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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-11-21

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

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


Thursday, November 21, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Olgun: how can we respond in the circumstances?
  • [02] EAC forced to replace burned pylons with wooden poles as permits delayed
  • [03] Morphou and Famagusta refugees torn over peace plan
  • [04] Euro Parliament seeks clarifications on plan's compliance with acquis
  • [05] Government withdraws billboard law
  • [06] Weapons Inspectors back in Cyprus after first to Baghdad
  • [07] Greek Church slams peace plan
  • [08] Cybarco takes on $155 million Bahrain F1 circuit
  • [09] Education Ministry to gloss over demonstrating absentees
  • [10] Father arrested trying to smuggle methadone sandwich for detained son

  • [01] Olgun: how can we respond in the circumstances?

    By George Psyllides

    THE TURKISH Cypriot side's response to the United Nations settlement plan would be sent to Secretary-general Kofi Annan only once Rauf Denktash had completed his consultations, adviser Ergun Olgun was quoted as saying yesterday.

    Olgun said President Glafcos Clerides had already had the chance to discuss the plan with the Greek government, noting that Denktash had not had the same opportunity.

    "How do you expect somebody to respond without consulting the Turkish authorities?" Olgun asked.

    "We did not have the chance, like Mr. Clerides, to talk to the Turkish authorities;

    "Mr. Denktash is a sick man, he must get his recovery," Olgun added.

    Olgun said the Turkish side had sent Annan a letter on Tuesday explaining its position concerning the time schedule set out in the plan.

    The Turkish side has repeatedly said the UN deadline cannot be met due to Denktash's illness and the power vacuum in Turkey.

    Olgun suggested Annan's statement that he was very concerned at the delay exhibited by the Turkish side was not a reply to the letter as he did not think it had reached the Secretary-general by the time he issued his statement.

    "That official application I don't think has gone through to the Secretary- general;

    "I don't think what you have now is a reply to the letter," Olgun said.

    Clerides on Monday gave a positive reply to Annan, saying the plan was acceptable as a basis for negotiations, though he too expressed concern at the timeframes set by the UN.

    But Olgun insisted: "You cannot have a resolution the Cyprus problem with only one side.

    "Both sides need to be able to do their homework and prepare themselves to be able to engage in this thing."

    He added that this was currently beyond Denktash's capacity.

    "The Greek Cypriot side and the UN must have the courtesy to be able to accommodate that," he said.

    Olgun said he did not know when Denktash would be well enough to leave New York where he has been recovering from heart surgery.

    "This is a health situation, something we cannot predict.

    "We expect him to recover as early as possible to return to Cyprus and he has attempted that with nearly fatal conclusions," Olgun said.

    Denktash had been scheduled to fly to the island last Saturday when he was due to meet Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan.

    The trip was cancelled 15 minutes before take-off after Denktash fell ill with a flu-like infection.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] EAC forced to replace burned pylons with wooden poles as permits delayed

    By Alex Mita

    THE ENTIRE Troodos range, supplied by a network of wooden Electricity Authority pylons, is in danger of being left without electricity in case of a fire because the Town Planning Authority has yet to issue the EAC with a permit to replace them with ones made of steel.

    The fires that swept over the Limassol district this summer plunged many villages into darkness for two days because the wooden pylons were burned, and the EAC had to work around the clock to restore power to the affected areas.

    EAC Acting Director Tassos Roussos at the time blamed red tape for the blackouts.

    Spokesman Costas Gabrielides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that after four months the EAC was still waiting for the Town Planning Authority to issue the permits.

    Gabrielides said the EAC had been struggling for 11 years to get planning permission from the Town Planning Authority to replace the wooden poles, but had been blocked by residents' protests and red tape.

    "We have been fighting to replace those systems, which are obsolete and struggle to supply the entire Troodos range, for 11 years now. And for 11 years we have not been able to get a planning permit," he said.

    Gabrielides said that to install or replace transmission towers, the EAC has to apply for planning permission, just like every other citizen.

    "Getting a planning permit for EAC projects is a long and strenuous process because of the technicalities that have to be overcome due to constant alterations that are usually sparked off by locals who have health fears, and fear their land will depreciate if it is near electricity pylons," he said.

