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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-09-24

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, September 24, 2002


  • [01] De Soto: Cyprus deal still possible by December
  • [02] 22 million tax debt prompts plans to change capital gains tax
  • [03] Archbishop expected home in coming days
  • [04] Bird trapping ban will be enforced, minister insists
  • [05] Experts called in from Germany amid safety fears over luxury illegal cars
  • [06] New EU ambassador praises Cyprus' commitment
  • [07] Honouring the heroine of Lapithos
  • [08] Rolandis appeals to US to allow Lebanese flights
  • [09] Security beefed up at GSP as Haifa and Olympiakos arrive
  • [10] Rape victim's parents pondering legal action

  • [01] De Soto: Cyprus deal still possible by December

    By Karolos Grohmann

    UNITED Nations special envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto said yesterday a settlement on the divided island was still possible before the European Union decides in December if Nicosia will be admitted among the first wave of new members.

    "A settlement is possible and it is possible in the short time remaining for this opportunity to be seized," De Soto told reporters after meeting Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    De Soto has led UN-brokered talks between Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the past months but the two leaders have failed to carve out a deal despite an initial June deadline.

    The EU will decide in December if Cyprus meets the criteria to join the bloc, probably in 2004.

    While Brussels wants to see the Cyprus problem solved before the island joins the EU, it has said a solution is not a precondition for the island's admission.

    Ankara in turn has threatened to annex the northern part if Cyprus is allowed to join the bloc prior to a settlement.

    "I think a settlement is still a distinct possibility. There are some deep gaps still dividing the two sides, but the (UN) Secretary General and I are convinced that it is possible to bridge them," De Soto said.

    De Soto was due to return to Nicosia late yesterday before travelling to Turkey for further talks at the end of the week.

    The UN has been trying for years to reunite the island as a bi-zonal, bi- communal federation, as stipulated in Security Council resolutions and backed by Greek Cypriots.

    But Denktash does not recognise Clerides as the president of the entire island and seeks legitimacy for the Turkish Cypriot 'state' that he heads but is only recognised by Ankara.

    Clerides and Denktash are due to meet in New York on October 3-4 and the United Nations is expected to boost the talks by submitting a peace plan.

    "I do hope we will be successful in the near future. If the opportunity that is before us is to be seized, that work must be done rather quickly and intensely," De Soto said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] 22 million tax debt prompts plans to change capital gains tax

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    A MEETING of the House Finance Committee revealed yesterday that the state is owed 22 million in capital gains tax at the end of 2001, 6 million owed by the Church for the sale of land.

    Deputy director of the Inland Revenue Service (IRS), Lazaros Lazarou, released the statistics after a discussion on the amendment of capital gains tax legislation. The new amendment gives the director of the Land and Survey Department the power not to accept transfer declarations without confirmation by the IRS that the capital gains tax has been paid.

    The need for a change in the law was highlighted in an appeal brought by the Archbishopric against the state after the Supreme Court ruled that the obligation to pay capital gains tax was not a condition in transferring property.

    The amendment was unanimously agreed by all parties and is expected to be approved by the plenum on October 3.

    Chairman of the House Finance Committee, Marcos Kyprianou, said that, "with this provision, it will be difficult not to pay the tax, which will help in avoiding the further accumulation of debts by the Church as regards property."

    AKEL deputy Stavros Evagorou stated that the same agreement made with Kykkos Monastery should be applied to the whole church. Kykkos had agreed to pay capital gains tax from the time of agreement onwards, after the state agreed to write off their debts up to that point.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Archbishop expected home in coming days

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    REPORTS that Archbishop Chrysostomos would return yesterday from Athens where he has been receiving treatment for the last three months were refuted by head of his medical team, Dr Harris Pittaros, who told state radio yesterday that his departure would only be feasible from tomorrow.

    He added that the archbishop's condition had improved, noting that he was more aware of his environment, could walk on his own and was feeling better emotionally.

    Head of the Cardiological Unit at the Nicosia General Hospital, Dr Costas Zampartas, is already in Athens, sent by the Health Ministry to assist in arranging his release from the clinic and transportation back to Cyprus. Reports suggested yesterday that the Archbishop would make the trip back on Thursday.

    Meanwhile, Dr Costas Pouyiouros, a previous member of the medical council responsible for the Archbishop, said that at least two prominent American doctors had diagnosed the leader as suffering from a well-known chronic disease, which he could not disclose. "There is no dispute over the diagnosis in the medical council, but over the prognosis, which is different for each patient depending on their make up," said Pouyiouros.

    He charged those involved with failing to inquire on the outcome of the archbishop's health, saying that people were more concerned with the succession to the throne than a prognosis. He referred to an election date having already been set by the Holy Synod for November 10, while discussions on setting up a new medical council had not been concluded yet.

