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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-17

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

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


Tuesday, December 17, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Government fine-tuning aid package for Turkish Cypriots
  • [02] Opposition in the north mounts against Denktash
  • [03] Markides slams 'vile' allegations as election speculation mounts
  • [04] Government to reduce maximum stay for foreign workers
  • [05] Cassoulides and Turkish foreign minister optimistic for new deadline
  • [06] Police crack down on hooliganism in weekend of violence
  • [07] Concern after teachers arrested in drugs raid

  • [01] Government fine-tuning aid package for Turkish Cypriots

    By George Psyllides

    THE PACKAGE of measures designed to aid and support the Turkish Cypriots is expected to be ready today, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    The package was announced by the government during the EU summit in Copenhagen on Friday, shortly after Cyprus secured the invitation to join the Union.

    Speaking after a meeting convened to discuss the measures yesterday, Papapetrou said a subcommittee would be convening at the Foreign Ministry at 7.30am today to iron out the details of the package.

    The subcommittee is made up from Foreign Minister Yiannakis Casoulides, Attorney-general Alecos Markides, Chief EU negotiator George Vasilliou, Papapetrou, and other officials.

    The final document would then be approved by President Glafcos Clerides and tabled before the Cabinet for approval, Papapetrou said.

    He added that some of the measures may need to be incorporated in legislation and so would be referred to the House.

    Papapetrou said the measures were not an issue for the National Council, but added parties would be consulted.

    "There is a general direction from the National Council but I understand that some measures would go to the House so the input of the parties is certain," Papapetrou said.

    The Government Spokesman declined to disclose any details concerning the measures, saying they would be announced by Clerides.

    Papapetrou added that the committee would be looking into all potential consequences deriving from the measures.

    The measures focus mainly on the free movement of products; reports said yesterday that attention would also be paid to the support of independent organisations and educational centres.

    Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas has said that the measures should also include helping Turkish Cypriots participate in the labour market.

    Meanwhile, Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said yesterday that his ministry was expecting an influx of passport applications from Turkish Cypriots, especially after Clerides' announcement of the measures.

    "If the Turkish Cypriots come in the hundreds or thousands after the President's announcement, then we will prepare the passport service so that it can be in a position to respond to these applications," Panayiotou said.

    He added: "We are expecting more passport applications from Turkish Cypriot soon."

    He warned, however, that only citizens of the Republic could apply and that any applications from the occupied north would be investigated by his ministry.

    "Where we have verification, there is no problem and it would be a matter of days to get a passport, like it is for all Cypriots," the minister said.

    But where there is a doubt concerning the origin of the applicant, then the matter would be forwarded to the police, who will conduct the necessary investigation before the application is processed, Panayiotou added.

    The minister added he would suggest to the land registry department to provide Turkish Cypriots living in the north with information on their properties, as long as they did not sell them.

    "No Turkish Cypriots living in the north can sell their property after 1974, " Panayiotou said.

    Only those who remained in the government controlled areas or were abroad and had stayed there during the invasion could sell their property, Panayiotou said.

    "If people apply for information, then we will suggest they get them but not for selling their property," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Opposition in the north mounts against Denktash

    By Nicole Neroulias

    DISMAYED and disheartened by the events of the Copenhagen Summit, Turkish Cypriots have spent the weekend calling for leader Rauf Denktash's resignation.

    In the wake of Cyprus's accession into the EU on Friday, Denktash's approval ratings have plummeted in the occupied territories, in stark contrast to President Glafcos Clerides' growing standing at home and abroad.

    Disappointment at Denktash's stance was evident in the streets of occupied Nicosia during the final hours of the Copenhagen Summit on Friday afternoon. Thousands of protesters walked out of their homes, offices and schools to urge their leaders to sign a peace plan so that they could join the EU along with the Greek Cypriots.

    When the news broke that Cyprus had been accepted into the EU and Turkey had been given a 2004 progress review date, leaving the Turkish Cypriots out in the cold, the protesters, most of them students and young adults, escalated their cries for new leadership.

    They have now been joined by Turkish Cypriot opposition leaders and the press, which have mounted a campaign calling for Denktash's immediate resignation.

    Republican Turkish Party (RTP) and Communal Liberation Party (TKP) leaders expressed their convictions that a peace plan could not be reached by the new February 28 deadline with Denktash acting as the Turkish Cypriot negotiator.

    "We invite Mr. Denktash to resign because of his personality that prevents him from representing the interests of the Turkish Cypriot people," said RTP leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who was hastily summoned to Ankara for discussions over the weekend.

    TKP leader Huseyin Angolemli went even further, holding Denktash directly responsible for the failure of the Turkish Cypriots to join the EU.

    "As in Turkey and southern Cyprus people are rejoicing the conclusions of the Copenhagen Summit, Turkish Cypriots are going through the pain of not being able to arrive at solution and EU membership," Angolemli said. "They are going through the pain of being betrayed by Denktash."

    Sener Levent, editor of the Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Afrika, has continued speaking out against Denktash. Levent and reporter Memduh Ener were sentenced to six months in jail earlier this year over an article criticising Denktash and the breakaway regime. Both were released in October after serving two months.

