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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-05-14

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

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


Tuesday, May 14, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Sharing the seafront with the militants
  • [02] 33 million for family grants
  • [03] Headless corpse found near Pomos
  • [04] Government hopes Annan visit will inject new momentum
  • [05] Denktash: June settlement unlikely
  • [06] CY board gives go-ahead for operations in Greece
  • [07] 'Gradual improvement' in Archbishop's condition
  • [08] Central Bank independence bill goes to parliament
  • [09] Government pleads with Maronites to tone down public demands
  • [10] Work resumes to repair contested bastion
  • [11] Share index back under 100

  • [01] Sharing the seafront with the militants

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE Flamingo Hotel on the McKenzie seafront in Larnaca is a quiet little place just off the beach. Normally you might just drive straight past it, leaving it behind unnoticed. However, that was before last Friday, when 13 Palestinian militants, who are on Israel's most-wanted list, arrived in Cyprus to be housed temporarily as part of a deal to end the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, before they are relocated elsewhere in Europe.

    Imagine holidaying in a hotel by the Flamingo, or even in it. Would most tourists be comfortable with the idea? Or would they check out at once?

    Five Britons and two Swedes talked to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, and not one appeared overly anxious at the men's presence.

    "I'm not at all scared," said John Hankin. "Everything appears to be under control as far as I can see and the security is very tight."

    Although the 55-year-old is not staying at the Flamingo, but at a nearby hotel, he spends his days directly opposite it on the beach.

    "Look, you never know with terrorists," he said. "I think that despite the surveillance, if the Israelis want to kill them they will. In fact, I think someone will try and kill them at some point, just not while they're in Cyprus."

    Hankin admitted he was more afraid of the party of militants being shipped off to Britain.

    "It seems to be the place everyone goes nowadays," he said. "That fact does concern me. You just never know what might happen."

    Britain said yesterday it would not take in any of the militants.

    But as far as Cyprus goes, Hankin said there was no way this episode would affect tourism.

    "I've been coming here for two years and I love the country and the people. To be honest I'd really like to live here. The fact that the Flamingo is keeping Palestinians here could not keep me away. I'm a firm believer in getting on with your life. In fact, I was over in October, just after the September 11 terrorist attacks in America, when most people had cancelled their holidays."

    Both Trevor Francis, 57, and Ann Badham, 49, share Hankin's sentiments.

    "No, I'm not really worried about it all," said Francis. "I was sitting at a bar next to the hotel when they arrived actually."

    He said he knew they were coming over to Cyprus from media reports, but had not known where they'd be put up.

    "I saw the Hercules landing at Larnaca airport from here, so I knew they'd arrived," said Badham. "When I saw them roll up in a bus outside the Flamingo, I was surprised, but I wasn't bothered in the slightest. I'm not actually staying there myself, but even if I was, it wouldn't make a difference to me, or how I enjoyed my holiday."

    Francis and Badham said that although they had discussed the event with other tourists at local pubs, it was more out of idle curiosity than genuine concern.

    "To be honest, I think the locals are more upset about the whole ordeal," said Francis, "because it's got to be expensive keeping them, and will inevitably come out of the taxpayer's pocket."

    However, he said he was not worried about the militants being in Cyprus because their stay was only temporary.

    "This is just a stopover point. I'm more afraid they'll end up in the UK permanently. These people are suspected of organising the suicide bombers' attacks in Israel, so I think any country would be fearful of their permanent residence."

    Since the party arrived on Friday, the two Britons have only seen them on the hotel balcony a couple of times.

    "I haven't actually seen many people go in and out of the hotel either, so it can't be good for publicity," said Badham.

    Bad for publicity or not, it has definitely put the Larnaca hotel on the map. Just sitting on the Flamingo's front patio enjoying a gentle May breeze, a family of tourists pulled up in a Z-car. All three craned their necks out the window, straining to catch a glimpse of the militants being kept on the hotel's top floor. After a few fascinated moments of pointing and staring, they moved on.

    Only Trevor and Pamela Skilton admitted that they would not be happy staying at the Flamingo itself.

    "I don't think I'd be very comfortable with the whole idea," said 59-year- old Pamela.

    "I'm fine with it as long as it's someone else staying there and not me."

    Her 60-year-old husband agreed.

