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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-05-24

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, May 24, 2002


  • [01] Vassiliou: no need to worry about Sismik
  • [02] Greece standing firm in case of any provocation
  • [03] Hospital inspector accused of stealing drugs
  • [04] Tournarites brands raid as industrial espionage
  • [05] Contraband cigarettes seized from Syrian ship
  • [06] Wounded immigrants being treated in Kyrenia and Nicosia
  • [07] 'Foreign players will bring down costs'

  • [01] Vassiliou: no need to worry about Sismik

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS' Chief EU Negotiator George Vassiliou said yesterday there was no need to worry about the presence of a Turkish geological vessel off the northern coast of the island.

    He was referring to the arrival in the north of the Turkish research ship Sismik, which reports from the north have said would be carrying out seismic surveys for the next 15 days.

    The 720-tonne 56-metre Sismik, billed as a geological survey vessel operating in the Black Sea, Mediterranean and the Aegean, and which can accommodate seven officers, 16 crew and 12 scientists, almost brought Greece and Turkey to the brink of war in 1987.

    The two countries have a long-term dispute over the continental shelf and drilling rights in the Aegean.

    In 1987, an exploration licence granted by the government of the late Andreas Papandreou to a private company led Ankara to send the Sismik, accompanied by Turkish warships into the Aegean to carry out exploration work on the seabed directly outside the territorial waters of the Greek islands. The crisis was defused following US intervention.

    Observers say that although the Sismik's visit to the shores off occupied northern Cyprus is only to investigate seismic activity, the vessel is more likely in the region to begin exploration for possible oil and gas reserves, which have recently been discovered off the coasts of Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel for which ongoing discussions are under way between the countries involved on the exploration issue.

    But Vassiliou said there was no issue of danger in the presence of the Sismik in the north.

    "Sismik, as we all know is a ship which can only carry out surveys," Vassiliou said yesterday. "There is no danger issue in any way. Of course it is a violation of Cypriot waters but we have the occupation for so many years so I don't think the presence of the Sismik is something that should worry us."

    Communist AKEL spokesman, deputy Nicos Katsourides said the presence of the Sismik was just another tactic by the Turkish side to raise tensions in Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Greece standing firm in case of any provocation

    By George Psyllides

    GREECE has pledged its full backing to Cyprus in case Turkey provoked a military incident in the run-up to Cyprus' EU accession, President Glafcos Clerides said on returning from Athens yesterday.

    Speaking at Larnaca airport after his arrival from a 24-hour visit to Athens, Clerides said: "The agreement is that Greece is on our side on all levels."

    Concerning the possibility of a military incident prompted by Turkey before or after the island's accession to the EU, Clerides said that all scenarios had been discussed with the Greek government.

    Clerides said he was fully satisfied with the discussions he had with the Greek government, adding that it had been a very useful and productive exchange of views.

    The President said there had not been any development, which indicated that the Cyprus problem had been "bundled" with other issues and stressed that he never mentioned he was ready to offer internal sovereignty.

    He said there was no legal term for internal sovereignty and explained that cantons in all federal states had several powers they could apply without the central power having the right to intervene.

    "This however, has nothing to do with the term 'sovereignty'," Clerides said.

    Asked if Athens and Nicosia believed June was the expiry date for the talks, Clerides said: "No; no such decision has been made and neither has the Prime Minister (Costas Simitis) said anything (to that effect).

    "Of course there needs to be an end but when it would be depends on the developments," Clerides added.

    Commenting on Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's health problems and how they affected the talks, Clerides said that it all depended on how the situation would develop.

    "If they hold elections it would be natural that during an election period, and until a government was elected - a coalition government by necessity because no party has the majority - and until the new government decides how to handle the core issues, there would be a delay," Clerides said.

    He said he had discussed with Simitis the possibility of Cyprus' accession being linked to the solution of the Cyprus problem as well as potential military incidents that could disrupt the process.

