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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-03-28

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, March 28, 2003


  • [01] We haven't lost hope: Turkish Cypriots maintain pressure for a solution
  • [02] Government to pay for medical treatment for Turkish Cypriot child
  • [03] Sympathy malaise? Denktash suffering from vocal chord problems
  • [04] Water levels set to hit all-time high
  • [05] Cypriot medical team to travel to Iraqi border
  • [06] Two accused of kidnap extortion plot against Brit
  • [07] UN aid workers preparing Iraq plans from Cyprus
  • [08] New attorney-general named

  • [01] We haven't lost hope: Turkish Cypriots maintain pressure for a solution

    By Tania Khadder

    THE rest of the world may have forgotten the Cyprus problem; even the Greek Cypriots have to an extent shoved it to the back of their minds since the collapse of the peace process in The Hague and the start of the war in Iraq. But for ordinary Turkish Cypriots, whose hopes had been raised by the prospect of peace, the issue remains very much alive, with regular appeals for reunification in meetings and demonstrations.

    “Once hope dies, the chance for a solution will be over,” Mehmet, a 32 year- old mechanical engineer in occupied Nicosia, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. “We are not yet ready to lose hope.”

    Pro-unification Turkish Cypriot groups are to hold a symbolic referendum in Kyrenia tonight, despite the brutal scenes at a similar meeting in Elia near Morphou on Tuesday night, in which 'police' arrested six leading activists and allegedly beat protesters with clubs. As on Tuesday, organisers in Kyrenia will tonight again hold a mock plebiscite to vote on the UN Plan for reunification.

    “We expect to see some violence again,” Osman, a restaurant owner, said of tonight's Kyrenia gathering.

    The Turkish Cypriots who spoke to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, all of whom requested that their real names not be used, said that reports of Tuesday night's gathering had been somewhat exaggerated in the local press. They confirmed, however, that violence had taken place and condemned the authorities' heavy-handed approach.

    Mehmet left work on Wednesday to take part in a large protest organized in response to what had happened the night before, and to stand up to Rauf Denktash's regime. “The people gathered here, we walked towards Denktash Palace and then to the park shouting: 'resign, resign, resign'.”

    But by yesterday afternoon, it was back to business as usual in the center of occupied Nicosia. As groups of Turkish Cypriots calmly spent their lunch hour outside on what was one of the warmest days of the year so far, it was hard to imagine there was something called the Cyprus problem plaguing their spirits on a daily basis.

    “Almost every week there is a big meeting or protest,” Mehmet said. “Even after April 16 (when Cyprus signs the EU accession treaty in Athens), we can and still will communicate with Greeks. We will find a way.

    “It is very hard to understand Denktash. He goes to Turkey and says that if Cypriots say 'yes' to this plan, it will affect Turkey's future. But I think he should focus on what's best for Turkish Cypriots and not what's best for Turkey.

    “But in December we will hold our elections and I think Denktash and all his men will be out. Maybe then we can begin to really negotiate.”

    Unlike Mehmet, other Turkish Cypriots that spoke to the Cyprus Mail were not willing openly to denounce Denktash. They spoke candidly about their reluctance to speak, saying that under his authority they did not feel comfortable expressing their opinions. Only one of those asked said that he would attend the gathering tonight - the rest said that even if they planned to go, they would not say so.

    Asked if a solution to the Cyprus problem had taken a back seat since the start of the war in Iraq, these Turkish Cypriots had mixed reactions.

    “It's not right to focus so much on our problem when children are dying in Iraq,” Fatima, a middle-aged woman said.

    But Mehmet was steadfast in saying that efforts to reunify were still very much alive for the Turkish Cypriots, whether or not the rest of the world was paying attention. “We can think about both at the same time,” he said. “The Cyprus problem is still very much on all of our minds.”

    The six Turkish Cypriot men arrested at Tuesday night's meeting were released yesterday after being detained at 'Police' headquarters for 16 hours.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 28, 2003

    [02] Government to pay for medical treatment for Turkish Cypriot child

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE government said yesterday it would provide financial assistance to a Turkish Cypriot family living in the north whose child is in urgent need of medical treatment.

    The government intervened after reports said the parents were ready to sell their kidneys in order to finance the child's treatment.

    The Cabinet immediately decided to give the necessary financial help through the United Nations, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday.

    “Any amount necessary will be given,” the spokesman said.

    From then on, the normal procedures of referral to special treatment will be followed as for any Cypriot citizen.

