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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-05-01

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

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


Thursday, May 1, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] De Soto: 'delighted and sceptical' over developments
  • [02] European Parliament office in Cyprus
  • [03] Greek and Turkish Cypriots rush for passports
  • [04] Turkish Cypriots see life in the south as more expensive
  • [05] Lower fees for Cypriot students in the UK
  • [06] Car accident in north

  • [01] De Soto: 'delighted and sceptical' over developments

    By Jean Christou

    U.N. SPECIAL envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto said yesterday he was delighted with recent developments on the island but expressed doubt that the two sides could ever reach an agreement on their own.

    In a telephone interview with the Cyprus Mail from New York last night, De Soto the engineer of the UN plan, which was rejected in The Hague by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in March, said he was both surprised and delighted by the opening of the checkpoint last week.

    “Of course I was very pleased. Both pleased and surprised in reverse. First I was surprised,” he said. “I didn't expect Denktash to do something like this. It doesn't mesh with what we were told were the reasons for preventing people crossing.'

    De Soto said the UN has no idea where the sudden initiative came from.

    “We're not even asking because it's a good thing it's happening and we are not too fussed about how,” he said.

    The UN envoy said as far as a real solution was concerned, Denktash continues to make negative statements about the substance of the Cyprus issue and the Secretary-general's plan and that the UN did not see much hope of the Turkish Cypriot leader accepting the UN-backed solution.

    It's not too encouraging,” he said adding that he gets the impression Denktash is compartmentalising the two issues. Opening the checkpoints as a 'test' to see if the two sides can get along, while “walling off” the core issues.

    De Soto said the UN would not get involved again unless both sides accept the plan as a basis for a solution and agree with Greece and Turkey on a short timeframe for reaching an agreement.

    “We are still waiting for that to happen,” he said. “What's happening is like a bottom's up effect in a sense with it coming form the people instead of the leaders. It's interesting and it's fine with us.”

    De Soto said all the UN had wanted from the Hague was for the people to be given a chance “but to our great disappointment the people were deprived of this”.

    Commenting on whether the UN could become involved in a different type of solution based on developments in the past week, De Soto said this would have to be considered.

    “The reason the Secretary general put forward a plan of his own was because the two sides left alone to their own devices would be unable to agree,” he said. “If they want by mutual agreement to approach solution a different way they are welcome to do it but forgive us if we have a high degree of scepticism on that.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 1, 2003

    [02] European Parliament office in Cyprus

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE EUROPEAN Parliament will be opening an information office in Nicosia next week, reports said yesterday.

    The office would be providing Cypriot citizens with information on the European Parliament and visits of Euro MP's to Cyprus.

    According to daily Phileleftheros, the office will be headed by British European Parliament official Antoni Comfort who is due to arrive on the island on Saturday.

    The official would be on a six-month contract that is expected to be renewed for an additional six months until the island officially joins the bloc on May 1, 2004.

    The position would then be filled by a Cypriot.

    Comfort will have to select his second in command who will be chosen from a database already created by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) from the thousands of applications filed by citizens of the 10 acceding countries for contractual employment in the EU.

    The list includes 278 Cypriots, with 255 having university degrees, which is a prerequisite for the secondary post.

    Qualified applicants will be short-listed and interviewed and could be asked to take a written exam.

    The office is expected to employ another three to four other Cypriots in accordance with current EU practices to staff such offices with local personnel.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 1, 2003

    [03] Greek and Turkish Cypriots rush for passports By George Psyllides

    THINGS WERE much smoother at the three checkpoints yesterday, though hundreds of Greek and Turkish Cypriots crowded the district administrations in Nicosia and Larnaca in an effort to secure passports.

    The movement of people and cars at the three checkpoints, Ledra Palace, Pergamos and Strovilia, was much better compared to the huge delays seen in previous days, partly because most people returned to work after the Easter break.

    Police said 12,499 Greek Cypriots crossed the three checkpoints by 3pm compared to 1,921Turkish Cypriots.

    The same could not be said about the Nicosia and Larnaca administrations however, which were flocked by Greek and Turkish Cypriots eager to secure passports -- each for their own reasons.

    Greek Cypriots want passports to be able to travel to the north, while Turkish Cypriots want them because Cyprus will be part of the European Union in a year's time.

    Larnaca district officer Kyriacos Mattheou said the huge demand was due to the lifting of the restrictions on movement.

    “Surely the situation is due to free movement; though we had large numbers of Turkish Cypriots before, now their numbers have increased enormously,” Mattheou said.

    He said the administration had to staff all positions concerning passport matters, bringing in additional personnel from other departments.

    Mattheou added that the administration was ready to bring in more computers if the situation continued.

    The situation was similar in Nicosia, where people had to wait in queues to get their paperwork processed.

