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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-11-19

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

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


Tuesday, November 19, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Turkey backs Cyprus talks, but not deadline
  • [02] Hasikos: developments require new defence budget
  • [03] Church rejects UN plan as unacceptable
  • [04] Weapons inspectors leave Cyprus for Iraq
  • [05] Police link cigarette thefts to organised gang
  • [06] Students in Junta memorial protest
  • [07] Cyprus shipping well on course

  • [01] Turkey backs Cyprus talks, but not deadline

    TURKEY'S unofficial leader said yesterday he supported efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, but the timetable set out under the UN plan was unrealistic.

    Tayyip Erdogan was in Athens to seek support for Turkey's bid to win a date to start EU membership talks at the European Union's Copenhagen summit on December 12.

    The United Nations wants a preliminary agreement on Cyprus before the summit, at which the EU is expected to finalise accession talks with Cyprus and nine other candidates.

    Erdogan said: "On the matter of the date, it's impossible for this to reach (a result) by the December 12 Copenhagen summit in these circumstances. Therefore keeping this under the pressure of time would be wrong."

    The Greek Cypriot side declared yesterday it was ready to take part in negotiations on the UN plan announced last week.

    Erdogan also said the Monday deadline to officially sign up for talks was impossible to meet because Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was in hospital in New York recovering from heart surgery and a new government was still being formed in Turkey.

    Erdogan's Justice and Development Party won a landslide victory in November 3 elections and his party is expected to form a government within days. Erdogan cannot be prime minister because of a conviction for Islamist sedition.

    "After these efforts (to form a government) are completed, of course the new government will seriously take up all these negotiations," Erdogan told reporters in Athens after meeting Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    "I want to emphasise that we absolutely support negotiations happening," Erdogan said.

    Erdogan sowed confusion at the weekend when he said during a visit to the occupied areas that a united Cyprus should only be allowed to join the EU when Turkey does, a position immediately rejected by the EU.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Hasikos: developments require new defence budget

    By Elias Hazou

    DEFENCE Minister Socrates Hasikos said yesterday a complementary budget on military expenditures would be drafted in light of ongoing developments in the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking at a session of the House Finance Committee, Hasikos asked for the committee's understanding and patience, pointing out the Defence Ministry needed to draft a complementary budget whether a political settlement was reached or not, especially at a time when developments were fluid.

    In carefully worded comments to reporters, he said that "our job is to keep our armed forces operationally ready for as long as necessary," and went on to add that "our forces or the (defence) minister will be the last to make proposals regarding the future of this country."

    Hasikos also revealed that there were thoughts on reducing military service for conscripts to 25 months from the current 26-month term. This would facilitate conscripts as they enrol in universities at the end of their army stint.

    The National Guard numbers around 13,000 troops, the vast majority conscripts, complemented by some 70,000 reserves aged under 55. The defence budget increases steadily each year; in 2001 military expenditures exceeded the previous year's by some 100 million.

    At the same House committee, Central Bank director Christodoulos Christodoulou cast doubts over the workability of the UN settlement plan regarding the banking system in a reunited island. Christodoulou described the proposals outlined as "difficult to understand and hard to implement".

    According to Christodoulou, there was no reason to have two separate Central Bank headquarters, the existing one in the south and another to be set up in the north in the event of a settlement. The Central Bank boss added that distances on the island were very small anyway, making it easy to carry out money transfers and other transactions.

    He also expressed doubts as to the feasibility of maintaining the some 60 Turkish banks in the north, accused by international organizations of engaging in money laundering. He added that the 100 offshore banks in the breakaway regime were also operating illegally.

    In the south, there are 12 local banks and 28 registered offshore banks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Church rejects UN plan as unacceptable

    By Elias Hazou

    THE HOLY Synod has categorically rejected the UN Secretary-general's plan for a settlement in Cyprus, arguing it is not in line with the principles of international law, human rights, European Court of Human Rights rulings and UN resolutions.

    In an announcement, the Church's top body added that, on the contrary, the UN plan legalised the fait accompli resulting from the Turkish invasion and occupation.

    Cyprus' Bishops, who convened on Sunday, said that the proposed settlement contained an abundance of negative points and violated the right of free movement, settlement and property, that it legalised and rendered permanent the stay of illegal settlers and deprived all refugees of their right to return to their ancestral homes.