    "As long as they're not interfering with me and they're not literally on my doorstep I don't mind," he said. "But that could also be because I've been coming to Cyprus for years and know how safe it is. The problem is, you never know with terrorists. They stop at nothing nowadays."

    But he and his wife said it would not have kept them away from the island. It would, however, probably have led them to change hotels.

    "When you're spending a lot of money to come to a resort like this," said Pamela, "you want to enjoy yourself and not feel challenged every time you walk into the hotel. In fact their unannounced presence would have annoyed me."

    However, according to the Flamingo's assistant manager, Sergios Kotanides, the 60 or 70 residents currently staying at the hotel have not been put out by the Palestinians' occupation of the top floor.

    "Although we did not send each and every guest a memo informing them of their presence, we did mention it when we saw them personally."

    All of them were far from being upset about it and some were even pleased to be in the newspapers or on television, he said.

    Kotanides said the men did come downstairs to eat, but had separate times to those of the other guests. Moreover, in order to prevent access to the militants during meal times, anyone wanting to use the toilet, which is situated in the mezzanine, has to use the staff bathroom in the basement instead.

    "These are just standard security measures," reassured Kotanides, "and do not disrupt the guests' vacation. Even the police milling around wear plainclothes and just sit in the lounge drinking coffee, keeping to themselves".

    He said residents didn't even know who were police and who weren't.

    "Because the guests' space is not being invaded and nor are they being disturbed in any way, we are not worried about it affecting our reputation or client numbers. I really don't think their presence here is an issue."

    Swedish couple Kent and Gerd Eriksson agree.

    "I'm not at all troubled about the fact that they are here," said Kent. "I can't actually imagine why anyone would be, particularly as the security is tight. Besides, their stay is only temporary and there is a lot of sea dividing Israel from Cyprus for their presence to become a security risk."

    As for the locals, if a kiosk owner's comments are anything to go by, they are not bothered in the slightest.

    "Worried about them?" she laughed. "We haven't even noticed they're there."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] 33 million for family grants

    THE GOVERNMENT is set to spend 33 million in family grants this year, President Glafcos Clerides has announced.

    In 2002, the government estimated it would pay 21 million to large families with four or more children, 8 million to families with three children, and a further 4 million to women eligible for a mothers' grant, Clerides said.

    Clerides made the announcement at the 21st annual celebration for Mothers with Large Families in Nicosia on Sunday.

    The President stressed how important it was to be a mother, with particularly mention to those with eight children or who had given five sons to the National Guard.

    "Large families are largely responsible for keeping alive those blessed family foundations we hold so sacred," he said, which was why the government was doing its best to help ease a great deal of the financial hardships they faced.

    In February, a law was passed granting financial aid to families with three children, Clerides said. Until now, only families with four or more children had been eligible for financial aid under the 1988 large family law.

    "Around 20,000 families will now benefit from this new law," he said, adding it would be implemented shortly. Clerides added this would cost the government an estimated 8 million and that once families stopped receiving a grant for their third child, mothers would be given a mothers' grant.

    About 12,500 large families, with four or more children, would also be receiving financial aid during the course of the year, he said - totalling at estimated 21 million.

    "If you compare this amount to the 660,000 that was allocated for large families in 1988, when the large family law was first introduced, it is clear the government has put a lot of effort into facilitating the needs of these parents'."

    During the first six months of last year, the government paid a retroactive grant, going back to October 1999, to mothers with four or more children, he said. "This grant is now paid out to 11,000 mothers and the cost for 2002 is estimated to reach 4 million."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Headless corpse found near Pomos

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    PATHOLOGISTS were yesterday trying to establish the identity of a headless corpse found by on the island's northern-western coast on Sunday night.

    A resident of Pomos near Polis in the Paphos district stumbled across the decomposed remains while walking across its rocky coastline on Sunday. The body was in such an advanced stage of decomposition that its gender could not initially be determined.

    The hands and legs from the knees down were missing along with the head. Police recovered the body immediately and sent it to Paphos General Hospital for further examination.

    State pathologist Eleni Antoniou completed an autopsy yesterday. Her findings established that the body was of a male aged between 30 and 45. It had spent anywhere up to two months at sea and between four to six days on the coastline.

    Given the measure of time spent in seawater and the degree of decomposition, a diagnosis as to cause of death could not be made. Antoniou ruled out the possibility of the head having been severed, citing disintegration caused by various factors in the water as probable cause.

