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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Wednesday, April 17, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Verheugen: Turkish Cypriots risk deeper isolation without solution
  • [02] Christofias: talks are a dialogue of the deaf
  • [03] EU warns tourism downturn could slow growth
  • [04] UN Nicosia conference: Jenin massacres were 'a chilling war crime'
  • [05] EU calls on Turkey to lift ban on Cyprus ships
  • [06] Deadlock in hauliers' dispute
  • [07] Environmental studies 'delaying development plans'
  • [08] Sewage project 'most expensive ever'
  • [09] British Olympic team set to train in Cyprus

  • [01] Verheugen: Turkish Cypriots risk deeper isolation without solution

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Cypriots risk isolating themselves even further if Cyprus joins the EU without a solution, European Union Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen has warned.

    Addressing the European Parliament, Verheugen said EU officials and the Commission's delegation head in Cyprus had been barred from visiting the north, leaving them unable to put across the message on the importance of a united Cyprus joining the EU. He said the obstacles to crossing to the north were "now more prevalent than in the past".

    "If Cyprus joins the EU in its current state of affairs, then the political and economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots will continue and perhaps take a turn for the worse," Verheugen said.

    He said the June target date for an agreement to the Cyprus problem was not going to change and added that if the Turkish Cypriots wanted to gain the most of EU accession, then the sooner a solution was found the better.

    President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have been engaged in face-to-face talks since January 16 but progress has not been as fast as the UN and the international community hoped for. A June deadline, when Cyprus completes its accession negotiations with the EU, has been tentatively mentioned for a settlement, but Denktash has recently said this was unacceptable, although it was he who first mentioned the date. The two leaders met yesterday as part of the twice-weekly talks.

    Greek Foreign Minster George Papandreou said on Tuesday that the prospect of EU membership remained the best hope for achieving a solution.

    "We have not gone very far but I think there is still hope," Papandreou told reporters in Brussels.

    "I think (Turkey) understands this is a historic opportunity. The question is whether there will be the political will to make the necessary moves," he added.

    Last weekend, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem warned of the potential for a crisis if Cyprus entered the EU without a solution.

    Papandreou, who held talks with Cem in Luxembourg on Monday after a meeting of EU foreign ministers, said the Turkish Cypriots had much to gain by reaching a deal that would allow Cyprus to enter the Union as a reunited island.

    "The EU is helping by offering prospects for the Turkish Cypriots to live and work together (with their Greek Cypriot neighbours) within a community of values which will protect the rights of both communities," Papandreou said.

    He said the loose confederation wanted by the Turkish side could cause similar problems to Bosnia, which is divided into two ethnic communities.

    "We want to see a state that will work well within the EU, that will function... not a Bosnia, which is very difficult to govern right now. We don't want that in the EU," Papandreou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Christofias: talks are a dialogue of the deaf

    By Evelyn Leopold

    HOUSE President Demetris Christofias has appealed to the United States and Britain to put pressure on Turkey, calling the current talks on the island's future "two monologues" rather than a dialogue.

    The United Nations has been brokering face-to-face talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and set a June deadline for agreement on the divided Mediterranean island.

    But Christofias told reporters in New York on Monday the talks were turning into a "dialogue of the deaf".

    "We haven't a dialogue. We have two monologues. Everyone speaks his own political language," he said. "They are analysing what they already analysed 1,000 times."

    Christofias, who met UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, went on to Washington yesterday for meetings with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and leading US lawmakers.

    He said he realised the United States had close relations with Turkey, a key power in the Middle East and Asia. He said most Turkish people wanted to see a solution to the Cyprus problem but the military and its political allies appeared to want to stay in northern Cyprus indefinitely.

    "I think Britain, the United States and the UN Security Council could do more," Christofias said. "To bless the talks is not enough."

    The United States has "daily contact" with Turkish civilian and military leaders, he said. "We are not saying we want the 6th or 7th Fleet... just contact."

    The AKEL leader said there was little sign of Denktash changing his stance.

    "Denktash is an able politician and clever man but he doesn't use his vision."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] EU warns tourism downturn could slow growth

    By Jean Christou

    THE EUROPEAN Commission's Directorate-general on Economic and Financial Affairs has warned that the drop in the island's tourism could lead to a slowdown in the growth of the economy.

    A report just issued on 'Macroeconomic and Financial Sector Stability Developments in Candidate Countries', said that "the macroeconomic challenges for Cyprus originate mostly from the external side" and that "deteriorating export conditions, notably in tourism, could lead to a growth slowdown and a widening current account deficit."