    "Before we start a project, we always discuss the site best suited for the job with town planning, in order to avoid problems with locals."

    In August, Roussos said the pylons were not the only ones delayed.

    "There are seven projects that are being delayed because of red tape," he said.

    "These projects are of utmost importance, because the demand for electricity is rising, and the system can no longer cope with it.

    "What people don't understand is that the network, like all other things, sooner or later becomes obsolete."

    Town planning director Christos Ktorides told the Cyprus Mail in August that the applications had been sent through and that he was expecting them to be approved in a month's time.

    But four months later nothing has been done to replace the pylons and the EAC says its hands are tied until it receives the permit.

    "We have experienced unacceptable delays by the Town Planning Authority, and we had no choice but to replace the burned pylons with wooden ones," he said.

    "Had the pylons been made of steel, there wouldn't have been a power cut during the fire."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Morphou and Famagusta refugees torn over peace plan

    By Nicole Neroulias

    REFUGEES from Turkish-occupied towns due to be returned to Greek Cypriot administration under the proposed UN peace plan said yesterday they feel overjoyed about the prospect of going home after a 28-year absence.

    But they were also quick to convey their disapproval of a plan that ignored the right of all refugees to return to their pre-1974 homes.

    The UN plan includes maps that reduce Turkish Cypriot territory by 10 per cent, a figure that seeks to maximise the return of Greek Cypriots while minimising the relocation of Turkish Cypriots. The maps return approximately 85,000 Greek Cypriots to their homes, including the towns of Famagusta and Morphou, while relocating 42,000 Turkish Cypriots.

    After seeing the plan, refugees from Famagusta and Morphou said they felt torn between excitement at the possibly seeing their homes again and dismay that their friends from Kyrenia and other Turkish-controlled areas would remain displaced.

    Andreas Pouyiouros, former mayor of Famagusta and ambassador to the UN, said he was eager to go home but could not support a plan that did not secure the right of return for all refugees.

    "My townsmen and the other refugees have been dispersed all over Cyprus for the last 28 years, waiting to return to their homes," he said. "This plan denies the fundamental human right of return, which goes against the principals of international law, the UN and the rules of democracy."

    After 28 years of campaigning throughout Europe on behalf of displaced Greek Cypriots, Pouyiouros has decided to take matters into his own hands. Yesterday morning, he filed an action against Turkey with the European Court of Human Rights, claiming damages for depriving his family of the right to their property.

    "I know how difficult this situation is internationally, but human rights should be respected," he said. "Whatever solution there will be will be a painful one for Greek Cypriots, but I don't believe that it should be so cruel."

    Famagusta's deserted Greek Cypriot district of Varosha has often been seen as a bargaining chip in the Cyprus problem, because it was never settled by the Turkish side. Refugees from towns like Morphou, however, said this was the first time they have had concrete reason to believe they might go home.

    "We live and breathe with one hope and one dream: to return to Morphou," said Morphou Mayor Charalambos Pittas. "Even the young people who never saw Morphou live with this dream."

    But like Pouyiouros, Pittas said he firmly believed that all the refugees must be allowed to return to their homes, regardless of which side ended up controlling each town.

    The right of return for everyone is an extremely popular opinion among Greek Cypriots, but when asked, most Famagusta and Morphou refugees reluctantly agreed that this was probably the most territory the Turkish Cypriot government would ever agree to cede peacefully. The plan sets ceilings on the number of Greek Cypriots who will eventually be allowed to live in Turkish Cypriot administered areas.

    "I wish all the refugees could all return, but the Turks will never allow it," Toulla Moussoulides said. "Even if the Turks agree to negotiate on this plan, we're still not sure how much they will return in the end. Our house was on the border in Famagusta, so my family may still not get everything back."

    Moussoulides' family had built their house two years before the invasion, and had still been in the process of furnishing it when the invasion sent them packing to Nicosia. She estimated that in addition to the loss of their home, her family has lost more than 500,000 in rent from their properties throughout Famagusta.

    "When they allow it, I will go back," she said. "If I don't return permanently, it will be only because we've got too old to uproot ourselves again, but at least we will be able to give the property to our children and grandchildren."