    The pathologist has taken bones from the body for DNA testing and said that results should come through within a week. The DNA testing will be used to see if there are any matches with DNA samples of missing persons. The two persons missing from the Paphos area in the last 10 months will be the first samples to be compared. If no match is found in Cyprus, the DNA sample will be passed on to Interpol.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Government hopes Annan visit will inject new momentum

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday it hoped that the arrival in Cyprus tonight of UN-Secretary-general Kofi Annan would create a new momentum in the talks' process.

    Annan's time of arrival was not known late yesterday, but police said tough security measures would be in place for the two-day visit of the Secretary- general's, who will be staying at a Nicosia hotel.

    Tomorrow, Annan will meet both leaders separately, first President Glafcos Clerides and later Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. Then he will hold official talks with both leaders at the talks' conference facility at the UN-controlled Nicosia Airport before hosting a dinner for Clerides and Denktash at the residence of UN Chief of Mission Zbigniew Wlosowicz.

    Annan told journalists in New York at the weekend not to expect miracles.

    "I am going with a message of hope, to talk to the two leaders," he said. "I think this is the right time for us, to hold talks with regard to the negotiations, as to what we need to do to help the process."

    Asked what he expected from the visit, Annan said: "I don't think anyone should expect miracles from this visit. This is a problem we have faced for a long time and I am one of those who never stops hoping."

    He said he would have a better idea at the end of his visit whether the two sides could reach a solution by the end of June, a target date the UN feels is necessary in order to put together all the legal documentation before the EU's expected announcement of Cyprus' accession at the end of December.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday that the Greek Cypriot side expected Annan to apply his diplomatic and political skills to move the talks forward at a faster pace.

    "The Secretary-general does not intend to submit any plan for a solution. We believe that the meaning and the objective of his presence here is to create a momentum in the peace process to assist the process out of the current difficult phase," Papapetrou said.

    Commenting on criticism against Denktash voiced by Turkish Minister for Europe Mesut Yilmaz, Papapetrou said the government believed Turkey was approaching a time when it would have to decide whether it wished to continue with its European prospects or carry on with its occupation of northern Cyprus.

    "The government, without underestimating the importance of such public remarks, is not interested in what people say in their speeches but in what is submitted at the negotiating table," he said, only to add "and what we see at the table is unacceptable."

    Yilmaz at the weekend urged Denktash - on a visit to Ankara - to soften his position to reach a deal with Clerides.

    "Denktash must be more accommodating if he wants to help Turkey," Yilmaz said. "In 10 years' time, the soldiers we keep on Cyprus will outnumber the Turkish Cypriots."

    However, Turkish Prime Minster Bulent Ecevit responded by saying that no concessions should be expected on the freedoms and independence of Turkish Cypriots.

    "A loss for Turkish Cypriots means a loss for Turks," Ecevit said in a hand- written note to journalists.

    Turkey is under pressure to complete a range of reforms for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which begins a two-week tour there tomorrow. A report from Istanbul said yesterday that meeting IMF conditions and EU membership criteria had resulted in a huge array of reforms in Turkey, but observers said changes on Cyprus would also be needed.

    "It has become clear that it is impossible for Turkey to reach its goal of European Union membership without a solution to the Cyprus problem," said one Turkish newspaper columnist. Turkey has promised to support Annan's efforts for a solution.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Denktash: June settlement unlikely

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said in Ankara last night that chances for reaching a settlement by June were slim, despite UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan's arrival on the island today.

    Annan flies in in a bid to salvage talks between Denktash and President Glafcos Clerides, who have been meeting several times a week since January to seek a solution.

    "The chances of a solution by June have decreased," Denktash was quoted as saying by the Turkish Cypriot news agency TAK.

    "In addition to the sides blaming each other, they have done all they can, but the expected breakthrough has not happened. This is reality," he said.

    The UN-mediated negotiations between Clerides and Denktash have produced little real progress ahead of a June deadline, despite Cyprus' approaching European Union entry, probably in 2004.

    Denktash downplayed Annan's visit, saying the UN chief was only passing through Cyprus on his way to other destinations.

    "In other words, he's not coming especially to Cyprus," he said. "(Annan's visit) is not a miracle development."