    Chrysostomides could not say how much money would be needed, reiterating the government's readiness to offer whatever was required.

    Chrysostomides said the assistance had nothing to do with an aid package it was preparing for the Turkish Cypriots, saying it just a sign of solidarity towards “our Turkish Cypriot compatriots”.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 28, 2003

    [03] Sympathy malaise? Denktash suffering from vocal chord problems

    By a Staff Reporter

    AFTER President Tassos Papadopoulos it is now the turn of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to suffer from problems with his vocal cords, according to reports yesterday.

    Reports from the Turkish Cypriot press claimed that Denktash had been advised by his doctors to avoid speaking.

    Denktash has been suffering with the problem for the past week, forcing him to cancel all his meetings.

    He also cancelled a trip to Istanbul, where he was due to give a lecture, reports said.

    On the other side of the divide, Papadopoulos on Monday returned from the United States where he received treatment on his vocal cords.

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the President would not be making any public speeches or statements for a few days.

    It is not clear what Papadopoulos is suffering from, but his condition had also kept him away from public speeches in January.

    His staff back then said he was suffering from acute laryngitis together with a heavy cold.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 28, 2003

    [04] Water levels set to hit all-time high

    By Alex Mita

    WATER levels in the island's dams are set to hit record levels this year, the Water Board said yesterday.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Water Board official Fedros Rousis said the amount of water that had collected in the dams was expected to be the highest of all time.

    “In a few days we will have the highest amount of stored water in the dams of all time,” Rousis said.

    “Our current data shows that the stored capacity in the dams so far is 198.4 million cubic metres, or 72.5 per cent of their storage capacity.

    “The inflow of water in the last 24 hours was 1.3 million cubic metres and the total inflow of water for this year was 102.4 million. Last year's stored water was 146 million cubic metres, or 53.6 per cent of their storage capacity.”

    But Rousis said there was a big difference between the water stored in the dams and the flow of water this year.

    “Last year's flow of water into the dams was better than this year,” he said.

    “We started last year with near empty dams and this year we started with 103 million in reserve. But the reason that we've hit such high levels this year is because water was already stored in the dams last year.”

    The highest levels of water stored in the dams before this year was in 1989, with 200 million cubic metres.

    “In a few days we will surpass the 200 million and it will be the best year in water reserves.

    “Our best year for water flow into the dams was 1988 and the best year of stored capacity was 1989, one year after. Usually the best year of capacity follows the best year in the flow of water,” he said.

    Rousis said heavy rainfall in the last two years had made all the difference.

    “We had two continuous years of flow into the dams. Before we had five years of no rain, so we didn't get high levels of water.”

    Water levels are so high that the Yermasoyia dam “is expected to overflow within a couple of days,” Rousis said.

    “Its capacity is 13.5 million and it now has 13.378 million cubic metres.”

    District Engineer Nicodemos Nicodemou said people should not be alarmed by the fact that the dam was going to overflow and assured the dam's structural integrity would not be affected.

    “This is not the first time the dam overflows,” he said.

    “The last time was in 1995. We are taking some measures like warning the Municipality about the parking spaces underneath the dam. The parking areas have to be closed. We are also carrying out checks on the riverbed to see whether the flow of water might be blocked by any debris.”

    Nicodemou said engineers had already cleared the way for the water by widening the riverbed and clearing out any obstacles.

    “There is no chance that the structural integrity of the dam would be affected in anyway, because we control the water as it leaves the dam,” he said.

    “Unless of course we have something catastrophic. But such an event is very rare and the relevant authorities have taken measures if that were the case.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 28, 2003

    [05] Cypriot medical team to travel to Iraqi border

    By a Staff Reporter

    A CYPRIOT mission of Doctors of the World will soon be travelling to Iran's border with Iraq to provide medical assistance to victims of the war, DISY deputy Dr. Eleni Theocharous said yesterday.

    Theocharous said there were currently no NGOs inside Iraq due to the lack of protection for volunteers against the potential use of bio-chemical or even nuclear weapons.

    “(Going to Iraq) would be a pointless and foolish sacrifice that would not provide the Iraqi people with anything,” Theocharous said.

    She added that the Cypriot mission would instead join French doctors on the border with Iran and attempt to enter the war-torn country once the circumstances allowed and the situation concerning the possible use of weapons of mass destruction had cleared.

    “No mission is safe when 1,500 bombers fly sorties daily and release thousands of tonnes of bombs,” she said.

    Theocharous said doctors were trying to put together a large shipment of medical supplies and urged the people to contribute any money they could spare for the purchase of medicines.