    Pouyiouros maintained that certain mistakes at the Nicosia General Hospital had had a negative effect on the leader's health while he was there, but other than that, he was in the same condition now as he was six months ago, despite some physical disability caused by the accident.

    Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos reiterated that the Holy Synod would support the archbishop on his return but highlighted that he was returning to continue his recovery not to resume his duties, adding that he had been unable to perform his duties even before he left for Athens.

    In contrast, the Bishop of Kiti, Chrysostomos, declared that a replacement for the Archbishop could only be found once it had been confirmed by a special committee that he could no longer perform his duties. He said that the reports so far showed an improvement in the archbishop's health.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Bird trapping ban will be enforced, minister insists

    INTERIOR Minister Andreas Panayiotou yesterday insisted the government would continue to enforce the law banning bird trapping using lime sticks and mist nets.

    Speaking after a meeting with groups supporting the practice and DISY deputies George Georgiou and Soteris Sampson, Panayiotou said the matter had been discussed by the Cabinet who decided to continue enforcing the law.

    The law banning bird trapping with lime sticks and mist nets has been in place since 1974, but it was only recently and under intense pressure from the European Union that the government has cracked down on the trappers, who reportedly rake in thousands of pounds selling the birds.

    Panayiotou said Cyprus was faced with other more important problems on its way to Europe, and did not need to add more, urging Famagusta district hunters to show understanding about the situation.

    "I count on their patriotism to understand the state's position and that they cannot create problems on the eve of the decision for Cyprus to join the EU, Panayiotou said.

    The minister said the birds in question were a strictly protected species by the Berne Convention, which Cyprus had signed in 1988.

    "Catching these birds is prohibited," Panayiotou said.

    He added that the Convention specifically banned lime sticks, as all kinds of birds were caught, irrespective of being protected or not.

    Panayiotou said the methods banned by the European conventions were lime sticks, mist nets and sound machines.

    "There is no issue of allowing the use of lime sticks," he said.

    "The birds are a protected species and the method used is prohibited," Panayiotou added.

    "I clearly and categorically repeat that hunting birds with lime sticks is prohibited due to the conventions signed that are part of the aquis communitaire of the chapter on environment, which we have negotiated and agreed and there was no other way of dealing with it than to ban the trapping of these birds," Panayiotou said.

    The minister said it was wrong that the state had waited until the last minute to enforce the legislation, adding that both deputies had agreed that at this point the law should be enforced.

    Replying to criticism that the government had failed to seek an exemption from the convention for the birds, Panayiotou wondered how the government could have negotiated on a bird, which was strictly protected.

    Panayiotou repeated that the law would be enforced and there was no issue of eyes being closed to the practice.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Experts called in from Germany amid safety fears over luxury illegal cars

    By George Psyllides

    INVESTIGATIONS into the car assembly scam continued yesterday with the government deciding to call in experts from car makers BMW and Mercedes to help authorities identify whether a vehicle had been put together using parts from other cars.

    The development will only have fuelled concerns from owners of such cars, worried that their vehicles might be illegal or even dangerous, and contacting authorities to have them checked.

    On top of this, many fear that even if they had purchased the vehicle in good faith, they could face a massive duty bill if it turned out to be illegal.

    Senior Customs Officer Niki Hadjiyianni told the Cyprus Mail that each car involved in the case would have to be examined separately before the department made any decisions on how to proceed.

    "We cannot really say whether they owe any money (in duty) if each case is not investigated," she said.

    Hadjiyianni said there were many parameters in the case that needed to be examined, adding that the public were co-operating with authorities.

    But with reportedly 500 suspicious cars on their hands, the authorities have found themselves overwhelmed, calling in experts from BMW and Mercedes to help with the investigation.

    The experts are expected to arrive this week with records from their companies in order to check them against the seized vehicles and determine whether their serial numbers match.

    As investigations have proceeded, it has become increasingly clear the state was losing millions of pounds in duty, since the perpetrators of the scam were paying only VAT on imported spare parts from the EU. According to reports, the state was losing 10,000 to 15,000 per vehicle.

    Police are also concerned about the safety of vehicles that may have been assembled using parts from different models.

    One such car was located by authorities on Saturday. Its front part was from one model of a specific car, while its rear was from a different model.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] New EU ambassador praises Cyprus' commitment

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS' prospective role in the EU's southern enlargement will bring new geographic dimensions to the bloc, providing access to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, the European Commission's new head of delegation in Cyprus, Ambassador Adriaan van der Meer, said yesterday.

    Speaking at his presentation of credentials to President Glafcos Clerides, Van der Meer said Cyprus would be instrumental in achieving this goal.