    Pittas is also eager to return to the new house his family left behind when they fled to Nicosia. Last month, relatives with foreign passports visited the property for him, returning with photographs of the house, as well as personal items that the Turkish Cypriot occupants had saved in case his family ever returned.

    "In the photographs, it looks like we left yesterday," Pittas said. "My wife's tablecloth is still on the table."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Euro Parliament seeks clarifications on plan's compliance with acquis

    THE EUROPEAN Parliament yesterday called on the European Commission to clarify whether the United Nations plan for the settlement of the Cyprus problem complied with the acquis communautaire.

    The EP, meeting in Strasbourg, welcomed the plan and urged Greek and Turkish Cypriots to use it as a basis for negotiations and to reach a preliminary agreement before December 12, when EU leaders meet in Copenhagen to decide on the accession of Cyprus and nine other countries.

    The EP yesterday approved a report on enlargement, which includes Cyprus, by an overwhelming majority - 505 in favour with 20 against and 30 abstentions.

    Europe's legislative body approved an amendment tabled by rapporteur for Cyprus Jacques Poos to take account of recent developments on the island.

    Under the amendment, the EP welcomed the detailed plan for a political settlement and called on both sides to use the plan as a basis for negotiation.

    A second amendment approved by the EP invited the two sides to examine the UN proposals "thoroughly and objectively" and called on the European Commission to certify whether the UN proposals "can provide the basis for a viable and functional settlement within the EU framework and in accordance with the acquis communautaire".

    The 10 paragraphs concerning Cyprus included a requirement that any future settlement should enable the island to participate in the decision making process and the policies of the Union and to ensure proper application of EU legislation.

    "This implies that the federal government and parliament of Cyprus should be fully functioning entities at an international level," the report said.

    The EP said it hoped "a reunited Cyprus under a single sovereignty, but with guarantees for the regional autonomy and protection of the interests of both communities, would accede to the EU on the basis of a comprehensive settlement to be achieved before the completion of accession negotiations and that the terms of the accession treaty may reflect this statement".

    The European Parliament reiterated that if a solution was not found by December 12, the Copenhagen summit should proceed according to the 1999 Helsinki decision, under which a settlement was not a precondition for the accession of Cyprus into the EU.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Government withdraws billboard law

    By George Psyllides

    THE GOVERNMENT has withdrawn its bill banning roadside billboards, saying it did not want it to be amended into a vehicle that legalised the current situation instead of outlawing it, Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou said yesterday.

    The Cabinet yesterday decided to withdraw its traffic safety bill, which aimed to clear the island's roads of thousands of advertising billboards that police say pose a danger to motorists and have been described as polluting the environment.

    The bill was submitted about a year ago but it was only recently that the House decided to examine it in earnest.

    But after a lot of backstage horse-trading and heavy lobbying of deputies by business interests, the bill emerged so heavily amended that Neophytou described it as "unrecognisable".

    "The provisions the House wants to add would in many cases legalise the current situation," the minister said.

    He added: "The Cabinet has authorised me to send a letter to the President of the House to withdraw the bill submitted in November 2001, which regulated the mess concerning outdoor advertising."

    Neophytou explained the Cabinet had arrived at this decision because "there are so many substantial amendments on the government bill that it has become unrecognisable".

    He said through the bill, the government wanted to have the authority to clamp down on illegalities and safeguard road safety as well as to protect the environment from the "advertising garbage dump phenomenon".

    "Instead, the provisions the House wants to add, in our humble opinion, in fact legalise the current situation and do not act against lawlessness," Neophytou said.

    "If the House insists on this view, they can table a proposal to legalise billboards - we would never do that," the minister said.

    Neophytou rejected charges the government was washings its hands of the issue, adding it did not want to become a collaborator to a bill it completely disagreed with.

    "They can draft a bill and go down in history with a proposal by which this situation, which is against traffic safety and creates aesthetic problems, is being legalised," Neophytou said.

    He said that by definition an advertisement got its message through when it attracted a person's attention, adding "we do not want drivers to be distracted by billboards and risk being involved in serious accidents".

    Neophytou said the government was not proving weak in its duty of protecting the people, but at the same time it could not force the bill through the House because there was "democracy".

    He added he could not justify the amendments proposed by the House because they effectively legalised billboards.