    "While capital liberalisation on the inflow side has progressed, liberalisation on the outflow side has been lagging, the report said.

    "If too many restrictions remain to be lifted until very soon before accession, destabilising speculation could ensue."

    The report also said that the objective of the fiscal consolidation programme to reach budgetary balance by 2004 would "help to keep the current account deficit sustainable and to maintain macroeconomic stability, while providing increased flexibility in fiscal policy options".

    Further liberalisation of the economy and resulting efficiency gains in Cyprus would contribute towards a decreased vulnerability to tourist demand fluctuations by helping to make other sectors more competitive, it added.

    Last week, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said there were signs that Cyprus was becoming less reliant on tourism, the economy's mainstay. Tourism, badly affected by the terrorist attacks in the US last September, is responsible for around 20 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

    The downturn would not affect the economy to a huge extent this year, the minister said, although tourism is expected to fall between five and eight per cent.

    Klerides said Cyprus was now making great strides in the financial and telecommunications fields, which would take the focus away from the fickle tourism industry.

    Analysts, however, cast doubt on the minister's assessment, saying the economy remains in many ways over dependent on tourism and that many other factors such as developments in the Cyprus problem or the stock market could adversely affect the economy.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] UN Nicosia conference: Jenin massacres were 'a chilling war crime'

    By Melina Demetriou

    A UNITED Nations conference in support of Middle East peace held in Nicosia yesterday condemned Israeli attacks on Palestinian territories and warned that the escalating crisis could spread to the broader region if peace was not soon restored.

    The UN meeting is being held in Cyprus, one of the founding members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights on the Palestinian People.

    In his opening address yesterday, Committee chairman Papa Louis Fall said the international community was "profoundly shocked by the horrible massacres reported from Jenin."

    "These massacres constitute a chilling war crime. The Israelis took six days to complete it and six days to clean it up," he charged.

    Fall accused the Israeli government of resorting to excessive force in civilian areas, practising extrajudicial detentions and killings, conducting house demolitions and facilitating illegal settlement.

    He said Israel had damaged a large number of Palestinian facilities, such as schools, medical institutions, road networks, water supply systems, airports and television stations.

    "Plus, in an almost methodical manner, the occupying power has been trying to disassemble the physical infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority, intimidate, arrest and assassinate it members."

    Fall also urged the international community to stand up for besieged Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and help towards the resumption of peace talks.

    "Quiet diplomacy is sometimes not enough. In this case, the international community needs to shout," he stressed.

    Fall cited polls showing that a large percentage of Israelis, over 50 per cent, would not mind if Israeli troops withdrew from Palestinian territories.

    UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan also sent a message to the meeting.

    "The Middle East needs our support more urgently than ever. In recent months and weeks we have witnessed an extremely dangerous escalation of violence," he said.

    Since September 2000, over 2,000 persons have lost their lives, among them many children and civilians, he cited.

    "This is a tragedy that cannot be allowed to continue," Annan said.

    The Secretary-general noted that the recent escalation of violence combined with a sharp rise in attacks against Israel from Lebanon "underscore the seriousness and potential dangers of the present escalation, not only for the Israelis and Palestinians but also for the region and beyond."

    Annan charged that Israeli forces had flouted human rights standards and humanitarian principles, while he condemned Palestinian suicide bombings as "morally repugnant".

    He said a massive assistance programme was urgently needed to allow the Palestinians to rebuild their lives and households.

    In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said that as a neighbouring state with strong bonds of friendship to both Israelis and Palestinians, Cyprus was pained by the never-ending cycle of violence in the Middle East.

    "The challenge for the parties to the conflict is to find the necessary political courage and go beyond hatred to look for ways of stopping the bloodshed and returning to the negotiating table," he said.

    "History will judge harshly both parties directly concerned as well as all of us, if we fail to act towards this direction, and act now," Cassoulides added.

    The minister further called on Israel to withdraw from the areas occupied by its troops earlier this month and to desist from actions such as extrajudicial executions and attacks on medical and humanitarian institutions.

    He also asked the Sharon government to restore Arafat's freedom of movement.

    Cassoulides reiterated that Cyprus supported the immediate implementation of Security Council resolutions on Israel.

    The participants held a plenary session yesterday afternoon. The meeting is due to be completed today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] EU calls on Turkey to lift ban on Cyprus ships

    By Jean Christou

    THE Merchant Shipping Department (MSD) yesterday welcomed a statement by the European Union calling on Turkey to lift a 15-year ban on Cypriot- flagged ships calling at Turkish ports.