    "We are now in the final phase of the accession negotiations with Cyprus," he said. "Shortly, the Commission will deliver its recommendation on the candidate countries with which it will finalise the negotiations. Cyprus is the front runner in this process."

    Van der Meer also praised Cyprus' commitment to the accession process, saying the EU was conscious of the persistence and diligence that Cyprus had shown to date in the harmonisation process.

    He said his role was now to accelerate financial assistance, further to stimulate bi-communal contact, and to increase understanding of the accession process among the citizens of Cyprus.

    "I believe the people of Cyprus should become fully informed, both of the challenge as well as of the benefits of membership and how accession will positively affect their daily lives," Van der Meer said. "Equally, we are fully aware that for Cyprus, accession to the EU is an opportunity to reunify the island, a prospect that shall prove to the benefit of all."

    He added that in this context the EU was "willing to assist the northern part of the island to adapt to the new needs immediately after a settlement, " adding that it was the EU's wish that an undivided island accede to the EU.

    Clerides told van der Meer that the Greek Cypriot side believed the prospect of accession was an important catalyst in the efforts to find a solution. "The EU therefore represents the most effective means of healing the wounds of the past and guaranteeing a prosperous, stable and secure future for all Cypriots," the president said.

    He said accession could help the Turkish Cypriots reach the same enviable level of prosperity as the Greek Cypriots by enjoying the same freedoms that every European citizen takes for granted.

    "The road to accession offers us new possibilities for co-operation between the two Cypriot communities," he said. "We earnestly hope that the Turkish Cypriots will be able to take full advantage of the benefits of Cyprus' accession."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Honouring the heroine of Lapithos

    By Jean Christou

    A WOMAN from Lapithos who saved 12 Greek Cypriot soldiers from Turkish troops in 1974 and was later tortured in Kyrenia Castle, will be honoured tomorrow when a bust is unveiled in her memory.

    Ephrosini Proestou, 'The Lady of Lapithos', died in 1993. She was 70 in 1974, when she sheltered the 12 young soldiers in her house for a month before moving them at great risk to the safety of a cave, as Turkish troops advanced into the north in August 1974.

    Tomorrow on her name day, Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou will unveil a bust of Proestou near the Ledra Palace checkpoint in Nicosia.

    Panicos Paralimnitis, one of the 12 soldiers saved, told a news conference yesterday how Proestou had risked her own life to save him and his colleagues when they became stranded on August 6, 1974 and sought refuge at 'grandmother Ephrosini's'.

    Paralimnitis told how Proestou gave them shelter in her own home and how she later moved them to a cave she believed was safer.

    "We spent one night in an orchard, then she led us to a safer place, a cave not too far away from her house. She was scared but always willing to help us out," he said adding that she also did her best to boost their morale and keep their spirits up.

    For a whole month, Proestou looked after the soldiers and brought them food until the Turkish army, reportedly acting on a tip-off, raided her home and she was arrested, taken to Kyrenia Castle and tortured, but revealed nothing.

    The Turkish army discovered the hiding place of the soldiers as they searched the area. Ten of them were arrested on the spot, another one the next day, and taken as prisoners. The 12th managed to escape and reach safety after several days.

    In a strange twist, Proestou was only saved from execution by a Turkish Cypriot officer who recognised her as the woman who helped his mother give birth to him. She was later released and sent to the government-controlled areas with the other prisoners from Kyrenia Castle. She died in 1993 aged 89.

    "This is the least we can do for her. To us she was like a mother, she risked her life to save us," Paralimnitis said.

    Lapithos mayor Athos Eleftheriou, who attended yesterday's news conference, praised Proestou's courage and described her as a "real heroine".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Rolandis appeals to US to allow Lebanese flights

    By Jean Christou

    COMMERCE, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday discussed with the US embassy the possibility of American lifting its embargo on Middle East Airlines (MEA) to facilitate a co-operation agreement on flights from Beirut to the US via Larnaca.

    Rolandis had just returned from an official visit to Beirut, where he discussed the possibility of co-operating on flights to the US with the Lebanese President and Prime Minister.

    "They are both interested and I discussed it with the American ambassador today," Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail. "He is going to look into it and transmit it to Washington."

    Rolandis admitted that some "technical difficulties' existed.

    According to a US State Department travel advisory, American air carriers are prohibited from using Beirut International Airport due to continuing concern about airport and aircraft security arrangements. "For similar reasons, the Lebanese carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) is not permitted to operate service into the US," the advisory says.

    Americans are also advised to exercise extreme caution when visiting Lebanon.

    Rolandis said until the 'embargo' issue was resolved, a code-sharing deal could be reached between Cyprus Airways and MEA for flights to the US.