    "We were saying this before the Copenhagen Summit and we are saying it now: Denktash must be taken from the negotiating table. And now the opposition is saying it with us, as well," Levent said.

    Levent said he was pessimistic about the February 28 deadline, saying that between the holiday season and the Greek Cypriot presidential campaigns, there wouldn't be enough time to hammer out a solution.

    "I am only afraid of one thing: that the island will be divided forever," he said, adding that he feared the Greek Cypriot side will would less willing to compromise now that it had attained EU membership.

    During the weekend, the Greek Cypriot leadership announced measures to boost Turkish Cypriot morale and encourage peace plan efforts. Measures under discussion include the free movement of goods across the Green Line and the possibility of issuing Cypriot passports to Turkish Cypriots in the near future.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Markides slams 'vile' allegations as election speculation mounts

    By George Psyllides

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday vehemently denied reports that he was pressuring President Glafcos Clerides unilaterally to sign the foundation agreement for the settlement of the Cyprus problem and charged that the "defamatory" reports were just trying to damage him in the run-up to the presidential elections.

    Markides has given no hint that he might stand as presidential candidate, but his name has been floated for months, with speculation mounting since the EU summit in Copenhagen at which Cyprus was invited to join the Union.

    Reports in AKEL's mouthpiece Haravghi yesterday claimed Markides and other government officials were pressuring President Glafcos Clerides unilaterally to sign the foundation agreement included in a United Nations plan for the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Yesterday, Markides lashed out at the reports, describing them as "defamatory" and "complete lies".

    "This situation is completely unacceptable and I do not understand what change the newspaper is promising in the framework of the election campaign, when it uses these vile methods, which have nothing to do with democracy," Markides said.

    Haravghi, which strongly supports DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos for president, is seen as trying to damage Markides in case he decides to run for president.

    Markides repeated that the report was a lie, adding he had been the first to reject UN suggestions unilaterally to sign the plan.

    He said the UN had hinted to him that a unilateral signature would help, but he immediately rejected the idea.

    "I rejected it outright; 'don't even think about it', I told them," Markides said.

    He added: "I was the first to give a reply; to tell me that I pressured the President is out of order."

    The Attorney-general charged the report had other intentions, adding that he could not have such responsibility and be undermined continuously, "just because some suspect the Attorney-general would be a presidential candidate".

    Markides said that even if he did decide to run then he should be challenged on issues of principle and policy and not in this "vile" manner.

    Markides ruled out getting involved in the presidential elections for the time being.

    "I am very involved in the Cyprus problem; the situation is in a critical phase, especially these days.

    "I haven't dealt with this issue and I'm not intending to because I have to do my own duty first," Markides said.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, whose name has also in the past been floated as a presidential candidate, yesterday said that there was no question of him currently contesting the elections.

    Cassoulides echoed Markides on the pressure issue, rejecting that anyone had tried to get the President to sign the plan.

    "All politicians have a history and this cannot be stained by defamation," Cassoulides said.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, who was also accused of pressuring the president, yesterday said the reports were "unacceptable lies" and the "creations of someone's imagination".

    He said that he, like Markides, had told the UN they were totally against such a proposal and that they were going to advise President Glafcos Clerides not to accept such a suggestion.

    "Twisting the facts and blows below the waist have their limits," Papapetrou said.

    He added: "If some think they are the heroes who saved their country, they are missing the plot and should think twice and three times about what they say and leak," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Government to reduce maximum stay for foreign workers

    A MINISTERIAL committee convening yesterday to discuss immigration issues decided to reduce the maximum duration of foreign workers' residence from six to five years.

    The committee focused in particular on the "significant rise" in foreign nationals working on the island; these amount to 33,000, one-third of which are employed as housemaids.

    Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou, who presided the session, said that the government planned to change the employment criteria for housemaids, so as to gradually reduce their numbers.

    Among other things, the committee decided to lower the fees for securing and renewing work permits and to raise housemaids' monthly remuneration to 180 from 150.

    The committee convened to review the findings of a study on immigration strategies. Its decisions would be submitted to the Cabinet, Panayiotou said.

    As Panayiotou explained, the EU has not yet issued directives on the status of foreign workers; the bloc has made certain proposals that are expected to turn into directives as of January 2004.

    With regard to employment strategies, Panayiotou said that priority would be given to the Cypriot labour force, followed by citizens of EU countries, citizens of EU-candidate countries (such as Romania and Bulgaria) and then to nationals of other countries.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Cassoulides and Turkish foreign minister optimistic for new deadline

    By Nicole Neroulias

    C YPRIOT and Turkish foreign ministers have expressed optimism that a solution to the Cyprus problem could be reached through the UN peace plan by the new deadline.

    United Nations Secretary-general Kofi Annan has asked President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to sign a letter of intent committing them to negotiating an accord by February 28, 2003. The European Union has left the door open for Turkish Cypriots to join with the rest of the island if an accord can be reached.

    Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday that negotiations could continue to improve the plan to the benefit of both communities, expressing his certainty that "the Greek Cypriot side would respond to the call and work for a united Cyprus that will belong to all Cypriots".