    An elderly Turkish Cypriot man told the Cyprus Mail that he got fed up of waiting and decided to leave and go back on Friday, this time with his forms filled and photos in hand.

    Meanwhile, Justice Minsiter Doros Theodorou said that the government has asked for seven more checkpoints to be opened to accommodate the thousands of Greek Cypriots who wanted to visit the occupied north.

    The checkpoints include three in Nicosia - Ledra Street, Ayios Kassianos and Ayios Dhometios, which was expected to be opened late yesterday afternoon and Pyrgos, Morphou, and Dherynia.

    Theodorou accused Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for putting people though a lot of unnecessary hardship due to the procedures the occupying regime had in place for crossing over.

    “The inconvenience is unimaginable; it's an inhuman situation and let us not forget that this is because of the unreasonable demands and antics of Denktash's regime,” Theodorou said.

    The minister said the government was doing everything it could to improve the conditions for those queuing to cross to the north by providing better shelters from the sun and looking into installing refrigerators so that people standing in line for hours have access to cold water.

    Water containers and plastic cups have been placed on barrels along the route but the increasing heat and their exposure to dust and exhaust fumes discourages people from using them.

    Foreign Minister George Iacovou yesterday reiterated the government would not put conditions on its citizens visiting the north and said people should decide for themselves on how to behave.

    Iacovou was commenting on the Turkish Cypriot regime's decision to allow overnight stays in the north of up to three days.

    But the same government advice fell on deaf ears six days ago when the restrictions were restricted and people flocked the checkpoints to cross.

    Iacovou said Denktash had exploited the peoples' yearning to visit their homes, coupled with the fear that the Turkish Cypriot leader could suddenly change his mind and shut the checkpoints.

    The minister said Denktash was trying to mislead international public opinion and at the same time advance his own financial and political interests adding however that the government was well aware of the situation and was taking all necessary measures to prevent Denktash from shying away from his responsibilities concerning the Cyprus problem.

    According to the Turkish Cypriot press, in the six days since the restrictions were lifted, around $2.5 million has flowed in the north, with around £90,000 stemming from insurance fees paid for the 13,480 cars that crossed from the government controlled areas.

    Turkish Cypriot opposition daily Africa yesterday slammed the regime for causing so much hardship to Greek Cypriots crossing, while other newspapers spoke of the inflated prices charged by taxi drivers and restaurants.

    A prime example was car insurance, which went up to between £8 and £10 compared to £4 on the first day.

    Organised groups in the north have condemned the profiteering and have asked for price lists to be set up.

    Despite the warm rapprochement climate between the two communities, officials of the regime insisted in using inflammatory language in relation to the activities organised jointly by Greek and Turkish unions to observe May 1 Labour Day holiday.

    'Prime minister' Dervish Eroglu said measures would be taken “because it was not normal for foreigners who come from the south to make rallies in the TRNC”.

    On the other hand Turkish Cypriot tour operators have repeatedly approached their Greek Cypriot counterparts regarding organising trips to the north.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 1, 2003

    [04] Turkish Cypriots see life in the south as more expensive

    By Alexia Saoulli

    TURKISH CYPRIOTS yesterday confirmed what Greek Cypriots have long maintained - that the cost of living in the Republic is very expensive. But, although most Turkish Cypriots said the prices were steeper than the occupied areas, not one complained. Some even said that the money difference was worth it, since they were 'paying for quality over here'.

    In Nicosia's Ledra Street yesterday, Turkish Cypriot families and couples could be seen enjoying a day out in the sun, strolling along the cobblestone street and taking in the colourful shop windows. Cafés dotting the picturesque street were humming with activity.

    For Sadik Djemal and her husband, this was the first time they were visiting the unoccupied areas. The couple had been visiting from London and say were lucky to be here when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's regime opened the Green Line for both sides last week.

    “We didn't know how much money to bring with us,” said Djemal. “We've been told it's very expensive and know some Turkish Cypriots who won't come over because they can't afford the day trip,” she said. They carried Cyprus pounds and sterling with them.

    If 29-year-old Jemal Mustafa and his 22-year-old companion Husayin Arif's estimates were anything to go by, the Djemals would be burning quite a hole in their pockets if they wanted to go clothes shopping.

    The young men told the Cyprus Mail they had each brought CY£100 over with them on this trip. On their previous four trips they had only spent a fiver.

    “This is because we only wanted to sit down somewhere and have a bite to eat and drink,” said Mustafa. “But because we want to buy clothes today, we brought £100 over this time,” explained Arif.

    The youths said that if one worked and earned money in the south, then the cost of living was probably not expensive.

    “If you want to spend money on our salaries, it's much more expensive over here than there,” said Mustafa. “I earn around CY£200 a month and I have a degree. So you see, that for us, spending £100 in a day is a lot of money.”