    "The joint flights would be New York-Larnaca-Beirut and vice versa," Rolandis said. "We are going to try and find a solution to this. We are the only two countries in the region not enjoying this connection."

    He said the flights would benefit the thousands of Cypriots and Lebanese people who lived in the US and Canada.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Security beefed up at GSP as Haifa and Olympiakos arrive

    By Soteris Charalambous

    NICOSIA police will carry out a huge security operation tonight to ensure the Champions League 'home' tie pitting Israeli club Maccabi Haifa against Olympiakos goes off without any off-the-field incidents, although questions have arisen over just how many fans are expected for the game.

    The assistant to Nicosia's Head of Police, Ioannis Iaourris, said, "The police have taken all necessary measures, taking into consideration the importance of the match as well as which teams are playing, especially as the Israeli team Maccabi Haifa come from a country currently experiencing problems that have been well documented."

    Iaourris was reluctant to divulge details on the exact number of police to be used in the operation, but did urge fans to arrive at the stadium in good time, given the enhanced security measures.

    "At the stadium all objects, perceived as a potential weapon, will be confiscated," said Iaourris, "This includes bottles, lighters, in fact anything that can be thrown as a missile." He added, "We urge supporters to come to the stadium in good time so that they will avoid missing the kick off."

    Previous high profile matches involving Israeli teams on the island have seen anywhere between 600 and 1,000 security personnel involved in the operation, with issues arising regarding the Shabak, the Israeli's general security services that usually escort all delegations from Israel.

    However, Iaourris was keen to stress that this would not be the case in Cyprus. "I can assure you that they will not be involved. All security measures will be taken by the Cypriot police at all levels. As with any visiting delegation, employees from the country's embassy will be in contact with the team, but we have assumed all levels of security for all supporters and players from arrival to departure."

    Police would not comment on the cost of the security operation, but sources in Israel have suggested that policing would cost around $75,000, although a deal has been agreed between the police and the Israeli football association, who will foot the bill for the three games.

    Asked how many fans the police expected for the game, Iaourris said, "We are expecting about 10,000 fans, possibly 11,000 based on the information we have received on ticket sales." However, this figure is at odds with sources at the GSP, who claim, "nearly all tickets had been sold for the match." Police estimated that around 2,000 Israeli fans were expected to make the trip while less than 1,000 fans from Greece were anticipated, and the rest, around 8,000 being Cypriot spectators. However, sources in Israel suggest that over 3,000 Israeli fans had already made the trip at the weekend and that the total number was likely to be around 6,000.

    Reports in the British media at the weekend claimed that Manchester United were considering Maccabi Haifa's request to have their home game with the Old Trafford club played in Israel at Haifa's 12,000 capacity stadium. Some sections of the press also quoted Sir Alex Ferguson as saying he had no problem with his team playing on Israeli soil and that a meeting was scheduled for today or tomorrow with UEFA (European Football's governing body) to discuss the issues. However, GSP officials were quick to dispel any fears that the game would not be played at the GSP, given that tickets for the Champions League games had been sold only as a package deal for all three ties.

    "UEFA have confirmed that the first three Maccabi Haifa Champions League home games will be played at the GSP," said the stadium official adding, "The meeting may be to discuss the possibility of games involving Israeli clubs in the future, not for the first phase of the Champions League."

    Kick off for tonight's match is at 9.45pm. The GSP will host last year's beaten finalists Bayern Leverkusen on October 1 and entertain Manchester United on October 22.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Rape victim's parents pondering legal action

    By Alex Mita

    THE PARENTS of a British woman who was kidnapped, beaten and raped last week in Ayia Napa have asked United Democrats deputy Androulla Vassiliou to assist them in taking civil action against a 26-year-old man remanded in custody in connection with the brutal attack on the young tourist.

    Vassiliou visited the 22-year-old victim at Larnaca hospital last week and said she was appalled by the vicious nature of the attack.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Vassiliou said Cyprus should be ashamed that such a brutal attack had happened on the island, adding that when she heard about the girl's ordeal she had felt furious as a woman and ashamed as a Cypriot.

    "After what happened, Cyprus must find a way to make amends," she said.

    "Every woman should feel the same way. This incident has shamed Cyprus."

    Vassiliou said she had visited the victim because she felt the tourist needed to speak to a woman about her ordeal.

    "She was physically and mentally abused and it should take many years for her to forget about this nightmare," she said.

    Vassiliou said the 22-year-old had told her what had happened but was still visibly shaken.

    The deputy said she had left her card with the victim after the visit and the woman's parents had later called her to thank her and see whether she could help them find a lawyer to take a parallel civil action against the man alleged to have raped her.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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