    "We should make the best possible choice so that a solution can function and Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can feel it is the solution of their choice," he said.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis told CNN Turk television on Sunday that he believed there would probably be an agreement between the two sides by the new deadline. "If the sides can reach an agreement by February 28, internally there will be two sides, externally there will be one Cyprus," Yakis said. "If an agreement can't be reached, the Greek Cypriot side will become the only one representing the whole island."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Police crack down on hooliganism in weekend of violence

    A RECORD number of youths were arrested in the past weekend at various sports venues as police tried to clamp down hard on hooliganism.

    The violence raged from Nicosia to Limassol to Paphos, with 19 people arrested and charged for assaulting police officers and causing damage to public and private property.

    The trouble started early on Friday during a volleyball game in Nicosia. After the end of the match, a group of youths aged 17-25 went on the rampage, hurling stones at police officers, cars parked outside the venue and at nearby houses. One police officer was injured in the barrage of stones. Eleven persons were placed under arrest and charged.

    On Saturday, crowd violence marred a football game in Paphos as fans clashed after the final whistle. Five policemen, one senior police officer and one civilian were injured, and two police cars sustained extensive damage. Two youths from Limassol were arrested.

    Over in Limassol, a high-profile football match between local side AEL and visitors Omonia went smoothly for the most part. But at the half-time break a group of fans without tickets tried to enter the stadium; scuffles broke out with police, and one officer was injured.

    There was more of the same on Sunday, with six troublemakers placed under arrest after the end of a basketball game in the Ayios Dhometios suburb in Nicosia.

    In an announcement issued yesterday, the police urged sports clubs to become more actively involved in stamping out hooliganism, saying that clubs were not doing enough.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Concern after teachers arrested in drugs raid

    By Alexia Saoulli

    TWO teachers were arrested in a drug bust on Friday, police said yesterday.

    The pair was caught during a Drug Squad raid at a Lebanese man's apartment, after investigations revealed he had allegedly been supplying a 16-year-old schoolgirl with marijuana.

    "The two men happened to be at the supplier's house at the time of the bust, " said Drug Enforcement Agency Deputy Commander Haritos Yiangou.

    But Ministry officials and police were quick to stress the teachers had not been employed by the government but at an unnamed Nicosia private school. In fact, according to Education Ministry permanent secretary Petros Kareklas the two were no longer teachers.

    "We have received unofficial information that the teachers had been employed by private schools for a short period of time in the past. However, at the time of their arrest, they were no longer teaching," he said.

    But this was true for only one of the men, said police spokesman Demetris Demetriou. The other one was still under the employment of a Nicosia private school, he insisted yesterday.

    The Lebanese man and the former teacher were remanded in four-day custody, said Yiangou. The teacher was released.

    "This was because he (the teacher) said he only smoked marijuana on occasion. When we investigated his home we found nothing suspicious. He will be charged and tried for using. >From that point on it will be up to the courts, the government and the school where he works, what punishment he will receive." Users can receive anything up to a fine and/or eights' years imprisonment, said Yiangou.

    An investigation into the former teacher's home uncovered 20 grams of marijuana, which was why he was remanded in custody, along with the Lebanese man, he said.

    Although the two men were closely associated with the field of education, they were not connected to the 16-year-old schoolgirl in any way, he said.

    Despite this, the phenomenon has been of great concern to the Cyprus Parents' Association. President Elias Demetriou said: "As we struggle to wipe out, or at least limit, this social evil called drugs, the same people (teachers) who are supposed to be instilling values and visions within our young, are getting caught for allegedly distributing them."

    Although the Parents Association normally dealt with issues concerning state middle school education, it condemned any educator or educational system (private or higher education) that promoted, or at least did not attempt to prevent, drug usage, he said.

    "This was the worst thing that could have happened within the framework of education," Demetriou added. "The problem is serious as it stands, whether or not it involved a private institution. The government, some time in the future, could just as easily have employed the same teachers," he said. "This is a cause for extreme concern and so we would condemn anyone in the field of education involved in such a serious incident."

    Kareklas told the Cyprus Mail that although the Ministry was not directly involved with the hiring of private institutions' staff members, it did keep thorough records on all their employees.

    "Schools send us information on each teacher under their employment and so we can ask for a report on the person involved," he said. The Ministry could also ask schools what measures they planned to carry out to deal with the matter, particularly once criminal proceedings started, he said. "Indirectly we can have them fired over something like this. Just because we are responsible for state schools, it does not mean we are indifferent about private institutions." Kareklas added that police had special tester kits, which police used to identify drug users at state schools. These kits were made up strips that were placed on the suspected user's chair. If the student was an addict, the strip identified it and the Ministry stepped in to help, he said, stressing the entire process was highly confidential. But Kareklas was unable to confirm reports that there were plans to use the same prevention and control method within private institutions.

    This was the first time teachers had been involved in a drugs bust, said Yiangou. On Sunday, the Lebanese supplier's alleged local supplier was also found and was yesterday remanded in three-day custody, he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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