    The boys did not seem to mind spending half a month's wage in a single day. Instead they concentrated on how good it felt to cross over freely and said Greek Cypriots had welcomed them with open arms.

    “There might be one or two who look at us funny, but not everyone thinks the way they do. On the whole we are treated well and I am happy that we have come together at last,” said Mustafa.

    Most Turkish Cypriots seemed satisfied to come across for a peek “at the other side”. That was why Ayla Talik, 45, only had £5. She said she was only visiting and wasn't interested in making any major purchases. “I'll possibly stop for a coffee or a coke somewhere so I think it should be enough,” she said. Although it was only her first time crossing over, she was able to tell the Mail “our side (the occupied areas) is cheap”, because a number of her friends had already visited over the past week.

    But, as far as dining in the south was concerned, Simge Kahraman, 26, and 27-year-old Ayca Eminoglu said it depended on where you chose to eat.

    “We expect to pay about £15 to eat and drink,” they said. “It's a little more expensive when you compare it to the other side because of the exchange rates,” said Kahraman.

    According to them, a top restaurant in the north would only set a diner back £10 per head. “That's without foreign alcohol. Some local drinks (from Turkey or made in the occupied areas), however, are included in the price.”

    The price of a shot of foreign whiskey at a pub was nearly half the price of one in the Republic. For instance Kahraman said a whiskey coke was about £2 on the north. Here it would cost between £3-£4.

    Although the girls enjoyed a good shopping spree, they said they had been told they could only bring a maximum of $75 per visit. “This is because of the customs issues,” said Eminoglu. Greek Cypriots on the other hand were reportedly spending hundreds of thousands of pounds at the multitude of casinos in occupied Kyrenia.

    The $75 was a lot of money for the girls - 20 per cent of their monthly salaries. “If we have to survive on it over there it's OK, but over here it's more difficult,” said Kahraman.

    Pensioner Erbay Eminoglu said the unoccupied areas resembled paradise to him but in a single day he and his wife spent £30 on food and drink, when he only got a monthly pension of £150.

    “It's worth it though. Here you might pay a little bit more, but you pay for quality.”

    For instance, he said, a home cinema device in the north would cost him £150; here it would cost him £450. Despite the £300 difference, Eminoglu maintained it was worth it in terms of quality.

    Strangely, ice cream was cheaper here. “I paid 40 cents for an ice cream here and it was delicious. Over there it's £1.50 and it's not as good.”

    Twenty-four-year-old Kiymet Tel and her father Abdullah popped over to Nicosia for three hours. They did a bit of window shopping and ended up in McDonalds for a takeaway meal. Neither made any purchases, but young Kiymet said she would definitely be back. That might be a problem for her father, who was a pensioner. “Because I'm unemployed I need to rely on pocket money, ” she said. “It could get difficult (for him) because things are very expensive here.”

    Only Didem Kocak, 27, believed that life in the south and the north was equally expensive. “I saw a shirt for £10 here. It's the same there,” she said. “I earn Turkish money and it's not enough for living here or there.” On Tuesday she said she saw nine Greek Cypriots eating in Kyrenia for a total of £55. A quick comparison of average salaries would soon determine that life for a Greek Cypriot living in the occupied areas was much cheaper. “Perhaps,” she nodded. “It could be cheaper (after all).”

    It didn't seem to bother her too much since she came here “for a passport, not to spend money”.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 1, 2003

    [05] Lower fees for Cypriot students in the UK

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRIOT STUDENTS studying in the UK were told yesterday their fees would drop to match those of students from EU member states studying in EU countries other than their own.

    The announcement came from the British High Commissioner Lyn Parker and the change will take effect at the beginning of the academic year in the summer of 2004.

    At the moment Cypriot students pay an average of £7,000-£9,000 annual tuition fees. Britons and EU residents pay less than half of that amount.

    Speaking at a seminar organised by the British Council and the University of Cyprus, Parker added that, as of this summer, Cypriot students could also win placements at British Universities more easily.

    “I am happy,” Parker told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) “that Cypriot students as of next summer will pay the same tuitions fees as British and European Union students”. The High Commissioner added that Cypriot students were particularly popular in Britain and welcome in other European Union countries.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 1, 2003

    [06] Car accident in north

    By a Staff Reporter

    A 22-YEAR-OLD Greek Cypriot man was injured in a road accident in the occupied areas on Tuesday, police said yesterday.

    According to a police report, Andreas Akridas from Frenaros village was driving from Apostolos Andreas towards Vrysoulles village when his car overturned in a field under unknown circumstances.

    Akridas and his 15-year-old passenger, Kyriacos Kolocassides, were rushed to Nicosia General Hospital in an ambulance belonging to the occupying forces.

    Kolocassides was released from hospital on Tuesday following a doctors examination, but Akridas was kept in hospital overnight for observation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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