    Clerides said he could not disclose any detail before he had briefed the National Council on Monday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Hospital inspector accused of stealing drugs

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    A MAKARIOS hospital inspector has been arrested for allegedly stealing 644 packets of the drug DHC by forging prescriptions.

    Evridiki Lazarou, 54, an inspector for the Department of the study of Viral Diseases and an employee of the Gregoriou clinic for AIDS patients, is suspected of obtaining the drug illegally and supplying it to others. She was remanded in custody for eight days by the Nicosia district court.

    According to Politis yesterday, Lazarou allegedly confessed to having forged the signature of Dr. Sotiroula Christou from Makarios Hospital on 322 prescriptions.

    Lazarou allegedly picked up in total 644 boxes of the drug containing 10 pills each from various pharmacies between January 2000 and May 2002.

    Police say that on arrest, the inspector handed over two full boxes of the drug, three empty boxes and one with two pills inside, all taken from her office and home. Three blank subscription papers were also found.

    Politis claimed Lazarou had told police the drug was solely for her personal use to relieve pain. No mention was made of what the suspect suffered from.

    But former colleagues of the suspect said yesterday they were completely shocked by the allegations, saying such behaviour would be totally out of character.

    The drug DHC (dihydrocodeine) is a controlled substance obtained only by subscription. It is prescribed as a painkiller to patients who are unable to take NSID (non-steroid anti-inflammatory) drugs. The drug contains codeine and is an addictive, narcotic analgesic. It is usually given to cancer or AIDS patients.

    According to medical sources, if such a large amount of the drug were taken in the space of two years, functioning in a working environment would be very difficult, casting doubt on the claim that it could have been for personal use.

    The police, as part of continuing investigations, intend to take more statements, calculate the full amount of the drug taken and search for more forged subscriptions.

    A drugs inspector from the Health Ministry discovered the case during a check of private pharmacies in Nicosia. Health Minister Frixos Savvides has ordered a disciplinary investigation against Lazarou that will be put on hold until the police finish their investigations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Tournarites brands raid as industrial espionage

    By George Psyllides

    THE OWNER of a tobacco company whose offices were raided by police on Tuesday evening yesterday accused customs authorities of stealing his firm's documents in an operation he described as industrial espionage.

    "I could only describe this as theft; it is theft, industrial espionage; while we speak all the documents of the company I have set up in the past 10 years would be in the hands of the British, or competitors, or anyone else I can imagine," the Chairman of CT Tobacco Christophoros Tornarites said.

    The search was carried as part of an investigation for evidence of Tornarites' alleged involvement of cigarette smuggling throughout Europe.

    It was jointly co-ordinated by police, Customs and Excise officers as well as four officers from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).

    Tornarites described the operation as being similar to the seizure by Turkish agents of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ochalan outside the Greek embassy in Kenya in 1999.

    "The way they got them (documents) is exactly the same way Ochalan was taken from Africa," Tornarites said.

    Tornarites' lawyer, Eustathios Eustathiou said in a letter to the customs authorities that the search had been unlawful.

    Eustathiou said the police raid violated the vital rules of justice as well as the constitutional provisions securing his client's rights to ownership and respect of his professional and private activities.

    "It is an arbitrary action (raid), which includes gathering items, constituting an abuse of authority and a violation of the principle of lawfulness," Eustathiou said.

    "In light of this it our position that there is no real basis for fundamental suspicion that our clients are involved in the smuggling of cigarettes in Europe," he added.

    But Tornarites still went on a tirade claiming everything was part of a war against him.

    "Since the day I decided to build the factory there has been a relentless war, a war of arbitrariness; and we have come to a point today, in my country, in Cyprus, to have customs searching to prove I am a smuggler," Tornarites said.

    Deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides said he refused to get involved in legal claims adding that the courts were there to decide whether a search warrant had been violated.