    The announcement went on to say that with the veto right provided for all three branches -- the executive, the legislative and the judiciary - the plan equated the Greek Cypriots, who constituted the 82 per cent of the island's population, to the Turkish Cypriots, who made up just 18 per cent of the population.

    "All these points make for an unfair and unviable solution," the Church leaders stressed in a three-page press release, noting that for the Church of Cyprus it was an indispensable prerequisite that the settlement of the Cyprus problem must provide not only for one sovereignty, a single citizenship and international representation but must secure a just, viable and workable solution.

    The Synod said the UN Secretary-general's stance was contrary to the principles he was empowered to serve.

    "The UN Secretary-general is entitled to secure international peace and unity and must be the guardian of the principles and decisions of the UN and the Security Council resolutions and International Law, and not impose by extortion pressing deadlines for the settlement of serious international problems," read the announcement.

    Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos yesterday remarked that Kofi Annan's plan was disappointing; adding he hoped the island's political leadership would "seriously and responsibly deliberate over this issue."

    Meanwhile an opinion poll carried out by Nilsen/Amer and published by Politis on Sunday revealed that the majority of Greek Cypriots were apprehensive of the UN settlement plan.

    Only 28 per cent of respondents approved of the plan, while 52 per cent rejected it. A breakdown of the statistics showed that 33 per cent of men were in favour, but only 23 per cent of women polled agreed.

    Security concerns seemed to be the major issue, as suggested by the fact the majority of respondents were willing to live side by side with Turkish Cypriots with a strong central government; 44 per cent said they preferred to live separately under a loose central administration. When it came to security, 39 per cent said they felt safe with the UN peace plan, but a significant 55 per cent thought otherwise.

    The majority of respondents also felt Annan's proposal would be unworkable, even if the island's security were guaranteed by the United Nations. Meanwhile an impressive 72 per cent said they expected strong reaction and possible disturbances in the initial stages of the implementation of a settlement, with only 20 per cent believing in a smooth transition.

    Another unpopular aspect of the plan, as understood by respondents, were on the restrictions on the number of Greek Cypriot refugees that would be allowed to return to areas under Turkish Cypriot administration; 79 per cent said this was unacceptable, as 15 per cent accepted it.

    Turkish Cypriots returning to their property in the south would be treated as equals, said 69 per cent of those polled.

    Lastly, most people seemed to think the standard of living would fall following reunification; 31 per cent believed the economic situation would improve, while 10 per cent said things would stay the same.

    A similar poll carried out for Antenna TV last week had shown that 54 per cent of Greek Cypriots accepted the UN plan as a basis for negotiation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Weapons inspectors leave Cyprus for Iraq

    THIRTY United Nations weapons inspectors yesterday left Cyprus for Baghdad on a mission to determine whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

    The team, led by 74-year-old chief UN inspector Hans Blix and accompanied by Mohamed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) boarded a C-130 Hercules transport plane shortly before 10am.

    "We will report co-operation and lack of co-operation," Blix told reporters in Larnaca, the inspectors' logistics base on the island.

    He added: "The question of war and peace remains first of all in the hands of Iraq and the Security Council and members of the Security Council."

    Blix said the mission was equipped with state-of-the-art electronic equipment designed to detect nuclear and biological weapons and there was no chance Iraq could hide anything.

    The team will stay in Baghdad for two days, where they will hold contacts with the Iraqi government concerning the procedures they are going to use in their inspections.

    Blix said his first team would work out logistics like hiring vehicles and setting up laboratories that would test air, water and soil samples.

    He said formal inspections would start on November 27, and he expected to have 100 inspectors from more than 40 countries in Iraq by the end of the year.

    Nothing would be off-limits including mosques and Iraqi Presidents Saddam Hussein's palaces.

    December 8 is viewed as the first significant test for Iraq to submit a full account of all its banned weapons programmes.

    By January 27 next year, the inspectors must have given their first report to the UN Security Council.

    On Sunday, Iraq promised there would be no effort to hamper the inspections, predicting the experts would prove false the charges that Iraq had been rearming since the inspectors left in 1998.