    She noted the images of Iraqi children lying in hospital beds showed they were malnourished due to the lack of drips.

    “You understand that these children are condemned to death in a very short time period,” Theocharous said.

    She added milk was also needed for the children who were most vulnerable.

    The Doctors of the World have already sent two truckloads with medical aid while others would follow from Greece through Jordan.

    “If we send our material on trucks to Latakia in Syria then it could reach the area on time,” Theocharous said.

    Theocharous, who has been in similar missions before, said that 10 doctors had so far showed willingness to join the mission, but many changed their mind at the last moment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 28, 2003

    [06] Two accused of kidnap extortion plot against Brit

    By Alex Mita

    TWO men are being held in police custody in Larnaca in connection with an alleged kidnapping extortion plot against a British expatriate, police said yesterday.

    The suspects, Irishman Christopher Ryan, 33, and Johan Gustav Allehrt, 29, from Sweden were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly threatening to kidnap and kill the children of 29-year-old British expat Bobby Ghary Ajay unless he paid them £1.5 million.

    The two were remanded in custody by Larnaca court on Wednesday.

    Ghary Ajay told Larnaca CID that the suspects had threatened to have his two adolescent children kidnapped by Russians, cut into little pieces and mailed to him in plastic bags.

    CID investigator Costas Pevdiodis told the court that Ghary Ajay had claimed that, on March 7, the suspects had led him to their flat and told him they were acting on behalf of a British millionaire who owns a chain of offshore companies in the UK.

    Ghary Ajay claimed the suspects had demanded he return £1.5 million from a £3 million loan he had allegedly received from the millionaire for investments in 1999.

    The suspects were said to have warned Ghary Ajay not to contact police, “for his own good and that of his family.”

    The alleged victim claimed he had been threatened by the suspects on a daily basis and had no other choice but to tell police what had happened, because he was afraid for the lives of his family.

    In his statement, Ghary Ajay claimed the suspects had stolen his £52,000 car, jewels and various valuables, his and his wife's passports, and a number of credit cards. He claimed the suspects had also stolen two portable computers from his office and asked him to mortgage his property in the UK in order to pay his debt.

    Police told the court that the suspects had admitted to blackmailing Ghary Ajay, claiming they were acting on behalf of the millionaire.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 28, 2003

    [07] UN aid workers preparing Iraq plans from Cyprus

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE UN Humanitarian Office based in Cyprus is doing its best to deliver humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people, the UN said yesterday.

    Speaking to reporters in Larnaca, Information Officer Sonya Dumont said the UN Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs was currently based in Cyprus and was organising contingency plans for the Iraqi people. Around 200 Humanitarian Office staff have been staying on the island since they were evacuated form Baghdad on March 18.

    “There are 200 persons working on co-ordinating the support for the Iraqi people with more than 24 UN agencies and NGOs as well as the ICRC, to help us in the operation for aid to the Iraqi people,” she said.

    She added that 3,400 national UN staff were still in Iraq helping the people from north to south.

    Asked if any food was getting to the people, Dumont said that before UN staff were evacuated “food had been distributed in advance” for the Iraqi people, adding that the UN estimated that “people would have food for a period of six weeks.”

    “We were the last ones to go… (and some of us)… have been living with these people (for two years) so we know them very well and our thoughts are with them.”

    The UN estimates that sixty per cent of the Iraqi population is entirely dependent on the food aid which they receive as part of the UN's Oil for Food programme.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 28, 2003

    [08] New attorney-general named

    By a Staff Reporter

    SUPREME Court judge Solonas Nikitas was yesterday appointed as the new attorney-general.

    President Tassos Papadopoulos appointed Nikitas to take over from Alecos Markides who resigned his post following Papadopoulos' election in February.

    Markides will officially remain as Attorney-general until April 24.

    His resignation follows that of Chief European Negotiator for Cyprus George Vassiliou last month.

    Speaking to the House after handing in his resignation, Markides did not confirm what his plans for the future were.

    The favourite to replace Markides until Nikitas' appointment was Assistant Attorney-general Petros Clerides, who is backed by AKEL.

    There is also speculation that Vassiliou's replacement as EU Chief Negotiator for Cyprus is likely to be KISOS deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou.

    Markides had said he would resign after February's presidential elections, in which he was a failed candidate, but Papadopoulos asked him to stay on pending ongoing negotiations in the Cyprus problem, which collapsed in The Hague earlier this month.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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