lives when a Palestinian gunman opened fire in a Tel Aviv restaurant, killing three people.

    UEFA then approached Cyprus as an optional relocation.

    "We had to ask the government first to see if it was okay, but because we want to promote Cyprus as a neutral, stable country in the Mediterranean we were hardly in a position to refuse," Constantinides said.

    "Besides, this is an opportunity to put the island on the map. It could even be seen as an exam for the police, the football federation, the organisers and everyone involved. If we pull this off, then other people will use us for future events. There are so many good things about Cyprus, from the Olympic swimming pool to the Eleftheria stadium, that can be used by international bodies for a number of events."

    He added that last week the GSP had applied to UEFA to host the women's national European football finals.

    "I know that women's football is not a popular event here, but the publicity the event will bring to the island, plus the number of foreigners and UEFA officials that will flock to Cyprus will be a big step for us," he said, hopeful that the application would be accepted.

    Hapoel play AC Milan tomorrow night at 9pm at the GSP stadium in Nicosia.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Banks employing police in bid to step up security

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE GROWING risk of bank robbery has led the Bank Association to adopt greater security measures, police security consultant Charalambos Stavrinides said yesterday.

    He said the police had been in contact with the Justice Ministry to discuss what precautions needed to be taken, and that even though some had already been implemented, they would be meeting again to assess what else needed to be done.

    "Despite the fact that we have had a number of bank robberies in recent years, the security record in Cyprus compare better to those abroad," he said. "For instance in Italy, for every 10 banks there is one robbery, whereas in Cyprus it is one for every 100 banks."

    The Nicosia district deputy chief of police, Ioannis Diaouris, was unwilling to specify precisely what these measures were and how many men would be involved, but he told the Cyprus Mail that the banks had employed a number of policemen to patrol their premises around the island to ensure that everything was running smoothly.

    "Naturally, I would rather not publicise exactly how many policemen have been employed by the banks. All I can say, is that this line of duty is over and above their service to the police force and that they are paid extra. This work is voluntary, since the people involved work a lot more hours than is required," he said, "and sometimes have to work double shifts, since after they've patrolled the banks, they then have to come to work for us."

    The policemen will be armed and ride around in pairs on motorbikes, Diaouris said, stopping by banks around the country to check that everything is okay. He added they would carry an electronic swipe card with them that would record what banks they had visited, at what time and what the situation there was. This information would then be transferred to the police force's computer records, to ensure that the policemen involved were keeping to their schedules. He added that the police would have a co- ordinator working alongside the banks to ensure that things ran according to plan.

    Diaouris said the banks had also stepped up their own internal security measures, from closed circuit cameras and alarms to employee responses to robbery.

    "Some banks will also start using electronic safes and placing barriers between customers and cashiers. This is a necessary move in this day and age, because of the growing social phenomenon of crime," he said, adding that the security measures were not just temporary, but would actually increase over time.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Five appeals and six years later, Solomou gets top PIO post

    By Jean Christou

    AFTER a six-year battle at the Supreme Court, Yiannakis Solomou has finally been offered the position of Director-general of the Press and Information Office (PIO) following a decision that is binding on the Public Services Commission (PSC).

    Solomou, who has won five appeals against a PSC decision not to appoint him to the post, said yesterday he expected to take over the post within the next week.

    The issue has been pending since 1996, when George Hadjisavvas was appointed director after the position became vacant. But many, including applicant Solomou, questioned the appointment, pointing to Hadjisavvas' lack of qualifications.

    Solomou took legal action against what he considered unfair rebuttal in the appointment process, with the Supreme Court ruling he was the superior candidate on every possible count. The court then urged the PSC to comply with the decision, but the Commission ignored the directive, simply cancelling Hadjisavvas' appointment and then re-appointing him.

    The same scenario was repeated four times, and when Hadjisavvas retired two years ago, he was replaced by Androulla Lanitis.

    The latest court ruling issued on Monday was the result of an April 2001 appeal by the Attorney-general against the fourth Supreme Court decision in Solomou's favour, which had been issued the previous month.

    In his appeal, the Attorney-general "admitted" that eight out of the nine counts on Solomou's suitability as PIO director were valid, but argued the Supreme Court judge had "misrepresented" one count.

    Yesterday Solomou said there would be no more cases since the latest decision, by a full bench court, was binding on the PSC. He said it meant he would hold the post of PIO director-general and that Lanitis would return to her old position as senior press and information officer. He said the legal issue did not involve Lanitis since the case had been brought against Hadjisavvas, and Lanitis had not been a contender at the time of the original appointment in 1996.

    "I'm glad it's all over," Solomou said. "I believe I should have been appointed in the first place and after five court decisions I feel vindicated although I don't really want to make a fuss about it."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Officials seek to play down fears over 'floating bomb'

    SHIPPING Department representative Yiannis Karidjis yesterday admitted that a ship full of acetylene anchored just outside Limassol port posed a threat to public safety.

    Karidjis made the statement before the House Environment Committee convening on the matter yesterday.

    The ship, the Lady Doris, has been anchored outside the port since last December, when it stopped for refuelling on its way from Kalamata in Greece to India.

    Instead, it was placed under arrest by the Shipping Department because of a financial dispute between its owners and the Port Authority.

    The Shipping Department will not give the ship its release papers, which means it cannot set sail as it will not be able to enter another port without them.

    Lady Doris is loaded with barrels containing 2,700 tonnes of acetylene, which will explode if it leaks and comes into contact with water, said Karidjis.

    The Department official, however, sought to play down fears, saying that "there is a currently only a very small leak as the barrels are a bit damp."

    Karidjis reassured that the area where the barrels were kept "is mechanically ventilated to avert the concentration of the chemical substance and minimise the risk of an accident."

    The ship will remain at port at least until March 26 when the Supreme Court is due to start examining an appeal filed by the ship's owner against the decision to put it under arrest.

    Marios Matsakis of DIKO described Lady Doris as a "floating bomb".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Bulgarian bank gets licence to open Cyprus office

    THE CENTRAL Bank yesterday granted its approval for the establishment in Cyprus of a representative office of the Corporate Commercial Bank of Bulgaria.

    Corporate Commercial Bank was established in 1989 as a joint venture of a Bulgarian and Russian Bank.

    As part of the country's privatisation programme in 2000, the bank's shares were sold to private investors in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Bulgaria and Malta.

    Although the representative office will operate as a liaison point between the bank's Head Office and its non-resident customers, it shall not conduct any form of banking activities in or from within Cyprus.

    This is the second Bulgarian bank to establish a place of business in Cyprus and its presence is expected to reinforce the economic co-operation between the two countries, including the enhancement of Cyprus' international business enterprises sector.

    At the moment, the Central Bank is assessing a number of other applications submitted by foreign banks for the establishment of International Banking Units or Representative Offices.

    Currently, there are 29 international banking units and two representative offices of foreign banks established in Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Dust cloud to make way for colder weather

    THE 'DUST cloud' that has covered the island over the past two days is expected to be gone by today, the meteorological services said yesterday.

    "This dust that has been swarming in from North Africa will move north later this afternoon," an official said.

    Evidence of the dust was apparent around the capital yesterday, clogging up car windows and casting a haze over the city. The departure of the dust is likely to give way to rain and lower temperatures over the next two days, the weather official said.

    Cyprus has been enjoying an unusually warm spell, with temperatures some five degrees above normal during the past week, but a return to colder weather is imminent, especially in mountainous areas.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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