    UN sources at the weekend rubbished such suggestions. "This is a very important visit. It isn't that Annan is going via Cyprus. He chose to leave New York earlier to visit Cyprus," the sources told the Sunday Mail. "Essentially this reflects the serious concern about the pace of the talks."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] CY board gives go-ahead for operations in Greece

    By Jean Christou

    THE CYPRUS Airways (CY) board yesterday gave the green light for the national's carrier's new subsidiary in Greece, chairman Haris Loizides has told the Cyprus Mail.

    Loizides was reluctant to reveal details of the plan before it was announced at the Cyprus Stock Exchange today. "We have taken the decision at the board meeting today," he said. "We are going ahead with the project, starting in April 2003, with Eleftherios Venizelou new airport as our base."

    However, Loizides said CY would only be going ahead with a list of preconditions, which still had to be met.

    "If these are not met we are going to pull out around October," he said.

    CY will begin its Greek operation with three aircraft. The plan is to use Athens as a hub for flights into Europe and to fill a gap in the Greek market left by the demise of Axon Airlines and problems at ailing Greek carrier Olympic Airways.

    "We feel that one of the reasons pushing this right now is the timing," Loizides said. "It's very good timing. It's two years before the Olympics and it's at a time when Olympic Airways is going through a lot of restructuring and probably a reduction in size."

    Loizides said CY has already set in motion everything they would need to obtain permission from the Greek government. The airline even has a detailed flight schedule drawn up.

    "We want to have all the approvals and all the licences ready and be able to fly by April 2003, then we will go ahead. We have people working on it in Athens," he added.

    CY decided last year to set up a subsidiary in Greece following its pullout from the bidding race for Olympic after delays in negotiations between Axon and the Greek government jeopardised CY's business plan for the Greek airline.

    Axon, CY's main rival in the initial race, folded in December following the air transport crisis brought on by the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.

    Axon had launched services to three European cities in 1999, had about 380 staff and seven airplanes and had only just begun domestic flights within Greece.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] 'Gradual improvement' in Archbishop's condition

    ARCHBISHOP Chrysostomos, who was flown on Saturday to a specialised hospital in Athens for treatment, is showing signs of gradual improvement, doctors at the Evangelismos hospital in Athens said yesterday.

    In the second medical bulletin issued since his arrival, doctors said the Archbishop continued to receive medical care at the intensive care unit of the University of Athens, at Evangelismos hospital.

    "The general state of his health is developing in a satisfactory manner. He is showing gradual improvement of the neurological condition, he is maintaining good contact with his surroundings and is continuing his medical treatment without any problems or side effects," the bulletin said.

    The Archbishop sustained a head injury in late April after a fall on the stairs of the Archbishopric in Nicosia, and was receiving medical treatment in Nicosia General Hospital until the weekend.

    His condition took a turn for the worse on Friday and doctors decided it was necessary to transfer him to the intensive care unit of the Athens hospital.

    The Archbishop is accompanied by the head of the cardiology department of the Nicosia General Hospital, Costas Zampartas.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Central Bank independence bill goes to parliament

    By George Psyllides

    THE FINANCE Ministry yesterday submitted a bill to parliament that would make the Central Bank fully independent and harmonise Cyprus with relevant provisions of the aquis communitaire.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides told the House Finance Committee yesterday that the Cabinet had approved the bill on April 24 and that Cyprus was obliged to implement it by June 30.

    Among others, the bill would terminate the involvement of the Finance Minister or the Cabinet in issues concerning the general policy of the Central Bank, and would get rid of the governor's current obligation to consult with the minister when drawing up its budget.

    The bill would also put an end to political intervention in the Central Bank and would prohibit funding of the state by the institution.

    Klerides said the balance of state's debt to the Central Bank on June 30 would be turned into a 30-year long-term loan with a three per cent interest rate.

    The Central Bank, however, disagreed on this point, countering that a 3.5 per cent interest rate would be more appropriate.

    The state currently owes the Central Bank around 520 million.

    Another point of disagreement concerned who would be administering the public debt.

    New Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou argued before the committee that the debt could not be handled by respective ministers and that its administration should remain with the Bank.

    Klerides countered this was outdated practice and the trend today was for finance ministries to administer the debt or for a separate unit to be set up to do so.

    Klerides conceded that the Central Bank had the necessary knowledge in administering public debt and said it would be up to the government to change current policy, warning it could take a long time to implement such a decision.

    The ministry argues it would not be right for an independent body to handle state debts and reap all the benefits, while the state would have to suffer potential negative effects.