    The Green party yesterday said it opposed the withdrawal of the bill and blamed the interference of business interests with parties for the fiasco.

    Meanwhile, the removal of hoardings continued in Greece ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Weapons Inspectors back in Cyprus after first to Baghdad

    CHIEF UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei returned to Cyprus yesterday after a two-day visit to Baghdad, reporting that the Iraqi government had assured them full co-operation with Security Council resolutions.

    "It was a constructive visit," Blix told reporters at Larnaca airport. "We would expect that soon, very soon the first group of inspectors will arrive and they will get down to the inspection immediately and there will be a gradual build-up of force."

    Cyprus has signed an agreement to allow UN weapons inspectors to set up regional headquarters in Larnaca, which will also serve as a departure point for Baghdad-bound inspectors.

    Blix and ElBaradei were received by President Glafcos Clerides yesterday, and both men praised the government of Cyprus for quickly accepting the UN's request to set up the office and for its support in the future.

    Explaining the reasons why Cyprus was chosen to host the transit base, Blix said it was a place with a longstanding UN presence and positive relationship with organisation.

    ElBaradei also noted that Larnaca was "a very convenient, practical location" for the inspection offices and thanked the Cyprus government for its "gracious hospitality".

    During their trip, Blix and ElBaradei met with Iraqi officials and reopened the Baghdad office, which had been closed for the last four years. A group of 15 inspectors stayed behind to work on preparing equipment and timetables for the inspection process, which is scheduled to begin on November 27, Blix said.

    "We have sort of opened the route now between Larnaca and Baghdad, but we have left people behind in Baghdad to fix the offices and we will be back in due course," Blix said.

    Asked whether they expected the Iraqis would be able to give a full report by the December 8 deadline set out in resolution 1441, Blix said, "we've certainly emphasised that there should be a full account and that whatever they have should be reported." He added that the Iraqis "were somewhat concerned about the short time for presenting the report."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Greek Church slams peace plan

    THE GREEK Holy Synod yesterday slammed the United Nations plan for a Cyprus settlement, which it said was not a real plan for solving the problem.

    The Synod, which convened yesterday with the participation of the Bishops of Paphos and Kyrenia, Chrysostomos and Pavlos, said the plan ignored EU law and concealed the possibility of long ordeals and problems whose victims would for once more be the two communities of Cyprus.

    "Taking these facts under consideration, the Church of Greece does not congratulate the UN Secretary-general for the plan and does not consider it a real plan for a solution of the Cyprus problem," the Greek Archbishop Christodoulos said.

    He added that plans and proposals were negotiable but principles and values were not.

    "Hellenism's highest value in its course through history is freedom.

    "The struggle for freedom is non-negotiable despite the circumstances, despite the conditions, despite the proposals," Christodoulos said.

    Chrysostomos said the plan was not functional and urged the Greek side to engage in a tough negotiation, while Pavlos said it was time for the people to assume their responsibilities.

    The Greek government has endorsed the plan.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] Cybarco takes on $155 million Bahrain F1 circuit

    By Alex Mita

    CYBARCO Bahrain, set up by the Cypriot construction giant, has won a $155 million contract to build Bahrain's first ever Formula One circuit due for completion in March 2004.

    Work on the ultra modern high-speed circuit began last week in the desert near the city of Sakhir with a series of excavations that will eventually clear 500,000 cubic metres of rock, for processing and re-use over the next eight months.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Cybarco Bahrain Project Manager Costas Philipides said the project was a joint venture between Cybarco and Malaysian company WTC, who contracted the Malaysian circuit in Sepang.

    "We already began work on the circuit," he said.

    "The contract was signed on November 7 and the project is expected to be completed by March 7, 2004.

    "We have undertaken to construct the circuit as well as the pit building and the grandstand. There are 12 buildings in the project including the VIP lounge and facilities for each team.

    "It is a high-speed 5.4 kilometre track designed by German company Tillke, the same company that designed the Malaysian circuit."

    Philippides said the track was specially designed to withstand the intense heat and dust of the Bahrain desert.

    "The Asphalt will be very low tolerance, constructed with a modified polymer bitumen and the gravel must be very strong, because of the intense heat."