    The call was made by the 15 ministers in a statement issued yesterday in Luxembourg reconfirming the EU's Helsinki position on Cyprus' accession.

    MSD director Serghios Serghiou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that as far as he was aware it was the first time the issue of the Turkish ban on Cyprus-flagged ships had been the subject of such a call from the EU.

    Serghiou said the ban was first imposed by Turkey in 1987. "This includes the banning of Cyprus ships from calling at Turkish ports for loading and unloading and changing crew," he said.

    "It's not prohibited to transit the Bosphorus because this is regulated by IMO international conventions."

    In 1998, Turkey took the ban even further, extending it to include any ships of any flag, which had first called at a Cyprus port before travelling directly to Turkey.

    "This ban is unilateral," Serghiou said. "We don't impose any ban on Turkish flagged ships that call to Cyprus."

    The Shipping Director said the 1987 ban has affected the growth of the Cyprus Registry, the sixth largest in the world with some 2,000 vessels. The immediate impact he said was the withdrawal of some vessels from the registry but not to any great extent, he said.

    "We would have more ships on the registry if the Turkish ban was not there, " Serghiou said. "The immediate effect was the ban was not very visible. Only a limited number of ships left the registry but it has had a long-term effect on growth of the Cyprus registry."

    Serghiou said that a clause had to be included in the charter of every company registering with the Cyprus flag saying it wouldn't call at a Turkish port.

    "This is a disadvantage," Serghiou added. "Although the ships on our registry don't deal with Turkish ports, the ban is a limitation on the full utilisation of the Cyprus flag."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Deadlock in hauliers' dispute

    By Alex Mita

    LORRY drivers will continue their blockage of the Limassol port roads today, after talks broke down between them and the Zakaki Committee over drivers' demands for full access to key roads to and from the Ypsonas Industrial area.

    The talks were a final attempt by the Mayor of Limassol, Demetris Kontides, to bring the dispute to an end, after the Hauliers' Association organised a protest that blocked traffic in and out of Limassol port yesterday.

    The Treasurer of the Lorry Driver's Association, George Charalambous, told the Cyprus Mail that their demands for access to the roads in question were not illogical, and that the Association would remain adamant on its demands "to the bitter end".

    "We are not allowed access to and from the Ypsonas Industrial area, and our drivers now have to travel eight times the distance to get to their delivery points," Charalambous said.

    In the morning, a truck convoy parked outside the Municipal Hall, and had a brief meeting with Mayor Kontides, in which the hauliers presented a memorandum.

    "The roads we want to use are quite large, and there is not much traffic," Charalambous explained.

    "Omonia Street has too much traffic, but it's not an issue of tyre damage or truck wear and tear, the problem is time wasting due to traffic."

    However, one of the main issues troubling the people of Zakaki, is the safety of their children, whose schools are on the streets the hauliers want to use.

    But Charalambous says that there is an easy solution to the problem.

    "We have repeatedly suggested that heavy goods vehicle circulation be allowed only between the hours of 8.30am and 2pm, when children are attending school."

    Another sticking point is the fact that there is no by-pass to connect the port with the new hospital roundabout.

    "The construction of a by-pass in order to ease any congestion caused by heavy goods vehicles will take up to two and a half years," Charalambous said. "What are we supposed to do until then?"

    He said the problem had been going on for three years.

    "We have not received any support or response from the government".

    Charalmbous claims the city council blocked access to the key routes without consulting the lorry drivers.

    "Serifos Street accommodates lorries used in the export of fruits. Limassol is the place where all fruits are gathered and prepared for export," he explained.

    "Paros Street and the others would give us better access to the industrial areas."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Environmental studies 'delaying development plans'

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE ENVIRONMENTAL Service came under fire yesterday from a senior Communications Ministry official who blamed the department for holding back development projects.

    During a meeting of the House Environment Committee yesterday, the ministry's acting general director Stathis Hamboullas lashed out against the Service, sparking an angry reaction from the Environment Minister.

    Hamboullas charged the department often delayed development projects by submitting environmental studies at the last minute.

    He accused the environmental service of presenting studies while projects were under way, spoiling long-term plans.

    But Environment Minister Costas Themistocleous countered that a civil servant like Hamboullas should not question procedures that had been decided by the Cabinet and approved by Parliament.

    Committee chairman George Lillikas intervened to point out that everyone attending committee sessions had the right to express their views.

    Green deputy George Perdikis stood up for the Environmental Service, charging it was often undermined and made to look like "decoration".

    "The government should be ashamed of this situation," he said.

    The Environmental Service's head Nicos Georgiades admitted that there were grey areas in the relations between his department and the 45 government offices it co-operated with.