    IAEA chief ElBaradei said the inspectors would arrive in Baghdad with some knowledge of suspect sites because of tips from American and other intelligence agencies as well as their own advance investigations.

    "We have a good game plan," he said.

    He added that Iraq's reward for full access and a clean report was "to come back to be fully members of the international community and to eventually eliminate sanctions".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Police link cigarette thefts to organised gang

    By Elias Hazou

    A STRING of cigarette freight thefts in Limassol have pointed to an organised cartel selling contraband tobacco products on the island and possibly abroad, police suspect.

    The latest theft in the coastal town came shortly after midnight on Saturday, when at least four perpetrators broke into three vans belonging to the "S & S Enterprises Ltd" company and stole 17,000 worth of cigarettes and cigars.

    The perpetrators were spotted by the company's owner, whose apartment was in the same building bloc where the vans were parked. Stavros Stavrou told police he heard windowpanes being shattered. When he looked outside, he saw two men loading the cigarette boxes into a car, while two others kept watch. The suspects fled the scene after realising they had been spotted. Police patrol cars summoned to the scene could not track down the suspects, two of whom left on foot.

    But forensics analysis at the scene came up with blood samples; police believe the perpetrators must have cut themselves while trying to break the van window frames. Other evidence was also found, described as significant by police sources.

    Two weeks ago police raided a Limassol pub and confiscated a large quantity of stolen cigarettes. Two British citizens were arrested at the time.

    Police believe the gang will try to filter he cigarettes to kiosks around the island, while the possibility of exporting the contraband has also not been ruled out.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Students in Junta memorial protest

    STUDENTS yesterday staged a demonstration outside the US embassy to mark the 29th anniversary of the student uprising against the Junta in Greece.

    At least 23 people died and hundreds were wounded when the army stormed the Polytechnic campus on November 17, 1973. The actual death toll has never been firmly established, but it is thought to be considerably higher.

    Speaking at the demonstration, POFNE student union General Secretary, Nicos Moudourou, said the students would keep the memory of the sacrifice made by the students of the Polytechnic alive.

    "The slaughter at the Polytechnic and the subsequent tragedy in Cyprus are two of the biggest crimes of the US-backed military junta during its seven- year reign," he said.

    The United States gave strong support to the military dictatorship that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974.

    The Junta is also blamed for instigating the 1974 coup in Cyprus, which led to Turkey invading and occupying the northern third of the island.

    In January 1998, US Ambassador in Greece, Nicholas Burns, issued a public apology for Washington's role during the time of the junta.

    "I wish my own country had stood more firmly on the side of democracy and freedom during those years", Burns said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Cyprus shipping well on course

    By Soteris Charalambous

    VICE-President of the European Commission Loyola De Palacio yesterday declared the EU was "very pleased" with the progress made by Cyprus in the shipping chapter of the acquis communautaire.

    Flanked by Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou and Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis, De Palacio, who is also commissioner for Energy and Transport, said, "the EU is very happy with the technical issues".

    The chapter had effectively been closed on May 17, 2001 although issues had been raised on safety, inspections and the high number of ships detained bearing the Cypriot flag. The General-secretary of the Cyprus Shipping Council (CSC) Thomas Kazakos was keen to stress the significance of De Palacio's visit at this crucial.

    "This is the first time that Madame De Palacio is visiting Cyprus, making it the second highest-ranking visit from an EU Official (after the visit of EU Commission's President Romano Prodi), which is an indication of the progress made."

    De Palacio was also a guest speaker at a presentation made by the CSC held on Sunday in Limassol. "Her visit shows the importance the EU places on Cyprus Shipping, and generally the positive image which Cyprus holds in the European Union," Kazakos said, adding that the Commission Vice-President had been "amazed" by the commitment Cyprus had demonstrated in joining the EU.

    After making a passing reference to energy matters also discussed in her meetings with ministers, De Palacio added that a "few details" needed to be addressed before being asked to comment on the Cyprus problem.

    Asked if all the work in adhering to the acquis communautaire "had gone out of the window" in the light of the UN proposal De Palacio said: "We all support and hope for a positive outcome," adding: "The plan hasn't thrown the acquis out of the window, and the acquis communautaire is not an impediment to (the UN plan)."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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