    The new track is expected to accommodate 100,000 spectators in numerous grandstands, and will allow the organisation of many different kinds of motor racing, including dragsters, which are very popular in the region.

    Other features include a 10-floor VIP building and Teflon tents for spectators, huge screens and state-of-the art timing equipment.

    Philipides said Cybarco was not dealing with the teams but the FIA would be inspecting the track during the construction process.

    By hosting a round on the Formula One calendar, Bahrain will make history by becoming the first Middle Eastern country to host the pinnacle of motor sports. Reports say the circuit, which will be in the official 2004 FIA Formula One Championship, may take Suzuka's place as the season finale.

    And after the Belgian government's decision to ban tobacco advertising during races, the introduction of the new circuit could see the Belgian Grand Prix scrapped for good.

    Drivers have already given the thumbs up to the prospect of driving in desert conditions.

    British American Racing driver and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve said racing in Bahrain would be great.

    "It's the one place in the world I haven't been yet," he said.

    The Canadian's view is shared by many, with FIA president Max Mosley saying the Federation had wanted a desert race on the calendar for the past 20 years.

    Formula One news website F1-live.com points that having the Bahrain race at the end of the season would allow European viewers to watch a potential title clincher at a more reasonable time than the Far East.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [09] Education Ministry to gloss over demonstrating absentees

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE EDUCATION Ministry is to take no action against pupils who missed school on Monday to demonstrate outside the American Embassy in an annual protest against America's support for the Greek Junta in the 1970s.

    While November 15 protests against the anniversary of the declaration of the Turkish Cypriot 'state' are sanctioned by the Ministry, the November 17 anniversary of the Polytechnic crackdown is not - especially when the protest is postponed from the Sunday on which the anniversary fell this year to the Monday to allow pupils to skip school.

    But Education Ministry Permanent Secretary Petros Kareklas said yesterday that action against the pupils was unlikely, saying the ministry would follow the same policy as the year before in dealing with the matter. Although the ministry does not give the children special permission to take part in demonstrations, they are usually excused from any form of punishment, he said.

    Phileleftheros reported yesterday that Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides had cited the good behaviour of the children who participated in the demonstrations as reason enough to order that their absence from school be excused.

    Private schools in Nicosia also allowed their students to join the protests, providing they received parents' permission first.

    Falcon School director Nicos Ierides said, "I'm glad they do it because it gives them a chance to vent their emotions."

    English School headmaster Robert Swan told the Cyprus Mail that the school did not approve of demonstrations as a policy, but did allow children from the 4th year and above to join the November 15 protest, with parents' permission. Regarding the anniversary of the student uprising against the Greek Junta, Swan said they did not permit school absence on that day but instead organised a commemoration in the school.

    "We feel it is more important for children to know about what happened and so give an educational or historical talk each year. Once we brought in an eye-witness to tell the children what they saw."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [10] Father arrested trying to smuggle methadone sandwich for detained son

    By Soteris Charalambous

    LARNACA drug enforcement officers yesterday arrested a father who allegedly attempted to supply his son with narcotics while detained in police cells on drugs charges.

    Dinos Loizou, 45, from Larnaca visited his son Andreas, 23, at the police headquarters, where he was detained awaiting charge on suspicion of trafficking heroin.

    One report claims that Loizou's son was suffering from withdrawal symptoms, and that he was acting out of pity by attempting to smuggle a suspected Methadone pill within a sandwich.

    "He was arrested for attempting to provide a pill, suspected to be Methadone," said the arresting officer. He added that Loizou would be formally charged with possession, possession with intent to supply and receiving narcotics after laboratory tests on the pill are concluded.

    Methadone is a synthetically manufactured drug with similar chemical structure and actions to Morphine, and is used as a substitute for the treatment of people dependent on heroin. However, it is still classified as a Class A drug and carries the same penalties given for offences using heroin and cocaine.

    Larnaca police said that Andreas Loizou was well known to them, although unsure if he was a registered drug addict and whether the pill was part of a prescription. According to the arresting officer, Dinos Loizou refused to divulge from where he obtained the pill.

    A local law firm with significant experience of handling cases involving drugs said, "If proved, the father's offences carry a six-year sentence, but there appear to be mitigating circumstances that could result in a greatly reduced punishment."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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