    Concerning the issue of bank confidentiality, Christodoulou agreed it should be lifted after a court order or a request from a criminal examiner, the House, or the financial crime unit. He did, however, register his concern regarding information on professional activities.

    Discussion of the bill resumes next Monday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Government pleads with Maronites to tone down public demands

    By Soteris Charalambous

    GOVERNMENT Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday pleaded with the Maronite community to avoid further public complication of the Cyprus issue by staking their claims that they should be represented as a minority should a settlement be reached.

    Papapetrou told the Cyprus Mail: "The Maronites should avoid unnecessary public discussion of their concerns which may be exploited by negative forces." However, he was keen to assure them that their concerns would be addressed, adding: "The government is keen to hear what they have to say."

    The issue was raised at the weekend by Antonis Hadjirossos, President of the Maronites association in Cyprus, which represents the approximately 3, 000 Maronites living on the island.

    They are recognised as a religious group in the 1960 Constitution, alongside the Armenian and Latin communities. The greatest concentration of Maronites lived in the northwest of the island until 1974. Having chosen to be represented in Greek Cypriot institutions, they fled their villages and have since lived dispersed throughout the free areas.

    Hadjirossos fears that the proposed bi-communal, bi-zonal solution will lead to total dissipation and eventual loss of identity for the Maronites, because the historical geographical location in the northwest would remain under Turkish Cypriot control, thus preventing any return to their villages.

    Proposals have been presented to the President, the United Nations and several representatives of the International community outlining the Maronites demands. Their basic provisions lie in a return to their original villages and remaining under the Greek Cypriot Federal State.

    However, Armenian organisations have been quick to react to Hadjirossos' public statements and warned that should the Maronites evolve from a religious group to a minority, this could lead to a further complication of the issues during negotiations and in all likelihood to a stronger stance being adopted by the Turkish Cypriot side. The Armenians also chose to emphasise the fact that their integration into the Greek Cypriot community had allowed them to enjoy rights that could not be realised by even the most privileged minorities in the European Union.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Work resumes to repair contested bastion

    WORK finally resumed yesterday on a contested section of the Venetian Walls of Nicosia, which collapsed last December as a result of heavy rainfall. Work on the bastion - which marks the Green Line dividing the capital - had been stalled since December after the Turkish side went back on an agreement for its repair.

    Yesterday, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which is undertaking the project to repair the Roccas Bastion, announced it had hired a team of nine Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot workers to carry out the task. The cost of the project is approximately $250,000 and works are expected to take place over a six-month period.

    UNOPS has been involved in the restoration of the 16th century walls since 1998. Works have so far been carried out on eight of the eleven bastions shaped in a star, resulting in the restoration of about four kilometers of the walls.

    But they never secured permission from the Turkish Cypriot regime to work on the section west of the Paphos Gate, as it lies on the boundary between the UN Buffer Zone and occupied Nicosia. An agreement was initially reached when part of the wall collapsed, with the Greek Cypriot side working on the wall to a certain height and the Turkish Cypriots beyond that. A few days later, however, work had to be suspended after the Turkish side went back on the deal.

    "We welcome the start of the works at Roccas Bastion and the continuation of a significant effort to preserve the ancient walls and architecture of Nicosia," said Miran Rechter, UNOPS Programme Manager in Cyprus. "The Venetian Walls are one of the many important historical monuments of Nicosia, and we are honoured to be able to play a part in their preservation".

    Total funding for this part of UNOPS work in Cyprus amounts to about $1.8 million. Funding is provided by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and the United Nations Development Programme.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [11] Share index back under 100

    THE ALL-share index plunged below the 100-mark for the second time in a month yesterday after having showing some signs of recovery last week.

    Share prices dropped 2.05 per cent, taking the index back to 99.4 points with a volume of only 1.2 million, half of this year's daily average.

    Last month, the index went down to a four-year low of 96 points, after a spate of panic selling.

    Trading opened around the 101-mark yesterday but failed to make any headway throughout the session. After falling in the first 10 minutes, it spent the entire session in the red.

    Information technology companies were the hardest hit, nosediving 7.1 per cent, followed by fish culture companies, which fell 3.9 per cent, and financial services companies, down 3.7 per cent. The only sector that showed gains was insurance, which added 1.2 per cent.

    Only 14 titles recorded gains yesterday, compared to 76 decliners and 53 companies that closed unchanged.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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