    He said one of the reasons for that was that the Service was short-staffed.

    Representatives of the Labour and Interior ministries and of the Union of Municipalities said they were experiencing no problems in their co- operation with the Environmental Service.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Sewage project 'most expensive ever'

    THE CONSTRUCTION of greater Nicosia's sewage system is expected to cost 200 million and be the most expensive state project realised in Cyprus ever.

    Politis yesterday reported that the Nicosia Sewage Council would next Wednesday sign an agreement with the European Development Bank to make a 58 million loan for the construction. The government will be the guarantor for the loan, the paper said.

    The Council has also asked for a loan of another 58 million from the European Investment Bank, Politis added.

    According to the initial plan, the project would only cost 116 million, but officials involved in the scheme estimate it will end up covering more areas than expected. Therefore, they estimate that the cost of the construction will be around 200 million, also taking into account the rising prices of materials and equipment.

    The government plans to invite tenders for the construction in September, a development that will spark tough competition between construction companies.

    The Nicosia Sewage System currently covers central Nicosia, Ayios Dhometios and Kaimakli.

    The new scheme will cover Strovolos, Engomi, Aglandja, Latsia, Yeri and possibly Pano Deftera, Kato Deftera, Psimolofou, Tseri and Kokkinotrimithia.

    The Sewage Council is also planning to construct a new waste-processing unit that will deal with 37 tones of waste every day, covering 10 municipalities and communities.

    The existing unit processes only 18 tonnes of waste per day and causes environmental pollution in Kaimakli.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] British Olympic team set to train in Cyprus

    By Soteris Charalambous

    THE CYPRUS Olympic Committee (KOE) yesterday confirmed the British Olympic team would sign a &#147;letter of intent for collaboration&#148; this month prior to signing a contract committing them to using Cyprus as a training base for the next 10 years, KOE Director Dr Nicos Kartakoullis told the Cyprus Mail. The letter will be signed on April 25 during the five-day general assembly of General Secretaries of European Olympic Committees in Limassol.

    Following lengthy discussions between the British Olympic team and sports organisations in Cyprus, a formal signing of contracts will take place in the summer after Team GB have completed their inspection of the island&#146;s facilities.

    A successful conclusion to negotiations, including investment from both sides in improvement of facilities, will see British athletes use Cyprus as their base in preparation for Athens 2004. Beyond the next Olympics, British athletes will use the island for warm weather training during winter and periodically use the facilities throughout the year to prepare for other major events.

    Team GB has already established similar bases in North America and Australia. The choice of Cyprus means the island will become the main European training centre for British athletes outside the UK. Dimitris Araouzos from the Cyprus Sport Organisation (KOA) believes it is the first step to Cyprus becoming a &#147;world training centre&#148;. He believes Cyprus can expect a huge influx of world-class athletes over the next three months preparing for the games. A sizeable contingent of the Russian Olympic team is also expected to be based on the island while a number of athletes from Greece have already come to Cyprus as work on facilities in and around Athens makes training conditions difficult.

    Sources at the Cyprus Olympic Committee have also confirmed that Olympic organisations from Australia, Japan and China have also expressed their desires to use Cyprus as the base their athletes will use to train and acclimatise in preparation for the forthcoming games in Athens. Athletes from more countries are expected following the assembly at the end of the month.

    The key for Araouzos is creating the right impact and establishing, in the minds of the Olympic teams, Cyprus as a training base for the future. Such is the confidence of the organisers about the role Cyprus will play as a base for these athletes that the biggest concern is not of &#145;if&#146; they come but &#145;how&#146; to accommodate them all and &#145;how&#146; to ensure the facilities are available when needed. In addition to the creation of a facilities management team, a central computer will be set up enabling teams to plan their training schedules and prevent over-booking or worse still double-booking of facilities.

    It may appear that in the stampede of Olympic associations clambering to book their place on the island, the interests of the Cypriot athlete have been overlooked, but that is far from the case. Part of the negotiations of these contracts involves visiting countries providing training sessions for Cypriot athletes while they are on the island. Coaches, too, will be invited to watch training sessions and learn techniques from their international counterparts.

    The co-operation between Cyprus and the teams will not end at training techniques. Cypriot athletes will have the opportunity to train with the visiting athletes in their own countries, exposing them to different environments and regular competition at the highest level.

    Araouzos also confirmed that in 2007 Cyprus would host the Small States of Europe Games and believed that future high-profile events would soon become a regular occurrence against major athletic nations who have established Cyprus as their training base.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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