    "Anyone can appeal there and get an authentic answer instead of starting trials on the radio and television.

    "I am not going to get involved in these issues," Clerides said.

    Cyprus has been named in a lawsuit filed by the European Union against tobacco manufacturers R.J Reynolds and Philip Morris.

    The EU said the firms were allegedly breaking the UN-imposed embargo on Iraq by smuggling cigarettes through Spain, Cyprus and Turkey.

    Italy has also accused Cyprus of being a transit point for cigarette smuggling.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Contraband cigarettes seized from Syrian ship

    AUTHORITIES were yesterday investigating a Syrian cargo ship that was seized on Wednesday, suspected of carrying illicit cigarettes as well as products loaded in the Turkish-occupied north.

    Marine Police Commander Yiannakis Eliades said that the ship had departed from Limassol port at the end of February, loaded with seven containers of cigarettes.

    The ship's captain, who was yesterday charged with entering a non-approved port, claimed he had been ordered by the ship owners to load his cargo on smaller boats 40 miles off the west coast of Syria, instead of in Odessa, which had been the initial destination, Eliades said.

    He said the ship then turned round and sailed to the occupied port of Famagusta where it unloaded the rest of its cargo and loaded foodstuffs.

    Marine police searched the ship and found 223 cartons of cigarettes together with boxes of coffee and other foodstuffs originating from the north.

    Eliades said he did not have any further details about the ship.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Wounded immigrants being treated in Kyrenia and Nicosia

    FIVE migrants wounded when Turkish coastguards opened fire against their ship were being treated in hospitals in the occupied part of Nicosia and Kyrenia, the Turkish Cypriot press said yesterday.

    One person on the boat was killed during the incident, which according to Reuters happened after the captain ignored warnings to stop off the coast of Cyprus.

    Three of the wounded were men, all aged 20, and two were girls aged 13 and 15.

    Reports said the ship, carrying 250 illegal immigrants, thought to be bound, for Italy or the free areas of Cyprus, had been intercepted by a patrol 32 km off the island's coast.

    The Turkish patrol opened fire after several warnings killing one person and injuring five others, reports said.

    The wounded were taken to northern Cyprus for treatment.

    The Turkish Daily News reported yesterday that the boat and its remaining human cargo had been escorted back to the Turkish mainland.

    The immigrants were reported to have said that they paid money to smugglers with the hope of going to the free areas of Cyprus or Italy.

    Turkish police arrested five alleged smugglers and four drivers, who had transported the immigrants to the departure point from across Turkey.

    There was no indication of the nationality of the immigrants.

    Turkey and the surrounding waters are a major passage point for illegal immigrants heading for Western Europe.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] 'Foreign players will bring down costs'

    By Soteris Charalambous

    COSTAKIS Koutsokoummis, President of the Cyprus Football Federation (KOP), said he believed the increase in the number of foreign players teams can field would bring down salaries in Cyprus and lead to greater financial stability at clubs.

    Koutsokoummis said: "Due to the shortage of Cypriot players in certain positions a type of monopoly has arisen which has lead to player salaries spiralling."

    He believed salaries had become "prohibitively high" and that decisive action needed to be taken in order to "bring down the running costs of clubs, ensuring that they could survive."

    Koutsokoummis added that clubs had unanimously backed the changes, but admitted that some clubs may "really go for it", taking advantage of the new rules and ending up buying even more expensive foreign players.

    Koutsokoummis also said that the rules had been implemented now in order "to help clubs learn to live with a higher number of foreign players in preparation for Cyprus' accession into the European Union."

    Koutsokoummis also believed that the new rules would help to improve the standard of the Cypriot league. "A lot of Cypriot players end up playing their football in Greece because it is a more glamorous league with higher wages on offer.

    "By allowing more foreign players into Cyprus the standards could be maintained or improved."

    KOP increased the permitted number of foreign players per team to increase from three to five for the start of the new season, which begins on August 24.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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